Erin Spencer - flute expert
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Erin Spencer's latest flute videos
About Erin Spencer
Erin SpencerColorado flutist Erin Spencer is an educator, performer, and arranger based out of Colorado Springs. She owns and operates Spencer Music Studio and enjoys coaching future generations of musicians at Mitchell High School and Parker Performing Arts. Mrs. Spencer performs with the Pikes Peak Flute Choir. Erin actively arranges music to be performed by her students and flute choirs around the country featuring music from video games, movies, and Broadway musicals.

Erin earned her Master of Music Degree in Flute Performance and her Bachelor of Science Degree in Music Education from the University of Missouri where she studied with Alice Dade. During her time at the university, she premiered dozens of new works as flutist of the New Music Ensemble, as well as performing as principal of the elite ensembles at Mizzou: the University Wind Ensemble and the University Philharmonic. Erin also performed with the Missouri Symphony, the 9th Street Philharmonic Orchestra, and as principal of the Columbia Civic Orchestra.

Erin displays her versatility and breadth of skill by performing in musicals and recording videos for her YouTube channel. She especially enjoys the collaborative aspect of participating in the pit orchestras for musicals. Past performances include The Little Mermaid, Oliver!, Jesus Christ Superstar, Fiddler on the Roof, and Little Women. Erin's most popular flute choir arrangements can be found on her YouTube channel and select arrangements are published on Sheet Music Plus, including the Tetris Theme.
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Questions, Comments, Requests:

Diana Irving * VSM MEMBER * on August 3, 2022 @8:17 am PST
Hi, Erin--I appreciate so much of the information you have shared on this site. I have been playing my new alto flute with my ensemble (going back and forth between C flute and Alto flute). My request today has to do with wondering what tips there might be when one is playing different flutes in a set/program, dealing with embrochure issues, breath support...what to keep in mind and best ways to warm up or rest between an instrument switch. We have worked out some of this issue by putting any "all (c) flute" pieces together and switching to the other flute (or in the case of my colleagues, they may be playing clarinet or oboe or piccolo or saxophone). We usually play regular flute stuff early in program, then switch. Oboe player needs a few minutes to rest and prepare reeds; clarinet player does okay going from flute to clarinet, sometimes back again to flute...i find that some mysterious thing happens to my embouchure when I switch back from alto to C flute mostly. Any tips would be appreciated. Also if you have comments about switching to piccolo and back to c flute or vice versa. Thanks for any helpful thoughts or ideas :-)
Erin Spencer - host, on August 6, 2022 @8:48 pm PST
Hi Diana, Switching instruments is definitely tricky at the beginning! I had one concert where I was playing all contrabass flute, but one song on piccolo. That was quite the change. The best way to improve at something like this is to do it more often. So practice switching and see how long it takes for you to feel good on the second instrument and the more often you do it, you will find that you adjust more quickly.

The other thing I do often between instruments is kind of shake out my lips, like if you're trying to imitate a horse's nicker, get more blood flow going through there and relax my lips as much as possible.

If you're specifically having trouble from alto to flute, I wonder if you're putting the flute lower on your face when you come back to it. Alto needs to be lower on your face and you may unconsciously be imitating that feeling on C flute. Good luck!
Diana Irving * VSM MEMBER * on August 7, 2022 @12:05 pm PST
Thanks so much for your helpful comments! I think it has been getting a little easier to switch back and forth between usually the flute and alto flute. I do make a conscious effort to look at my fingers and head joint and tell myself which one I'm about to play before I do, etc. and that helps some...I have a bit more confidence now that I should be able to get better at the transitions the more I do it. Thanks again! Diana
Diana Irving * VSM MEMBER * on October 20, 2021 @9:28 am PST
Hi Erin--Thanks for your tips on piccolo intonation/tone. My question today is about alto flutes. I started a flute/woodwind ensemble in my community and see that there are lots of arrangements that include alto flute and I'm very interested in purchasing one. Could you give me some tips on what to look for and ways of adjusting my playing to get the best tone quality. I have played flute over 50 yrs and piccolo for about 10 yrs. Thanks Dians
Erin Spencer - host, on October 20, 2021 @11:30 am PST
Hi Diana! Good timing because I bought an alto this Spring and I'm already planning on making a video about it! Keep your eye out for an alto video in the beginning of November. In the meantime I'd recommend getting some on trial from somewhere like Flutistry Boston or FCNY so you can try a few different brands.
Diana Irving * VSM MEMBER * on October 21, 2021 @11:30 am PST
Lynnette on July 22, 2020 @10:11 am PST
Your staccato video was great, thank you.
Can you give tips on sections that have slurred staccato? Does it make the staccato note slightly detached?
Erin Spencer - host, on July 24, 2020 @12:34 pm PST
Hi Lynnette, thanks for watching! When there is a slur over a staccato marking, the technique is called "portato" which comes from string playing. On string instruments it means there's a little space between the notes but you keep the bow going in the same direction. I think of it very similarly to a tenuto marking on flute. Watching videos of string players playing portato can be very instructive on how to execute this technique.

Hope that helps!
Lynnette on July 24, 2020 @4:26 pm PST
That's absolutely fantastic, thank you Smiley Face
Pat Matters * VSM MEMBER * on May 12, 2020 @3:15 pm PST
Erin - Some years ago I purchased a Drelinger headcount for my Armstrong flute I've had for 50 years. For awhile it made a huge difference in the tone of the flute. After a few years I started having a lot of trouble with the high notes constantly chocking out. I attributed it to getting older and my embouchure changing. I then sold the Drelinger headjount. Do you think this may have been the problem?
Erin Spencer - host, on May 12, 2020 @8:33 pm PST
Hi Pat, thanks for your comment! Did you get regular maintenance done on your flute during the time it was giving you trouble? Did changing the headjoint help?
Pat Matters * VSM MEMBER * on May 13, 2020 @9:15 am PST
Erin - the flute has been kept in good working order the whole time. I went back to the original head joint and do not have the same problem but the tone quality is not there. Is it likely that my embouchure has changed since getting older? I just wasn't sure why I couldn't hit the high notes anymore.
Erin Spencer - host, on May 13, 2020 @10:45 am PST
It's definitely possible as changes happen during aging, but it's difficult to say exactly what's happening without knowing you or seeing you play. Many flutists are able to perform well into their 80s but it doesn't mean everyone will! It's totally normal for your needs and preferences as a player to change over time regardless of aging - I'd be curious to see where a headjoint trial from Flutistry or FCNY would get you. They are experts in helping people pick flutes and headjoints and could tell you a lot about what shape of tone hole might work best for you. Hope that helps!
Pat Matters * VSM MEMBER * on May 13, 2020 @5:13 pm PST
Thanks Erin - I will check those sites out. I appreciate your help. God bless
David Thompson * VSM MEMBER * on May 6, 2020 @7:14 am PST
Thank you for your video about returning to the flute. My sisters and I (now 77, 76, 74 and 72) all took flute lessons for 5 years and practice both piano and flute every morning for 1/2 hour each. Three of us still play piano, I resumed the flute a year ago and love it. Ellen, 77, accompanies a choir, and Ann, 74, accompanies a flutist. I have sent your video to the three of them in the hope that they will be inspired, as I was, by your video.
Erin Spencer - host, on May 6, 2020 @11:28 am PST
Thank you so much, David! That means a lot. How wonderful that you have such a musical family!
mary loonam * VSM MEMBER * on April 28, 2020 @7:06 pm PST
Hi Erin, do you have any tricks to play multi phonics more easily. Our eighth grade students have this in their technical exercises. These are students who are in year eleven or twelve and all very competent Playing Poulenc and that level. I have a few methods but would appreciate any other information. Thanks Mary Loonam (Sydney)
Erin Spencer - host, on April 29, 2020 @8:23 am PST
Hi Mary, thanks for your question! Do you have the book "Tone Development through Extended Techniques by Robert Dick"? If not I can describe some of the exercises but it's a wonderful resource for multiphonics!
Mary loonam * VSM MEMBER * on April 29, 2020 @1:56 pm PST
Oh thank you. I will get it.
Erin Spencer - host, on April 29, 2020 @2:24 pm PST
Another great resource is:

If you put in the bottom note of a multiphonic it will show you the best dynamic - each multiphonic works better at different dynamics. They'll need to open the aperture more almost no matter what!
mary loonam * VSM MEMBER * on April 30, 2020 @2:40 am PST
Thank you so much, I was doing this but any advice is welcome. Stay safe over there. Mary Loonam Sydney
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