We recently had the privilege to welcome our old friend and international flutist Paul Edmund-Davies back to our shop in Sydney as well as the pleasure to show him around the beautiful Blue Mountains! Paul gave lessons to several lucky students and also entertained and enlightened us with a talk about what drives his teaching, and the inspirations behind his new book, ‘A Consequence of Sequences’ which we will be publishing in Australia soon. Paul will be involved with a number of events in Melbourne this month including his Recital, Professional Learning Day and the Flutes & Flutists Melbourne Flute Display & Sale.
David Leviston: When did you start playing the flute?
Paul Edmund-Davies: When I was 9 years old. Aged 7, my aunt emigrated to Australia on the £10 ticket (you could only take what you could carry) and bequeathed me her violin. It just didn’t suit me, so I took an instant and very aggressive dislike to this instrument!
DL: What do you love about the flute?
PED: It isn’t a violin! Seriously, I have always been and continue to be enchanted by the sound of the flute.
DL: Is there anything you dislike about the flute?
PED: Its played by flute players…just kidding! Very little really good repertoire has been written for it and playing chords is not ideal!
DL: Did you choose the flute or did the flute choose you?
PED: A bit of both!
DL: Do you feel that different instruments match different personality types?
PED: Most definitely, but this question could get me into a ton of trouble!
DL: Do you play any other instruments?
PED: The piano a very, very small amount, but I want to engage with it more as I get older.
DL: Have you had formal training on the flute i.e. Conservatorium or University?
PED: Yes, at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama, London.
DL: How important do you think that is for a career in performance?
PED: Useful, but not essential. People who are passionate, talented and dedicated will always shine through.
DL: Do you think music as a career can be potentially all consuming?
PED: Yes and I utterly LOVE this aspect of it. At my age, I know so many people who have had jobs, earned good money and are almost in heaven’s waiting room through boredom. I have had and continue to have an absolute blast, doing the thing that I enjoy most. The future is always exciting and engaging.
DL: How do you maintain a work vs practice balance?
PED: If there’s nothing major on the horizon, I keep myself ticking along, either by working on my 28 Day Warm up Book or A Consequence of Sequences, which I wrote recently and keeps me match fit! Always advisable to practice what you preach!
DL: How do you maintain a work/life balance?
PED: Without being too nauseating, I genuinely enjoy what I do. I love the contact with people all over the world, their cultures and their food. As such, it never really feels like ‘work’.
DL: How important is the type of flute you play on? Silver, gold, wood, system?
PED: As long as it has a soul, I don’t really mind. I play on silver and gold and I like them both. Wood is beautiful but I don’t think that I would end up playing it everyday.
DL: How well do you know the details of the flute you play on?
PED: It has a head joint, middle section and a foot joint. Still can’t find the polishing cloth though!
DL: How important have teachers been for you in your own learning?
PED: At the right time, very. I have also been heavily influenced by what was going on in the flute world and opera in Italy, in the early part of the 19th century.
DL: How important is teaching of others for you as a process?
PED: I learn an immense amount from teaching and I am fascinated in trying to find ‘light bulb’ moments that can help students on their respective journeys.
DL: What is your favourite piece of music?
PED: The one that is on the music stand in front of me. It is our job, to bring whatever is in front of us to life.
DL: What’s it like playing Principal Flute in a big symphony orchestra?
PED: Incredible, terrifying, exhilarating, boring, magical and frustrating.
DL: How important are people skills when playing music in groups?
PED: Very important, but sadly ego tends to get in the way.
DL: What has been the highest point of your career?
PED: Playing a string of concerti with Leonard Bernstein conducting.
DL: What has been the lowest point of your career?
PED: Not sure, so let’s move onto the next question quickly!
DL: What advice do you have for someone wanting to pursue a career in music performance?
PED: Explore other areas of the arts to see if you can combine your talents with other art forms, practice very, very hard and go for it. Expect to take quite a few knocks in the process too!
DL: How much do you think the player impacts the result and how much difference does the instrument make?
PED: A good player can make a bad instrument sound good, but a bad player can’t make a good instrument sound good.
DL: Has the flute been good to you?
PED: A friend for life.