Jen Cluff ~  College Flute Entry Information

Canadian Flutist and Teacher

Decided to enter college as a flute major?

Flute Career Links:

Here is a terrific set of articles (use the links below) on preparing to enter college or University as a flute performance major. Check them out.
Everything you want to know about preparing for a career in flute and what is truly needed to get into a music college or University; How to audition, repertoire expectations, technique required, what the audition panel members are looking for etc.

Read these before taking another step in your dream--- they will set you up perfectly for success:

Some great advice about music careers and college entry can  be found in articles at the website of The Elision Institute. The site is currently down. I have temporarily pasted the cached articles here until the site returns.

Janis Weller's advice to college entrants in music.


Other articles worth reading:

What it takes to become a music major - Menc article (very good)

College and University entrance requirements for flutists

Career moves for flutists

Preparation guide for University auditions

Auditioning on Flute;Jeanne Baxtresser's article

Flute scholarships list

Robert Dick speaks about his path to self-employed performer

John Wion on Choosing a Major (not necessarily flute)

Jen's suggested reading list and advanced preparation books and methods for serious career flutists.

Orchestral Auditions downloadable book.

Commonly used Flute Orchestral Excerpt Volumes to buy.

Leonard Garrison on "How to Practice". 

(old link was:

Shelley Collins' business advice for flute teachers starting out.


Two good articles on preparing for orchestral career:


Great books:
"Becoming an Orchestral Musician, A Guide for Aspiring
Professionals" by Richard Davis

Fabulous book on how flutists went on to perform despite early set-backs:

101 Inspirational Stories from the World's Best Flute Players.

MORE great books for flutists.

For young flutists who want to become professionals



Question: Hello, I'm a freshman in high school and I know that I want to be aprofessional flutist. The only trouble is, I'm not sure what I'll be doing as a professional. My ultimate goal is to be a solo performer who performs up on stage for audiences, and makes cds. Are only the truly exceptional flutists able to do that?

REPLY from Jen:

The fastest road to becoming a professional flutist is to take private lessons with a top-notch flute teacher, if you are not already doing so.

Find the best private teacher in your area (even if you have to travel some distance, go to the TOP teacher!) and they will guide you on your way.

You'll also need to clear your schedule so you can practice 2-3 hrs. a
If you can sustain your interest for the next four years with 1 to 2 private lessons a week and daily three hours of practicing, you will soon know whether you want to be a professional flutist for a living. Yes, only exceptional flutists are able to make a living through performing and recording only.
There are maybe five flutists at this level in the world, the rest make a living through either orchestral playing, or full time teaching, or a combination thereof. To join the top five solists/recording artists would mean you'd have to have an exceptional talent and tenacity as well as a certain degree of luck. So be prepared to teach, play gigs, and become multi-faceted in your musical career.

Those adult flutists who are not "best in the world" but who are very well trained and *continue" to train and hone their skills in music study can usually find jobs as educators and occasional flute performers.
The bulk of their income derives from teaching others, however, not
performing per se.

Ask your flute teacher their opinion after two years of hard work or
so; travel to flute summer camps and master classes; listen to many professional flutists to find out what they are doing to make their careers work, and learn as much as you can before making any final decisions.
And look for articles at the following links to follow the career paths of the flutists who've gone before:

Articles on the internet for flutists wishing to train for a performing career:

Jen's articles for advanced players and University flutists.

Also see:

Interviews with famous flutists:

Conversations about orchestral career [404 Not Found]

See articles section on preparation for a career

Click on: Enter the Flute Pages, and then see
Alexa Still, Trevor Wye, Robert Dick and various other "Flute corners" of famous performers GO TO: and click on Enter the Flute Pages. Scroll down to "corners" of famous flutists.

See home pages of famous flute performers [404 Not Found]

A good article on practicing at the University level: Leonard Garrison's new website 2014.

Old link to above article was: [404 Not Found]

More articles on preparing and practicing from professional flutists.

List of top orchestral flutists in various orchestras around the world:

Link to John Wion's biography:

Book to buy that will really inspire:
101 Inspirational stories of flute players:

This is a new book and is absolutely wonderful for inspiring you to follow your dreams no matter who or where you are.

Books about flute careers and finesse levels required (find in library):

"The Flute" by James Galway / "The Flute" by Ardal Powell
"Proper Flute Playing" by Trevor Wye
"The Simple Flute from A to Z" Michel Debost

Becoming an Orchestral Musician, A Guide for Aspiring Professionals by Richard Davis (Principal Flutist BBC Orchestra for 20 years.)

Other flute books for reading
Magazines to look for in your University library with many past
articles about flutists and orchestral information:
"Flutetalk Magaizine" U.S. (look for articles on famous players and teachers as well as info. about specific repertoire and fingerings etc.) Also look for:

"Pan" magazine from UK
"Flutist's Quarterly"
"Flutewise" from the UK
"The Instrumentalist" (general info.)

What is the best advice for becoming a professional soloist or symphonic flutist?

A college first-year student wrote:

>.....and am new to flute message boards. I know there are
professionals on this list, so I'd like some advice on the process of
auditioning/joining a symphony and/or becoming a professional
soloist. I'm from Texas, so I have plenty of opportunities to find an
excellent group. Thanks!

Jen's reply:
This is a huge topic, and there have been BOOKS written on it.

See: Becoming an Orchestral Musician, A Guide for Aspiring Professionals by Richard Davis (Principal Flutist BBC Orchestra for 20 years.) This is a PHENOMENAL book!! Read it cover to cover!!! :>)

Now: What do you already know, and where are your areas where you'd like tomake further inquiries? Can you narrow it down for us to save us
typing up everything we've ever learned? :>)

In general:
- The quickest way to a symphony job is to be the student of the person who currently has a symphony job---in that way, if you are their BEST student, when an opening comes up they will possibly suggest to the conductor etc. that YOU would be a good person to fill
the job. (see: "Proper Flute Playing" by Trevor Wye.)

- The quickest way to gigs as a major soloist is to be the student of a major soloist who might introduce you (as their BEST student) to the various avenues and influential people and programs that will allow you to appear as part of various solo concert series.

- The most straightforward way of improving your performance level to world-class levels (so that you win auditions and contests) is to study with the top teachers in the world. You may have to raise the money for travelling and living abroad at times, but Summer Schools
and special classes with world-class teachers are great connection points. ie: William Bennett Summer school etc.

- The best way to prepare yourself for a symphony job is "on the job training" in the top student orchestras (National Youth Orchestras/Summer Orchestras with high-quality reputations). The more on-the-job-training you have in student orchestras, the more developed your repertoire and technique for orchestral playing.

- The best way to prepare yourself for a career as a soloist is to give several recitals a year, video record them, analyse your strengths and weaknesses, and continue to improve in all aspects of "giving a show".

If you'd like to do some reading on these topics, ask your private teacher, your mentor(s) in the music world, or ask the big-teachers on-line for a list of good, up-to-date books on these topics. You might also travel to interview important flute players who already have the careers you wish to have, to find out what their best advice is. (you could write up the article and then offer it to one of the flute magazines as a way of getting involved in directly getting answers to your questions and then sharing them with others.)

But for quickest advancement, you need to be focusing on your performance goals, and then saving money in order to continue to work with the best teachers on flute, and to audition for the best ensembles you can find.

Best audition and performance book: "The Performer Prepares" by Robert Caldwell. (should be in the library).

You may also learn much by reading about the music industry, opera
preparation for auditions, and by listening to current recordings, watching broadcasts and videos of current orchestral concerts (top orch. in world are often broadcast on TV, which you can video-record
and watch at your leisure.)

Please ask more specific questions if you can. These question areas are VERY LARGE. :>)

Best, Jen Cluff 2003

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© Jennifer Cluff