SLIPPERY ROCK, Pa. --Kathleen Melago, Slippery Rock University assistant professor of music, has written an exercise book of etudes for flute with what she calls "a bit of a twist." The book has received national exposure.
"Modal Exercises for Double- and Triple-Tonguing Mastery," researched at SRU and targeting advanced flutists, recently received distinction as a finalist in the National Flute Association Newly Published Music Competition.
Her book was displayed Aug. 8-11 at the association's national convention in New Orleans, which included performances by Melago, the 15-student SRU Flute Choir and Stacey Steele, SRU associate professor of music. Melago's book will be reviewed in the association's member publication, "The Flutist Quarterly."
Etudes are short compositions for a solo instrument intended as an exercise. Melago said she composed etudes in every key and mode.
Most exercise books for flute focus on major and minor scales. Melago's book, in which she composed all the exercises, includes an introduction to modes, a daily double-tonguing exercise and 12 collections of exercises focusing on each of the 12 tonal centers in music. Each exercise takes a melody from the major key and then presents the melody in a series of modes, including Ionian, Dorian, Phrygian, Lydian, Mixolydian, Aeolian and Locrian.
Modes, the basis for music in the Middle Ages and Renaissance, are scales that follow different note patterns than the major and minor scales.
"In order to play very fast passages that are articulated with each note started with the tongue, flutists must use the technique of double- or triple- tonguing," she said. "Double- and triple-tonguing are really very similar in execution, with the difference being whether the flutist is playing groups of two notes or groups of three notes."
Brass musicians aspire to triple tonguing but not woodwinds, other than flute.
Melago said her research was ongoing throughout her flute studies and experiences. Melago enrolled at SRU in 1992 and studied flute with Steele as a teaching mentor.
"I had virtually no background in double-tonguing, so she guided me through the process of learning the skill," she said. "From that day on, I have wanted to write a double-tonguing book."
Melago said she spent years thinking about the concept of the book, mostly about how she wanted to structure the exercises and finally decided to structure them around the key centers and modes. She spent a year writing the melodies.
Then, in the summer of 2011, a foray into landscaping resulted into a bad case of poison ivy. Melago said she couldn't sleep and spent nights trying different anti-itch remedies and finalizing the book.
Melago dedicated the book to Steele, Angeleita Floyd, a music professor at the University of Northern Iowa, and Katherine Borst Jones, a music professor at The Ohio State University.
"It took several months of tweaking to get everything the way I wanted to have it," she said. "My publisher had the idea to incorporate quotes from the three teachers to whom I dedicated the book."
While she does not teach flute at SRU, Melago said she hopes SRU students and flutists at other universities will use the book. At SRU, she teaches "Introduction to Music Education," "Woodwind Methods," "Guitar Methods for Music Education," Instrumental Methods" and Instrumental Rehearsal Techniques" and she serves as the student teaching supervisor for the music department. Melago goes into schools and observes student teachers six times and meets with them for professional development.
"With these types of books, what generally happens is the flute teacher will work with a student in lessons and determine what specific goals or skills they need to work on and then find the best resource to work on that skill," she said. "If a student is working on improving the double- and triple-tonguing technique, my book is a great resource. Many students, especially undergraduates, are working on double-tonguing in college, so I hope my book will be useful as teachers select teaching resources."
Melago joined SRU in 2009. She received her bachelor's degree in music education from SRU in 1997, her master's degree in flute performance from the University of Northern Iowa and her doctorate of musical arts from OSU.
Melago has performed as a soloist and with ensembles at National Flute Association conventions, the Pennsylvania Music Education Association Conference, the Iowa Bandmasters Association Conference and the Ohio Music Educators Association Conference. She has been a featured soloist with the OSU Collegiate Winds and the Mercer Community Band. She currently performs with the Musicians Concert Band, directed by SRU graduate Jeff Kroner, a 1991 music education graduate, and is the flutist for St. Teresa of Avila Roman Catholic Church in Pittsburgh.
ALRY Publications, Inc., published the book. It is available at www.alrypublications.com.
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