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The Inside Voice: An Interview with Tracy Harris

A musician cannot learn without a great teacher, but even the best teachers can’t be experts on every instrument. It can be challenging for an educator to teach an instrument that’s not their own. If a boost of confidence is needed in the area of teaching flute and piccolo, Yamaha performing artist Tracy Harris is here to help.

A highly sought-after soloist, musician, and author, Harris has soloed with several major symphony orchestras on the West Coast. She is the product of some of the best music education in the country, having studied at both the New England Conservatory of Music and the University of California, Santa Barbara, as well as with the legendary Julius Baker. Another of Baker’s students, Paula Robison, also had a major influence on Harris.

Now, Harris is using her experience to make teaching and learning the flute easier. Harris believes that nothing should hold a student back from rising to the professional level, but students face major challenges. One of these challenges is convincing others that making music for a living is a realistic goal. She does her best to encourage parents to support their musically talented children in pursuing and achieving the highest goals that their abilities permit – even to becoming professional musicians. That’s no easy task, but she believes that music teachers should not shy away from it.

Another challenge is how difficult it is for music teachers to be proficient on every instrument. When it comes to the flute, Harris has made it her mission to help others learn how to teach the instrument. Her Flute Boot Camp sessions are geared toward non-flute-playing directors and provide excellent instruction and resources for music teachers. Harris’ Boot Camps have been so successful, she created The Flute Boot Camp Manual, which was recently released in its second edition. With the manual, teachers can learn techniques and teaching strategies at their own pace, ensuring that they will give their flute players the best possible opportunity to succeed.

With the success of The Flute Boot Camp Manual, Harris went on to write Picc Perfect, which does for piccolo players and teachers what her flute manual did for flutists. Picc Perfect includes a very special version of one of the most famous piccolo parts in history, the trio from The Stars and Stripes Forever. Arranged by her brother Todd Harris, who also contributed original music to The Flute Boot Camp Manual, the trio has been modified to aid young learners. The Piccolo 1 part is the same arrangement created by Colonel John Bourgeois for the United States Marine Band; however, Todd Harris arranged the Piccolo 2 and 3 parts with simplified notes and dynamics while preserving the character of the piece. The result is an arrangement that is fun to play and easier to teach. Cover to cover, Picc Perfect is a treasure trove of advice for teachers and students.

While she has already provided some amazing resources to aid music teachers, Tracy Harris continues to work hard supporting music education. To learn more about her, watch our Inside Voice playlist. And for more flute and piccolo music and accessories, check out our site!

Brendan Lyons
Brendan started at Pepper in 2012 and currently works in the Marketing department as a copywriter. A graduate of Villanova University, Brendan has been a musician for over twenty years. He is also an author, using his talents at Pepper to bring the knowledge of our experienced staff to our customers.

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