Modernizing Practice Paradigms for New Music

Periodization Theory and Peak Performance Exemplified Through Extended Techniques

by Jennifer Borkowski (Author)
©2016 Monographs 118 Pages


The author examines how new music scores with extended playing techniques call for new practice structures. YouTube access to basic instructional videos and the streaming of sound files allows musicians today to learn easily and independently. Yet, the trailblazers in new music tackled new scores without these aids; they used imagination, experimentation and tenacity. Conscious use of both learning modalities can augment ideas of practice and performance preparation; expanding new music’s reach while preserving its fire. Practice is differentiated between the quick learning for an upcoming performance and the transformative learning that new music offers. Periodization theory from sport science provides a pedagogical framework for building both mental and physical stamina leading to peak performance.

Table Of Contents

  • Cover
  • Title
  • Copyright
  • About the Author
  • About the Book
  • This eBook can be cited
  • Table of Contents
  • I. Introduction
  • II. Motivation For the Unconvinced
  • a. Using Extended Techniques to Diagnose and Reframe Technical Issues
  • 1. Shyness
  • 2. Weak Articulation
  • 3. Tight Embouchure
  • 4. Tight Chest
  • 5. Upper Octave
  • b. Using Extended Techniques to Promote Flow
  • III. A Work Ethic Against Mediocrity
  • IV. Mental Preparation – Conscious Preparation
  • a. Reading and Listening
  • b. Notation
  • c. Microtonality
  • d. Rhythm
  • V. Physical Preparation – Body Conscious Preparation
  • a. Stamina in Modern Music
  • b. Periodization – A Model from Sport Science
  • VI. Building Stamina Through Extended Techniques
  • a. Embouchure Strength and Flexibility
  • 1. Whistle Tones
  • 2. Glissando
  • 3. Vocalizing While Playing
  • 4. Multiphonics
  • 5. Altered Fingerings and Harmonics
  • 6. Fourth Octave
  • 7. Trumpet Embouchure
  • b. Extending Articulation
  • 1. Flutter Tongue
  • 2. Tongue Ram
  • 3. Pizzicato
  • c. New Uses of Air
  • 1. Air Sounds
  • 2. Jet Whistle
  • 3. Circular Breathing
  • 4. Inhaling While Playing
  • VII. Periodization of Heinz Holliger’s (t)Air(e)
  • a. Breathing Challenges
  • 1. Breathing Work by Multi-Lateral Training
  • b. Building Embouchure Muscles
  • c. Fingerings and Other Techniques
  • VIII. A Periodized Daily Studies Program
  • IX. In Conclusion
  • X. Bibliography
  • XI. Literature Recommendations by Subject
  • a. Resources for Modern Flute Music and Extended Techniques
  • b. Resources on Microtonality
  • c. Resources on Music Pedagogy and Performance Research
  • d. Resources on Periodization and Physical Conditioning
  • e. Resources on Music Theory and Aesthetics
  • XII. Graded Repertoire List
  • Series index

I.   Introduction

New music is no longer marginalized. Musicians have never been more independent, more diverse and more empowered. The purpose of this book is to further possibilities of growth, modernizing practice paradigms by updating theories of learning and performance preparation. While creating new learning models, I use information from fields that have studied stamina, peak performance and practice efficiency – scientifically. Modern repertoire includes new and extended playing techniques, but musicians are still studying in the same ways we always have.

To date, pedagogical materials have given us dictionaries of extended techniques and composers have developed a grammar in using them. In just the past few years, new technology has created tremendous ease of access to these materials. For example, as an offshoot of Robert Dick’s ground-breaking work in developing new fingerings, Andrew Botros developed an algorithm which notates all of the possible fingerings for multiphonics, microtones and altered timbres. Now a flutist or composer can bring a phone or tablet into a practice room and access every mathematical fingering possibility. YouTube has changed accessibility to new music. Everyone can now hear repertoire that was previously only heard in new music festivals. Extended techniques used to be a mystery, requiring a brute strength and score reading prowess to figure them out. Now we have expert models of them online. Robert Dick, Helen Bledsoe and Matthias Ziegler, among others, have made excellent online tutorials. One YouTube channel syncs recordings of Brian Ferneyhough’s works with the score. In addition to this, new music has had some very public successes. In 2012, Claire Chase was awarded a MacArthur Fellowship for her work with I.C.E. (International Contemporary Ensemble). Greg Patillo, the beat boxing flutist, composed a piece for the National High School Soloist’s Competition for the National Flute Association. Selected conservatories have added programs in contemporary performance practice and new faculty are increasingly reflecting our stylistic diversity.

In spite of these successes, there is still a divide among musicians. Resistance to learning music composed since World War II remains. Opinions expressing resistance or dislike are easy to find. James Pappoutsakis, former principal flutist of the Boston Symphony, has remarked, “Contemporary music ← 15 | 16 → should not distort the tone quality or degrade the player.”3 This reflects the idea that classical musicians strive for a homogenous tone, and that when we step outside of this, we’re wrong. The composer Virgil Thompson said, “The European effort toward writing atonal music not for noise-making instruments but for those whose design has been perfected over centuries for avoiding tonal obfuscation has been [….] a waste of effort, save possible for proving it could be done.”4

Besides these opinions among mainstream musicians, academia has its own biases. Robert P. Morgan, in his textbook Twentieth Century Music; A History of Musical Style in Modern Europe and America, dedicates only two paragraphs to the importance of IRCAM, Institut de Recherche et Coordination Acoustique/Musique, and makes only a brief mention of the Darmstadt Ferienkurse.5 The name is written only in passing, omitting any discussion of its philosophy or current influence on composition.

The editors of Source magazine had the following comment:

Since, by definition, the avant-garde is at the ‘growing edge’ of music, new scores must be published and circulated while their concepts are fresh, not years after the composition. […] In this way, everyone gains true perspective, and music advances. […] While it is a fact that not everyone - least of all professional musicians and educators - wants to make an effort to gain ‘true perspective,’ it is equally true that new music will advance and eventually take over the most conservative citadels of learning - for the simple reason that it always has, always does, and always will do so.6

There is still a stylistic divide. In 2007, I conducted a randomized study and saw this more clearly. The study was carried out through the “Flute List Pages,” a listserv with over 2000 members. 187 flutists agreed to participate in a blind study with the requirement that they were teaching or majoring in music in an American university music program. There were no qualifiers for majors, meaning this was a randomized selection including graduates ← 16 | 17 → and undergraduates in both music performance and music education. The following data proved noteworthy:

Extended Technique Experience     85
No Experience     102
Age Range     18-39


From these flutists, 85 had studied at least one work with extended techniques. From those 85, the response was overwhelmingly positive towards new music in general. Many were rock/jazz based with two classical students having credited Jethro Tull with their exposure to new techniques. What was missing from 100% of the flutists was any advanced work or work of the new complexity.7 Also, appearing only once was Luciano Berio’s Sequenza I (1958), and no one had played any work of Pierre Boulez.


ISBN (Hardcover)
Publication date
2016 (April)
Musicology Music Education Performance Techniques Contemporary Music
Frankfurt am Main, Berlin, Bern, Bruxelles, New York, Oxford, Wien, 2016. 118 pp., 27 b/w fig., 2 tables

Biographical notes

Jennifer Borkowski (Author)

Jennifer Borkowski received a masters in music performance and earned her doctorate in instrumental music education. She is a classical flutist, recording artist, certified figure skating professional and active as a researcher as well as a solo composer/performer.


Title: Modernizing Practice Paradigms for New Music
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122 pages