Please tell me a little about yourself (profession, musical activities, etc).
I am principal flute and soloist of the Buenos Aires Philharmonic and have held positions in many other orchestras during my career. I am also an active chamber musician and have given many solo concerts around the world, as well as doing masterclasses.
On playing the flute from memory…
I don’t know many wind instrumentalists like me who like to memorise pieces. But I do! I think the flute might be harder to play from memory than other wind instruments, because the others instrumentalists can see theirs hands, which provides a very good reference for the memory. With the flute, if you open your eyes, you see the public!
I am going to write some significant things for me about memory. I always need to know where I am going to put my fingers and my ears – there must be a connection between these, like a wire or a cable. Melodic intervals and the score are also very important and harmonic memory helps me to play with more expression.
When I am without the flute, I need to be able to remember where the notes occur. In order to be sure about everything I am going to play, I start to say the name of each note in the correct place without the flute. What is very important for me is the rhythm, or in other words, where and in which place I am going to put the notes. For example, am I going to play four quarters? three quarters? how long is each note? how long is each pause? etc. When I am practicing, no expression is necessary in order keep the mind’s attention on this issue: memorising the music, and all of the map around the flute part if I am going to play with piano or orchestra. What I do by memory without the flute is to remember what my fingers have to do in opposite hands, i.e. what the right hand has to do using the left, and vice versa. In fact, I’m practicing all the time, while I’m walking or at the gym! I memorise with the score in front of me without the flute – on the sofa or in bed!
Numbers also help me a lot – that is, rhythms. If you change the time signature of the bar, even if you are playing in four quarters, or one note or half notes alone, you must take care about rhythm because of the length of each note! That is geometry, like chess players use. They can remember many of the plays in the past through numbers. And numbers never lie.