I remember perfectly the first time I heard the Concierto Pastoral for flute by Rodrigo. Is not a concert that the flutists usually play, due to his difficulty.
I was amazed when I listened the video for the first time. I didn’t know the flutist who played. Later I discovered that was Loïc Shneider, french flutist and current principal flute of the Orchestre de la Suisse Romande in Geneve (Switzerland) with Sarah Rumer.
Today you have the opportunity to know this great flutist, who has won several competitions (ARD, Rampal, Nicolet, Kobe…)
Very rewarding words from Loïc. I hope you like it! 🙂
- How did you begin in music?
My mother was a music teacher in the school, so we always had music, classical or not, at home. She was playing the violin but I must confess that I don’t really remember times where she played it. I had some opening music lessons for little children from the age of 5. You know, when you play with a lot of percussion instruments and you learn a little bit to sing.
When I was 6, I heard flute for the first time in my life in a school camp, played by a teacher just before we had to go to bed. And as soon as I came back, I said to my parents that I wanted to start playing this instrument.
They agreed, of course, but unfortunately I was to small and there weren’t curved flutes as we have now for beginners. So a few months after, when I finally had to go to my first flute lesson, my mother gave me the box with my instrument. I opened it and … it was a recorder!!! I tried to explain to my parents that it was a misunderstanding and that it wasn’t the right instrument, but they said I was to little for the one I wanted.
I was so upset that I didn’t go to this first lesson!
After 2 years with the recorder, I finally started to play the flute!
- You won several prizes in the Munich ARD, Jean-Pierre Rampal, Nicolet, and the Kobe competitions, among others. Do you have a secret for winning competitions?
The BIG secret has two parts : practice and fun!
Most of the students I meet don’t exactly know how to build their practice. I had the chance to get a job in the orchestra quite early (I was 22) and it implied two things:
First, in the orchestra you have to work fast and efficiently. Concerts come every week with different programs, no time for wondering if you should do it one way or another.
Then, since I was already working in the orchestra during all my competitions period, I had to organize myself with not so much time for my practice. And even if it seems to be harder to prepare yourself correctly when you only have two hours a day to play, in fact, it’s quite the opposite: you have to be smart in order to be more efficient!
The second half of the secret is fun : I applied for all those competitions because I hadn’t so much opportunities to play in concerts at this time. I was so happy to be given the chance to play the beautiful pieces you can find in the competitions’s repertoire!
If I play music, it is to enjoy the beauty of it and to share it with whoever wants to listen to it: family, audience or jury. So in my practice, it was always my highest motivation!
- What do you think that makes you a special flutist?
I think that from the moment you decide to think by yourself and to play the way you really want, without trying to please any teacher of some sort, you are a special flutist.
From this point, everyone is special in his or her way.
- What has made you to be where you are?
My family: I achieved what I did thanks to the support of my wife and the immeasurable joy to have the boys.
And also my will and, I hope, my humility. Even if it’s not very humble to dare to say so …
- What’s the most curious thing that has happened to you in your career as a musician?
There are always strange things happening when you are on stage, but this one is not about that. After the ARD competition, I received a phone call from an american woman saying she was manager in the Pittsburg Symphony Orchestra. She said they had a job as 1st flute in their orchestra and that their conductor, Manfred Honneck, heard my performance on the German TV and wanted to propose me a trial of 2 or 3 weeks there.
And I thought it was a joke, and that a friend of mine was just playing me, so I answered that it was not fair to make fun of me. The woman was really surprised by my answer and she swore it was for real. Since I still didn’t believe her, she said that she would write an email.
It is what she did, and all of it was true: I called my friend in the interval and she confirmed to me that there was a job in Pittsburg and that it was the american way of doing a trial!
Finally, I didn’t go. I couldn’t imagine to live there with my family, so I passed on the trial.
- What can you recommend to the professional flutists who want to win an audition? And a competition?
To practice harder! No, seriously, to practice their music with their brains and their heart. From on way, to always try to understand what the jury would like to receive, which is something that doesn’t only apply for music: I think your life will always be better if you try to understand what the people in front of you really need.
And from the other way, with your heart, always practice in this idea that you want also to give from yourself: music is sharing, and sometimes can be almost indecent because you reveal some personal things; but it’s exactly where it starts to be interesting!
- Do you think that the orchestra or teaching are the only career opportunities for flutists?
Those are the most usual careers, but fortunately not the only ones. We have now this idea of comfort; that’s why we try ( I am totally part of this, I know) desperately to get a stable job in orchestra or as teacher.
But during centuries, being an artist wasn’t so much fun. It was in a certain way a rough life to live. You had to sacrifice a lot to live your artist life.
We are not so adventurous now, so we don’t really explore the possibilities our art could give us, in terms of alternative concerts or projects.
But this is clearly a different life, and I have to confess that I like mine: playing great composers at the orchestra and trying to give back to the students what I received!
- How do you see the current musical outlook?
Precisely now, with this COVID crisis, I think we really have a great opportunity to redefine ourselves and to make the people, all the people, aware that art and music may not help to feed themselves, but that our humanity really depends on it.
Art may not save the planet, but it could save our mankind; it defines us as human beings and not only as animals.
So, yeah, those are challenging times but exciting, and it should open to many changes!
- I have some questions from the readers:
- @Toquica.flute asks: What do you recommend to work on a piece more effectively? How to approach, etc…
As I said before, work with your brain: analyze the score, the period, the structure, the difficulties… Try to create your exercises based on the piece’s issues, do not always practice the same exercises for every kind of repertoire. Imagine them as tools: you always can create new tools!
After that, your job is to use those tools in the right way. That’s where an external ear, the teacher one for example, is useful.
But even in this «practice» part, never forget why you play music: to star and communicate. Always imagine the concert hall, the audience. Play for the others, not for yourself.
- @evaquilis_04 asks: How did you get there?
To be honest, I couldn’t really say. I never dreamt of having achieve what I have done. I couldn’t imagine having all what I have now, for the music, of course, but also in my life in a general way.
And that’s clearly the most important: the balance in my life, between my music, my family, my friends. I am really so lucky to have it all! But if I had to define it, it would be those 4 words (the order is not important) : will, practice, fun and luck.
- And finally, some advice for our readers.
Having the opportunity to live you life doing your passion is absolutely marvelous: do whatever you can to reach this goal!