Another installment in our “ChopSaver Users are Just Plain Cool” series! Paula Robison (http://paularobison.com/home/) is an American treasure in the classical music field. Paula Robison burst onto the international music scene in 1966 when she won First Prize at the Geneva Competition, the first American ever to receive this honor. She joined the roster of the newly-formed Young Concert Artists and embarked on a groundbreaking, world-traveling career as a flute soloist, a career which continues to be vibrant to this day. Paula Robison has taught at the Juilliard School and given classes all over the world. She now occupies the Donna Hieken Flute Chair at New England Conservatory and is happy to be defining her own distinctive style of teaching as she passes on the great legacies of her teachers, flutists Marcel Moyse and Julius Baker.
DG – When did you first think you might want to be a professional musician?
Paula – I was twelve years old, and had been playing the flute for about a year. There was a lot of music in our house; I lived and breathed music, but it was only when I got a flute in my hands that I knew that music would be my life’s work as well as a source of joy.
DG – What do you see yourself doing 5 years from now?
Paula – I am depending on ChopSaver to keep me playing, recording, and teaching! I also would like to write my memoirs!!
DG – You travel and perform a lot – do you have a workout regimen?
Paula – A regular practice schedule is hard to maintain when I’m traveling, but I always do my warmup routine. It’s a collection of exercises, scales, and melodies, which I’ve collected through the years. (Check out “The Paula Robison Flute Warmups Book”.)
I believe in a good routine of stretches too, and regular exercise, good healthy eating, and SLEEP (so important). Vitamin H, Happiness, is super-important! I am a mad gardener, too.
DG – Your job looks very glamorous and exciting – tell us about the not-so glamorous side of it!
Paula – The glamorous part is fun, but, as you well know, we musicians work really hard to stay at the top of our form so we never disappoint our fans, and that means many hours of grueling work, self-doubt, determination, and sacrifice. That’s the most important thing to remember, I think. The hard work is not glamorous. But it’s for our ART. The result is the most deeply exciting and rewarding state-of-being I can imagine, and worth every moment of the grind.
DG – What is your favorite/coolest venue you have ever played in?
Paula – My all time favorite venue: Carnegie Hall. It is so beautiful. From the stage, you look out at a concert hall which embraces you in its arms. You see every face in the audience. And then you play, and the music is totally alive. It travels to each scrolling corner and weaves its way back to you joyously. I am blessed to have made music there often through the years.
Two coolest venues:
The Temple of Dendur at the Metropolitan Museum of Art where for over 20 years we explored the music of Vivaldi in that huge, resonant, magical space with a virtuoso orchestra and soloists.
The Plaza San Pedro in Cartagena, Colombia, where I played an outdoor show with the great Brazilian artists Romero Lubambo and Cyro Baptista…the plaza was packed with cheering, loving people.
DG – What sort of things do you want to do that you haven’t had the opportunity to do yet?
Paula – With the flute: record some more of the standard repertoire while I still have my chops! In “real” life: See the Northern Lights (Aurora Borealis), go back to ballet class.
DG – For the flute players and musicians out there, what is a typical practice session like?
Paula – Stretches, Warmups (scales , arpeggios, long tones in melodic context, trills, articulation) studies, etudes, Trying to stay away from Facebook, repertoire, stretches
DG – Most influential musician you have studied or worked with.
Paula – Rudolf Serkin
DG – Most influential musician you have NOT had the chance to study/work with.
Paula – Artur Rubenstein
DG – Name three things a young musician MUST have to pursue a career in classical music.
Paula – Besides talent: Passion, vision, and a good sense of humor.
DG – Congratulations on an amazing career and best wishes for many years to come! And thank you for the great insight and advice!