Starting Out review by Margaret Crawford,

Review by Margaret Crawford

I think I would be prepared to say that the book ‘Starting Out’ is the best of its kind, but for one thing – it is the only one of its kind I have ever come across! It is not merely a book for beginner teachers, but a valuable resource for any flute teacher including those who have been teaching for many years. 

It is full of ‘quote-worthy’ sentences. Already the introduction contains one piece of sound advice after another, with memorable phrases such as, ‘Work in small steps to start with’ and ‘You will learn as much from your students as they learn you.’ It’s hard to single out the great quotes without quoting the whole book! Expressions such as ‘Donald Duck lips’ and ‘angry chin’ are just a couple of examples of the authors’ imaginative turn of phrase. 

Economy, clarity and modesty are characteristics of this beautiful book throughout. There is no unnecessary padding, no vague, puzzling advice and no sense of superiority or ‘know-it-all’. There is nothing mechanical, over-bearing or prescriptive in the advice given; it is expressed in a gentle and collaborative way. It is obviously written from first-hand experience and shows a broad awareness of the multitude of pit-falls which confront both teacher and student. The presentation is also excellent with clear print and neither too much nor too little on each page. One feels eager at the prospect of starting a new chapter. Each follows the other in a natural progression. The material is as consistently well-structured as the suggestions for planning lessons in chapter 11 and the examples given in the Appendix. The highlighted phrases at the start of each new paragraph in the ‘Tips’ and ‘Traps and Troubleshooting’ sections are carefully chosen, always pertinent and eminently memorable.

I only wish I had had this book to help me when I started teaching more than 50 years ago! The worst day of the week for me was Wednesday, my teaching day; I was much more nervous than my own students. It’s a wonder I kept going with it at all! Everything I needed to know is here in this book – from how to show respect for one’s instrument, how to hold it, to how to teach adults, how to help your students to survive the pressures of the school band, how to deal with braces, and much more. I love its clarity, its commonsense, its scope and its wisdom. It is at the same time personal and direct, modest and courageous, and chock-a-block full of great ideas.

And it is, in fact, a tutor for every tutor, not just for those who are ‘starting out’.