Julia Escobar on her upcoming studio recital
Over the last year and a half, we have gotten to know Illinois Public Media’s first-ever John Frayne Classical Music Fellow, Julia Escobar, through her special episodes of Prairie Performances last fall and Classics of the Phonograph last month. As the semester draws to a close, we thought we’d check in with our John Frayne Fellow to find out more about her upcoming studio recital on December 4.
Escobar is currently working toward her doctorate in flute performance at the University of Illinois. This fall is her first semester as a teaching assistant to the flute studio at the university's School of Music. What this means is she teaches a subset of students—her “studio”—within the flute studio at-large of Dr. Jonathan Keeble.
Though Escobar was not required to organize a studio recital, she explained, “I wanted to give my students something to work towards aside from their traditional performance engagements in ensembles and in studio class. Although the majority of my students are not performance majors, I value their creative voices just as much. This recital complements my goals in my doctorate studies and as a teaching assistant. Putting on a studio recital is common for private teachers, whether freelance or in a university setting, so I wanted to learn by doing one. I have great respect for my students’ time in preparing for this bonus performance opportunity.”
Escobar teaches students privately in one-on-one lessons and also in groups as part of her Flute Methods class, which includes ten music education majors learning flute for the first time. This past semester, she has also been a chamber coach to a flute trio.
“As the teaching assistant, I am in charge of teaching most of the non-performance major flute students and any non-majors,” Escobar explained. “Out of my five flute students, four are music education majors, and one studies biology. My three additional piccolo students are music performance majors.”
Teaching has long been a passion of hers, having taught flute privately since her freshman year of college. She maintained a private studio throughout her undergraduate studies, and she has also given master classes and workshops. Until recently, most of her students have been high school and middle school-aged flutists, so teaching at the college level is still relatively new. But Escobar is happy to teach students of all ages: “Teaching flute lessons is central to my career goals; I hope to be a professor at the college level one day. I see teaching being a part of my life for as long as I am able to do so.”
So, what goes into preparing for a studio recital from the perspective of the teacher? Escobar ran it down for us: “My students have been preparing for this recital since the start of the semester. I evaluated each student’s progress and repertoire needs, and then gave them several pieces to choose from. All of their final repertoire selections are their own—I wanted them to choose a piece they would enjoy preparing and performing! In preparing for their performances, they have brought their pieces to their weekly lessons, rehearsed with a pianist, and they will have a dress rehearsal before the recital.”
All this hard work has already started to pay off for her students. “I am really happy with all of their progress!” she stated. “I think each piece suits the individual students well and caters appropriately to the topics they are working on in lessons.”
Escobar’s studio recital, which will be held on Sunday, December 4 at 5:30 p.m. in the Smith Memorial Room, will feature a wide range of music spanning the eighteenth to twenty-first centuries. The selections will include standard repertoire pieces as well as some hidden gems by such composers as Kummer, Hindemith, Vivaldi, Périlhou, Godard, Ibert, Harberg, and Dorff. All of Escobar’s students will be performing, so there will be three piccolo pieces as well.
Seeing as Escobar is a student herself, we asked if there was anything she has learned in the process. She responded, “The process of preparing these students for our studio recital has taught me a lot. Through these pieces and the preparation process, I feel like I have gotten to know each student better each week—both as musicians and as people.”
Escobar learned some practical logistical lessons as well: “I have learned how difficult it can be to coordinate many people’s schedules and to schedule a date that all works for us, so I’m extra appreciative we are able to come together on December 4!”
In the meantime, click here to listen to Julia Escobar’s special episode of Classics of the Phonograph, which aired on Saturday, November 5. You can also hear her performance on last year’s Classical:BTS Holiday Special here.