Australian Music Examinations Board
Australian Music Examinations Board


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Musician in focus: Jane Rutter


jane rutterSince internationally acclaimed flautist Jane Rutter started playing the flute around the age of five, “if you count the recorder”, you could say she has become an inspirational tour de force with her highly compelling and distinctive verve.


After attending Sydney’s Conservatorium High School, and subsequently receiving a French Government scholarship that saw her attend the Conservatoire de Paris, Jane studied with two of the greatest flute players of their time, Alain Marion and Jean-Pierre Rampal. But before Paris, Jane had already completed several AMEB flute exams and recalls one at the Conservatorium High School with amusement.


About to sit what she believes was an 8th Grade exam, Jane’s best friend was to accompany her. “She turned up to the examination about an hour before and she said, ‘Oh my God. I don’t have your music with me’,” Jane says. “There was a young man who was about 15 and was an absolute genius and he said to me, ‘What piece are you doing?’ I said, ‘I’m doing the Mozart Flute Concerto in D major. And he replied, ‘Well if your mother can’t drive the music in for your friend, I can remember it and I’ll play it for you’.” 


Jane says that preparing a program for examination as if it were a recital; learning scales; and having to perform for a professional and have them comment, mark and appreciate where a student is at, provides the necessary discipline to go through a live performance. AMEB has actually had an impact on where she is professionally, “If I hadn’t had to do my AMEB scales, I probably wouldn’t have been so incredibly proficient at just whisking through all the technical aspects of the instrument,” she says.


Jane also adds that some of the best musical advice that was ever given to her was in France, where in the weeks leading up to a performance she was encouraged to play every piece in a program at least two to four times through without stopping.  “As soon as you get to the end of a piece, go back to the beginning and play it again because what goes wrong in the performance will actually naturally go wrong in the third or the fourth piece without stopping,” she explains. “And that will give you a kind of stamina in performance that will encourage you to keep going.”


Another valuable piece of advice, she says, is to deconstruct the piece and mark where the problem spots are. “Then create some really fun rhythmic exercises around those problems so that you trick your muscles, plus your fingers and your brain, into being totally in control of the difficult part.”     


And when it comes to her ultimate musical inspiration, while she enjoys listening to violinists and pianists and is hard-pressed to name just one, she says recordings by her two French mentors and teachers, Jean-Pierre Rampal and Alain Marion, are a tremendous source. “Sometimes they weren’t recorded very well, but it’s just hearing the humanity and the joy in their playing, and that’s the sound that I make now with the training I’ve had,” she says.


However, if in need of a big pick-me-up, Joan Sutherland (in her prime) is put on with the volume turned up. “It just reminds me of how incredible we human beings are and what it is to have a voice – whether it’s the human voice or the voice of your instrument.”  Additionally, Jane finds friend and multi Grammy award-winning jazz singer Janis Siegel to be quite stirring.


As to naming the favourite piece that she has performed, Jane says, “Whichever piece I’m performing at the time. The thing is to be in love with the personality of the piece. Every piece is like a character and if it forms part of the family that accompanies your life, you have to indulge it and be loving towards it. I suppose my latest album, French Kiss, is a compilation of many of my very favourite pieces.”


AMEB were proud to have this talented musician as a special guest and performer at the launch of AMEB’s Flute syllabus at Melbourne’s Fine Music in November 2012.