In Faculty and Staff, School of Music

“Flute Tube” is geared towards Clayton’s flute students, but videos for general musicians are also included on the channel

When BYU School of Music professor April Clayton started a YouTube channel in early 2013, she had one purpose in mind: share her performance of the piece “Half Moon at Checkerboard Mesa,” composed by Phillip Bimstein. But when COVID-19 hit seven years later, Clayton saw an opportunity to revive her channel to provide additional assistance to her students. The result was a series of videos known as “Flute Tube.”

“I knew very early on in this pandemic that I wanted to begin posting some instructional videos for my students,” Clayton said. “I felt their lesson experience over Zoom was too sparse — I wanted to provide another learning tool for them. I knew this was a chance to explain some topics truly in depth. In fact, it gave me a platform to go into much more depth as a teacher than I am usually able.”

(Courtesy of April Clayton)

Not only did the pandemic significantly alter course instruction, it also led to the cancellation of summer music festivals, concerts and other opportunities that music students typically enjoy and participate in to enhance their skills.

“​I want to make up for the otherwise somewhat ‘thin’ experience my students are having right now,” Clayton said. “Since the experiences they were hoping to have could not materialize, I want to give them learning tools that are different but, I believe, equally useful.”

After reviving her YouTube channel in April and beginning the “Flute Tube” project, Clayton has reached nearly 400 subscribers, some of whom are her students and some of whom are part of the broader flute community.

“It’s a bonus that I can make these videos available to all interested flute students and teachers out there, all over the world,” Clayton said. “I’ve heard from flutists in Germany, England, France and other countries who are following along with my video releases. It’s really rewarding to know that this broad audience of flute players can continue to learn and share flute thoughts together due to my video contribution.”

Clayton also emphasized that some episodes are equally applicable to all musicians, not just flute players. She has compiled a playlist called “Flute Tube Whole Musician” so that those who practice music in any way can join and get just as much out of it as flute players.

“It’s been a great way for me to connect with a whole community of musicians online, since I can’t connect, teach or perform as a musician in person, as I normally would over the summer months,” she said.

Musicians worldwide are not the only ones benefiting from the project. Clayton pointed out that working on a YouTube channel has helped her to develop her own abilities.

“I’m picking up a lot of new skills as I go, because I want to make videos that will be interesting and educational to watch,” Clayton said. “It has been good for me as a teacher to think about how I want to present these ideas about flute technique. I want to be sure that all of my videos are a great educational tool that I can be proud of. This means I am spending a lot of time and care each week on how I put my ideas together for every episode.”

Clayton releases new episodes of “Flute Tube” every Friday and intends to do so throughout the entire summer. She indicated that she hopes to continue beyond that, not only because she has thoroughly enjoyed the experience but also because she sees it as an enduring resource.

“Once life gets back to normal, and I can see my students again, I will still really want to incorporate these ‘Flute Tube’ videos into my teaching routine,” Clayton said. “They will be a truly valuable teaching tool for the rest of my career.”

Tune in for Clayton’s first episode of “Flute Tube” below.

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