What's up? 😎
I’ve spent a LOT of time in the practice room figuring out how the flute works. I’m thrilled to share what I’ve discovered - and what I’m still discovering! - with you.
How did I get there?
Grab a snack and get comfy. Here's my story.
It all started in Spokane, WA where I grew up. In 5th grade, I started playing the flute because the saxophone and clarinet looked more complicated (oh, the irony). After A MONTH of trying to get a sound out of the instrument on my own, I somehow finally figured it out, and after many light-headed practice sessions, I started improving.
After two years, I felt like I had a knack for it, but I also realized that I had a ton of catching up to do if I wanted to play in the top band at school. So, I started taking private lessons, and the rest is history! By 8th grade, I knew I wanted to be a professional flutist, and I haven’t looked back since.
By freshman year of high school, I was in my school’s top band and in the city's top youth orchestra. I thought I was hot stuff, so I also began competing.
*Cue my first of many reality checks*
I realized that if I wanted to be good at this, I’d have to work smarter. With inspired teachers as my coaches and guides, I started my journey of really figuring out the flute. Add in my academic demands, a part-time job, and time spent with my church youth organization, and I started learning other skills too, like time management, work-life balance, and self-care. (I routinely ask my teenage students if they’re getting enough sleep and eating at least 3 meals a day. I learned the hard way that slacking on these things makes life miserable pretty fast.)
I’m happy to say that the hard work started paying off. I went to state Solo & Ensemble a few times, made the podium every time I went, and eventually won the whole thing my senior year. In that same year, I auditioned for a few music schools, and ended up going to my beloved alma mater, Brigham Young University.
Hard work left unchecked or unbalanced can quickly lead to burnout, and I totally started burning out my freshman year in college. For this reason and many others, at the age of 19, I made one of the biggest and best decisions of my life: to serve a full-time, 2-year religious mission for my church.
In other words, I put the flute away for two years.
That’s like a college athlete not training or doing a single bit of physical exercise for two years. And yet, it still remains as one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.
After some of the most fulfilling two years of life in Brazil, I came back home with a new fervor and zeal for music and the flute (and I was fluent in Portuguese! 🇧🇷). Getting back in shape was quite the experience. I sounded like I did back in 5th grade band, but I had the advantage of knowing what I was doing this time.
I practiced smarter than ever, and after only a month, I was right back to where I was before leaving for Brazil. After another two months, I returned to BYU, and I was better than ever.
My last 3 college years saw lots of success in local competitions, and I also discovered my love of teaching. However, I still couldn’t quite manage to compete at a national level.
Another reality check. Another phase of learning how to work smarter.
In college, my love of learning went beyond academics, and I took the opportunity to try new hobbies and go on amazing adventures with friends.
Lucky for me, the outdoors of Utah are unbelievably rich with things to do and see, so I discovered my love of rock climbing and canyoneering during this time. I feel alive when I'm climbing a rock wall or rappelling into super narrow slot canyons.
It took until graduate school at Northwestern University (GO ‘CATS!) to elevate my playing to a national level. After an immense amount of hard work, my first national competition – The 2017 Myrna Brown Artist Competition - turned into my first national competition win. It was a moment I’ll never forget, and it felt good.
The successes haven’t stopped either. Since graduating with my Master Degree and moving to the Bay Area, I’ve been a competitor and finalist in several National Flute Association competitions and professional orchestra auditions, I’ve been privileged to play with orchestras such as the San Francisco Opera Orchestra and the Modesto Symphony, and I won a coveted spot on the substitute list for the New World Symphony.
But truthfully, you might not care much about that – I get it!
What does all of this mean for you?
You’ll be receiving the highest level of private music instruction in the area.
You’ll work with someone who has walked the walk, and is still walking it!
You’ll not only learn how to play the flute, but also learn how to become your best self.
But what exactly are lessons, and what happens in them?
And if you've made it this far (and you're still curious)...
Here's the bio I send to important people.
Drew Powell is a young professional flutist in the San Francisco Bay Area. His recent concert engagements have included playing with the San Francisco Opera Orchestra and the Modesto Symphony Orchestra. He is currently an active substitute for the New World Symphony for the 2020-21 season.
Most recently, he won 2nd place in the NFA 2020 Orchestral Audition and Masterclass Competition. He was a quarterfinalist in the NFA 2019 Young Artist Competition, and was an alternate finalist for the NFA 2018 Orchestral Audition and Masterclass Competition. He won the 2017 Myrna W. Brown Artist Competition hosted by the Texas Flute Society, which included a reappearance as a featured guest artist and clinician at their convention the following year. He has appeared as a featured soloist with the Utah Philharmonic Orchestra, Utah Wind Symphony, and the Brigham Young University Philharmonic, and has additionally performed with the Des Moines Symphony Orchestra and Orchestra Iowa. He has performed in numerous masterclasses given by renowned artists such as William Bennett, Jeanne Baxtresser, Carol Wincenc, Elizabeth Rowe, and others.
Drew obtained his MM from Northwestern University studying under John Thorne and his BM from Brigham Young University studying under Dr. April Clayton.
Drew enjoys living an active lifestyle outside of music. When he isn’t performing or teaching, he is probably rock climbing, running, reading classic literature, or cooking up something new for dinner.