Merryl Neille

I have been playing the flute since I was eight and started appearing on stage from ten years of age. I played in large ensembles from early on and loved the social aspect of music making. Through youth orchestra playing I fell in love with the orchestral repertoire and eventually became principal flutist of the Johannesburg Philharmonic Orchestra.

When my cherished orchestra went into insolvency, I moved the the States to search for new ways to challenge myself as a performer. I am so happy to have found the University of Michigan and Emblems Quintet! I love new music and have collaborated with some really talented composers including Brandon Scott Rumsey, Vito Zuraj and Baldwin Giang. Equally as much as I love the symphonic repertoire, it is very exciting to play current music. My favorite extended technique is whistle tones; they are not easy to control but are very helpful for exercising the embouchure! I also love playing different types of flutes, such as pan flute and bamboo flutes which I played in the Johannesburg production of The Lion King musical. My second instrument is traverso (baroque flute).

In my teaching, I have my students fill out a focus sheet that helps them think about areas of their playing that they wish to work on. This helps students clarify their goals and allows me to choose the appropriate etudes and exercises to meet their needs. As a traverso player, I love teaching baroque music. It is wonderful to see the process of modern flute players starting to sound like baroque flutists as they incorporate the principles of historical performance practice. It is important to me to help create well-rounded, thinking and individual flutists.

Merryl is a Graduate Student Instructor at the University of Michigan where she is pursuing a doctoral degree in Flute Performance. She holds Masters degrees in performance from both the University of Pretoria and the Conservatory of Amsterdam.

Alex Hayashi, Oboe  

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Photography by Chris O'Brien and Luis Escareño