I am very fortunate in my job to work with many local professionals, and the backbone of great flute players in the state is definitely our amazing private teachers. These teachers work both in their homes (mostly virtually now with COVID precautions) and in local schools to help flute players progress in their skills, and when they are ready for their next flute, I often work with both parents and the private teacher to find their perfect instrument! Today’s spotlight is on Jill Mandell, a prolific private teacher in the Carmel/Westfield area. Please enjoy this interview and learn a bit more about Jill!
1. When did you start playing the flute?
My father was an elementary principal in Bloomington, Minnesota and in our school district, band was started in the 6th grade. He would bring home instruments from his school for me to try, and when I was in 5th grade he put the flute in my hands– I knew I had found my instrument. I could not make a sound out of it, but he could, so he was the one who taught me how to make the correct embouchure.
2. Did you always know you wanted to play an instrument, and what drew you to the flute?
As a child we always had music in our home. My dad played all types of music on our record player and any concert or musical happening in the Twin Cities we attended. My dad really instilled the love of music in me because of his enthusiasm for it. I have always found the voice of the flute to set a mood. Be it a spirited, feisty march or a tantalizing, alluring lower register piece the flute catches your attention and you can’t help but notice it.
3. What were your school music experiences, through high school and beyond?
While in school I played in Marching Band, Concert Band, Orchestra, Musical Band, Pep Band for basketball and hockey. Yes, we had a 60 piece hockey band–that’s Minnesota for you! Jefferson High School was known as one of the top band programs in the country and I was lucky enough to be there during this time. While in high school I started playing the piccolo, which I feel in love with. Our band director, Dr. Earl Benson, created opportunities most only hope for. Fredric Fennell, Miles Johnson, Colonel Arnold Gabriel, John Zdechlik, and William Revelli are just a few of the conductors I was lucky enough to play under as they introduced their new song using our band. Starting at 18 I was invited to play in the Medalist Community Band in Bloomington, Minnesota and continue this high level of music. While in this band and my high school band I was lucky enough to play at the Midwest convention 3 times.
After high school I went on to college studying with Emil Niosi and Elaine Eagle who were department heads at the University of Minnesota. Mr Niosi introduced me to the conductor of the Minnesota Symphony Orchestra and I was lucky enough to play with them for a few seasons. I also played in the pit orchestras for many musicals in the Minneapolis area and then here in Indianapolis.
4. What do you do now? What is your main job, and do you have any side gigs?
When I moved here 25 years ago, Don Fisher hired me to work with his woodwinds at Carmel Middle School. Now I am lucky enough to work with all the band directors in the Carmel and Westfield Bands. I could not ask for better people and children to work with. I have subbed in many bands and orchestras here in Indy. I played for years when I first moved here under the direction of Charles Conrad and now play in the Indy Winds Flute Choir under director Laura Recendez.
5. Tell me any other interesting things about yourself. Something musical, as well as anything non-musical that you are interested in!
My favorite things to do in my free time is spending time with my family and two dogs. I enjoy reading, attending dance competitions that my daughters’ students are in, trying new restaurants, and be with friends.
Jill’s contact information can be found on our private teacher website. She is currently accepting new students for virtual lessons, so if you’re looking for a private teacher to keep your flute player active and playing while at home, reach out to her!
Jill with some of her private students at ISSMA Solo and Ensemble contest.