I currently use the Rubank Intermediate Flute Method with a couple of my older junior high students. I find the book to be a good way to develop technique, musicianship, study stylistic concepts, develop range, and study scales.
Seeing as this is not a beginner book, the opening pages may not be of great importance. However, the book does use the first page to go over important, but often overlooked concepts, of music. The book gives notes on tone, intonation, note values, breathing/phrasing, expression, posture, practice, instrument care, and attitude. It is simply an explanation of these things, but these explanations set the tone for the book. The book is to be used to start refining all the skills that they should have aquired while a beginner.
The very next page is simply a review lesson. This can be a useful tool when determining if a new student you just started teaching is ready for this book, or if your beginner is ready to move on to the intermediate book.
Seeing as this is an intermediate book, many concepts are not introduced as they would in a beginner. Rhythms, notes, and other markings may be used without explanation. It is the assumption that the student already knows what all of these concepts are. What the book does do a good job with is explaining what refinements are sought after at this level of playing. For example, on the page for studies in expression it states, “In playing a crescendo or a diminuendo, the pitch of the tone should not change. It is a common fault of especially young players, to play flat when playing lound and sharp when playing softly. . . Only the volume should change.” Other studies also explain what is sought after, and what should be concentrated on while practicing.
The layout of the book isn’t great, but it’s not bad. It’s not like some of the Rubank books where the lines of music just seem to run together. Each exercise is numbered, and set apart from the one before. Each page is titled with the concentration of the study, or key of the study. Sometimes each study is given a title or purpose for studying. It is not like a beginner band method where there may only be a few lines of music on each page, and then there are various other concepts explained that are set apart in a colored box. For the most part, each page has many lines of music, with perhaps some text. Hopefully, by the intermediate level, the student is mature enough to not have this be a problem.
For the most part, the rhythm in the beginning part of the book is pretty simple. It sticks mostly to eighth, quarter, and half note rhythms, until page 14. At that point it starts looking at syncopation, 6/8, sixteenths, and triplets. However, after a few pages that concentrate a little more on rhythm, it goes back to being fairly straightforward.
This is one point that I like to supplement the book with my own exercises. Depending on the level of the student, I have various rhythm sheets that will help to develop their familiarity of rhythmic patterns and syncopation. This gives the student more of a chance to practice writing in the rhythms, counting/clapping, and really develop a good sense of rhythm. It is important to keep these skills sharp, and depending on the level of the student, this book may not help for a while in that.
Since this is an intermediate book, it makes the assumption that the student knows, or can figure out the fingerings for the full range of the flute (3 octaves between low C and the highest C). It does not go into the highest 5 notes (C#-F), that is not delved into until the Advanced book. What the book does do nicely is get the student acquainted with both the lower and upper end of the flute. My students will often complain that anything below the 3rd space C is too low, and this book will get them playing down there fairly often. It also works the upper register fairly well also, and makes them gain more fluency in technical work in the upper register with the more awkward fingerings. I particularly like the scale and chord studies, where the student needs to work going between the extremes of both registers (ex- going from low D-ledger line G above staff for G major).
One thing the book lacks is the guidance in what Bb fingering to use. It also lacks the Bb fingering with the lean key entirely, which I start to introduce at this point. However, with a good instructor, they should be helping the student figure out which fingering is appropriate within the context of the music.
I feel the content of this book is it’s biggest strength. I feel that it hits upon almost all the concepts I would like my intermediate students to be concentrating on, and it gives the student some very nice exercises in which to develop their playing and technique. I also enjoy how style and musicianship is not lost in this book. There are often easier exercises given note/rhythm-wise so the student can concentrate on style, articulation, dynamics, phrasing, and musicianship. It is important to not just train a technician, but a musician.
While the book does a good job of giving some very thorough exercises in many keys, it does not hit on all the major keys. Again, this is another point I supplement the book. Every so often the book reviews the keys that have been done. These scale pages include the scale, the scale in thirds, and the relative minor. While these are useful, it does not go beyond 4 flats and 4 sharps in the key signature. My students have their own scale sheets, major and minor, and in thirds. They work towards having all of their major scales learned, being able to play them in thirds, and the relative minors. Eventually, these are to also be memorized.
In addition, I find my intermediate students do not always have a great understanding of what various ornamentations are, how to do them, and the like. This book devotes several pages solely for the grupetto/turn, single, double, and triple grace notes, and trills. In addition, it also has a trill fingering chart nearby these pages.
The end of the book also starts to develop double and triple tonguing, and these exercises continue on into the advanced book of the series.
I find this to be a great book for my intermediate students. It finds a nice balance between exercises for technique, style, and expression. In addition, there are short pieces/songs to learn to apply concepts, and duets for the student and teacher to play to develop a number of skills. Again, I like to supplement the book with my own rhythm and scale studies.