Judy Grant

Founder, BFA Artistic Director, and Flute/Piccolo Faculty

Shorter bio:

Judy Grant is a professional flutist who has received national recognition for her teaching expertise.  She is the Flute Professor at Boston College and the Founder and Artistic Director of Boston Flute Academy (BFA) where she teaches flute and piccolo, coaches flute ensembles, and has created a teacher training program for pre-professionals, a mentoring program for young children, a full time gap year program for flute majors, an adult continuing studies program, and an innovative curriculum with access to world class musicians for flutists of all ages and levels.  Known for her problem-solving skills and her ability to uncover students’ true musical potential, she is in high demand as a private teacher and masterclass clinician.  Her BFA students are recruited every year by colleges and conservatories across the USA and abroad, such as Eastman, Juilliard, Curtis, NEC, and the Royal Academy of Music in London.  Her high school students have been featured on ‘From the Top’ show and are regular finalists and have won 1st prizes in the NFA High School Soloist Competition, young artist concerto and flute festival competitions, and top youth orchestra placements, including NYO-USA.  Her BFA Young Artist Program graduates have gone on to win principal flute positions in orchestras around the USA and to win soloist prizes world-wide, including Kobe International Flute Competition 4th prize, Nielsen and Geneva International Flute Competitions final rounds, 1st prize in New York Flute Club Young Artist Competition, 1st prize in Byron Hester Flute Competition in Texas, and both 3rd and 1st prizes in the National Flute Association Young Artist Competition.  Over the course of her career, Ms. Grant has participated in pedagogical research studies and has developed her own teaching methods working with over one thousand flute students of all ages and levels, including flute players from more than 20 countries.  As a performer, Ms. Grant is at home in a wide range of styles, from Baroque to Contemporary, and in a variety of settings, from concert hall to recording studio. She holds her Masters degree in flute performance from Boston University College of Fine Arts. Her primary teachers were Leone Buyse, Brooks de Wetter-Smith and Irene Maddox, who passed on their impeccable legacies along with those of Rampal, Galway, Mariano, Pappoutsakis, and Moyse.

To see testimonials about Ms. Grant’s teaching expertise, click here.

To find a sample list of the college acceptances of Ms. Grant’s flute students, click here.


Transcript from a recent interview with Judy Grant:

What is “Shaping the Sound of Tomorrow”?  

Shaping the Sound of Tomorrow refers to all the work we are doing at Boston Flute Academy. We hope to further flute community and the future of classical music in many different ways. The two are of course connected.  The more you have a real community going, the better you can impact the lives of flutists and the future.  We work to send informed players into the world who will follow many different career paths but who will all love flute, find their lives more enriched by music, have open ears and open hearts for finding beauty in many different places, and along the way make many friendships and perhaps play a role in helping to sustain the future of the arts.

At BFA we are reaching across all ages, all levels of experience and all walks of life, offering an environment of supportive, engaged and educated players who have access to world class guest artists and clinicians with many different specialties, along with first and foremost a dedicated BFA faculty who provide the core instruction plus caring BFA mentors and Teacher Trainees who give lots of extra help.  

BFA offers a broad curriculum with the Ensemble & Seminar program and other weekly classes. These courses build more well-rounded musicians and help flutists to improve more quickly.  When teaching music majors at the university level, we have the luxury and structure of a whole host of theory classes and history classes as our support system for training music majors.  When we teach beginners and the younger pre-college set, the private teacher is often the point person for absolutely everything.  That can be daunting.

One reason I started BFA is because there is no way to achieve this kind of broader work in private lessons alone.  I wanted to be more creative about how we teach and I wanted to build community.  Of course the Paris Conservatory model and university music programs do a great job with studio classes and their amazing curriculum for music majors.  At BFA it is ground-breaking because we are providing this type of well-rounded training for Grades 3-12 (regardless of their intended major when they get to college), for college non-music majors, for those who do want flute careers, and for adult non-professionals who are interested.  We are filling in a much needed gap and creating many “tomorrows” for lots of wonderful players.  No one should be left out when they are eager to learn.

I feel a lot of responsibility to get it right.   If you do it right, you have opened the door to the world of music that flutists of all ages can enjoy for the rest of their lives. This exposure can be life changing for many people. For some it is a voice they never knew they had, and for others it is just plain fun.

For the young beginner, we have an opportunity to share with them the magical world of classical music for the very first time.  I take that work very seriously.  If you introduce a world of joy and inspiration, then young players will want to continue playing through all their “tomorrows”.  Some teachers try to shame their students into practicing but I am opposed to that approach.  Every student will have a different goal and flute will fit into their lives at a different priority point.  You have to respect that and work within that framework.  That is one reason why we have the accelerated programs and the general programs at BFA so that students can choose what works best for them.

A number of our players will become the professional flutists of tomorrow and they will be shaping the direction of our field, from “concept of flute sound” to the concept of sound for commissioned repertoire to the concept of sound from cross cultural music experiences and to how this sound influences the evolution of musical genres and styles.  It is important to open up their ears and imagination early, long before they get to college.  At BFA, we are planting many seeds, starting the garden, and fertilizing it.  Then these players have a better chance at making it.

We have a thriving ensemble program for non-professional adult flutists where the experience of music is an added respite from their sometimes stressful careers. For everyone, the ringing sound of the flute can provide such a sense of well-being for the body and soul.  Mastering each new technique also provides a productive place for mental health, especially during the pandemic.  This is so important, it is a way to contribute to the quality of life for individuals and to society as a whole.  It has a ripple effect, like dropping a pebble into the pond.

I start the ripple effect by making sure none of the students at BFA has just one concept of “beautiful sound”.   We appreciate every sound you can make on the flute.  Tone exploration and the value of each timbre, each kind of vibrato, and every kind of color that we can create is a big part of what we do in our classes.  Of course there are infinite possibilities.  There is no one “BFA sound” that I teach.  There is only versatility of sound production along with a sound that is uniquely YOU.  This work is really fun.  Of course you have to make sure everyone’s “set up” is good along with a strong foundation or the road of tone exploration ends before it starts.   The early training is critical for shaping the sound of tomorrow.

What are some sound-related classes you have created since the pandemic started?

Well, the pandemic has offered us all a time to reflect on our lives, what do we want to keep from the “before time” and what do we want to change going forward?  This has definitely been a reckoning for me personally.

I think the same can be said for flute playing.  We can use this opportunity to step back and say, why do I play the way I do?  Am I sure it is authentically me?  Am I influenced unconsciously by certain players I have heard over the years and is this a helpful thing or a limiting thing?  Do flutists in my particular region play a certain way that is different from the rest of the country or the world, and if so, am I aware of that?   My hope is that flutists will continually expand their ears and be sure we are always adding on new colors and new ideas on vibrato and new forms of beauty, rather than just limiting ourselves (or even intentionally entrenching ourselves) into one concept of beauty.  

Imagination and curiosity are so important to your growth and contributions in any field, not just in music.  You often hear Nobel Prize winning scientists talking about how it was simply their curiosity that ultimately led them to major discoveries.  In the flute world, a region of flutists may define beauty by the way the leading flutist in their area plays or by how the flutists in that city’s orchestra play.  The internalization of the concept of beauty can all be completely unconscious, especially in young players but sometimes even in the professional community.  We often play what we have heard because what we have heard has determined our definition of beauty.  Now that the world has gotten so small and technology so far reaching, we have playlists on YouTube and Spotify and we can listen to anyone from anywhere at any time.  It is fantastic.  Let’s use the pandemic to open up our ears even further, increase our awareness, and make sure that we are truly curious, imaginative players.  These thoughts have certainly influenced my choices in the online classes I have taught.

So, back to your question!  Here is one example of a pandemic class I have enjoyed teaching: 

Tracing 100 Years of Sound:  Why we play the way we do

For this class, I use the rich resource we have with online recordings and start around the year 1919 and go up to 2021.  I choose one standard piece from our repertoire, something on the short side, which has lots of wonderful recordings with equally viable interpretations.  Then I choose players who helped define the playing style of their time and move forward up to present day.  We listen for color of sound, vibrato style, phrasing, breathing, tempo choices, pacing, and general character.  When you hear these iconic performances back-to-back, it really helps us to understand why we choose to play the way that we do.  What do we consider beautiful now?  What used to be considered beautiful, 20 years ago?  40 years ago? 60 years ago?  100 years ago?  Which recordings are timeless?  Where is “beautiful” flute playing headed in the future?  I only choose recordings that are all world class and all truly equal in their interpretations.  It helps to break through barriers of “only one right way” thinking and it can serve as a cleanser for the ears and an opening of the mind, so to speak.  As listeners in the class, do we hear the same thing or different things?  It makes for great class discussion.  It is also fun to then go and attempt to incorporate all those worlds of sound into our playing right then and there!  The mute button is helpful because no one feels self-conscious and they can truly explore the world of flute sound.

What are some other BFA classes you’ve taught in 2020-2021?

This year during the pandemic, our high school flutists have been composing and premiering their own pieces, writing their own Mozart cadenzas, learning about Baroque ornamentation, working through the entire Taffanel Gaubert 17 Daily Exercises book in group technique class,  studying orchestral excerpts with the full flute parts, memorizing solos, learning Form and Analysis and then analyzing selected pieces, learning improvisation via the blues, recording ensemble music, and so on.  I’ve been planting lots of seeds for their tomorrows!   

~Judy Grant

More information about our BFA programs, ensembles, and weekend classes  HERE.


Longer bio:

Judy Grant is a professional flutist who has received national recognition for her teaching expertise.  She is the Founder and Artistic Director of the Boston Flute Academy (BFA) where she teaches flute, piccolo, alto flute, bass flute, coaches three flute ensembles, and runs a teacher training program. In addition, Ms Grant is the Flute Professor and Flute Ensemble Director at Boston College.

Ms Grant’s flute students are recruited every year by major music schools across the United States and abroad, such as Eastman, Juilliard, Curtis, and the Royal Academy of Music in London.  Her students have performed in concert halls around the world, have been featured soloists on the NPR show “From the Top,” and have been named finalists of the annual National Flute Association High School Soloist Competition more than 12 times, including the First Prize Winner in 2010, Third Prize Winner in 2012, and Second Prize winner in 2014. Her Boston Flute Academy flute graduates have gone on to win principal positions with orchestras around the United States, including the current principal flutists of Handel & Haydn Society Orchestra of Boston, Albany Symphony Orchestra, Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra, Cape Cod Symphony, Portsmouth Symphony, and current freelancers on piccolo and flute for Boston Ballet Orchestra and other professional Boston orchestras.  Her BFA graduates and honorary graduates have also gone on to win prizes world-wide, such as Kobe International Flute Competition 4th prize, Geneva International Music Competition special prize, Nielsen International Flute Competition final rounds, 1st prize in New York Flute Club Young Artist Competition, 1st prize in the Byron Hester Flute Competition in Texas, and 1st prize and 3rd prize in the National Flute Association Young Artist Competition.

Known for her problem-solving skills and her ability to uncover students’ true musical potential, she is in high demand as a teacher.  Flutists travel to Boston from around New England and the nation to train with her.  Ms. Grant’s high school & college flute students are regular winners of Boston area concerto competitions and have performed as concerto soloists in historic venues such as Jordan Hall, Sanders Theatre, Tsai Performance Center, Gasson Hall, and Trinity Chapel.  For the last 25 consecutive years, Ms. Grant’s flute students have won top positions in the leading youth orchestras of Boston, including BYS (Boston Youth Symphony), YPO (Youth Philharmonic Orchestra of NEC), Senior MYWE (Massachusetts Youth Wind Ensemble), RYO (Rivers Youth Orchestra), and MA All State Festivals. In 2019-2020, her students have won positions such as Principal Flute of the MA Eastern District Orchestra, Principal Flute of the MA Eastern District Band, and every seat in the BYSO Junior Repertory Orchestra flute section.  In 2020-2021, six BFA students won spots in the MA Senior Districts and 5 were selected for the MA All-State.

In addition to her work at BFA, Ms. Grant teaches flute performance to undergraduate and graduate music majors and non-majors in the Boston College Music Department, where she has been the only flute performance faculty member for 24 years.  Her previous college appointments were as Lecturer in Music for the UMASS Boston Performing Arts Department, and as Adjunct Professor of Music at the Atlantic Union College/Thayer Conservatory.  She has served on the flute faculties of the All Newton Music School, Brookline Music School, Winchester Community Music School, New England Conservatory Preparatory School, and NEC School of Continuing Education.  Over the course of her career, Ms. Grant has participated in pedagogical research studies, developed her own teaching methods by working with over a thousand students of all ages and levels, and has taught flutists from more than 20 countries.

In the Boston music community, Ms. Grant has served as President of the Greater Boston Flute Association, Local Chair for the National Flute Association Convention in Boston, member of the Pappoutsakis Flute Competition Board of Directors, adjudicator for the Pappoutsakis Competition Finals, and freelancer on flute and piccolo with Boston area orchestras.  Ms. Grant was the Founding Manager and later Artistic Director of the Intensive Community Program, working with celebrated pedagogue Bonnie Black over the span of 10 years to provide classical music training to hundreds of children from Boston’s inner city and other underrepresented communities.  During this time, Ms. Grant was interviewed for several TV shows, including Urban Update with Byron Barnett, Sunday with Liz Walker, and the Susan Warnick Show.  The National Endowment for the Arts praised the high artistic quality and teaching methods of ICP, calling it a model music training program for underserved youth.

Ms. Grant received her Master of Music degree in flute performance from the Boston University College of Fine Arts, where she trained with Boston Symphony Orchestra flutist Leone Buyse.  A native of North Carolina, Ms Grant studied with Dr. Brooks de Wetter-Smith at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where she completed her Bachelor of Music degree in flute performance while continuing her studies in applied mathematics.  An accomplished performer, Ms. Grant is at home in a wide range of styles, from Baroque to Contemporary, and in a variety of settings, from concert hall to recording studio.  She credits Leone Buyse with influencing her concepts of orchestral playing as well as the Baroque and Classical styles, and she credits Brooks de-Wetter Smith with influencing her concepts of solo performing, as well as the Romantic and Modern styles.  Ms. Buyse also had a big impact on her piccolo proficiency, as Dr. Smith did with his excellent extended techniques training.  Both of her legendary teachers, who studied with the combined likes of Marcel Moyse, Jean-Pierre Rampal, James Galway, James Pappoutsakis, and Joseph Mariano, opened her ears to a wide range of sound concepts and tonal colors. These skills are all being passed on to students at the BFA.

Ms. Grant’s years of professional music training, teaching experience, performing arts management, and community involvement have all come together in one place: at the Boston Flute Academy.

To see testimonials about Ms. Grant’s teaching expertise, click here.

To find a sample list of the college acceptances of Ms. Grant’s flute students, click here.