No Era by Areon Flutes


No Era by Areon Flutes is released today via innova Recordings! This is the 4th release from Areon and my first as a member of Areon Flutes. It features three works written for the group by San Francisco Bay Area composers Sahba Aminikia, Ryan Brown, and Danny Clay.  I hope you enjoy listening to it as much as I do!

Listen to No Era on iTunes, Spotify, Amazon, and on the innova website


Areon Flutes

I'm very pleased to announce that I've joined the award-winning Areon Flutes as a regular member. I had been an acting member for the 2015-16 season and have played with them a couple times before that. It's been a wonderful experience to perform with these amazing musicians and I look forward to contributing to the future of this great organization.

Areon Flutes, celebrating after recording our next album.

Areon Flutes, celebrating after recording our next album.

About Areon Flutes

The award-winning Areon Flutes provides audiences a fresh outlook on traditional chamber music.  Noted for innovative programming and collaborations, Areon is a premier chamber music ensemble based in the San Francisco Bay Area. The group's performances are known for creatively engaging its audiences with unique staging, theatrics, choreography, and using all members of the flute family.

Areon Flutes members Jill Heinke Moen, Kassey Plaha, Meerenai Shim, and Sasha Launer and guest artists have received high praise for their remarkable performances.  Their New York debut in Weill Hall at Carnegie Hall in September 2007 received rave reviews: "These players know what kind of new music pleases audiences and critics alike" and "The group itself was memorable; they are a treat to all the senses" (Anthony Aibel , New York Concert Review).  In May 2008, Areon Flutes was awarded the Bronze Medal at the prestigious and internationally recognized Fischoff Chamber Music Competition in Notre Dame, Indiana.  This recognition marked the first time in the competition's 35-year history that a flute chamber music ensemble reached this elite position.

Part of Areon's mission is to make flute chamber music an equal voice in the chamber music world by leaving a new, diversified chamber music legacy.  To ensure this goal, Areon has established an International Chamber Music Composition Competition, an intensive Summer Flute Institute, and a year-round Chamber Music Institute, based in the San Jose metropolitan area.  As a non-profit organization, Areon is dedicated to sharing its passion for chamber music through various educational programs including concerts, camps, and free community and school performances.

Areon recently released their third album, Thrive, featuring commissions from Elainie Liliios, Cornelius Boots, and Mike Sempert on the Innova label. Areon Flutes are proud to be Miyazawa Artists.

Areon Flutes, after our performance of  Broken Birds  by Danny Clay at the NFA convention in San Diego in August 2016.

Areon Flutes, after our performance of Broken Birds by Danny Clay at the NFA convention in San Diego in August 2016.

Nagahara Full Concert flute for sale

UPDATE Dec 20, 2016: The flute has been sold!

I am selling my beloved Nagahara Full Concert model flute that I've had since 2005. This flute and I have recorded 4 full-length CDs (and many smaller recording projects) and performed many concerts all over the United States together. I am the first and only owner. I picked out the 14k gold head joint made by Kanichi Nagahara at the Nagahara headquarters near Boston. This flute has been loved and it has served me very well. I am so sad to part with this beautiful instrument but I must for financial reasons.

Right now, I'm hoping for a local (San Francisco Bay Area) buyer but I will consider any serious offers in the USA.

This flute is perfect for solo playing. It projects beautifully over an orchestra and I would keep it for playing concerti if I could afford to. I have had much luck playing it in chamber music settings and it blends really well with other flutes and woodwinds too. There's a reason why Nagahara Flutes have such a solid reputation. The mechanism is the absolute best. Kanichi Nagahara is one of the best headjoint makers in the world. I hope someone else can give it a good home and perform many more concerts with it. 

More details:

  • Price: $16,000 (A new flute with the same specifications, made in 2016, would cost $22,720)
  • Nagahara Full Concert model flute
  • Serial #449
  • 0.950 silver body with 14k gold head joint ("DA" cut, I think).
  • open hole (French style) keys
  • Custom C# touch piece (made by Nagahara)
  • soldered tone holes
  • pointed key arms
  • A=442
  • off-set G
  • C# trill key
  • D# roller
  • low B foot with gizmo key
  • Comes with original case and case cover in good condition.
  • Bonus: Includes additional custom-made locking double case made by Wiseman Cases which will fit this Nagahara Full Concert flute plus a metal piccolo (I never used this as a double case with piccolo so please try it out w/ your piccolo to confirm.).

The flute is in excellent mechanical/playing condition and there are no dents. Overhauled by Nagahara Flutes in 2015. There are very minor cosmetic scratches that do not effect the sound/mechanism and they are not noticeable unless you are looking for them. There is one section of the body with stubborn tarnish.  

Please contact me at if interested.

Blueprint - a location specific piece for the Soundwave Biennial

First panel of  Blueprint .

First panel of Blueprint.

Last week, I had the wonderful experience of hearing/performing my graphic notion piece, Blueprint. It was "written" for the Soundwave ((7)) Architecture performance at Grace Cathedral in San Francisco. I was lucky enough to design the piece with the following amazing musicians in mind: Kris King on Contraforte, Michael Hernandez on Soprano Sax, and Kassey Plaha on Flute. 

It's sometimes difficult to hear the contrabass flute in the last movement but the recording came out pretty well! 

Live recording: Friday, August 5, 2016, Grace Cathedral, San Francisco, CA. Meerenai Shim Quartet: Michael Hernandez, soprano sax - Kassey Plaha, flute - Meerenai Shim, contrabass flute - Kris King, contraforte

As you can see from the first panel above, the orientation to the score is different for each instrument. It continues the same way in the 2nd panel. In the 3rd, everyone but the contrabass/bass flute reads the piece the same way. 

Second panel of  Blueprint .

Second panel of Blueprint.

I had a few objectives/constraints for this piece based on the venue, instrumentation, and logistics/time: 
1) In April I found out when/where my piece will be presented so I didn't have that much time to finish the piece or schedule time with my performers.
2) It was written to be performed inside Grace Cathedral in San Francisco, which is a very live space, so I decided that the piece should not require interlocking rhythms or tight ensemble work.
3) All of my performers have very busy summers so I needed the piece to work with minimal rehearsal time.
4) The piece had to work with the theme of Architecture. This was the biggest challenge. Since my piece was to be performed at Grace Cathedral, I chose instruments that reflect the pipe organs in the church. I also spent an afternoon sitting in the church and walking the outdoor labyrinth there. If you really think about it, all notated music is like a blueprint for music. I tried to take the blueprint idea and try to marry aspects of architectural blueprints with graphic notation. 
5) The final constraint I gave myself was that the performers should be able to interpret the scores without much written instruction. My pet peeve is when the written instructions are longer than the score or if the score doesn't convey almost everything that the performer needs to perform the piece. This was tough in the last movement and I ended up writing instructions. 😕 I am convinced that I could have gotten away from written instructions if I used animated notation for the last movement.

Third panel of  Blueprint .

Third panel of Blueprint.

Pre-order "Variety Show" - the A/B Duo album

My flute and percussion duo, A/B Duo, is one of my biggest ongoing projects. We have a Kickstarter project going on right now through July 20th to pay for our first full-length album. It includes music for contrabass flute by Ned McGowan, a piece that requires the Robert Dick Glissando Headjoint®, and lots of percussion, of course!  We just finished tracking the pieces this week. The rough mixes sound really great (even if I do say so myself!) and I'm so proud to share these recordings with the world.

Quick tip: Tongue Ram or Tongue Thrust

Here's a quick tip regarding the extended technique known as the Tongue Ram (also known as "Tongue Thrust" or "Tongue Stop"). 

To achieve a Tongue Ram, the flutist vibrates the air inside the flute by quickly plugging the embochure hole with the tongue. It's only possible on the lowest octave of the flute. The flutist completely covers the lip plate with their mouth, then "stops" the tongue into the embouchure hole and plugs it up. Blowing fast air into the flute followed by the stop can yield a louder effect. The result is a percussive thud with a pitch that can sound a major 7th to minor 7th lower than the written note.

At the lowest end of the flute, the sounding pitch is a major 7th below the fingered note. Due to the variation in conical head joint design of different flutes, the sounding pitch will become a minor 7th lower than the fingered note as the notes fingered get higher. In the examples below, you will hear that my particular Bass flute sounds a minor 7th lower than fingered note starting at Ab. My C flute flips to minor 7th at A-natural. 

It can be notated like this:

Tongue Ram notation example

Tongue Ram notation example

It sounds like this (1st time = Bass Flute, 2nd time = C Flute):



  • To play a loud Tongue Stop note, you do need to blow harder right before the Stop. If you find that you are getting a Jet Whistle sound, you can try "rolling in" with the flute and it should help reduce the Whistle. 
  • If you are still getting too much air sound or too much jet whistle action, and not enough percussive "thud" sound, you might be trying too hard. It's tempting to ram forcefully but it's usually counterproductive to use a lot of force for this technique (and for most techniques, actually). Aim for a resonant sound rather than a loud one and you might find that the most resonant sound usually yields the loudest and most effective sound. 


  • This technique will never really be as loud as a normally blown note (unless the flutist is Robert Dick). Always get a live demonstration from a flutist friend instead of relying on recordings such as the one on this blog, since you have no context for dynamics and acoustics in a space.
  • The flutist needs time to prepare before and after a Tongue Ram note. We can only effectively switch from a regularly played note to a tongue ram note (and vice versa) if you give us time to do so. 
  • "Slap Tongue" is a single-reed instrument technique and it is not useful to use this term on any flute part. 
Creative Commons License
This Blog Post (including Image and Sound Recording) by Meerenai Shim is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

For more useful tips for flutists and composers, please check out Helen Bledsoe's excellent website. It's one of my favorite flutists' blogs. And of course, the modern flutists' bible: Robert Dick's The Other Flute.