Originally from Turkey, Sarpay Özçağatay is an incredible flutist currently residing in New York city. He graduated from a university in Turkey as well as Berklee College of Music. Since then, he has achieved amazing things including a recent membership to the Grammy Recording Academy.
-Practices about 4 hours a day
-Sees practice as a lifelong process of discovery and improvement
-Believes ear training and learning from recordings is essential
-Frequently records himself and listens to improve sound
1. Why practice? Aren’t you good enough already? I think that if you think you are "good enough" to not to practice anymore, to me, it means you haven't done anything yet. Practicing is such a challenge with yourself as a discovery of what things you are good at and adding more onto it and the things you discover that you are weak at and need to work on... it is always the same on any level.
2. What do you do before physically playing, if anything, to prepare (for example, stretching)? I just take my instrument and play something that is not going to hurt my muscles. Like a ballad or a long tones in different register, etc...
3.What do you do immediately after practicing? I take a break! Muscles need to refresh and rest.
4. What time(s) of day do you normally practice? Usually, I begin practicing before noon until late afternoon depending on my schedule. Years ago I used to begin practicing around 8-9am. These days that is when I wake up.
5.Do you have a practice routine? I don't have a practice routine. I practice different things each day.
6, How did you establish your practice routine? Did a teacher, multiple teachers help you? Have you read scientific studies about how to practice effectively?
I established my practicing routine by the things that I have discovered during practice over the years and I usually "fix" those things(that i think they need to be improved) after a practicing period. It is all about understanding your playing so you can actually create your own routine. So, no body really gave me a routine, and I did not work on any "scientific" studies.
7. How has your practicing changed since attending college? Nothing has changed.
8.Please state your name, age, instrument(s), years of school. Sarpay Özçağatay, 33, Flute is my primary instrument, however I also play EWI(electric wind instrument) also a little bit piano, guitar,e. bass guitar,recorder and a drum set.
9.Please state the college you attended. Hacettepe University State Conservatory majoring in classical flute performance BA (Turkey) 2002 and Berklee College of Music, majoring in jazz flute performance, fulltime diploma program, 2012
10..Who has helped you the most purely in terms of developing your practice philosophy/technique? I practiced and achieved my current level by my self, however I am always thankful to my flute teacher at the conservatory back in Turkey. So my roots are coming from my teacher and i added more on it.
11. What did you practice today? I will be working on a Chris Potter transcription.
12. How long do you practice per day? Usually 4-5 hours maximum. It used to be 7 to 8 hours daily.
13. How do you achieve your specific sound on the flute? By recording and listening back to my self so i can achieve the sound i want.
14. What are the big ideas you use to guide your practice? Examples might be technique, repertoire, improving sense of rhythm, etc.
Technique and rhythm are the most important for me. Even though you have musicality, in order to establish it, you need "correct" technique to expose it. I have more to say on these and it never actually ends...Educating your ears is also a primary step.
15. How do you stay motivated to practice?
Sometimes, practicing can be frustrating and boring. If you feel these, just stop practicing, go out and spend sometime for your self to get motivated. You can not just be same everyday which is very normal. When I have these feelings, I usually go for an hour or 2 walking around the city preferably nearby water.
16. .Do you enjoy practicing? Sometimes yes sometimes not. But this is the part of life. Do we have "enjoying" life all the time? Sometime we struggle, right? Practicing is same for me.
17. What is your process for learning a new tune?
I listen to it and play with the original recording or from another band recording that I enjoy.
18. How do you practice improvisation? Do you just play freely, or do you have a more systematic approach?
I don't practice improvisation. If you practice it that won't be an improvisation.
I do transcribe, listen to the music and speak the language as the others as well as my self...But if I prepare myself for improvisation that won't make me to feel I am improvising...So I take much risk to improvise.I never get prepared.
19. Which part of your practice do you think contributes the most to your overall playing? There is no part of practicing that contributes the most for me. Otherwise I would not practice it. It's all equally important.
20. How do you master different styles such as swing, bebop, Brazilian, etc? I don't separate genres from each other. If the music I listen to, amazes me, I just go for it. I don't have many rules to master something. For me, it is all about if you like it or not. Do you master eating? No you just eat. I just play.
You can find more about Sharpeye, including some of his records, at the following links: