Today we’d like to introduce you to Bernard Flythe.
Bernard, let’s start with your story. We’d love to hear how you got started and how the journey has been so far.
I started playing the piano as a third-grader in Southport, NC and followed with the trumpet in the sixth grade. I switched to the tuba at the age of 12 because I honestly didn’t think I would continue music past the ninth grade. Once I started to receive accolades on this instrument in high school and was named to the McDonald’s High School All-American Marching Band in 1987, I began to have dreams and aspirations to perform full-time as a professional musician in major symphony orchestra one day.
Since making the decision to become a professional tubist, I attended the University of North Carolina at Greensboro and the University of Michigan and earned degrees in tuba performance. I performed with the North Carolina Symphony for a year as their acting principal tubist and continued my success with the Detroit Symphony as one of their substitute tubists. After taking a number of auditions for professional symphony orchestras and not advancing to the next round, I decided to move to metro Atlanta to set up a freelance career as well as a private teaching studio.
This mindset change with regards to my music career led me to networking with some of the top music educators in the country and working with some of the top students throughout the state of Georgia. I also received opportunities to perform with world-class ensembles, including the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra and the Nashville Symphony.
At the request of my tax accountant, Donald McAllister, in 2008, I founded my small business, The Flythe Group, Inc. to help provide more financial stability to my self-employed status. Once my small business was incorporated, I shifted the focus of the corporation to help market my musical expertise as well as showcase my talented students throughout metro Atlanta. After serving ten years at Kennesaw State University, I became the tuba and euphonium professor at Columbus State University during the fall of 2017,
Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
It has not always been a smooth road to become a successful freelance musician who wears many hats in his profession: middle/high school private instructor, university professor, small business owner, and professional musician. I have taken over 20 auditions for major symphony orchestra positions and have never advanced past the first round. These temporary setbacks led to doubt and questioning if this pursuit would lead to a futile ending. My confidence and faith suffered much because I didn’t realize at the time how important it was to have a strong mental focus and discipline to maintain the musical journey. After I graduated from the University of Michigan and moved to metro Atlanta, I also questioned whether or not I would be successful as a freelance musician. I had a rough time setting up private students and finding work with professional ensembles due to being the “new guy” on the scene.
The Flythe Group – what should we know? What do you guys do best? What sets you apart from the competition?
My teaching and performance experiences have given me the qualifications needed to be a valued asset to educational institutions and to performing organizations across the country. Until my dream and goal to someday win a major symphony orchestra position is realized, I have used my small business, The Flythe Group, Inc., to market my talents and skills as well as showcase my talented students throughout metro Atlanta.
I specialize in private tuba and euphonium lessons; solo, chamber, and orchestral performances; classroom teaching in brass methods, brass pedagogy, and music appreciation; and small ensemble conducting and coaching, I am probably best known around metro Atlanta for teaching at the Schwob School of Music at Columbus State University, playing the “National Anthem” at local marching band competitions, and performing with Atlanta Symphony Orchestra as a substitute tubist when this world-class ensemble needs someone to replace their principal tubist during his absence.
Since starting The Flythe Group, Inc., I have been especially proud to create an ensemble for middle and high school low bras students throughout metro Atlanta called the Atlanta Tuba and Euphonium Ensemble. This group has been in existence since April 2007 and provides an additional performance outlet for tuba and euphonium students. The ensemble prepares diverse musical compositions and features some of the top students in the country.
I have pride with my small business knowing that my students will benefit from receiving great instruction, opportunities, and mentoring to reach the next level of performance and education. My students have placed and continue to place well in auditions, competitions, and other musical performances. Coupled with life-coaching moments here and there, my parents have been appreciative of the skills that their children receive to help become successful in their secondary education followed by college/university endeavors.
What moment in your career do you look back most fondly on?
Although it is difficult to say which is the proudest moment of my career so far, I would have to highlight my opportunity recording a track in 2012 for Rick Ross on his album, “God Forgives, I Don’t.” I was contacted by Kenny Bartolomei, who was one of the producers on this album; he was formerly affiliated with the Grammy award winning producing team, “Justice League.” He wanted to use more orchestral instruments on Ross’ track, “Maybach Music IV,” to help advance the musical boundaries of the hip-hop genre. It was a great opportunity for me to explore other musical mediums that were not strictly based on classical music. I not only was credited on an album with one of my favorite hip-hop artists, but will receive a gold record plaque due to the album’s sales success.
Tim Redman Photography
Kennesaw State University
Atlanta Symphony Orchestra