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Friday, December 31, 2010

Oh music--the bane and the love of my life.

This is a post I wrote a week or so ago for Notes about Music Notes I hope you like it. :)

Oh music--the bane and the love of my life.

When I first started the flute it was an absolute joy. It was a game: Can I get out those notes? How high can I go? "Mom, guess what! I played Jingle Bells today at school!" But it slowly transformed into a mountain of stress. How could I capture the pure joy of music I once had in Elementary and Middle School?

I am a music major at a prominent University in Utah Valley...graduate student even. I study flute performance and what a roller coaster it has been.

I started in sixth grade and didn't start private lessons until eight grade. Being the oldest child, my parents didn't "know the ropes." I was rather behind, in comparison with my college colleagues. But I loved the flute and was unaware of my lack of ability. Soon Elementary and Middle School flutists started dropping music for other activities. I emerged as one of the better flutists, but I was never "the best."

Me Junior year of High School. 

In High School it was no different. I auditioned for the top band at my school as a Freshman and didn't make it. Even as a Senior I was never first chair. But this isn't a whine-fest. Even though my musical career was marred with set backs, it was also lined with triumphs--personal triumphs and musical triumphs. I got an "I" at State solo-ensemble as a Freshman and Junior and a "I+" as a Senior. I was in All-State Orchestra twice and traveled with my High School band to Pearl Harbor and Normandy, France. I don't say these things to boast, but these were the turning points that led me to the fulfillment of a dream. It was only because of them that I gained the self-confidence needed for college. But I always had this deep, persistent fear that I wasn't the best.

Me in Normandy, France thanking a Veteran from the 101st Airborn. 

My college career was much the same, marred with set-backs and feelings of failure and with the occasional "personal victory." College was the time of my life where I lost much of my pure and simple love of music. I loved the songs I was playing. I loved the new techniques I was learning as methods of expression, but there was an undercurrent of self-doubt. I was never the "best" so how or why could I continue? I started to get nervous while performing. Flute became a Major more than a love. Of course I still enjoyed playing and performing, but it didn't have the same magic as when I was younger. Where was it? Many times I thought it would be found when I was "the best," or when I was first chair, or when I was in the top orchestra. And it wasn't.

After a Woodwind Chamber night performance with my flute, oboe, piano trio. 

Slowly (and yes, I have miles to go) I am learning that a master's in flute performance or a bachelors or even a successful high school career is not required for music to capture our soul and change it. Now, my love of music can be found in knowing that I am the vehicle through which music can change our souls. I love music and I love performing because music captures emotion which cannot be put into many ways music is the most abstract of all the arts. I don't have to be the best to have this ability. All that is needed is a pure love.


Erica said...

Wow. That is exactly right. I have a hard time loving the flute in college because it is SO much stress. It is hard. :) You are great. You have definitely been successful. Everyone has their strengths and weaknesses.

Did you see the headband on my blog named Rachel? That is for you !!!

Rachel said...

Oh my gosh! I saw it and wondered! Thanks! You are so great. :)