What do I love about playing the flute?
When I was young, the criteria in my family for choosing an instrument was that it had to be something acceptable to play in a sacred, religious church setting. Since my grandpa played violin, all of my siblings and I naturally started on the violin and I had several cousins who also played violin. I started violin in the 3rd grade. In 4th grade, the band program began in school and I started the flute.
I played the violin and the flute for a few years. I remembered how nicely the flute would fit in my yellow-gold backpack and how the violin was more cumbersome to take on the bus ride to school and I had to find a place at the back of the classroom to put my violin case everyday. I feel like the fact that my flute fit in my backpack easily was a contributing factor in why I stopped playing the violin and stayed with the flute.
I have many more reasons now for loving the flute. When I ask new students why they want to play the flute they frequently say, “I don’t know. I guess cuz’ it sounds pretty.” I agree. The flute does sound pretty.
I love the feeling of soaring when I play. Most people think the flute is a small, weak instrument. My flute professor, Dr. Ted Wight, would always tell me that the flutes can compete with the trumpets. He was the one that helped me develop my tone projection through support, air control, and opening my chamber cavities. Dr. Wight could get amazing volume on his flute and pushed me to learn how to do the same. We did this through MANY tone exercises. You can’t expect this to develop overnight.
I love the feeling of singing through my flute. I love to express music through how I play the flute. Marcel Moyse, famous French flutist, said that the flute is an extension of the voice. He has a wonderful book called Tone Development Through Interpretation which is mostly a collection of excerpts from operas. Like Marcel Moyse, I too had a parent that was a singer. Singing is a great art form to study to apply to flute playing.
I love the feeling of peace it brings. While I was in college, a friend of mine was killed in a head on collision involving a semi truck. I have vivid memories of the time after that. While practicing my flute in the small practice room on campus, I reflected on my relationship with my friend, the last time I saw him, and processed the change that had now taken place. I know I’ll see him again in heaven, but it felt strange to have someone my age have his life cut short so suddenly. Playing the flute during that healing process brought me peace.
I love the friendships it creates. It’s fun to play chamber music with others and share my talent. Some of my closest friends in high school and college came through being in music groups together – band, orchestra, and choir. In college, I had more opportunities to play lots of duets, trios, quartets, woodwind quintets, bands and orchestras. Even now, I have a circle of “music friends” as I call them. Still participating in orchestras and choirs, the music bond I create with people lasts forever. I love to run into old friends in the community or at flute conventions. That love of music binds us together forever.
Those feelings of soaring, singing, peace, and friendships are just a few of the reasons I love playing the flute. And yes, I still love how my flute fits into a small bag for traveling.
What do you love?