Spring Forward

Did you Spring Forward with your clocks last Saturday night? I live in the Mountain Daylight Standard Time Zone. We get the pleasure of moving our clocks ahead an hour in the Spring and moving them back an hour in the Fall.

As I was thinking about the Daylight Savings Time Change, I thought about how I could relate that to music and flute playing.

We talk about “Spring Forward”. Take the word “Forward.” Now think about music. We always have to be looking forward to what’s coming up next in music. This leads me to two topics.

First, speed reading. Second, don’t dwell on the past.

Have you ever had to read something faster than usual? For example, maybe you show up to class and suddenly remember that you were supposed to read an article (or a chapter!!) before you came to class. So you take the 3 minutes before class starts and skim through it as quickly as you can so you can gain some small idea of what it’s about. Has that ever happened to you?

Or, as a flute player, have you ever experienced the feeling of panic as you realize that your lesson is today?! Then you quickly look through your music and play through the hard passages so your teacher won’t know you haven’t practiced as much as you should have. Has that ever happened to you?

(Shhh, here’s a secret…Your teacher can always tell whether or not you’ve practiced!)

When playing music, we need to learn to push our eyes forward. This is an essential component when trying to improve your sight reading skills. You must continually be looking forward to the next main beat or the next measure. When you’ve practiced this skill a lot, your sight reading abilities will improve.

I had a teacher who, as I was playing an Andersen Etude, would take a piece of paper and cover up the measure I was currently playing which forced me to look ahead to the next measure. Talk about panic! Over time, this simple act of covering up the measure helped improved my ability to look ahead and to view music as a bigger picture, so to speak.

The other thing looking forward helps us with is not dwelling on the past. This is true in music and in life. When you are practicing, yes, look back, analyze, critique yourself, and decide what needs improvement or what went well that you could apply to something else.

When you are performing, that’s an entirely different story. You can’t look back. You must constantly be moving forward and looking for what’s next. If you don’t do something as well as you hoped, it’s past. What’s gone is gone. Don’t dwell on the past. Don’t go back and fix it, that’s what practice time is for. When performing, look ahead and make the future great.

Practice these “Forward” skills of speed reading and not dwelling on the past. And “Spring” – as in the season? Look ahead. Hopefully, it’s just around the corner for us here in Utah.

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