Get Started

I’m sure you have heard of “writer’s block”. It’s when a writer can’t think of what to write, how to start the story, what character development should take place or where to take the story next. Well, I’ve come up with a new term – “human block”. I’ve decided this means that as human’s we get stuck and have a hard time getting started, don’t know how to proceed, or where things should lead.

My advice to that is GET STARTED!! The popular sports slogan for Nike is “Just Do It.” That can apply to so many things. Sometimes half the battle is simply getting started.

The legendary, masterful Irish flutist, James Galway, is credited to say,

“THE QUICKEST WAY TO UNLOCK YOUR TALENT IS TO TAKE THE FLUTE OUT OF THE BOX.”

Getting your flute out of its case. Sitting down at the piano bench. Opening your textbook or your laptop to do homework. Walking down the stairs to get to the treadmill. Pressing the Reply button on a computer. These are all first steps to progress.

Don’t be lazy. Don’t be sidetracked. Don’t procrastinate.

Or in other words –
Be productive. Be focused. Be enthusiastic.
GET STARTED!!

Constructive Criticism

How well do you accept constructive criticism? If your goal in life is to improve in whatever way that is, or whatever field that is, you must be willing to accept constructive criticism.

If something is “constructive”, it is productive, beneficial, or useful. Even the word “construct” implies building or creating. The word “criticism” itself is sometimes thought of with a negative connotation. But, if you replace the word criticism with evaluation or analysis, or even opinion, it takes on a whole new meaning. Thus, instead of constructive criticism, consider thinking of it as a helpful building process.

When someone is offering constructive criticism, what are they really saying? You are horrible and worthless? Of course not! They offer advice because they care for you and they sincerely want you to improve. As a musician, taking lessons puts you in a vulnerable position. As a teacher, I strive to help my students feel comfortable by creating a positive, friendly atmosphere. I strive to point out what they are doing well then offer suggestions of what to improve.

When someone offers their opinion, whether that’s as a flutist or a coworker or a family member or friend, strive to take their input and recommendations and remember that the only reason they are sharing those ideas with you is because they want to help you develop and progress.

So, don’t jump to conclusions. Don’t beat yourself up. No one is attacking you. Don’t throw in the towel and give up. Accept their advice. Try to implement it. Take counsel and allow yourself to benefit from it and discover how you can blossom and grow.

Flute Festivals

Why Flute Festivals?

Pros: A bigger goal to work towards. Gives students a performing experience in front of others besides their studio peers. Provides an opportunity for feedback from other teachers. Strengthens memorization skills (when required). Sense of accomplishment.

Cons: Can create more stress for students and more work for teachers (but it’s worth it).

Last week we held our 24th annual Utah Valley Flute Festival. Many years ago, a flute friend of mine had the idea to start a festival where the students could perform without a requirement to memorize. She felt that memorizing gave some students too much pressure. Sitting in the living room of another friends home, the three of us brainstormed ideas of how we could set it up. That was the beginning of the non-profit Utah Valley Flute Festival.

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March Forth

Today is the 4th day of March. Is it March Fourth or March 4th or March Forth? Many years ago, my grandmother’s funeral services were held on March 4th. My uncle spoke and said that he felt his mom (my grandma) would wish for all of us to march forth with our lives and strive to be better. Let’s briefly look at what it means to march forth as a musician and as a person.

Merriam-webster.com defines forth as “onward in time, place, or order”. Dictionary.com defines it similarly and also as “forward…go forth…out, as from concealment or inaction; into view or consideration…to journey forth.”

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Flute Pet Peeves

As soon as I saw this picture I knew that I needed to write something about it. This represents perfectly one of my pet peeves.

When younger students take a break and need a place to put their flute, they often have a tendency to set it on the music stand. I’d recommend NOT doing this because you never know if the stand is loose and the weight of the flute will cause the top part of the stand to move down or tip forward and possibly cause the flute to fall off. In addition, with other fellow band students walking around during a break, your flute could very easily get bumped and fall off. I know these scenarios happen because I’ve seen them. When either of these things happen, then you have created a bigger problem of bent keys or a dented flute.  A better suggestion is to ask a trusted friend to hold it for you or invest in a reliable flute stand such as a Hercules stand or take it with you while you get a drink from the drinking fountain.

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