Blog

Mr. Love

I started playing the flute in the 4th grade band program in Arizona. I have memories of staying after school occasionally for lessons with the band teacher, Mr. Love. I remember him as a tall, lanky man and very patient and kind. (I admire anyone who teaches elementary band.) A few years later when I reached 7th grade, I had progressed and was ready to learn the piccolo part to Baby Elephant Walk. You know you had arrived when you got to play the piccolo part on that song. Thanks for your encouragement, Mr. Love.

To this day, I still love to hear the Baby Elephant Walk by Henry Mancini. If you haven’t heard it before or lately, it’s a great piece to lighten any mood. Then the song will stick in your head for the rest of the day and make you smile.

Mistakes Happen

Years ago during a lesson, one of my former teachers, Michel Debost, said in his French accent, “If you make a mistake, you make a mistake.  The heavens are full of mistakes up there.” 

What does that mean to you? I take that to mean a couple of things. First, don’t be afraid to make a mistake. Sometimes I’ve had students stop playing in the middle of a phrase. When asked why they stopped, they said, “Because I was afraid I was going to mess up the next part.” How many people have not done something because they were afraid of making a mistake?

Second, give everything your best shot and full effort. Don’t back off if something doesn’t go quite right. If you are going to make a mistake, make it with a good sound, and keep on going.  It’s not the end of the world.  We all make mistakes and you can keep trying, keep playing, keep improving, keep learning and keep sharing your talents. 

In fact, Debost had a good musician friend who, as he got older, wouldn’t have flawless performances like he did at the height of his professional music career, yet he continued to play and perform because he still loved it. Mistakes and all.

GOALS

S.M.A.R.T.

C’mon.  You know you love it.  It’s January and time for those yearly goals of exercising, eating better, and practicing your flute more. Many have heard of SMART goals. Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, Timely. Using SMART tools has proven to be successful in achieving goals.

Let’s look at an example. GOAL: I want to get better at playing the flute. What’s the problem with this? Too broad, not specific, doesn’t state how to measure progress or why it’s important, nor does it specify a time goal with it.

Instead, try something like this…

Continue reading “GOALS”

I Played My Best

I love the song The Little Drummer Boy. The drummer, a poor boy too, feels like he doesn’t have a gift that’s fit for a king. But then he realizes that he can play his drum for Him as a gift. Like the drummer boy, we all have something we can give and contribute, no matter how small. (Horton Hears a Who, anyone?)

“I played my best for him.” What is playing your best? What does that mean? Students often say they played things better when they were at home. If you have practiced and prepared the best you can, worked hard, and applied yourself the best way you know possible, then that is your best.

Or is it? What if your best isn’t good enough? Then what? There are a lot of flute players out there. How do you compete? How do you stand out? How do you find your place?

If you tried the best you can with the time frame and resources and energy you have been given, then that’s all you can do. Don’t beat yourself up over a memory slip or a missed note. Continue to work and learn and grow.

As you prepare for a new year, be ready to give it your best, whatever that is. That’s for you to decide. That’s all you can ask of yourself and that’s all God expects. Keep doing your best, just like the little drummer boy.

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!!

Handel’s Messiah

Although Handel’s Messiah was first performed in April of 1742, it has now become a traditional production for the Christmas season. I grew up with the Messiah as a natural part of our household at Christmas time. For as long as I can remember, my mother was a choir conductor and led the Messiah for years and years. More mature voices (with a minimum age 16) were required for the Messiah choir so naturally, I looked forward to my 16th birthday so I could finally join.

When my mom was 80 years old, she conducted the Messiah for the last time. I was fortunate to travel to Arizona to sing in that final production with her conducting. You can see her weathered and dog-eared score in the picture above. She just turned 90 and when she hears the music on TV or other places, she still “conducts” it from her chair, complete with cues for the different vocal parts.

I’ve had the chance to both sing in the choir and perform in the orchestras, playing flute, of course, for Messiah productions. I can’t choose which I like best. This is do know – I never tire of hearing it, playing it, or singing it. This holiday season Messiah productions and sing-alongs are probably not happening (thanks to Covid), at least I know they aren’t around here.

I’m grateful for the Messiah memories that I do have and look forward to the time when musicians can gather safely together again to express joy through music. Words cannot describe the feelings of being involved in a Messiah production. There is nothing quite like the glorious Hallelujah Chorus or the end of the majestic Worthy is the Lamb and the grand Amens to bring in the spirit of Christmas to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ. Find a great recording of it and rejoice this holiday season!!