Keep the Play in Playing the Flute

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Keep the Play in Playing the Flute

Learn Flute Podcast SHOW NOTES:

In this episode, you will learn about how to have fun as a flute player. I share a few personal stories, and really dive into the importance of being excited to practice your flute every single time. 

Learn Flute Podcast 102

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Have you forgotten how to play?

I’m using this word for what it means- engage in activity for enjoyment. Let’s learn ways to keep the “Play” in playing the flute this year. I’m Rebecca Fuller, your instructor and fellow-flutie, and today we’re going to relearn what we may have forgotten over time. Giddyup!

How many years has it been since you let go and just had fun? I mean without something looming in the back of your mind or pressing on your schedule.

Think about it. Has it been awhile?

I’m bringing this up because I know we have a lot of adults enjoying the members area at Learn Flute Online, and I want to bring the play back into your lives if it has dulled or even maybe totally disappeared.

Because those who may have forgotten what it’s like to have a sparkle in their eye or a spring in their step are missing out on the fun little moments that learning a musical instrument can bring them.

It’s called playing the flute not drudging the flute – have fun everyone!

You know, little kids get it. They really know how to have a good time and it’s because they are masters at naturally letting go of past events… they are so, so good at beginning each day with a completely fresh start. Big kids would do well to examine this and allow the return to Pooh Corner if you will.

When I first picked up a flute, I was in awe at its shinyness. Seriously. I was mesmerized and kind of scared because I was worried I might drop it. I didn’t have any instructions and, if you’ve heard my story before you’ll remember that I was hiding in my closet amongst my shoes and clothes. What was I doing in the closet with a flute? 

Well, I was hiding from my sister. It was her flute. Not mine. But, I really wanted to play it. Really bad. 

I had a guitar and already played decently. In fact, I was my sister’s accompanist at family reunions and church functions. She was on the flute and I was the accompanist. 

I liked the guitar, don’t get me wrong now. I liked it because I could sing with it, but man it made my fingers hurt and I kept having to cut my nails. You guitarists know what I’m talking about. Anyway, I wanted to find out what it was like to play that flute. So when my sister left the house I took it from her desk and hid in the closet where I tried to figure out how to play it by reading the band book she had.

I’m not saying I”m proud of this though. I could have really damaged that instrument since I didn’t have the foggiest clue what I was doing. I was lucky that I didn’t do anything bad to it.

I did eventually have my own flute.. You know, the one we found in the potato cellar of my grandpa’s early nineteen hundreds home. Yes, well, that’s another story I’ve told before here if you haven’t heard it yet.. It was quite a day. I felt like angels themselves had come down and delivered that flute to me personally. I was ten years old and full of wonder and determination to do everything.

You know, I think I was lucky. I looked at learning to play the flute like I did a rubix-cube. Yes, I was also a child of the 80’s. Rubix cubes, bell-bottoms, Star Wars and bangs. I was there. I loved every second of it too. You know, time was different back then. 

Tell me if I’m wrong, but it seems like our clocks are spinning kind of fast nowadays. I’m always shocked when the sun goes down.. I feel a little betrayed sometimes too. 

Did I do everything I wanted or was supposed to yet? No.  But, back in the day… back when days were so long that I could eat breakfast, go out to the swingset and hang on them for what felt like hours with my brother, and then head to softball practice with my sister and friends from town, catch a ride to tumbling lessons, over to the corner store for a grape fanta and finally back home by lunch. The days just seemed to last forever. 

So what happened?

Why does it not feel like this anymore? I’m in the same boat all of you are. The world is just spinning at a faster pace, and I have realized that I need to take advantage of every moment I have now, because remembering what made me happy is what made me feel relaxed and full of pep.

I recently asked a frowny-faced friend what he wanted to do with his life.. He said he didn’t know. So, I asked him what he liked to do, and he said he had no idea anymore.

It appeared that he had forgotten what made him feel happy. He needed to relearn how to play.

Earlier this year I mentioned to the members here at Learn Flute Online that we’d be learning how to game-set their way through this year. I also said we need clear goals.. So which is it? Play flute like it’s a fun game? Or keep a focused eye on our goals? Well…. It’s both!

I want to give a reminder today that there is no test on Friday. There’s no looming deadline, and there is definitely not a scary teacher hovering with a ruler over you as you move along the path of musicianship here at Learn Flute Online.

We’ve talked about mindset and how our inward and outward attitudes shape our experiences we have. So how are we doing so far?

You’ve made the commitment to learn how to play the flute. We know that much because you’re here.. Listening to this podcast right now. So, put that one in stone and set it over here because that is not going to change. Ahh feels good, doesn’t it? That commitment. Now we know what we’re working towards, we can now start to look at our daily time with our instrument as a play date.

Did your parents ever let you go play with friends when you were younger? I remember we had a 30 minute rule in our family. If we wanted to go play at the neighbors (usually to jump on the trampoline or play in their yard), we had to keep it to 30 minutes. 

So when the go-ahead was given I remember we would tear out of the house and down the hill like we were off to the hundred yard dash in the olympics. Wide eyed and grinning from ear to ear we made every single minute count. We made our play agendas quickly when we arrived and the games began!

My challenge today is to find out if we can take this type of vigor to our practice sessions. You know that every minute spent with your instrument is more moments closer to being the type of musician you’re going to be, so having an agenda (much like our play dates) helps us get going and feel accomplished by the time we’re done. I help you get those agendas in every single module here at Learn Flute Online in the members area. 

I have a couple of challenges for you today. The first is to make a habit of smiling at your flute when you first open the case at the beginning of your practice, and also smiling at it when you are closing it back in the case at the end of your session. I mean a real smile, like the kind where your lips part, stretch back, and usually your teeth show. 

Why would I ask you to do this? Because I think it may have been a while since you thought to do this. Thank your flute with a smile and see what it does for you over time. You’ll feel it. I know you will.

Okay, did you write that one down? Let’s move on:

The second thing is to take time to reflect on how far you’ve come. I know I know, it’s kind of hard to just see the progress sometimes because you’re learning skills that have to be grown. It takes time. Goodness, if it were really simple and could be done in a week then everyone would know how to play the flute. But, you know that’s not how it goes, this is something rare and a really special journey.

When I say to reflect on how far you’ve come, I mean to do it for individual skills.. Not just an overall general idea. Here’s an example: I remember not too long ago, trying to learn a new set of scales patterns that wove in and out of the modes, down and up two and a half octaves, and then into a blues pattern that had like 6 different parts to it. I was to do that for all 12 different keys, chromatically, every single day. 

And… it honestly felt a little crazy at first because it took so long to get through. But you know what? I kept reminding myself that there were other people… other human beings on this planet who were no smarter than I was who had stuck with it and learned how to do this. I knew the benefits were huge also so I kept my focus, and my eyes on the prize  each day.. And within literally only 8 days I had cut the time it took me to get through this from an hour and a half, to only 14 minutes. 

Well I was feeling quite spirited and alert once I realized the vast amount of progress I had made, which, it was so dreadfully slow at first I thought I would never get there, but it really didn’t take that long once I stuck with the task. But, here’s the thing- I would never have taken time to notice this if I hadn’t taken the time to notice this! 

See what happened there? I paid attention to where I was.. Which was at square one basically, and over time I held my analyzation of myself at bay until I suddenly emerged on the other side of the clouds.. And there it was. The rainbow! It wasn’t perfect yet, but I would never have noticed the progress had I not taken time to notice.

I hope my intentions are obvious today because so many people had learning to play a musical instrument introduced to them in a not-so-positive way. I almost feel like it’s my mission to change that for the world. 

I have a story

I had a brilliant young student that I taught from a very young age until she was out of high school. She was the most competitive and driven student I think I had ever had in my studio. She wanted this. And she was going to go get it.. I just had to stay in front of her to show her the way and then get out of her way so she could go ‘get it’ if you will.

Well, she went on to get her bachelors degree and then her masters degree and then even her doctorate.. And when I spoke to her later on in life she admitted to me that going through the system the way she did had killed her love for the instrument. She had so much pressure put on her during this time with very negative and angry consequences from the professors. She admitted that she wished she could have figured out how to keep the play in playing the flute because she truly loved it.

Now I’m paraphrasing here to make a point, but it just broke my heart. I never want to kill someone’s first love. 

Oliver W Holmes is credited with the quote of “We do not quit playing because we grow old; we grow old because we quit playing.” Hmm, makes you think, doesn’t it?

The Challenges:

So let’s go back to the two challenges I gave you today in this episode: They are number one to make a habit of smiling at your instrument as you pull it out and again as you put it away each time. Practice a genuine smile. Think of the good times you’ve had together so far and the amazing enjoyment that is still to come.

And number two is to take time to reflect back on progress. Remembering that it’s hard to see every day progress sometimes. It’s the nature of learning an instrument. It takes some time… whether it be three days, three weeks, three months, or three years. The journey IS the destination, so we may as well thoroughly enjoy it!

Wow, well that time just flew for me – how about you! I like to keep these episodes short and easily digestible for you. To the point and with a small challenge that you can totally accomplish.

Here at Learn Flute Online we are doing good things for ourselves. We are enhancing our lives mentally, physically, and emotionally. 

I want to also ask you to write the word “play” all fancy like on a card.. and then get one of your vacation magnets and stick it on the fridge this month also.

Other people in your household will see the card on the fridge and perhaps ask you what it means.. Your answer is to smile at them and show them that this reminder makes you happy. You don’t need to make any other explanation. Just smile.

Well, I can’t wait to be a part of the rest of your year here. We’re having so much fun! Checking the boxes, learning new things, ohh… and it’s fun to have so many of you participate in our collaboration ensemble videos. They are pretty cool, aren’t they?

We’ve done quite a few now and I’m proud of every single one!

Go ahead and head on over to itunes and give the Learn Flute Podcast a five star rating and also leave a comment. It helps support the show and also let’s other people know that they could come and be a part of a positive community of flute friends here at Learn Flute Online.

I’ll play you out now with the beautiful World Symphony. It’s been great having you here today discovering more about how to keep the play in playing the flute. Ciao!

Thank you for Tuning In!

Please consider subscribing and taking a minute to leave a review and rating for the podcast on iTunes.

I hope you’ve enjoyed learning how to have fun with your flute playing.  Join us for the next episode!

Links Used During the Show:


Have any questions? Comment below and I will help you out.

Rebecca FullerRebecca Fuller
Get Flutie with us! Learn and enjoy every musical minute.

2 thoughts on “Keep the Play in Playing the Flute”

  1. I was one of the flute players who put too much pressure on herself and lost the “play” and quitted. And I always regretted it but could not find the motivation to start again until a couple of months ago. Now, I have turned back so many years later and I am determined to treat my flute and myself kinder. Your podcast, not just this one others also, are very motivating. Thanks Rebecca. I will not forget to smile at my flute this time.

    1. I love this comment so much! Thank you Ebru for listening to and enjoying these podcasts. I’m so glad that you could find motivation here, and I hope you keep up the good work! – Rebecca

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