Wild confessions of a professional flutist.

Archive for June, 2013

When I Was a Beginner

It happens all the time.  In a lesson with a flute student (of any age, by the way) I will demonstrate a note or technique or passage and the student will blurt out, “Yeah, YOU can do it – you’re really GOOD!”

I have news for you:  I was a beginner, too!  In fact, everyone who is good at something today started out as a beginner.

It’s true.

When I was a beginner, I was the worst one.  Everyone else earned a spot in band class while I was still struggling to make a sound.  As I became frustrated, the Band Director would not let me quit.  Instead, he found me a private teacher, and not only did I catch up, but I passed all the other flutists in my school.

So, he found me a better teacher who pushed harder.  And when it got to be too much of a struggle, the Band Director would not let me quit.

And, when the older kids picked on me because I was first chair and they were not, the Band Director would not let me quit.

So, my flute teacher kept pushing and my parents kept fighting with me to practice and the challenges got harder, but I did not quit.

As I look back to the beginning and think about my musical journey, I am proud to be “really good.”  But, more importantly, I know how to fight for success and to persevere, thanks to the teacher who would not let me quit.

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Speaking with Parents

Speaking with Parents

I apparently look like this when talking with a student’s parents after their kid played really well. . . (Photo by Seacoast Flash – https://www.facebook.com/SeacoastFlashNH)

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“Practicing isn’t fun. . .

“Practicing isn’t fun. But, when I can finally play something, I feel accomplished. It’s a great feeling.” – flute student, Nicholas Damianos

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My Student Says. . .

“Katherine Hoover, unlike most composers, is alive and is a woman.” – flute student, Anna Burns

I hate practicing.

I was recently speaking with a flute student’s mom about practicing.  The student is very good and does the work, but she “hates practicing” and the mom is worried.  Out of frustration, the mom blurted out, “You can’t understand – you LOVE practicing!”

Wait.  Stop.  No I don’t.  I HATE practicing.

Like many musicians and students of the art form, I am an extrovert.  I love being around and working with lots of other people.  I like to go to rehearsals and I like to perform.  What I have never enjoyed is sitting alone in a room, working by myself on something difficult for seemingly endless amounts of time every day.  It’s just awful and exhausting.

I’ve heard many people say that musicians get hooked on the practicing process.  Well, for me, that’s just not true.  I am, however, completely and totally and indisputably hooked on the RESULTS.

I heard a recording of Zig Ziglar talking about his weight loss during a motivational speech.  In it, he said that he didn’t “pay the price” of doing the hard work, he “reaped the rewards” of his efforts and discipline.  That is exactly how I feel about practicing.  I put in the work and I reap the rewards.  The only way to master anything is through hard work and discipline, neither of which is inherently fun.  But, learn to do both well and the results will be worth all of the time, agony, and effort.

Yes, I HATE practicing.  But, boy do I LOVE earning that applause!

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