First Year? Check! Hello, Summer!

Mid-May? Already? (Does every post start with something about how time flies?)

Summer seems to be the time for blogging since I'm left to my own devices to improve as much as possible before the fall semester begins. I'm thrilled to be returning to Bridgehampton this summer, and I look forward to having plenty of time to practice, write, relax at the beach, and add to my collection of creative Starbucks misspellings. And work, of course. This whole thing started because I had plenty of "thinking time" at work last summer! (What a difference a year makes!)

While finalizing summer plans, I'm still in disbelief that I've finished the first year of my Master's degree at FSU. Of all the wonderful things I learned about music performance and pedagogy this year, the lessons I've learned about myself and life in general are by far the most prominent.

Before I go into the deep, human revelaions of my first year of grad school, here's a recap of some of my favorite moments, and of course, exciting flute tips!
  • I traveled to Orlando in January to attend the Florida Flute Association Convention. I performed with the FSU Flute Choir and the Graduate Flute Ensemble. My top 3 favorite things about the convention? 1. Hearing Rhonda Larson perform Be Still My Soul, 2. Finally buying an Altieri flute backpack (in navy!), and 3. Eating at Steak n' Shake for the first time ever.
  • I had the wonderful opportunity to play piccolo with the FSU Symphony Orchestra this semester! The high level of commitment and artistry from my colleagues was awe-inspiring, and Dr. Alexander Jimenez is an incredible musician and a wonderful human being. (I was also very happy to spend more time with the beautiful Burkart piccolo I purchased last fall!) Exciting moments include: Performing Dohnanyi's Symphony No. 2 and recording it for the Naxos label, and performing Rimsky-Korsakov's Scheherazade last month!
  • I took beginning baroque flute this semester I found it extremely enjoyable. I'm thrilled to take the advanced class next fall. I learned a lot about Baroque music and style, and I finally came to understand the importance of the lumbar spine in support. I have previously over-exaggerated the arch of the lumbar spine in an effort to feel my sit-bones. I thought I was maintaining the curves of the spine, when I was actually adding tension to my lower back, making it very difficult to support by maintaining resilience in the pelvic floor. I'm spending a lot of time practicing while sitting or leaning against a desk to let go in my lower back, and was reminded to bend my knees while standing.
Okay, the best things I learned this year:
  • I became aware my ability to positively influence the people around me and to offer my views in a non-threatening, understanding way. Although I did not necessarily intend to change others' opinions, I noticed that I could persuade others to value my views.
  • I'm becoming extremely courageous. After learning Ian Clarke's Hatching Aliens and Joseph Jongen's Sonata, Op. 77 in a very short time for my first solo recital, I realized just how much I am capable of. (And don't think I didn't complain about "having to rush to learn difficult pieces," and said things like: "I took 6 months to prepare my senior recital!" for most of the experience!) I'm more willing to take on challenges for the experience to learn, rather than turning them down due to self-doubt.
  • Self-respect comes first. Put it on your priority list. (Also, my semester got much better when my teacher assigned me to put "Eat chocolate cake" on my to do list as a gesture of self-kindness.)
  • I became aware of my physiological reactions when nervous or frustrated, and learned that accepting negative feelings is the only way to feel in control of them.
  • I learned to be okay with being uncomfortable. (By accepting that I feel uncomfortable!) I feel ready to give up expectations and "safe" options for the chance to seek something greater- true self-fulfillment. It's okay to change the plan! 
I learned something new every day this year, and have spent the past two weeks simply reflecting. I'm sure these things will continue to sink in, and will lead me to think and practice in new ways. I'm excited for things to come, and look forward to more frequent posts from all of my summertime-fluting!