How I Regained Confidence In My Playing (After Becoming Too Afraid To Play)

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After I graduated with my degrees and was officially a musician in the world, I became afraid to play.

I got a full-time non-music job right away, and was trying to figure out how to be an adult and not a student anymore, and I had moved to a new city where I had no friends or connections.

During that time, I had no outside motivation or goals, and I rarely played anything. I quickly slipped into a place of fear and judgement with my instrument.

When I look back over the the past few years, there are several key things that stand out as having helped propel me back in to a positive, self-motivated place with practicing and performing.

The most important part is that it didn’t happen overnight, and it certainly wasn’t all of these things at once!

It was one step at a time, a little bit each day, and a lot of self-kindness in between the frustrated moments that helped me grow.

  1. Instagram

    The first video I posted in 2014 was an old practice video I had taken while at FSU, and some kind people left positive comments. It felt like studio class where my peers were supporting me! I posted a few more old practice videos and started interacting and supporting others who were posting their playing, too.

    After a few weeks, I finally decided to record and post current videos. I had no goals or projects to work on, so my initial goals were tiny - to simply record and post a section of a piece I enjoyed - and back then, it was only 15 seconds! I thought “I can play for 15 seconds!”

  2. Actual Goals, finally.

    A couple of actual auditions popped up between then and now, and it was time to actually start auditioning for real. My first audition was a train wreck, and I KNEW I could only do better from there!

    And I did. And the one after that was just a little better still. I started learning more and more about the mental aspects of performing to improve myself, and it started learning to overcome stress.

  3. Fun Things

    When it felt scary to practice, going to Dr. Terri Sanchez’s materials were very helpful and encouraging to practice. I started doing her Epic Flute Warm-Up daily, and it became that thing that helped me to improve a little bit each day.

    I could touch on all aspects of my playing a little bit at a time, and I enjoyed doing it consistently! I started noticing how much I’d improved because some of its initial challenges felt much easier over time. (I also enjoy her descants and pop music tracks, especially on days where I’m taking myself too seriously and especially afraid of my own sound.)

  4. I Became an Inspiration Sponge

    While working my full-time and then part-time insurance job for four years, I used all the time I could to listen to recordings, master classes, podcasts, and videos to soak up any inspiration I could while working. I’d often become ANTSY to practice and couldn’t wait to clock out and get my flute out! When I wasn’t actively soaking up inspiration during the day, I’d be more likely to feel too tired to practice after work.

    The Inspiration Calendars were also born at this time - I spent hours each day seeking resources and little bursts of inspiration to propel me, and it all fell into the mantra of “a little bit each day.”

  5. Etude of the Week

    Thank you Katy Wherry for creating the best practice accountability group! When I first posted in Etude of the Week, I was feeling ready to take on the challenge of recording and posting something longer than 60 seconds, but I was still tensing up when pressing Record.

    With every week, I got better and better at learning to perform confidently under pressure, and started learning how to enjoy performing with self-trust.

    The added pressure of posting it in a group of flutists also meant I was trying to listen for every little opportunity to improve something about my playing for the next one, and it gave me (and still gives me!) a laser-like focus for improving my playing every week!

    (Not to mention, this group is so supportive and encouraging!)

  6. 100 Days of Practice

    Thank you Hilary Hahn for starting the #100daysofpractice challenge! This practice challenge gave me a reason to embrace the mess and overcome perfectionism FOR REAL. I found it to be incredibly liberating to put the mess out there and truly embrace the process.

  7. Playing with Others

    I played in several community groups for the chance to practice something that really scares me - playing in ensembles. I’ve always found wind ensembles to be a little bit more intimidating than orchestras because you’re right up close by the director and you’re never quite soft enough!

    While playing in these groups, it didn’t matter to me what level everyone else around me was playing at - I used every rehearsal and concert to practice grounding myself, staying free, and playing at the highest level I possibly could as though I were in a professional ensemble.

  8. Teaching

    The better I practice, the better I teach. The better I teach, the better I practice. I didn’t get to teach as many students as I do now back then, but I still learned something every week and used all those jolts of inspiration to inspire lessons!

  9. Playing for Actual Humans

    In addition to playing with others in ensembles, I also found it extremely helpful and enjoyable to practice duets and perform a couple of duo concerts with flute friend Nicole Riccardo at an assisted living facility.

    Our first concert was one of the first times I had performed for others in years, and I was overwhelmingly tense. It felt difficult to breathe while playing, but I managed to play anyway, and by the next time, I felt much more free!

    Nicole and I also played mock auditions together!

  10. Learning About trust vs. doubt

    I began understanding more about the mental aspects of playing mainly while reading sports psychology books. The main, overall theme is that great players trust themselves in the moment, but amateurs direct themselves through the mechanics of playing at the critical moments, and that’s a form of self-doubt.

    I started using affirmations and simplifying my mental state while performing for my camera, and little by little, I could find freedom to sound how I wanted under pressure!

I’m still on this journey of finding more and more confidence in myself, growing a little bit at a time, and I’m encouraged to look back and see how much I’ve been able to grow, even if it took several years.

This is a life-long process — it’s not a race!

No matter where you are, you’re growing, even if it doesn’t feel like it.

I’m here cheering you on!

Have you found tools that have helped you gain confidence in yourself?

I’d love to hear about them in the comments!


2018 Highlights + The Year's Top 5 Most Popular Posts

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2018 was a BIG year!

Two huge dreams came true:

  1. Becoming a full time teacher

  2. Making my dream flute a reality (I’m still in disbelief.)

Another big moment was getting the opportunity to teach a master class as a guest artist for the Texas Flute Society, along with presenting my own workshop for the first time: Effortless Playing Through Self-Awareness.


With so many big changes came a lot of big challenges, especially…

  • adapting to a completely different lifestyle and schedule (and a lot more driving).

  • pausing to re-learn a new instrument after 12 years of adapting to one that’s very different.

  • dealing with imposter syndrome.

After reading last year’s review, I was reminded that after last year, I felt that I had finally reached the top of the rut I’d been in and was able to see out.

It wouldn’t have been possible for me to handle these things last year, I wouldn’t have been ready!

I can say with certainty that I feel more resilient now, and I’ve been able to work through these challenges with a lot more self-compassion that I might’ve in the past.

This year brought heartache, too. An unexpected loss for my family taught me that you never know what can happen, so you have to live wide open and go for the big dreams no matter what.

What I Learned:

  • I learned to be more self-forgiving and stopped being so hard on myself because I deserve self-compassion no matter what’s going on around me.

  • I learned what motivation really is, and how empowering it is to take action when you don’t feel like it.

  • I learned how to enjoy what is uncomfortable and challenging, and a whole lot about self-trust.

  • I learned to be more self-aware outside the practice room - monitoring my thoughts and energy and finding calm and freedom a lot faster. (Especially while driving alone, when my thoughts are free to roam!)

  • I became a much better practicer. Last year was all about improving a little bit each day - this year, I really leaned into enjoy practicing and found myself luxuriating in it more!

2019 Goals:

  1. Fail More

    I could’ve failed a lot more.

    I faced formal rejection maybe 3 times, and I learned that I’m less afraid of failing than I am of succeeding.

    With greater resilience this year, I can rack up more failures and take more risks!

  2. be deliberate

    I learned a lot about what it means to be deliberate this year, especially with practicing thanks to the Mind Over Finger Podcast + Modacity App Practice Challenge!

    I have TONS of choices every day, and I have the power to choose exactly what will fulfill me and inspire those around me - or not.

    I can use intentions to be deliberate in the practice room, but especially outside the practice room.

    I also have a renewed sense of self-trust, and can move forward without paralyzing fear.

  3. protect My Energy

I get to choose what gets my attention, and I have the power to remove my attention from anything that doesn’t serve me.

So this coming year, I can continue to utilize that power to respect my own energy.

I have a better developed sense of mindfulness, and I can choose to be in the moment. In the moment, I’m alone in a peaceful room, and I’m enough.

In my head and on my screen, I’m in a loud world full of others’ energy. I can continue to do more to separate the two and lessen the mental clutter.

Top 5 Most Popular Posts of 2018

Thank you for the support and inspiration this year! Wishing you a happy, healthy New Year filled with joy, laughter, and lots of discoveries!



The Power of Choosing Enjoyment Over Fear

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Life Update: I’ve become a podcast person.


I hadn’t listened to many podcasts until recently, but I have a few early morning commutes and decided to use my time in the car to soak up knowledge and inspiration.

(P.S. Leave your podcast recommendations in the comments!)


Mind Over Finger

I started with the Mind Over Finger Podcast by Dr. Renée-Paule Gauthier, and I’ve since listened to every episode. I love her interviews focused on mindful, efficient practice and techniques, and I’ve gathered a lot of inspiration to shake up my own practice.


One of the more recent episodes was with Marc Gelfo of Modacity. I’d heard of the Modacity Practice App earlier this year, but I hadn’t fully jumped in to using the app.

Marc has a fascinating background and vast knowledge on the science of learning and improving, which he based the app’s features around. After hearing him talk about it, I had to try it!


Mind Over Finger and Modacity teamed up to host a Mindful Practice Challenge for the month of November, and I was just too intrigued to NOT jump in!


Your Language Matters!

The biggest revelation of the week came from Dr. Gauthier’s thoughts on watching and noticing the language you use surrounding your goals and practice sessions. Notice opportunities to be self-compassionate. She also stressed that we can decide to have fun!


Something clicked in me, and I went swapped out a word in my goals to:



I switched

“I will practice my high register tapers every day”


“I get to enjoy high register tapers every day.”

Then I practiced.


And while I did, I continuously re-played the word “ENJOY” in my mind, and you know what?

I felt far less pressure to be perfect, and started taking myself less seriously.


It allowed me to be imperfect without losing faith in myself, and from there, I could build on success rather than dread.


Lo and behold, I was enjoying myself!


It’s almost absurd that deciding to enjoy myself was the lightbulb moment of the week. It even felt RADICAL to choose enjoyment!

The next day, I started thinking about practicing and told myself: “I should really practice now.” It became clear to me that fear and pressure were growing in this moment.

This is where it starts to happen. I’m aware now, so I can decide on something else:


I re-framed my statement to “I get to enjoy practicing my instrument now!” and jumped up and dove in with ease and excitement!




  • How many days have I felt pressure before and during practicing vs. the number of days I allowed myself to enjoy it? 

  • I don’t have to wait for permission to enjoy, I’m worthy of enjoyment right now!

  • I get to decide to enjoy myself every time I practice!



Life-Changing Productivity Tools for Overwhelmed Musicians

The past few months have required me to really step up my own systems of productivity, efficiency, and self-care to feel effective, balanced, and inspired.

I’ve been on the hunt for tools and resources to help me feel energized and productive.

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Below are the most life-changing ideas that I’ve implemented into my routine.

1. Morning Pages

Morning Pages originates from Julia Cameron, author of The Artist’s Way.

In her own words, Morning Pages are:

“...three pages of longhand, stream of consciousness writing, done first thing in the morning. *There is no wrong way to do Morning Pages*– they are not high art. They are not even “writing.” They are about anything and everything that crosses your mind– and they are for your eyes only. Morning Pages provoke, clarify, comfort, cajole, prioritize and synchronize the day at hand. Do not over-think Morning Pages: just put three pages of anything on the page...and then do three more pages tomorrow.”

Essentially, this brain dump first thing in the morning allows me remove the mental clutter that could lead to an anxious day. This also provides me with a chance to remove the mental to-do list that I allow to live in my head and overwhelm me throughout the day.

The most important part of Morning Pages for me comes after the To-Do list dump - Writing out goals, affirmations, wins, and gratitude.

(Too often, the only things we think about are “to-dos” and “shoulds.” Try writing down what you're already crushing and give yourself credit before moving ahead with the day, and see what changes!)

2. Calendar Blocking > To-Do List

I have a confession - I’ve relied too heavily on Post-It notes to hold onto important dates, to-do list items, and scheduling changes...and sometimes, I lose them...which adds stress.

I finally made the switch to a Google Calendar a couple months ago so I could have a fully up-to-date schedule in my hand and on my laptop at all times, and I am so happy I did.

Amy Landino’s YouTube channel is full of inspiring content about productivity, and her video called “Get More Done With Calendar Blocking” confirmed that I absolutely needed to start using a Google Calendar - not just for my schedule, but for my to-do list.

She says that your to-do list means nothing if it doesn’t have a scheduled time and place in your day to make it happen, and Google Calendar makes it easy to block out time for everything you need and want to do.

Being a visual person, (and one that is THRILLED to color-code anything and everything), this has been life-changing.

3. Remove Physical Clutter

In my search for productivity inspiration, I found myself watching “Decluttering Videos” on YouTube. (Watching YouTube is sometimes the opposite of being productive, but not this time!)

The 10-Drawer Cart from Michael’s has been a game-changer for music piles! Finding the right system makes all the difference!

The 10-Drawer Cart from Michael’s has been a game-changer for music piles! Finding the right system makes all the difference!

Watching other people go through rooms in their homes, getting rid of things they don’t need anymore, and having their spaces professionally organized motivated me to immediately get up and purge my own closet. (I ended up donating 7 trash bags worth of clothes and shoes.)

Then, I purged the Flute Room and completed cleared out my closet and shelves. (I removed at least two trash bags worth of old paperwork and things that I haven’t touched or unpacked since moving out of Florida!)

Removing the physical clutter renewed my energy and made me feel 20 pounds lighter. Less physical clutter means less mental clutter which means more energy and clarity for better things!

From there, it led me to understand how important it is to have the right systems in place for staying organized. Only have what you need and love, and have a system that makes it simple to stay organized - everything needs a home, otherwise it becomes clutter! (Especially paper!)

4. The 5-Second Rule

I saved the best for last.

The most important thing I’ve learned is that when we’re in a struggle to achieve the things we want, we can sabotage ourselves by overthinking and waiting for motivation.

According to Mel Robbins, if we have an impulse to do something, we have exactly 5 seconds to marry the impulse with an action before our brain talks us out of it and we betray the impulse.


“The 5 Second Rule is simple. If you have an instinct to act on a goal, you must physically move within 5 seconds or your brain will kill it.

The moment you feel an instinct or a desire to act on a goal or a commitment, use the Rule.

When you feel yourself hesitate before doing something that you know you should do, count 5-4-3-2-1-GO and move towards action.”

Read more here!

The act of counting down backwards from 5 shakes up the thought-betrayal process and changes your brain to help you take action rather than second-guess!

The 5-Second Rule has made it possible to change my habits and overcome motivation and dread issues, and the more I take action in the moment, the less mental clutter I have weighing me down.

Impulses that I Did NOT Betray Because of the 5-Second Rule:

  • Practicing

  • Answering emails before they pile up

  • Doing the dishes

  • Taking the trash out

  • Anything related to cleaning and being tidy

  • Getting out of bed without snoozing

  • Writing this post

  • Even issuing compliments to strangers!

Do it now, do it anyway, don’t wait to feel like it. 5-4-3-2-1-GO!

Mel Robbins’s Famous TEDxTalk explaining self-sabotage and the 5-Second Rule:

How do you stay organized?

What tools or ideas have changed your perspective on productivity?


Inspiration for Sound, Presence + Repertoire: YouTube Playlists for Flutists


A while back, I shared my favorite recordings for listening inspiration. Today, I wanted to share my favorite YouTube videos!


(Click here to open that in another tab for after this post!)


I'm often referring my students to listening inspiration on YouTube, so I've created several public playlists on my channel to share and constantly update with my own personal favorites.

The benefit of videos is that we have a chance to observe and absorb the physical presence of some of our favorite artists.

  • Are they grounded and easy?
  • How do they interact with their collaborators or the audience?
  • How do they bow and enter and exit the stage?


While most of these artists have exceptional poise, I have a separate playlist dedicated to a few examples of refined poise, effortlessness, and commanding or captivating stage presence.


These examples may have higher quality video or angles that showcase the artist as they play, so we can observe things like eye contact with the audience, interactions with collaborators, elegant movements and effortless breathing, remaining grounded while floating up and out into the space... and so forth.


Try On Inspiration


As I mentioned in my favorite recordings post, we can try on a sound and find new possibilities when we listen to high quality recordings.


We can do the same thing with videos - try on a presence, movement pattern, or stance.

What is it like?

YouTube Playlists


Click the image or button below to head on over to my YouTube Channel to find my created playlists, or go directly to each playlist via the links below! 


I'll be continuously updating and adding to these lists, and would love to hear some of your favorites or suggestions in the comments below!


Spring Practice Favorites: Books + Apps

I'm always on the lookout for new resources to make my life easier and more inspired while practicing. Recently, I've been loving a few brand new and some new-to-me resources.


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The Virtuosic Flutist

by Nina Assimakopoulos


Right when I saw the first sample of this book, I knew I'd love it! This book thoroughly explains how to practice and develop important expressive tools, and has inspired me to think in more dimensions with an elevated focus with everything else I'm practicing. I especially love the Grounding and Repertoire sections!

Available in Print and Digital Download!



The 28 Day Warm Up Book for All Flautists.... eventually!

by Paul Edmund-Davies

If you're trying to get yourself back into shape, this is the book to do it! There are four sections, Sonority, Fingers, Articulation, and Intervals with 7 exercises in each. There's a chart at the beginning of the book showing how to divide each section over 28 days. I've been loving this book to challenge myself beyond the typical tone and technique exercises, and it's paying off!

Learn More Here!


Indirect Procedures: A Musician's Guide to the Alexander Technique

by Pedro De Alcantara


This in-depth book gave me a lot of ideas in the first few pages alone. If you're learning to apply to Alexander Technique to your playing, this book will help you develop a deeper understanding of your thoughts and self-use as a musician.


See More on Amazon!


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Seconds Pro Interval Timer

This app was introduced to me by two musicians on Instagram, and it's designed to assist with Interval workouts. If you read my "How I Practice Using the Pomodoro Technique" post, you'll know I love using a timer and dividing up my practice session into 25-minute chunks. This app lets me customize each task and duration, and will count down and lead me right into the next task. It's much easier to let go of each task and move right along into the next without dwelling or wasting time. If you need help focusing and getting through a number of tasks, give this one a try!

Apple App Store

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Drone Tuner

This genius app lets you tune to the sound of real instruments! I love using a drone to work on intonation, but sometimes it's difficult to blend into the only sound offered by other apps. I like to rotate through several instruments and pitches to prepare to play in tune with a variety of instruments and ranges. (The piano option is helpful to prepare students to tune to a piano!) Plus, you can tune chords and harmonies!


Learn More Here!

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My Top 17 Inspirational Flute Recordings

When I first became serious about playing, I was in high school and had started taking lessons with a great teacher, Donald Zook.


We were working on festival audition pieces, and one of them was Mozart's G Major Concerto! He gave me a list of flutists, orchestras, and orchestral repertoire to listen to, and stressed that listening and playing A LOT was essential for growth.


I got myself a James Galway's CD of Mozart Concerti, and let me tell you, listening to James Galway helped me develop a bigger sound.


I listened to that recording in the car with my mom everywhere we went. It was winter in New England at the time I was preparing for the audition, so every time I hear that concerto, I picture us in the car driving by snow-covered trees. 


Of course, I started adopting some of the little nuances of that recording, leaning on the same notes, attempting to open my sound and use vibrato the way he did. There were things my teacher had me change from the habits I adopted, but all-in-all, listening allowed me to create new possibilities.


I tried on a sound and a style, and it helped me learn how to achieve new possibilities.


To this day, I still listen to recordings for inspiration, and my tastes have continued to develop and change over time. At this stage, I have a better understanding of how I want to sound as an individual, and I've been able to refine this by hearing what kind of sounds are possible as heard in others.


My high school flute teacher was absolutely right to have me listen and play as much as possible, and ultimately, I developed a genuine love for the repertoire and was overjoyed to play as often as possible.

Listening Inspiration


In no particular order, here are a few of my favorite albums and flutists that inspire me. (Many listed have inspired me since high school!)


I'd like to share this list for younger students beginning to explore recordings and repertoire, and introduce them to some of the wonderful flutists and masterworks for our instrument, as well as advanced players! (I know I'm always curious about what others' favorites are and why!)


(This list is by no means complete, and narrows in primarily solo flute repertoire. There are countless other flutists, pieces, orchestral recordings, chamber works, and non-flute recordings that inspire me, too!)

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1. Elizabeth Rowe with the Boston Symphony Chamber Players: Profanes et Sacrées: 20th-Century French Chamber Music

  • Ravel, Introduction and Allegro for harp, accompanied by string quartet, flute, and clarinet
  • Debussy, Sonata for flute, viola, and harp

2. Marianne Gedigian: Voice of the Flute

  • Hüe, Fantaisie
  • Copland, Duo for Flute and Piano
  • Taktakishvili, Sonata for Flute and Piano
  • Foote, Trois Pieces, Op. 31
  • Boehm, Grand Polonaise, Op. 16

3. Amy Porter: Passacaglia

  • Rózsa, Sonata for Solo Flute
  • Karg-Elert, Sonata Appassionata in f-sharp minor for Flute Solo, Op. 140
  • Hindemith, Acht Stücke für flöte allein
  • Dohnányi, Passacaglia for Flute Solo, Op. 48, No. 2
  • Karg-Elert, 30 Caprices for Solo Flute, Op. 107

4. Jasmine Choi: Claude Bolling Suite for Flute & Jazz Trio

  • Bolling, Suite for Flute and Jazz Trio
  • Schocker, Winter Jasmine for Flute and Piano
  • Schoenfield, Four Souvenirs
  • Yiruma, Wait There for Flute and Piano

5. Karl-Heinz Schütz: Prokofiev Sonata, Op. 94

  • Prokofiev, Sonata for Flute and Piano in D Major, Op. 94
  • Hindemith, Sonata for Flute and Piano
  • Lauber, Grand Sonata for Flute and Piano, Op. 52
  • Martin, Ballade

6. Emmanuel Pahud: Paris - French Flute Music

  • Poulenc, Sonata
  • Dutilleux, Sonatine
  • Sancan, Sonatine
  • Ibert, Jeux
  • Milhaud, Sonatine
  • Ibert, Vocalise
  • Messiaen, Le Merle Noir
  • Jolivet, Chant de Linos

7. Mark Sparks: French Album

  • Saint-Saëns, Romance, Op. 37
  • Gaubert, Berceuse
  • Lefebvre, Piece Romantique
  • Gaubert, Sur l'eau
  • Roussel, Joueurs de Flute
  • Caplet, Reverie & Petite Valse
  • Faure, Morceau de concours
  • Gaubert, Romance
  • Roussel, Aria
  • Gaubert, Divertissement grec
  • Gaubert, Sicilienne
  • Gaubert, Soir sur la plaine
  • Taffanel, Andantino
  • Taffanel, Andante
  • D'un matin de printemps

8. Alexa Still: Alexa Still Flute

  • Barber, Canzone
  • Copland, Vocalise
  • Burton, Sonatina
  • Porter, Blues Lointains
  • Copland, Duo for Flute and Piano
  • Rochberg, Between Two Worlds
  • Muczynski, Sonata
  • Bloch, Last Two Poems

9. Alexa Still: Matthew Hindson Flute Concerto "House Music"

10. Barthold Kuijken: The Artistry of Barthold Kuijken

  • Telemann, Fantasia VII in D Major
  • Couperin, Concerts Royauxm Premier Concert
  • J.S. Bach, Sonata in E minor, BWV 1034
  • C.P.E. Bach, Sonata for Flute and basso continuo in D Major, Wq. 131/H 561
  • Mozart, Flute Quartet in D Major K 285
  • Schubert, Introduction and Variations on "Trockne Blumen"

11. Ian Clarke: Within...

  • Clarke: Orange Dawn
  • Clarke: TRKS
  • Clarke: The Great Train Race
  • Clarke: Spiral Lament
  • Clarke: Tuberama
  • Clarke: Within...
  • Clarke: The Mad Hatter
  • Clarke: Maya
  • Clarke: Sunstreams
  • Clarke: Sunday Morning
  • Clarke: Zoom Tube

12. Susan Milan: Virtuoso French Flute Repertoire

  • Grovlez, Romance et Scherzo
  • Gaubert, Fantaisie
  • Enescu, Cantabile et Presto
  • Sancan, Sonatine
  • Taffanel, Andante Pastoral et Scherzettino
  • Gaubert, Nocturne et Allegro Scherzando
  • Faure, Morceau de Concours
  • Busser, Prelude et Scherzo
  • Faure, Fantaisie, Op. 79
  • Ganne, Andante et Scherzo

13. Paula Robison: Borne: Carmen Fantasy

  • Borne, Carmen Fantasy
  • Faure, Sicilienne
  • Delibes, Morceau de Concours
  • Massenet, Morceaux de Concours
  • Taffanel, Andante Pastorale et Scherzettino
  • Faure, Morceau de Concours
  • Dutilleux, Sonatina
  • Gaubert, Sonata No. 1

14. Julius Baker in Recital

  • Poulenc, Sonata
  • Muczynski, Sonata
  • Debussy, Prélude à l'après-midi d'un faune
  • Franck, Sonata
  • Faure, Après un rêve, Op. 7, No. 1



Last but certainly not least, I'm grateful to have CDs from my teachers. There is nothing more heart-warming and inspiring than hearing your own teachers - I keep these CDs in my car at all times!


15. Eva Amsler & Karl-Heinz Schütz: W.F. Bach, 6 Flute Duets

  • W.F. Bach, Duet No. 1 - 6


16. Peggy Vagts: Persistence, Works by Women, 1850-1950

  • Boulanger, Nocturne
  • Boulanger, D'un Matin de Printemps
  • Bonis, Sonate
  • Clara Schumann, Drei Romanzen, Op. 22
  • Arrieu, Sonatina
  • Glanville-Hicks, Sonatina
  • Beach, Romance, Op. 23


17. Donald Zook: The Last Rose of Summer

  • Paggi, Rimembranze Napoletane
  • Mouquet, La Flute de Pan
  • Rheinberger, Rhapsodie
  • Kuhlau, The Last Rose of Summer
  • Demersseman, Sixieme Solo de Concert, op. 82

Please share your own favorites in the comments!

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9 Essential Pieces of Advice for Music Majors

I had wonderful experiences as an undergrad and graduate music major. Reflecting on my own experience, these are the things I would tell my younger self knowing what I know now.

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1. Take Opportunities While They’re There

There are a lot of them when you’re in school and attached to a program. You may have already heard that you should “take advantage of every opportunity,” and it’s true. Once you graduate, it can become increasingly difficult to come by opportunities to network and build your resume.

If you’re slammed with too many opportunities at once, use your best judgement to say “no” to things that aren’t worth your time and energy. Be as forward-thinking as you can to pursue opportunities that will benefit you both now and in the future.

If I could go back in time, I would take advantage of competitions and auditions while I had the support of my teachers and colleagues, as well as easier access to recital halls, recording equipment, and experienced collaborative pianists. 

2. Create Your Own Opportunities

While you’re in school and have the support of faculty and colleagues, go after your own vision and create opportunities that speak to you! Start an ensemble, dive deeper into your area of research, or start a side hustle while you’re surrounded by potential clients.

Start trying and experimenting. You don’t have to wait until you come up with the most unique vision in the world to begin developing your own unique voice. Your personal endeavors can and will change over time, so take the plunge and start exploring!


3. Keep Your Lesson Notes, if Nothing Else

While practicing on my own after graduating, I frequently pull out old lesson notes and practice journals to be reminded of the most important ideas my teachers shared with me. Your future self will thank you for recording this information in great detail. (Bonus points from your future self if you're well-organized!)


4. Be Efficient With Your Time While Waiting for a Practice Room, Or Adapt to a new Practice Schedule

As an undergrad, I attended a school that had just about a dozen practice rooms (with a lot more than a dozen students wanting to practice.) There was almost always a line for the practice rooms, so I'd do homework or mental practice while waiting.

While I love using 20 minutes to work on something between tasks these days, in school, you could sit there waiting for 20 minutes without ever getting into a room. To ensure I could practice and touch my instrument before my lessons and rehearsals, I ended up adapting my routine to one that allowed me to thrive (although it seems crazy to me now!):

I would wake up by 5:00 in the morning to complete assignments that were due that same day (sometimes earlier if I had a lot of work do), then, I'd get to a practice room as soon as the building opened and practiced until the dining hall opened for breakfast. After that, classes began, and my schedule was usually packed until the late afternoon. I often wouldn't get back to practicing until later in the evening before or after dinner, but I'd always be back in my dorm room by 10:00 to wind down and watch the Golden Girls! (Some things never change!)


5. Get Recordings of Your Performances

Many music schools record recitals and ensemble performances and allow you access to a copy. In grad school, there were times I procrastinated getting particular recordings and I never ended up getting a copy before I graduated. 

If I could go back in time, I would carve out the time to go get myself a copy of the concerts where I had the chance to play solos and excerpts from major orchestral repertoire in addition to solo and chamber recitals.


6. While You're At It, Get To Know the Perks and Resources of Your School and Take Advantage of Them

Does your school have a music library or a dedicated music selection? Go explore and take advantage of the resources! (Don't wait until you have an assignment that requires it like I did!) Does your school have career counseling or guidance? (Go ask them what-on-Earth kind of job you should be looking for once you graduate like I wish I had.)

Do they offer resume assistance? Gig listings? Entrepreneurial workshops? Grants or competitions? Early music ensembles? Discounts or free anything? Especially free or discounted concerts and other live performances? Stop and read the posters!


7. Cultivate Community and Extend Your Network

As an introvert, the word “networking” has always frightened me. However, saying yes to social opportunities during school can be just as important as participating in performance and educational ones. The more people you connect with in school, the bigger your support system will be after graduating.  

If in-person interacting is difficult for you, use social media to your advantage. Friend and follow your colleagues’ pages and support their endeavors. They’re more likely to notice you if you’re interacting positively, and if you run into them in-person, you’ll have something to talk about!


8. Enjoy Your "Academic" Music Courses

Courses like Music Theory and Music History are extremely important for enriching your performing artistry and teaching skills, but the coursework can be dense and demanding while you're juggling everything else. If you’re struggling in one of these courses, apply what you’re learning directly to your own instrument.

Because I went into my music degree without any background beyond playing my own instrument (or any intent on becoming a music major before I got there), I felt like a fish out of water in many of the academic music courses. Bringing flute into it helped me feel more comfortable and confident while learning, and allowed me to apply new dimensions to my performance right away.
  • If you’re about learning about seventh chords on paper, start memorizing them on your instrument.
  • Practice singing solfège using your etudes.
  • Practice analyzing chords using your current solo or orchestral repertoire. 


If your're really struggling, ask for help. Your teacher is a teacher because they want to help you learn. Take advantage of their office hours and get one-on-one help. You can also start a study group to help and support your classmates!


Side Note: If you have to take general academic courses for credit that you're simply not interested in, consider it an opportunity to practice focus and efficiency - another skill that will help you later on. Also, apply anything you're learning to your instrument to make it more interesting. See number two: this could enhance your unique point of view in a new and insteresting way!

9. When You Graduate, Things Might get Hard, But It Doesn’t Have to Stay That Way

After you graduate, there’s a good chance you’ll get a job that isn’t related to music. You are not a failure. If you fall into a low place with your instrument while working an outside job, remember that your degree is still valid.

You haven’t stopped learning and you’re not going backwards - you’re just going slower. (Especially compared to being in school, when you’re going lightning speed for a few years in a row).

Learning to grow slower is all in the attitude - appreciate the process! Continue refining fundamentals a little bit each day. Listen to music as often as possible. Go see live performances. Find out what inspires you the most, and lean into that in your own way.

Fall Favorites: 5 Inspiring Posts for Musicians 

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1. Hilary Hahn Commits to Practicing for 100 Days in a Row—with Unexpected Results

I took on the #100DaysofPractice challenge after seeing Hilary Hahn's inspirational posts, and I especially resonate with her following statement:

“It’s really hard to practice by yourself in a room every day on the same piece and know if you’re making progress or know if the process is working,” Hahn says. “Doing the project kind of created the bond for me where I realized that everyone is thinking about the same things and working toward these things and people do feel isolated at times.”

2. Lessons by Marcel Moyse: The Private Lesson Journals of September Payne, D.M.A

Dr. Payne shares insights into her lessons with Marcel Moyse, including wonderful quotes from lessons on De La Sonorite, Andersen etudes, and more!

"The goal of this article is to illuminate more of his precious teaching and to offer a unique glimpse into the intimate master class setting of lessons that were held at the home of Marcel Moyse in Brattleboro, Vermont."

3. 9 Things Singers Need to Know About Their Bodies - Total Vocal Freedom

Clear, useful advice that applies directly to flutists, too!

"Allow the head to move subtly up off the spine which lets the vocal mechanism hang freely and the breathing and support muscles of the torso work effortlessly." 

4.#FluteFridays: Breathing and Warmups by Mary Hales

Wonderful advice for the crucial components of warming up before your instrument is out of the case!

"...there’s a mindfulness aspect to the way I do my breathing exercises that really helps me get into the zone to practice."

5. Totally bored of playing long tones? Not working out for you? Here’s 15 things to consider tweaking first by Dr. Jessica M. Quiñones

Approaching tone study with mindfulness and a curious attitude, with 15 specific self-observation questions for problem-solving.

"...a physical check-in to see how you are using your body when playing."


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