Greetings and welcome to another Flute Friday. Just a reminder to check your September flute horoscopes on The Flute View (written by yours truly) to discover what this month holds for your flute playing. http://thefluteview.com/2018/09/dr-gs-september-flute-horoscopes/
While I was at the NFA convention this year, I was very much inspired by the incredible sense of community present during many of the panels, recitals, lectures, and even in the exhibit hall. I am so grateful to be part of an industry that encourages and promotes art, no matter what form it takes! Unfortunately, I also noticed a few instances where pettiness and unnecessary competition sadly reared its ugly head. In today’s blog I will be discussing a few Dos and Don’ts when it comes to having good “Flute Attitude,” based on some of my observations. Bottom line: we should encourage each other no matter what level, celebrate our differences, and continue to embrace all of our shared knowledge and flute playing experiences.
FLUTE ATTITUDE DOS and DON’Ts
DO appreciate others and what they bring to the table. We are all unique players and approach playing the flute from vastly different backgrounds. When listening to another flutist, it is important to resist the temptation to immediately compare your flute playing to theirs. Take yourself out of your observations and appreciate the wonderful sounds and techniques of other players. What can you learn from them. What inspires you?
DON’T be a know-it-all. Try not to finish the conductor’s sentences when they are addressing a group (or individual players – including yourself). I have done this myself and it just isn’t a great idea. You may totally understand what they are trying to say and are excited to be part of the conversation/teaching moment, but in these instances it is best to just listen and really dissect what they are asking from the group. There may be others that do not quite understand the concept and need further clarification directly from the horse’s mouth.
DO fit into each other’s sound without judgement when performing with a group. It is about blending, not outplaying.
DON’T try to one up other flutists by lecturing about what an expert or panelist meant. This also goes back to not being a know-it-all. It is okay to help others out if they don’t understand something or sharing your experiences if they relate to the topic, but try not to take over as the expert and pontificate in front of a group in an attempt to upstage others. Let the experts do their thing and build upon their ideas in constructive ways with others.
DO support each other and celebrate everyone’s accomplishments, no matter what level. Sometimes we get so focused on being “the best” that we forget about how difficult the journey is along the way. I love attending high school and college competitions because I remember how difficult it was to learn and excel at that level when so many flutists are trying to do the very same thing. Celebrate the moments when the younger generation breaks through the barriers of skill. Embrace the instances when a flutist playing 3rd part is promoted to 2nd. Good work!
DON’T go crazy with the name dropping. “I studied with X teacher at Y school, and then performed with Z famous flutist in W group on V super fancy stage in U Hall, etc.” It is great to be proud of your experiences, but if you are using names of famous flutists or places to intimidate your competition (or students – yikes!), you may be annoying rather than inspiring other flutists.
DO let go of past rivalries. Put the past in the past and cultivate newfound collaborations (or at least respect) for old colleagues. I was fortunate to run into an old college friendly rival at the NFA and was super happy to discover that we had become two very different types of flutists with mad respect for each other’s respective successes. It was like that rivalry never existed (seriously – back in the day it was like a Britney vs. Christina scenario) and, really, in the end it did not matter. Let it go!
DON’T leap into other’s music to correct notes. There is a very professional way to check notes that does not involve pointing at your neighbor’s score. Simply ask politely to double check a measure to make sure you do not have a misprint. Boom! They will almost always figure out the problem themselves and if there IS a misprint, you aren’t the person falsely accusing others of making mistakes.
DO listen to learn, not to judge. We can learn something new in everything we hear and everything we see. What new ideas or techniques can you bring into your own practices by listening to others?
What are your Dos and Don’ts when it comes to having good “Flute Attitude”? What helps you keep a positive attitude and encourage others? How do you promote and celebrate the work of others. Please comment below!
Sometimes as flutists we tend to be very competitive. I try to teach my students to keep competition fun. I encourage them to audition for everything, but I don’t expect them to win every audition. I want them to go in, play their best, and come out having learned something from the experience.
I also encourage them to share what they know! I give them advice on how to approach assisting others without causing conflict. I remind them that we all have to work together to make music. Be encouraging to others in your section and be kind.
Work hard, have fun, make friends, enjoy every minute.