Greetings and welcome to a new Flute Friday!
Earlier this week I attended a training on equity and identity where we discussed how identity is formed and reinforced. As children, the world seems like a blank canvas. And even as adults, the concept of identity is flexible and ever-changing, like a kaleidoscope. We keep moving the cylinder until we find an image that resonates with us. What occurred to me during this training is that all of us, at one time or another, created an identity as a flutist. We arrived at this in different ways, influenced by different internal and external forces. What is even more striking is the way that this identity makes its way into many, if not all, of our other identities. In today’s blog, I will be discussing the idea of a flute identity – How we form it, how we embrace it, and how we utilize it in other areas of our lives.
The first exercise in the training was simple yet insightful. Using the below template, we were asked to place our name into the middle circle and write aspects of our identity in the outer boxes. This may include such things as teacher, performer, student, collaborator, daughter, wife, social media expert, or anything else that you value about yourself. Some of my own categories included writer, teacher, performer, astrologer, and super-organized administrative superstar. Yet, when I thought about the things that tie all of these things together, they all seemed to point to flute playing in some way or another. My reputation as a writer and astrologer is built on flute-related subjects. I am in the zone whenever I teach flute lessons. And even my organizational skills originated from how I organized my time and practice routines as a young flutist. If there was a single core aspect to who I am, it is first an foremost a flutist.
But I seriously doubt I am alone.
In fact, I suspect if anyone reading this right now completes their own chart of identity, they may come to similar conclusions. (As always, please share any insights in the comments below!).
Next, we were asked to think back to our earliest memories of one aspect of our identity. I could not escape the memory of when I first began playing the flute. Corny, I know. But somehow I knew even back then that I had unlocked something. A magic key. The thing that really spoke to me about playing the flute as a child was that it was something that I could do in my own unique way that represented me, my imagination, my creativity, and my unstoppable drive. I remember the newfound confidence I experienced teaching myself new notes and learning how to read music. Suddenly things just made sense. The Universe allowed me to unapologetically shine.
I also realized how much I enjoyed practicing and working independently. Practice, after all, has a lot to do with focus, discipline, and achievement which, decades later, I would discover are my Clifton top three strengths. I would not be surprised if there are other flutists out there that mirror these top three strengths. It is how we learned. It is how we formed who we are. It is how we became the flutists we are today. Those strengths show themselves in virtually every aspect of our lives.
This week I challenge you to think about your beginnings as a flutist. What did you learn about yourself? What resonated right away? Could you see aspects of your identity forming right away? Do you still see these things today?
A job is not meant to completely define your identity. What you do and who you are are indeed two different things. However, music often muddles these waters. Sometimes being a musician leaves markers on identity. Markers you simply cannot shake or ignore. Today I urge you to embrace your identity as a flutist, however it shows up in your life. Consider all the ways that playing the flute has made you into the uniquely awesome person that you are. Music often opens doors to you in other avenues that you may never thought possible. Celebrate these experiences and create more in the future using the power of your identity.
How has playing the flute shaped your identity? What have you learned about yourself by playing the flute? What insights do you have about your connection to the flute? Please comment below.