Flying to learn

September 21, 2012

In the spring I decided it was time overcome my increasing fear of heights.  To do this I decided to take a trapeze class at the local trapeze school, Trapeze School of New York Boston.   Along with my husband I went to a Friday morning class.  The instructors gave us an introduction on the ground and then it was time to walk up two flights of stairs to the platform where we would leap into the air on the trapeze.  I was scared!  When it came my turn to fly, the  instructor held my safety belt  as I hung my toes over the edge of the platform.  I was instructed to grab onto the bar with one hand then the other.  The first hand was easy, it was letting go of the scaffolding at my side with the second hand that was hard.  In my head I heard two voices coaching me, the fist said “just do it!”  the other said “this is scary, don’t let go.”  I admit  I almost threw in the towel but I did finally muster the nerve to grab the bar with my second hand.  The instructor to called out  the commands, “ready,” and then “hep,”  and off the platform I flew.   I did it, and admit it was a little bit fun.

Fast forward six months, I am now signed up for an 11-week Intensive Flying Workshop with my Body Mapping & flute colleague, Lynne Krayer-Luke. The workshops will culminate with a public performance on a Saturday evening.  Together we are learning about learning, movement, and awareness.  The process has enhanced the high level learning I do with the flute and my teaching.  These are some of the things I have learned so far:

  • The process of learning a skill from the ground up helps me to relate to my students, some of whom are learning flute playing and music from the beginning.
  • In learning to fly through the air with grace and ease I am learning about movement and how awareness plays such a huge role in the process.
  • The power of the kinesthetic imagination.  I don’t have the luxury of breaking the sequence of moves down while I am on the trapeze so I use my mind to go through the movements.
  • Leaving my comfort zone.  Every time i learn a new trick I am leaving my comfort zone. At first the voice inside my head would say “me do that?”  Then I told that voice, “I will try it once, if I don’t like it I won’t do it again.”  Last week that conversation didn’t happen.  I just did it!
  • Overcoming fear – I am no longer fearful of heights!  The fear didn’t disappear with the first leap, it took about four classes over a month and a half to move beyond it.  I learned that it is possible to overcome fears. Every exposure to the fear can diminish the fear’s power.   Students who are fearful need to perform more.
  • Awareness – cultivating inclusive awareness in the 15-20 seconds that it takes to perform a trick has boosted my overall sense of awareness.   I don’t need to consciously cue it up, inclusive awareness is now is more readily available.

I am excited to learn new trapeze tricks over the coming weeks and equally excited to learn about learning.  Lynne and I will use the experience to enhance playing and teaching.  You can follow Lynne and my adventure at our blog “Flying Flutistas.”

I’m sure that many of you are familiar with the music of William Duckworth. I am sad to report that he has passed away. Kyle Gann’s obituary can be read here:





The Quest for Identity

September 8, 2012


Who Am I?  Who do I want to be? What do I want to be “when I grow up”?

Do I have to know?

It’s a tough thought and one I thought I had figured out.  Well, “pride comes before a fall” so says the Good Book, and while I wouldn’t say I’ve fallen, I could definitely say identity is something I”ve been struggling with as of late and could be in the considerable throes of “who am I” syndrome currently.

I don’t mean “who am I” in the hippie, new-agey,  be-one-with-the-universe type way  (though if you are, by all means, rock the identity quest!), but  more in the sense of defining my career, my life, giving myself a solid path, instead of feeling like I’m sliding on marbles going in a thousand directions.

This last year has been a year of upheaval, in a good way.  About February, we made the decision for me to move from Panama City, FL to Nashville, TN.  I have wanted to do this for so long and to keep from going into messy details, I’m thrilled it happened.  I have spent the past five years in PC with my hubby, trying to forge a music career and then a fitness career in a tourist city.

It failed.

Or did it?

Honestly, that’s a bit harsh, I DIDN’T fail.  In fact, I succeeded in the sense that I found out that even in areas where there isn’t a lot of culture, education or desire for healthy living, that I can succeed.  I succeeded in that I really learned the meaning of hard work, of entrepreneurship and in the struggles of trying to make ends meet, in a new city, with a new husband, with no family or friends nearby, in a tourist city where the most popular careers are bartender, restaurant owner, charterboat captain  or selling beach umbrellas to half-naked, completely drunk Spring Breakers, that I did what I could and I find an identity for myself.  Living there forced me to figure out what I wanted to do because performing in an area like that was not a viable option, the demand wasn’t there.  I succeeded by finding a way to merge a second passion into my first passion and create a career.

The road less traveled

When I graduated from grad school with my second degree in flute performance I really had no idea what I was going to do. In fact, I didn’t care.  I got married 6 days after graduation and I said “I’m going to take a break. I’m going to rest and be a housewife for awhile”.  I did.  I was also bored to death within 6 weeks.  Living in a tiny city with nothing to do and no friends, I had nothing to do and you can only clean an apartment so many times. Don’t get  me wrong, I LOVED being married and being domestic, but this girl was born to move, to work, to keep busy and I HAD to find some work.

Hubby was cool with it, but I guess he didn’t realize HOW bored I was, because within 6 months I was working two retail jobs.  The extra money allowed us to go on an anniversary cruise with my parents (1-year for us, 25 years or so for them) which was great, but it also meant I wasn’t getting enough sleep, the hubs and I barely saw each other and practicing? Why? Forget it, no time, and honestly, no reason.  I had joined the local community orchestra which, to give credit, is better than a normal community orchestra, but coming from one of the top 5 public music schools in the nation, it wouldn’t have mattered what I had done, I would have been bored, everything was too easy.  I was able to get a job teaching adjunct at the local college, and I thought “great, I can give a recital!” which I did, and it was nice to have a goal again.  However, when I went back to the dean to talk about doing another recital she told me “I don’t think you realize the level of work that’s involved.  Recitals have to be staffed.” I’m sorry, isn’t that your JOB?  Needless to say, another recital didn’t happen.

During all of this, I let my passion for fitness take over.  I started training much more frequently and doing a lot of research. I decided to get my first personal training certification. Things really came together at the Florida Flute Association convention. I gave my first presentation titled: “From the practice room to the weight room: weightlifting for flutists”.  I found that quite a few people were interested in what I had to say and one woman asked me “do you travel to teach your workshops?”  She was the one who inspired me to create a brochure, design more workshops and really get the ball rolling on fusing my loves of fitness and music together.

Music Strong was born.

Long story short, I’ve presented several more times at both the FFA conventions and at the National Flute Association Convention, each time people coming up to me amazed at what I’m doing, with questions, concerns and wanting information. I decided this WAS something I wanted to do and put more into so I got a better certification, this time through the National Academy of Sports Medicine.  At the same time, I just couldn’t get clients or students in Panama City.  I told the hubby enough was enough, we had to go where the money is, and where I had connections already, so we agreed that I would come up to Nashville after the NFA convention in Las Vegas.


I did, and now I am here, LOVING every minute of it, swathed in myriads of opportunities, and I find that I’m back in the same boat of identity confusion: what do I want to do? What direction to I want to go? What’s my ultimate goal?  Only now it’s different, because I’m attacking the subject of identity from a place of too many opportunities than of too few.

I’m so blessed now to have a growing flute studio, I’ve been asked to give my workshops at some universities across the state and in addition to that, I’ve been asked to be a part of a company called the “University of Change” – a program seeking to reach out to Nashville (and eventually nation-wide) office workers and the obese.  Those with poor posture, with weight problems, people who for one reason or another have not been able to change though they desperately want to, and Music Strong has been asked to be a part of this: speaking at seminars, training clients, leading foam rolling and beginner boot camps.  It’s wonderful, it really is!

Now, I’ve been here a grand total of three weeks and I’m covered in opportunities – here the chance to play a well-attended recital is numerous, I can record that piccolo CD I’ve always wanted to do! I could this, that, over there, that too….

Too much.

So the question for me comes up: what do I want to do? What’s my ultimate goal?

I started life as a musician knowing I had to play in order to be happy, and that’s still true.  But the time it takes to be incredibly good is so encompassing, so time consuming, to be on the level to be able to take auditions with confidence that I could get the job, while not out of reach, recent auditions have re-shown me just how much dedication to the music it takes to get to that level.  It’s a level that is good to maintain, great to be at and easy to let slide if you don’t have a superior outlet for which to continue honing it.

Am I ok with not playing at that level?  Am I ok with not being in an orchestra?

What about teaching, do I want to teach forever?

And what about my beloved company Music Strong? Now that I have all these students it would be so easy to stop investing time in it, but I find myself lighting up anytime a musician (or anyone for that matter) asks me a fitness related question.  No, I want it to grow, it’s too important, I can’t let it die.

So the question remains: what is my ultimate goal? I think when I figure this out, I will have my mission statement.

Yes, I want to perform, I want to teach and I want to train. Can I do it all, I think I can.  Can I do it at a very high level? Yes, I can.  Am I willing to pay the price it takes to get there?  The person in me who strives for excellence says “YES!” but thinking about it, how much time would I have to sacrifice away from my husband, my marriage, my friends and family because I have to practice, study, research, blog, train, etc. etc. etc?

The good news is there is no absolute right or wrong answer to this and each journey is unique. What is the right decision today might not be the right decision at a point in time later down the road.  You can change, your goals can change, and that’s ok.

My identity:

I think for now I’m content to say this: I am a musician, a flutist, a teacher, an encourager, a motivator, a trainer, a person of high integrity and moral values and a passionate person.  Job wise: I’m a musician, a trainer and a soldier.

That’s just fine for now.



Your identity:

The question comes to you: who are you? What do you want to be when you grow up? What is your ultimate goal? It’s ok to change it, but I can tell you this, when you have an ultimate goal and you can make your path clear, taking away distractions is that much easier. Knowing how to answer challenges in life is that much easier  Take some time to think about it.  Who are you now? Who will you always be?

Hello Everybody,

In honor of John Cage’s birthday, I decided to stay silent yesterday, but I’m now back to provide you with this week’s weekly digest, which will feature some new recordings that might should be of interest to you. These are all well-recorded, well-performed albums of new, yet generally accessible, classical music.

Tin Hat – the rain is a handsome animal (18 songs from the poetry of e. e. cummings)
This can be streamed for free from the New Amsterdam website. I plan on discussing this music more in an upcoming blog post.

Matthew Rosenblum – Circadian Rhythms
This album features Rosenblum’s unique approach to microtonal music and includes performances on the actual Harry Partch instruments.

and finally, this Tuesday saw the release of not one, but TWO new albums by Grammy-winners Eighth Blackbird

The first “Meanwhile” is a collection of their recent concert repertoire.
While the second, “Trembling Air” features the music of Virginia-based composer Benjamin Broening.


For this month’s digital music link, I came across this post discussing Spotify’s business model.

%d bloggers like this: