A little self-encouragement


Today I have to start.

I’ve been pretty horribly sick up and down for two weeks, but now I am emerging on the other side (thank you antibiotics). This is probably going to mean my recital is postponed, something I have to sort out as soon as possible. But then over the weekend as my various airways finally started to clear up I had an attack of the fears and doubts. Thought about giving up flute for a bit, but that hurt too much so I stopped. That awful “f” word hangs heavy on my chest and back, lights up above my head – FAILURE.

But now here I am, no decisions made, just postponed. I still have a recital to do – at some point – I still have an AYO audition. So I drew up my plan for the day, my to-do list, my practise.

And now the hours slipped by and it’s 1pm and I have to START.

This isn’t sounding too much like self-encouragement at this point, this is just recounting, story telling. But getting it out into words of some kind helps to make it a little less stuck. All I would have to do is pull the case from my bag 50cm from where I sit, extract the cold metal from the case, slide head into body into foot, warm it with a huff, stand, lift the blue book from my desk, flip open the pages, switch on the sconce, rest the instrument against my lip, inhale, press down keys, form embouchure, START. Is that so hard?

It might sound awful. I might not find the shape, the edge, the resonance, the ring. My fingers might fall clumsy or grasp tense. The tongue will almost definitely be slow and soft and heavy. My brain probably won’t process properly, black marks into wrong notes, muddles and mistakes. It will be hard and I’ll give up too easy, I’ll look for distractions even more fervently than I am just now and then I’ll sink back down with the addition of a new failing.

These are the things that keep me from making the simple series of movements that could lead to the beginning. Less than 30 seconds and I could be clocking into that little list of checkboxes that fall under the sign “#1” in my neatest handwriting. Non-threatening tone and tech, nothing more than an hour of easing back in, and nothing less than a clear indication of the condition I have lost.

But I can’t go back, I can only go forward. So I’ve pulled the case from my bag. I’ve undone the latch and laid it open. My flute is staring back at me, in three pieces. The metal is certainly cold, but less so than on some early mornings where the cold has slid into the bones in my hands, no matter how many layers I’m wearing. The flute is whole.

The next bit is harder. To pick up the blue book, I’ve had to slide other scores off it. It’s heavy and there’s layers of music and exercises already on the stand, so it’s sunk a bit. I’ve lessened the load and dumped Hurel, Dean, Peter Lukas-Graf articulation, Moyse studies, Taffanel-Gaubert, orchestral excerpts, on the page with the header Hoopers Accountants, and there was only a little stab of “do your tax” guilt.

The stand is at a good height, the sconce is on. The blue book remains closed. I’ve opened it to page 7 THE LOW REGISTER. The book is a prompt, the exercises are embarrassingly simple, I’ve played them five hundred times (not exaggerating).

The A6 page with my handwriting on it says 5m warm-up. I’ve set my practise alarm to 13:32.



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