Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Fluting Around

For Christmas I bought myself a flute. The reason for this extravagance (it was a $90 flute off of eBay) was two fold. One, I was inspired by my niece who just started learning how to play flute, and ,two, I had offered to teach beginning band at my co-op and needed to do a little brushing up on something.

I played oboe,in addition to the piano, for many years. In fact, I probably would've pursued oboe instead of piano if it wasn't for those *#$&%^ reeds. Any double-reed player reading this really commiserates with that last sentence. Any other people reading this just probably think this is a really geeky paragraph. However, it's true. Reeds are the bane of an oboists existence, and being left-handed, it was even harder for me to learn (all my teachers were right handed). So, once I left my great oboe teacher in north eastern Ohio, I said good bye to the oboe.

I think I picked the flute because it has similar fingerings to the oboe, but mostly because I'm a cheapskate and the flute doesn't require me to purchase any reeds at all! That must save me at least $10 bucks a month!

So, I try to practice everyday, and have been making decent progress. In addition to my oboe experience, I also took all the instrument method courses necessary to graduate with a music education degree... some of that has come back. There is also a plethora of material on the web that has helped immensely, since it's all free.

Each evening I take my laptop and set it on the top of my piano. Then I get out my flute and the music I printed out. I sit at the piano and practice, occasionally glancing up to the laptop for assistance. I use the fingering charts I find on line and I work through a piece. This all seems very normal --the part where this gets weird is my daughters.

As soon as I get the flute out, my two youngest daughters come racing into the room. You might think that they do this because they love flute music, and don't want to miss a second of sitting at my feet as I play through Irish jigs, "Amazing Grace" and "Bist Du Bei Mir". That's not the case. They come racing into the room to be the first one there to grab one of two things: the cloth used to clean the flute when I'm finished practicing, or the stick used to shove the cloth through the flute.

Somehow they have developed some sort of transient value between the two items. It's transient because the value changes each day. s Which ever daughter gets in first gets the best one. It doesn't matter which item she grabs because it's value lies in the fact that she got it first. I'm sure there's some kind of great market principal in that.

As I sit there playing (or "tooting" as my youngest daughter calls it -- I'm sure that word choice has no reflection on my actual tone production), a brawl breaks out behind me.

"I want the cloth!"

"No, I had it first!"

"Mom! ***** isn't sharing." (Note: my 3-year-old always says someone's not sharing when they won't give her what she wants).

This continues until I take both items away. Then they beg me to give them back, because they claim they want to help me. The rest of the practice time is spent with one daughter on my right and one on my left, each holding one of the items just-in-case I need it. I feel like a Queen with her royal cup bearer and wine taster, except I have a royal stick holder and a royal cloth holder. They stay in position until I've finished practicing and their great moment of "help" occurs. One hands me the stick, and the other hands me the cloth.

They are so completely satisfied.

Just playing on my own wasn't enough to keep me dedicated, so I decided to join a community band. This is great for me, but probably not-so-great for the band. However, the band is at a local Christian University and the person running it is far too nice to boot me out. Although I'm really practicing my music so that I don't have to test that theory! My first practice was this past Monday, and started off by me almost clobbering the flutist sitting next to me. Having only played oboe in a band, I forgot that the flute goes out to the side and flutists need to make allowances for the person sitting on their right. That's one I won't forget soon.

So, now I'm worried that I won't get the music learned, and I think I might have a few too many hobbies. If I don't post as much on my blog, it's probably because I'm tooting.

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