Are you tired of never feeling good enough? Even though you put in crazy practicing hours? Do you sometimes secretly start to hate the flute? And then feel guilty and get yourself to practice even more? Then this article is for you to help you unleash the brilliant flutist in you. You will learn how to manage your time and energy efficiently and how to allow yourself to rise to your potential and above!
Unleash the brilliant flutist in you
In order to allow yourself to forget about your limits and rise above them as if it was a piece of cake, you need to start seeing the broader picture of being a flutist. It is not only about practice hours and mistakes. About physical pain or mental exhaustion. It is about allowing your unique qualities to arise and unfold.
Most of the time we are not even aware of our qualities and accomplishments. We are busy punishing ourselves for mistakes or presumed laziness. At least that is what I did.
I focused on the absence or lack of something, instead of being grateful for what I learned or was able to do better than the day before.
Concentrating on the absence of a skill, will never let that skill break through in you.
The mindful flutist – unleash the brilliant flutist in you
Instead of focusing on the gap between where you are and where you want to be, which will result in negative thoughts impeding real improvement, start your day with an appreciative thought.
Yes, this is an important step on changing your resisting focus onto a more allowing way of thinking. We flutists have something in our life that is always there and that deserves appreciation: breathing! Breath and air, filling our lungs and body, what a wonderful mechanism that we do not even have to think about.
Just stop for a second, breathe in deeply through your nose and out again through your mouth. Follow the air with your imagination and be thankful. Appreciate your ability to nurture your body with oxygen and to gently control the air going out again.
Meditation would be a wonderful idea to practice the feeling of appreciation and thankfulness. There are also inspiring explanations you can listen to on youtube.
It is hard when you are feeling down to feel thankful immediately. Try rising your energy slowly, to a thought that is a little less negative than your actual ones.
Try to focus on things that you have no hard feelings or thoughts about. Ones where it is natural to acknowledge that they are good (the sun, a pillow, facial cream etc…). It is easier from acknowledging a positive thing to get to appreciation eventually. Don’t be hard on yourself.
Try to get yourself in a grateful state before you play. While you play beware of your thoughts. Just notice them and do not judge.
Are they more critic of your playing or do you sometimes give yourself an imaginative pad on the shoulder? Whenever you notice a positive thought, stick with it. Focus on it and milk it all you can! As for the others, just let them pass. No judgment.
One last tip on being a mindful flutist, who is allowing the full potential to unfold, is to visualize the good outcome of whatever you practice for.
Imagine your teacher complimenting you, your audience applauding you or yourself playing well and being satisfied with the result, maybe winning a competition or audition.
Imagine the scene as clearly as you can. What are you wearing, who is there, what is the temperature, the smell, the general feeling. What is your sound like and the acoustics of where you play? Is there any noise or someone else playing with you?
Imagine and visualize the scene over and over. This is as important as the actual practice so do not skip the mental preparation!
The fit and healthy flutist – unleash the brilliant flutist in you
Playing the flute is like doing sports on a professional level. Your whole body is there to support the creation of your sound. So you should try to get a good connection with it, first of all of appreciation and thankfulness. It helps you experience and express yourself through the wonderful art of music.
Get to know your body through exercise. Beware of your limits. When it asks you for a rest, you need to give it a break. Do not over practice as this is very harmful. When parts of your body become tired, others will take over their part and you unlearn the best breathing technique or posture, that it took you so long to learn. So give your body a rest. If you are interested I talk about some stretching exercises and muscle training in these articles: stretching and muscle training.
But also train it as an athlete would. You remember the fitness studio exercises? They always come in sets of three. Never over the limit, just a little under. Like sets of crunches for example.
So learn from this experience and divide your study into three sets. In all of them you need to stay fully present, focused and with all your attention on the task at hand.
Find out for yourself what your limit is and do not go over it. Instead, try to be more focused when you practice and stop when you could still go on.
Like an athlete warm up before and stretch afterwards.
Translate that for yourself onto the flute practice. As an example, I start my day with playing anything that comes into my head, softly slowly improvising. When I get a good feeling I start with some scales or exercises that help me study the music I need to learn.
Always start slow, no rush. Difficult passages I start to study with the metronome extremely slowly. So that I am sure I can play every note and memorize my body position and energy distribution as well as the sound that I want to produce.
Then you take it up in little steps, faster and faster. When you lose control, start going back down again. That is the stretching of the mind and body. Slowly getting down again. Then give yourself a little rest.
On average, you should include some minutes of rest after every 20min. That is the time one can really focus. Unfocused playing is like unlearning what you did earlier.
So as for a healthy life, especially for a musician, move, exercise, get into the sun, fresh air, do gymnastics especially for the parts that are on heavy-duty playing the flute, like shoulders and back.
The social flutist – unleash the brilliant flutist in you
Think positive about yourself and others. Find positive things to think and say every time you can. Focus on what you did well while you play and after as well. Sometimes it is easier to do that with others, so start there if you like. Watch a video of a different flutist every morning and find positive things to say and think. Even comment and write to them.
As a musician it is core that we create a positive and uplifting surrounding for us. Already while studying in college be sure to make friends and study in a group as often as you can. They will hold you accountable and carry you through darker times and you will do the same for them. Furthermore, it is very inspiring and motivating to be part of a group with similar goals.
We all need a nourishing environment and mentors that we can count on. So start creating that as soon as you can.
Also, always have a safety net for when you fall. Create connections and bonds that uplift you and be interested in other people’s stories. You can learn from anyone and anything.
Live your life fully. Form healthy relationships, friends and family, outside of the musical world. Fall in love and live through it. You need life to give life to your playing. Live your experiences and translate them into music. Create something to tell while you play.
Last but not least, while you learn start sharing what you learn. It is through teaching that we really learn what we thought we already knew. Teaching helps you grow and helps others.
Be of help and connect!
The accomplished flutist
So now you got some tools that have not that much to do with practicing the flute, but are even more important. The accomplished flutist knows his or her own limits and how to manage their time and energy around them. Limits are not fixed and can be pushed, but you should do that wisely and gently.
Time is not the same as energy and both need to be organized in an ideall way to unleash the brilliant flutist in you. There might be other things in you life that take up your time and you will have to organize your day in a way that allows you to spend the right amount of time in mental and physical preparation and actual study.
But even more important is your energy management. Find out if you are a night owl or an early bird and when your energy is highest. There are also different types of energy to consider. The mental concentration and the explosive physical force. Divide your flute practice accordingly. As well, take into account the time of the day when you need to play the concert, competition or audition and start to train your energy to spike at that time by putting in enough rest in your day. This is super important! It is when we rest that we learn. Our mind rewinds everything we did and organizes it to be retrieved when needed.
The accomplished flutist is gentle with himself or herself and allows their art to flourish from the inside. Simply by not resisting it and appreciating every brilliant creation that has happened that way, paving the tunnel for yet more of them to surface.
What are your ideas on the different topics above? Please let me know in the comment section below.
I sincerely hope that I help you to unleash that potential of a brilliant flutist that you force yourself to waste so many times by over studying or focusing on limiting beliefs and negative thoughts.
The accomplished flutist is not free of doubts or fear, he or she has just learned how to create a safety net in themselves so that they can just let them go and focus on positive aspects again.
In a fertile environment this is much easier, so find your best spot and grow!