When I was young, we had to choose an instrument at school. I chose the flute, and was in the middle of the large pack of young ladies in band.
Eventually I dropped out during high school, pursuing other activities instead. Although I was a mediocre musical student, I have always been grateful for my musical education. My experience gives me a sense of the excellence and precision in the music I hear and a working knowledge of the instruments and mechanics within the group. And it helped give my brain something to do while I listen to the music with my heart and body.
Yet, I haven’t always been as appreciative of my choice of instrument, and I have wondered if I chose poorly. The flute…well…it’s a lot girly. And I am tall and knew others regarded tall girls as unfeminine. In that context, I can interpret my choice of the flute as some kind of rejection of who I was at that time (tall, awkward, different) in favor of some ideal diminutive, soft femininity. Basically, I have wondered if the flute was my beard.
Well, last night I attended Gabriel Kahane and yMusic‘s concert at the University Musical Society on North Campus of UM. yMusic is an ensemble of three string and three wind instrument players. One of the musicians, Alex Sopp, played the flute, piccolo, and a longer flute (the bass flute?). Listening to her play, as her notes dashed and trilled and leapt with precision and grace, I knew the real reason for my flute crush. The flute is a beautiful instrument, and echoes the happy music of the birds in the forest (e.g. the beautiful call of the wood thrush).
So thanks, Alex, for helping me forgive my younger choice and reconnecting me to that sound.
A flute isn’t necessarily a beard. It is its own beautiful source of grace and lightness. As my dad would say, recalling a quote attributed (unproven) to Freud “sometimes a cigar is just a cigar”.