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  • Writer's pictureRosalind Ridout

End of term with new aspirations.

With the arrival of the summer holidays I can turn my focus back onto playing the flute. It has been a tricky few months, working and teaching online, and my flute playing has suffered. I am excited for the weeks ahead where I can focus on my body and my music, and long may it continue over the next few years as I commence my doctoral studies! Whilst a blog is never something I thought I would 'do', I've decided this is a good way to track my thoughts and research, so I will be here more often.

I've tried on a few occasions in recent months to devote time to the flute but I have shoulder issues. My right shoulder. It hurts. One of Dalcroze teachers has commented that my right shoulder comes up whilst I play the piano so it is something I need to work on there. I think a little and often is the way forwards; I don't want to return to that constant jarring feeling I had a few months back. I'm worried that the baroque flute (perhaps its lightness) contributes to that.

I have started my practice today with a brief Feldenkrais session which links the shoulders to the fingertips. It felt good but my body has been switched off recently. I am refocusing in and connecting movement with awareness. Thus, this is less an enlightening blog entry and more a short list of issues and things to work on:

- Today I lie on the floor and breathe. In, hold, out, hold. Square breathing. I can feel tension creeping throughout my body as I do this. When I manage to relax, I feel relief spread all through me.

- I play and my breath control is weak, the sound unsupported even on a traverso.

- I hold the wooden flute and my right hand tenses. There is an issue with my baby finger.

- I am remembering to connect the sound to the playing. I am always concerned about my intonation, but I think this is an interesting way to explore it. How does a G feel when it is in tune? The breath feels supported, my body feels relaxed, my mouth is open, my lips controlled, the wood vibrates and tells me it is happy. Rosalind, stop worrying about the tuner and listen to how you and your instrument feel.

So much to work on. I remind myself to start simple, start small. Listen carefully. Be honest with what you hear, what you feel. Take every second as it is.

I recall a lesson when I was a student, telling my flute teacher about a particularly good week of practice and saying "it felt almost meditative". She encouraged me, that's how it should feel. That is what flute playing is to me now and will be in the near future.

Now the cat arrives home after its self-imposed exile (he hates the flute!) and is hungry.

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