Monday, April 18, 2016

Instant Inspiration: A Fun & Easy Craft Project for Musicians

Instant Inspiration: 
A Fun & Easy Craft Project for Musicians

There are lots of reasons you might feel like you're in a practicing slump.  I've been in one for a few weeks now and, this past weekend, I was ready for a boost!  Since I know that getting started is the hardest part (read more in my post called "Steps 1, 2, and 3"), I decided to create some instant inspiration that will be waiting and ready for me, anytime I look at my flute case.  

All it took was some brainstorming, a quick Google images search, a trip to the copy machine, some scissors, and tape, and I was ready to go.  

The first quote (and picture) I added to my flute case was said by Ella Fitzgerald, whom I love and adore for her liquid, soulful, smoky voice and her musician's story (full of struggles that transformed into transcendent, timeless performances).  

Just don't give up trying to do what you want to do.  
Where there is love and inspiration, 
I don't think you can go wrong.  
- Ella Fitzgerald

This is particularly meaningful to me right now, because I am on the third major reorganization/revision of my book (updated title: The Aspiring Flutist's Practice Companion) and it's easy to get discouraged because of the extra time it's taking.  When I remember that practicing my flute helps me with the clarity I need to keep rewriting, editing, and polishing my book, so that it can hopefully end up inspiring countless flutists, I am much more likely to get my flute out of its case and start playing.  

The second quote I added reminds me that breathing is the most important part of flute playing, on every level imaginable.  Breathing deeply and fully, with my whole body, energizes my spirit, clears my mind, connects me with the present moment, and, of course, gives me the fuel that I need to play my flute as beautifully and meaningfully as possible. 

Breathing in, I calm my body.
Breathing out, I smile.
Dwelling in the present moment, 
I know this is a wonderful moment.
- Thich Nhat Hahn

The next thing I added to my flute case reminds me of something my husband once said while teaching a class. "I can tell you the way to accomplish anything you want to accomplish with your music."  Of course, every student in the class, including myself, was extremely interested in what he said next.  He then smiled and said...

That was such a key moment for me and the concept of imagination fueling everything we do as musicians is still one of my favorites. 

I didn't use this one on my flute case, but here's one of my favorite quotes related to this subject.  

Imagination is more important than knowledge.  
Knowledge is limited.  Imagination encircles the world.  
- Albert Einstein 

The next quote I printed out for my instant inspiration project is particularly meaningful to me.  Anyone who's read my blog, been my student, or had a lengthy chat with me about my flute journey, knows that I've gone through a lot to get where I am today.  In a nutshell, I started my journey as a flutist looking for self-esteem and validation (mostly through chair tests, competitions, etc.) and have ended up in a much more lovely place, realizing that being a musician provides countless more opportunities to feel joyful than I could have ever imagined when I thought being "better" than everyone else was the point.  

Earth's crammed with heaven 
and every common bush afire with God, 
but only he who sees takes off his shoes.
The rest sit around it and pluck blackberries.
- Elizabeth Barrett Browning  

This Elizabeth Barrett Browning quote reminds me that there are amazing, delightful, wonderful things around every corner, not to be taken for granted.  Musicians that use these things just for ego boosts or selfish gain will get the "blackberries" (the temporary benefits), but musicians that are in awe of just how incredible these things are, and how lucky we are to have access to them, will get the privilege of "taking off their shoes" to respect and honor (and relax and enjoy!) the never ending benefits of a life filled with beauty.  

The last print out I included on my case is a picture of a young Paula Robison in a lesson with Marcel Moyse.   This picture is incredibly inspiring to me because it shows the concentration of a student, figuring out what she wants to do with the music, and the joy of a teacher, who already knows so much, but is happy to share this moment with her.  When I think of the countless Paula Robison performances that followed this picture, bringing so much meaning and beauty to anyone lucky enough to listen, it's really nice to think of it all starting in simple moments of learning, just like this one.

I hope you enjoyed getting a look at my newly decorated, instantly inspiring flute case, and I also hope it gave you lots of ideas for your case!  If this post prompts you to work on your own case, please send pics - I'd love to see your finished product.  

Email me anytime at (and let me know if you mind me sharing the pics at some point - thanks!).  

Happy Practicing!

Terri Sánchez