where wildly different is perfectly normal


I realized something recently. Something of which I’m not terribly proud and made me reevaluate a great deal of my youth.

I haven’t touched my flute since October 2nd, 2010.

It’s been a full year since I even opened the case. I know the date exactly, as that was the day I was the music for my uncle’s wedding. I played for the ceremony, closed the case, and proceeded to watch the next twelve months bitch-slap me across several states. Yeah, it’s been a fun year.

I can’t even really give a reason. Part of it is just not having a place or a reason to play. Flimsy excuse I know. A true musician plays for the love of it, because she can’t imagine not playing every day. I’ve always needed a place and a reason; that is why I gave seven recitals in college and grad school. I needed a goal, a reason to open the case. My poor neighbor…I’ve barely met her, but I probably did her no favors with her parents. She’s a flute performance major at DePaul University, and in a conversation with her mom I was asked if I still played. Yeah, I probably made that poor girl’s insistence on music a leetle more difficult.

So do I still get to call myself a musician? A flutist? Nowadays I just say I have a background in music; it’s too humiliating to say I have a masters degree in flute performance but haven’t touched the instrument in a year. Yeah, seven years of higher education so well put to use. I’m not even sure I want to play anymore. It’s physically painful these days. My neck hurts, my jaw gets sore, my back gets all numb and tingly under my left shoulder blade. I used to play close to ten hours a day, and now ten minutes has me reaching for the ibuprofen and ice packs.

A full year without making music. It’s hard for me to accept.

I don’t know if I have it in me to claw my way back up to where I was.


  1. Benoit

    Try a flute of champagne, it’s less painfull.
    Jen, you’re trying to fit here !!!!
    It doesn’t matter if you’ve played flute for years and do not play anymore !
    If music is not your job then, music is for pleasure.
    If you do not feel the wish to play, don’t play.
    And, please, don’t blame yourself.

    I don’t touch my guitars often but when I play, I have pleasure. That’s what music is for !


  2. I’m just stopping by for the first time, but this sounds so familiar that I had to comment.

    I’ll third the voices saying that music should be for your pleasure, not for duty.

    But also, if it’s causing you physical pain, I’d really recommend that you look into getting Alexander Technique lessons. Those are what let me play flute at all again after I was kicked out my college orchestra (lo, these many years ago) days before the concert where I was to have played the big solo. If you need immediate help before you have time to find a techer, here’s a link to my review of the best book I’ve yet found about it: http://library-mama.dreamwidth.org/101000.html

    Good luck, and may you find space to play with joy again!

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