I have been playing my flute again. I took a break—a long break of 30 years or so—and when I picked it up, I thought, “This can’t be that difficult. Isn’t it like riding a bike?” Not. At. All!
I was a classically trained flutist and by no means was I ever going pro. Shall we say, “good, but not great?” I loved playing the flute! I especially enjoyed making music with others. It didn’t matter whether I was playing with ensembles, orchestras or bands. I liked sitting in and playing with anyone who would let me! I reveled in the camaraderie. The performance. The joy of music and the energy it engages. It was my drug of choice!
A couple of years ago, I decided I wanted to incorporate music into my keynote speeches so I took a few lessons and presto… I fell in love again! I always had a thing for jazz so I decided that I would train to become a jazz flutist. How hard could it be? Damn hard! Jazz performance is the antithesis of classical performance and yet it never dawned on me that being classically trained might make playing jazz difficult. What was I thinking? That’s like saying, “since I can speak English, Mandarin should come easily.”
Classical flutists are trained to read what is on the page. Mozart wasn’t interested in our own version of his sonatas. And classical flute players don’t utilize cords which are foundational in jazz. Plus, the the heart of jazz is improvisation—a no-no in classical performance. It was no longer applicable to play what you read on the page and that was where I excelled! I won’t even begin to explain the scales as there are endless applications: harmonic scales, blues scales, minor blues, melodic scales… and all I ever knew were the majors!
The Good News
There are some things that are the same regardless. You need air, you have notes, and you need to have rhythm. But don’t kid yourself (as I kid myself), learning jazz has been a stretch. And that stretch has brought me so much joy! It’s crazy how much fun I am having while battling the frustration of not being as good as I want nor having the time I would love to dedicate.
What’s my point?
Even when you know how to do something, when you learn to look at it differently (jazz), you create the opportunity to explore a whole new world. To reach and fall in love again.
What can you look at differently? Could it make you fall in love again? Give it a try. It’s worth the stretch.