(since spring is the season for flute recitals)
On two ambitious projects I recently completed, practicing vs. recording, & more.
Every spring for the past ten years, I've had a flute recital to prepare for. This year I missed having one, so I made up my own version — two pieces that I recorded and shared with my community on Patreon.
While practicing for this, I was quarantining from my part-time job at the bakery counter, which morphed into two weeks of intensive music-making.
In the mornings, I'd work on a massive recording project — 20 minutes of original music in collaboration with visual artist Jim Vecchi. (I finished a complete draft yesterday! Below are some excerpts.)
After lunch, I'd assemble my flute and practice into the evening. Sometimes, I'd look out the window and cherish how people slowed their steps to listen.
Excerpts of original music. To listen to the full version, you can subscribe to my Patreon at the bottom of this page.
During those two weeks, I felt rooted in my identity as a musician and flutist. Far from the insecurity that fueled much of my practicing throughout college, I knew exactly why I was pouring so much of each day into making music.
One, because of the way it made me feel connected to my body — in a way that had nothing to do with appearance, everything to do with sound.
Two, because of how this sound could reach into people's minds and hearts if they opened the door.
Once my quarantine ended, I went back to work at the bakery. Having signed up to cover extra shifts that week, I lost energy to make music for a while.
Suddenly, ten days had passed and I felt totally disconnected from the person who had thrown herself headlong into music projects.
This is the precarity of creative work — whether you do it or not, and to what standards, it's all intertwined with your sense of identity, purpose, and worth.
Still, I had a deadline to meet for the collaborative recording project, so I forced myself back into this work — 95% of which meant staring at my computer and editing audio clips together, 5% meant playing flute.
As I struggled to finish this project, I encountered the difference between making music through recording and editing, versus practicing and live performance.
The latter is rooted in instantaneous connection to physical time and space. Everything you create is fleeting, which both heightens the impact and abandons it to memory.
With the former, what you create escapes temporality, in that others can experience it further along in time, even repeatedly. It's a part of us that lives past our bodies. From my experience, it centers around living more in our minds, less in our bodies.
From a mini-recital for my community on Patreon.
For now, I'm drawn to a more embodied practice as a musician. But I'm grateful to have dipped my toes into the world of recording and producing your own music. The radical creative liberty was dizzying to me, as someone trained along the binary of performing versus composing.
With these two projects behind me, my next step is to reconstruct a practicing routine — one rooted in curiosity and expansiveness, rather than deadlines and end products.
For the sake of the clarity I lost, here's why I'll do it:
1. Part of being alive — being present in the space I occupy, and present to the people around me — translates to making music in the way I've spent much of the past twelve years of my life.
2. At such an early stage in my career as a freelance musician, I'll embrace all the "incubating" time I can get before the pandemic ends. When it ends, I'll feel an unspoken pressure to busy myself with gigs, simply because they are possible again.
3. With music, the potential for beauty is the potential for healing, both collectively and personally.