So, I have this recital coming up, quickly, and I’ve found that I’ve become more tense everywhere, which obviously adversely affects my flute playing and, well, everything. Believe me, I found that it really could permeate every aspect of my day. I have been focusing intently on staying relaxed through my playing, even taking tiny breaks fairly often to soften my muscles and regroup mentally. That process is good, but it’s really only part of the solution, I’ve discovered. I noticed that even though my face consistently stayed relaxed and ready to play, my arms and especially my fingers ached and hurt after only a few hours of practice. By my third or fourth day in a row of taking a lot of ibuprofen (nuprophen in the UK, if I remember correctly) I thought to myself that something is definitely wrong here.
I messaged my friend Lynne ( http://flyingflutistas.com/ ) who is a skilled Andover Educator ( http://bodymap.org/main/ ) and talented flutist. She recommended some positions for me that allowed me to relax my spine, which, in turn, relaxed my entire body and mind. I’ve not had to take any medication today for pain, and practicing was fun and felt easy. Since my conversation with her a few days ago, I’ve also added yoga back into my routine and have started running on a more regular basis — not just on Saturdays after the farmers market with the promise of blueberry and dark chocolate pancakes at the end!
In order to be a more well-rounded musician, or parent, or anything, we need to rely on other disciplines to help keep us focused, balanced, and grounded. Even lying flat on the floor with our knees up for 5-10 minutes a few times a day helps a great deal and is a fabulous place to start. I certainly know how busy we can get trying to juggle work, parenting, etc., but we can only do our best when our bodies and minds are at their best. I use several means to make me the best flutist and parent I can be: I run to keep up my stamina and improve my lung function for playing; I now lie flat on the floor a few times a day to allow my spine to lengthen and spinal fluid to reposition; I’ve added yoga back in for concentration and body control; I pray a lot; and I use “mental practice” (imagining myself playing a particularly hard passage) to help with my flute playing. I know without all of these different disciplines working together I would consistently be run-down, frantic, and feeling out of control. I’m certainly not saying that every day is perfect — it’s not! — but I can have more good days and more healthy days when I take the time to do the above for my body, mind, and, in turn, for my flute playing and FAMILY.
A huge thank you to Lynne for reminding me of the importance of the above! ( http://flyingflutistas.com/ )