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Reflections on NAF – Experience

At Native Rhythms Festival, Clint Goss had us repeat as a mantra a thought expressed by Rae Denton, “It’s just experience!” What makes one person more comfortable playing in front of a group? or using a microphone? or playing a certain embellishment? “It’s just experience!”
“How do you avoid mistakes?” and old joke goes. “Through experience. And how do you gain experience? By making mistakes!” Of course, experience is also gained through practice and repetition. “Practice makes perfect,” is something we’ve all heard. Yet, the thought is not completely correct. Practice and repetition make permanent. Only perfect practice makes perfect.
Practice is a term that is frequently avoided in flute circles. Practice is often associated with work and drudgery. Yet, playing an embellishment over and over because you WANT to learn it is practice. Anything you choose to learn involves repetition until it becomes natural. This is the practice I’m recommending. Not a discipline imposed from without, but a learning that begins with a desire from within.
So choose what you wish to learn on the flute. Currently, I’m learning to free myself from my fear of the microphone. I’m playing into a microphone set up in my home – a safe environment. Soon, I’ll become comfortable enough to play at flute circle. (Actually, I have used the microphone at flute circle, I just prefer to play without it.) Little by little, I will build my confidence through experience. You can do it too.

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