"When you begin a note, it comes from somewhere and keeps going forever after you have finished. It comes from your impulse to sing, from your mind and heart, all the way back to the beginning of time. It goes into thin air, into walls, patient trees, open sky, molecules, heat, radiation, and on into vibrations there aren't names for. Part of it does, anyway. The rest of it goes into the hearts and minds of others. Nothing is lost. Everything keeps going around." from The Listening Book, by W.A. Mathieu.
Isn't that a powerful thought?
One of the things I have been learning as a flute player is that setting the intention to play from the heart opens up a channel to allow beautiful sounds to find their way from my heart to the flute. Sometimes it doesn't seem to matter what sounds I play as long as I am not fussing about "being right" , then a flow begins to happen and it almost seems like the flute is telling its own story. I have just become the tool to set it free. I am learning to listen to the spaces between the sounds of the flutes and just let those be. Instead of creating a song I often feel like a soundscape unfolds from my fingertips through the flute.
Our world is such a busy place and the thoughts spin so quickly in our head that sometimes we can't catch up with our own thoughts. The only time this stops for me is when I am with the flute playing that beginning note. As I started my adventure with the Native American Flute, the phrase " the flute will teach you how it wants to be played" was one I heard often. It perplexed me at first until I began to let go of playing the right note or playing the right way. What I am continuing to learn is the art of listening to the flute, to the world around me and to the gentle guidance that flows through me as I play.
Keeping Mathieu's quote in the back of my head reminds me to set the intention with my playing that as it reaches out to be heard by others that it fill them with whatever they need most in that moment. Sometimes people will come up to me at the same time and tell me a song sounds like a Peruvian flute and another will say that the same song has a celtic flavour. The first time this happened to me I was taken aback as I felt the song I was playing was simply meant to be a bit mysterious. As people listen connecting to their own lifetime of experiences the song takes on a meaning for the listener that fits with them in that moment.
When you play whether you feel like a master player or a stumbling beginner, your thoughts, your desire to express something through the flute connects to the world. I encourage you to 'silence the inner critic', that person who needs to be right and acknowledge that anything you do to produce sound with the flute is right and is teaching you, if you are willing to learn to listen.
Set the intention and play on fellow flutie, play on