HONORING YOUR SONG --- Terry Mack---
As a person who has been fortunate to have an opportunity to introduce hundreds of people to their first Native American Flute as well as introducing the beautiful sound of the flute to thousands of others, I have had the opportunity to witness how people approach making your own music or sound.
I am saddened by many of the comments I hear from so many of us who have been musically wounded and I am inspired by how easily the flute can help people move beyond a limitation imposed on them and overtime have been ingrained as part of a person.
While I sit at my sales area playing the flute one of the most frequent comments I hear is
“I am not musical”. I used to think that about myself but on this journey I discovered a way into my own song and music. It didn’t start with the flute, but my journey has been largely shaped by the fluid expression that comes when you have a flute in your hand.
Another comment I hear quite frequently is “I’ll never be able to play as well as you can”. To this I always say, I may play well but that is because the flute has helped to listen and to free my own song. I cannot play your song. Only you can do that and I could not do that nearly as well as you could. People are surprised by that comment and I hope take it to heart. Your song is as important and as valuable as anyone else’s.
Many of us believe that to play an instrument means that we must first learn to play other people’s songs. Our busy western, modern world has turned us into a world of spectators where many of us only listen to music and many more of us sit back wishing we could play or sing or dance. What saddens me about this is how we have forgotten to listen to and hear our own song. I believe that the Native American flute offers a wonderful opportunity for people to step out of one’s head and to make that long journey to your heart.
Learning to play an instrument is like learning to walk when you are a baby. You take a few stumbling steps and fall down and get up again and keep going until you can walk, and before you know it you are running. Babies have not yet heard and embraced the many I CANT messages that flood our adult brains. If they did, no one would ever walk.
I will share with you one of the stumbling blocks I had had to honouring my own song.
On my journey I was having much fun learning to listen to my heart and many of the things I play come out as celtic or medieval flavoured songs. I was quite delighted and amazed by this but had a few misgivings about doing the Native American flute an injustice by not playing it the Native way. I even felt guilty about it. Last year I had the opportunity to take a flute lesson from Anthony Natividad (http://anthonynatividad.com/flutes.html ) I asked him about playing the flute the native way. Anthony said play for me, and so I did.(although I was nervous about this as Anthony is a wonderful flute player). Anthony listened and commented that my flute playing did sound native. More importantly he stressed to me, that with the flute we are co creating the songs in our hearts and from our histories. These too have value, so if you are playing flamenco rhythms or foot stepping marches keep on playing. This is what honouring the flute and yourself as a player means.
Another good meaning soul, told me after listening to me play that “ I was one of those people who liked to make songs” . Now I know he didn’t mean any criticism but still I felt judged for loving to make songs on the flute. This stopped me for awhile as I wondered if I wasn’t honouring the flute. I did a bit more reading about the flute, talked to some people and came to the realization that if an instrument inspires you to create, that is what is important and not necessarily the style in which you play.
It is so easy to let the words of others stop us from moving in a direction that we would love to go. Now as I choose to learn more from this instrument and allow the songs and the sounds to flow I truly feel that I am honouring the flute. In fact I have learned that I would be dishonouring the flute and the gifts it brings me if I give up.
Please, play your song and honour yourself, the flute, the maker, the wonder and the joy that it brings to your life.