Tired of the usual musical hum-drum? (Of course you are!) Here are 52 flute activities guaranteed to shake up your musical life this year

Thanks to laura pattison for this pic

Do you ever get frustrated doing the same ol’ same ol’ musical stuff year after year?

I sure do.

You know what I mean: Masterclasses. Practice. Auditions. Lessons. Winning. More lessons. Exams. Rehearsals. More practice. Losing.  Recitals. Lesson planning. Teaching. Competitions. Marking. Writing. Job applications. More (fill in the blank).

Be one of the few that does a little somethin’- somethin’ new for your (musical) self this year.

I want you to be a fully joyous, ‘experience-your-life-in-6D’ type of flute player. It is my desire that you get the hairs on your arms to stand up just thinking about what that might entail.  And maybe that’s thrill enough.

But maybe it’s not?

That’s why I’ve created these 52 things to banish any signs of musical ennui.*

 Go on, give one (or many) a try

  1. Be someone else’s little miracle. Answer ‘impossible’ questions or requests that people around the globe have about the flute. You won’t get paid, per se, but think about the karma points you’ll rack up. Click here.
  2. Be a musical tourist. Spend a week studying a new genre of music (and a new way of flute playing) with a musical great in the country of its birth. I can personally vouch for tango in Buenos Aires with her, or Indian Classical ragas in Bombay with him.
  3. Raise some cash for someone in need of it more than you. Busk in your hometown. Think the Saturday Farmer’s Market, the bustling High Street, or outside a tasty ice cream parlour as people devour their cones on the sidewalk. Choose your charity and sign up for a world event here, or create your own, like this town did.

    No. Be a musical tourist. Thanks to Meena Kadri for this pic.

    No. 2. Be a musical nomad.
    Thanks to Meena Kadri for this pic.

  4. Push your vocal boundaries, all while gaining Inner Peace. Take part in a singing and chanting workshop this summer in Greece.
  5. Expand your lung capacity. Sign up for your first 5K. Read this article for why your lungs will benefit.
  6. Give back to your community. Play a voluntary 30 minute ‘recital in miniature’. Call up your local primary school, care home or retirement centre and ask if you can come visit.
  7. Give thanks. Send a letter to one of your former music teachers telling them why and how they helped you musically. Click here for some gratuitous words to use as inspiration.
  8. Walk the Walk. Write your own music manifesto that you hang in your practice space. Then live by it.
  9. See what the hype is all about. Book an Acutonics tuning fork session or try a  Tibetan Singing Bowl meditation and see if musical pitching through such a medium can help you heal any broken-ness.
  10. Teach your students via a new learning method. Take a training course to master it properly, first. Suzuki,  Ta Ke Ti Na, or Kodaly anyone?
  11. Download a free (and legal!) sight-reading exercise every day. There is a new daily tune posted here. Try  it for 7 days straight.
  12. Experience a ‘holy cow’ moment. Watch how one brave flautist played his flute to escape death in a Cambodian labour camp. Click here.
  13. Finally complete that (earth shattering) music project. Yes, you know the one.  Apply for a partially funded (or sometimes fully-funded) artist’s residency somewhere unique. Search tons listed here.
  14. Give us your advice. Curate a top ten list of the best flute tips that you’ve come across. Share it freely via social media. Post in a flute group like this one.
  15. Research your musical blood. Get clear about how your own musicality fits into your family tree. Ask around to your older relatives: “Who else in the family played instruments in our lineage?”, “What musical traditions were part of your childhood?” Take note. Share it with your offspring, too, if applicable.

    No. 16. Flute problems.

    No. 16. Tea + Flute problems

  16. Prepare a cuppa. Got one? Good. Now check out this tumblr blog called ‘Flute Problems‘. Because Sometimes you just need to laugh.
  17. Ask for support. Crowdfund your new flute head joint like he did when he wanted to ‘Go Wooden’. Or like them to make their new tango album in Buenos Aires.
  18. Do a Creativity Course for no cost (all available in your local library). Journal with The Artist’s Way, Women that Run with the Wolves, or Die Empty as a way of extending your creative self, musically.
  19. Learn to conduct (better). Enhance your skills,  improve your musical coordination with a short course, or at a proper summer academy.
  20. Serenade someone divine. Your lover, your nearest and dearest. Enough Said.
  21. Pick your favourite flautist(s). Write him or her a fan letter. Don’t expect a response.
  22. Extend your flute practice. Try a yoga or a pilates class to enhance that muscular awareness.
  23. Commit yourself to improvising freely for 21 days, 10 minutes a day. Read this first.
  24. Be controversial. Start a non-practice journal that you write in when you just don’t feel like practicing. Use it to write your way to discovering what’s really stopping you– i.e. read this.

    No. Get to know the miracle that is your tongue. Thanks to Jim Flanagan for this pic.

    No. 25. Get to know the miracle that is your tongue. Thanks to Jim Flanagan for this pic.

  25. Learn more about the miracle that is your tongue, and how it works when articulating. Did you know that it has 8 different muscles?
  26. Create your own personal Spotify playlist(s) of all your favourite flute greats. Play it often. Share it around (with me, too, please?)
  27. Buy a breathing bag. Use it. Feel the benefits. Start with exercise number 1. Email me if you want even more ideas.
  28. Save someone. Read how ‘Flutes for Hope’  are using their flute skills to prevent suicides on a Native American reservation in South Dakota.
  29. Arrange your own flute cover song from your favourite top 40 song. Check out Flutronix remaking Sweet Dreams for inspiration.
  30. Go bop your head, tap your foot to a jam session at a pub, or a bar. Or better yet, take part. Maybe you’ll be inspired to join your local group.
  31. Get more mechanical. Learn how to do basic repair work on your flute this year so you aren’t helpless when it happens in India and there is no one around to work on your silver flute but you (experience!). Here is a UK repair course, and one in the USA.
  32. ‘Be the change you wish to see’ (Ghandi). Still looking for the perfect ensemble to join? Change your area. Start your own wildly popular ensemble in your locality like this motivated flautist did back in 2011.
  33. Step into the public eye whether you’re the next J.P. Rampal, or not so much. Share a (public) video of yourself making music on YouTube. Let yourself be open to any comments. Here are two of my glorious students doing it here with the blues, and here playing Koehler.

    Thanks to John Fraissinet for the photo.

    No. 3 Busk for charity. Thanks to John Fraissinet for the photo.

  34. Meet your childhood musical self again. Locate a picture of yourself as a young child playing your instrument. Frame it and put it where you practice. Let that cute and innocent little face spur you on to better things.
  35. Learn your heptatonic, hexatonic and octatonic blues scales. Use your new skill to compose a little ditty off the top of your head.
  36. Be an expert. Write a short article from your perspective as a learner, an amateur, a teacher, or performer for publications like The Flute View or Flute Journal.
  37. Witness a musical miracle. He’s 9, blind, yet can improvise like a demon. So now, what’s your excuse, again?
  38. Redecorate your practice space.  Marvel at some flute posters here that you might consider hanging. This Henri Rousseau work is my ultimate ‘go to’ on a daily basis (check out the symbolism).
  39. Decide that today is the day you are going to finally get to grips with at least one extended technique. Start here.
  40. Donate your old student flute that is now gathering dust. Someone else probably needs it more than you. Dorothy Croft Trust, Musicopia, Hungry for Music and Oxfam are just a few charities that happily accept instrument donations.
  41. Start meditating. It can be used to help you be a more mindful musician. Or, better yet, a nicer human in general. Learn step-by-step, and all for free here.

    No. 46. Play outside.  Thanks to Tom- an untrained eye- for this pic.

    No. 46. Play near some birds.
    Thanks to Tom- an untrained eye- for this pic.

  42. Improve your flute posture. Visit your local Alexander Technique practitioner to make the most of your physicality in playing.
  43. Give your honest feedback. Choose a publication(s) that have helped you musically. Write a review to let others know how useful it has been for you; be specific about what exactly it helped you with. Post it on a highly trafficked web site like this one.
  44. Dance and play at the same time. Add pre-planned movement in your next performance like he does in his own works, or like she does with more established flute repertoire.
  45. Learn to Beatbox. See the master do it here. Now there’s even a newly published book to show you how.
  46. Play outside. Do it in your courtyard, a desert, a national park, the city allotment, or on a mountainside. This Seattle- based flautist does it in forests– yes, even when it’s snowing.
  47. Design 3 personal musical mantras. Tape them to your music stand, and say them to yourself (out loud, yes!) before you start your musical day.
  48. Use some of your vacation time by becoming a musical volunteer with this organisation in Palestine.

    No. 38. Invest in some flute art for your studio. Sam Vanallemeersch

    No. 38. Deck the walls (by Sam Vanallemeersch)

  49. Create a music-themed Haiku. Next, compose a short melody that goes with your newfound poem. Give yourself a time limit of 25 minutes.
  50. Play your flute while lying down on your back. On your bed. Your floor. Your futon. What did you notice?
  51. Master performance anxiety, already. Start tackling and working through those books you’ve always heard about. Start with the classics, like this one or this one.
  52. Let yourself take a (real) break. A week. A month. A day. Let yourself miss your flute playing in its absence. You’ll be better for it when you return.

Over to you, now. What are you going to do different this year as a flautist? Please comment in the box below– you’ll surely inspire us all.

* Such a sexy word for such a listless state. But, I digress.

Want more to spark your year ahead? (Re)tell your musical story so we’ll love you more than we already do. Click here


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2 Responses to Tired of the usual musical hum-drum? (Of course you are!) Here are 52 flute activities guaranteed to shake up your musical life this year

  1. Brianne March 13, 2015 at 6:20 pm #

    Thank you so much for this article. I really needed it. I plan on trying #35 tomorrow and I really loved the Flutes for Hope article as well.

    • Dr. Jessica Quiñones March 13, 2015 at 6:32 pm #

      Brianne, Welcome to the blog! I hope that this list brings you some inspiration when you’re feeling blah and in need of some new flutey activities. Let us know how you get on with all those new scales?

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