I try to schedule one day a week where I don't touch my flute.
Avoiding burn out is difficult, and these mini vacations really help.
I have been known to dance around the housing singing, "I don't have to play my flute, I don't have to play my flute, I don't have to play my flute!" on those days off.
"Get over yourself," I hear some of you muttering. "What's so hard about playing the flute? You show up at the park, play for an hour, and that's it! I wish I had an easy job like that!"
Hmmm. Where do I begin?
How about beginning with the daily hours (many hours) of practice required to maintain rudimentary fluency on the instrument? I have to practice whether I'm getting paid to play or not, just to maintain a level of fitness that will keep me from getting fired when I finally do get a paying gig.
Oh, and that music you hear at each concert? Some of it is stinking hard to play, especially in a park in the wind while dogs bark, kids scream, adults chatter, and planes fly overhead. It takes a lot (a lot) of repetitious practice at home before one can play securely under those conditions.
Okay, the music is pretty much under my fingers. Now comes the sheer effort of focusing on every little detail of the playing process while playing at warp speed. Focusing, and staying focused, is one of the more exhausting parts of my "easy" job.
Let's talk about my "flute day off" yesterday. I spent 3 hours putting an impossible-to-read flute part onto Finale (a music printing program) so I could play it without having my eyeballs fly out of my head while my brain exploded from trying to decipher the hieroglyphics scrawled across the page. It will be worth the effort when I walk away from that piece relatively unscathed next week.
I also work out regularly to improve my breath control and keep my muscles from permanently freezing into shoulder twisted flute posture.
What have I done today? I went to church. That was a pleasure. Then I stopped by Trader Joe's for food, came home, and started practicing. I've got more to go today, but took a break at the four hour mark.
So, just as in a "real job", I put in a lot of time and effort to do what I do.
Here's the cool part: I love what I do.
I'm glad that I make it look easy.
That means I'm doing my job.
Thanks for listening.
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