Musical Orthodoxy or How I Find Freedom Through the Native American Style Flute

There are certain recognizable musical forms. We may call them songs or numbers or tunes. They are often repeated note for note and recorded. They may be very entertaining. Or catchy. We would like to play like that. Be good. Be recognized and admired. Why can’t I play like Scott August, or Peter Phippen or one of the other recognizable players. Those guys and women are great. I don’t play like them because they are professional musicians. They are schooled and by natural gift endowed with the ability to craft a tune that attracts and holds your attention. Some have made it their life’s work.

That is not who I am. I will never – excepting Devine intervention – play like that. Good for me. Now, having given up on fame and public acclaim I can just let my music be me. It’s not easy because it takes some effort to let go. I consciously let go of the critical and apprehensive aspect of my ego self. But, once I do that I find that I can make no mistakes. If a note is perceived to be not right, then if I let the next and then the following note flow out the flute. Then the mistake disappears. The mistake has become incorporated into the flow of notes coming through the flute. The perception of mistake was part of the self-criticism program of the ego. Dad said I was a screw up and I had no choice but to believe him. But, Dad’s not here any more. Now I am that critical voice. Putting myself down. The flute is teaching me that there is another way. I can forgive myself in the present. I ignore that voice and go on playing as if I had never heard it. I am OK. I can do it right. Dad was wrong. I don’t have to listen to him any more.

I know a professional Jazz drummer. Jazz is about improvisation. He told me that guys in the group make mistakes all the time. Everyone just covers for them and the music goes on. No one criticizes or cares. It’s not that way – about judgment or failure.. The audience never knew it. The note or beat disappears in time. The music goes on.

So the music is mine and Gods to share. If someone else is listening they can’t tell that there was a wrong note. They don’t know that I cringed in fear inside. They aren’t aware that I had made a mistake and was called on it. They may or may not like what I am playing. They may call it just a bunch of notes. However, I hear the song. And so does God. We know that we are doing just fine. Thanks you very much.

I have never set out to learn how to play. I have never taken a lesson. I’m just gratefully messing around with this little piece of wood. It tells me that I’m doing fine. That’s all I want to hear.

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Email: john@atflutes.com