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The past couple of weeks have been a whirlwind of inspiration. I’m talking about life-changing inspiration. As with all of my blog posts, I toss ideas around for awhile, often jotting down notes or leaving myself voice memos over several days before I actually sit down and write. I’ve been thinking a lot about the events of these past two weeks; teaching in Iowa City at the Iowa Piccolo Intensive and playing Wagner with the Pacific Symphony. Every bit of it has been pretty darn awesome, to say the least. Then this morning, I woke up to another one of Dana Fonteneau’s terrific blog posts. Her topic this week is “Who Do You Surround Yourself With.”
Who indeed!?

Pre-concert shenanigans with Nicole... what could go wrong?

Pre-concert shenanigans with Nicole… what could go wrong?

Let’s go back to Iowa City, shall we?
I was delighted to be invited back to the Iowa Piccolo Intensive by my dear friend Nicole Esposito. It was such a pleasure to join my friends Sarah Jackson, Angela Jones-Reus, Tim Carey, and Nicole for five days of fun, non-stop laughter, great conversation, delicious meals, and some pretty fantastic music making, not to mention working with a dozen very talented young piccolo players. I presented three Body Mapping classes and performed on two recitals with my friends. As a Body Mapping instructor, I can’t tell you how much it means to me when a student tells me they’ve had a major break through as a result of Body Mapping; pain and limitation are no longer an issue because, with the help of the information they’ve learned in my class, they’re now able to properly map something they had previously mis-mapped. Tension which had been creating limitation is simply gone. The result, more ease and enjoyment in their playing, and the best part is that they actually hear the difference as well as feel it. WOW! This is huge! As someone who has suffered many years of tension, pain, and injury, I really understand what a big deal this is. Body Mapping has totally changed my life, and I love that it helps so many others, too.

Me with Nicole Esposito and my student Katie Hirabayashi

Me with Nicole Esposito and my student Katie Hirabayashi

Musical collaborations with my colleagues were, in a word, awesome – OK, I know, I already said that earlier, but it’s true. Aside from my collaborations with each of these brilliant musicians, simply sitting in the hall and listening to each of their solo recital performances was incredibly inspiring. After all, we all learn from one another, right? Sometimes it comes in the form of idea sharing, and we had plenty of that. But, sometimes it’s less obvious and it’s paramount that we remain aware and open so that we recognize when something truly great is going on around us. If we stop, listen, and really pay attention, we just may be moved. In the Body Mapping world we call this being inclusively aware; awareness of your self and your surroundings.

Tim 'Philharomonic' Carey and I

Tim ‘Philharomonic’ Carey and I performing Ken Benshoof’s “Spindrift”

Well, my inclusive awareness was totally on point in Iowa, and I took it all in. Every bit. I left there chocked full of great ideas for new repertoire for both me and my students, as well as thoughts to consider the next time I revisit some of the old favorites I’ve been playing for years. I also left Iowa with a big challenge to myself: how good can I get at what I do, and what do I need to do to take my whole game up a giant step? Challenge accepted! Thank you for this enormous gift of inspiration, Nicole, Sarah, Angela, and Tim. Go A Team!

The A Team! Nicole Esposito, Angela Jones-Reus, Sarah Jackson, Tim Carey and I

The A Team! Nicole Esposito, Angela Jones-Reus, Sarah Jackson, Tim Carey and I

The day after I returned home, I began a week of work playing selections from Götterdämmerung with my friends at the Pacific Symphony and Deborah Voigt. I’ve played these selections before, but this time I played a different part; 3rd flute. It’s such a blast playing low flute in Mahler, Strauss, and Wagner. You have many rests which allow you to sit and listen to the orchestra and soak it all in. Then, when you do play, it’s not your typical melodic flute line, it’s often chordal, inner-harmony goodness, with the occasional independent 1 bar melodic line that you get to play with one of the dozen horn players sitting behind you. Totally cool. I seriously felt like I was living the life of a brass player this past week; no stress from having to play ten zillion notes, most of which are totally exposed for the world to hear, but rather playing yummy Wagner chords and sitting there in the middle of the orchestra, wrapped up in a big fluffy blanket of all of that glorious sound. There are moments in Götterdämmerung that nearly move me to tears every time. This past weekend was no exception. I found myself smiling each time the low brass completely took over the hall, but then being on the verge of tears as the Immolation scene built up to its enormous climax and then came winding down to it’s beautiful, poetic close.
Deborah Voigt, our Brünnhilde, was exceptional. I’ve shared the stage (or in most cases, the pit) with many outstanding opera singers over the years. This was beyond measure, and from where I was sitting (about 15 feet behind her) it all appeared totally effortless.
Goose bumps.
Every time.

So, once again, it turns out Dana is right. Surrounding ourselves with beauty, greatness, and people who inspire us really does make all the difference. But the thing is, we have to be completely present and totally aware of what’s going on around us so we can soak it all in. Be open to learning, and surround yourself with people who inspire you and encourage you to grow, because that’s when the magic happens.

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