Confessions of an Ex-Perfectionist

I’m back home now from the land of tulips, and astounded that my dream-fulfilling music masterclass was actually life changing. Many times we build up events – promotions, vacations, weddings – into these monumental affairs, and the real thing simply can’t live up. (Or at least not in my Virgo mind.) We wind up complaining about the weather or the customer service or something someone said that “spoiled it all.” But that’s never a healthy place to focus.

This trip was about reclaiming my identity as a flutist, a musician, a performer. In many ways it was like attending a 20-year high school reunion. My technique is the fat, bald jock who didn’t age well, but the skill of performing and connecting to an audience is an old friend with whom it feels like no time has lapsed.

I was most impressed with the master teachers, the world-class pianists, and the event organizer. This was not the course of my past in which players attempted to outshine each other in hopes of gaining attention and a coveted position, or making derogatory dream-shattering remarks about one another’s skill. Instead it was a completely supportive environment in which the least among us (that’d be me) was treated with as much respect as James Galway (the famous pied piper of our classical flute world).

We spent 12-14 hours together for five days, performing individually and in groups, getting private instruction from not one but all three master teachers, and taking the public stage for appearances on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday where the whole village came out in support. The innkeepers from our B&Bs even attended every night (at ticketed events!) to smile and cheer us on.

I confess to being intimidated by the high level of performance that surrounded me. Classmate Jose is a flute professor in Costa Rica, Elin is the principal flutist in the Oslo military band, and two-thirds of the remainder are graduate students at the world’s most prestigious conservatories. Their lives revolve around the quest for note-perfect performances… or do they?

I was struck several times throughout the week by comments from our teachers:
  • “It is not your job this week to impress me.” – Ian Clarke, Guildhall School of Music and Drama
  • “It’s one thing to learn the technique, it’s another to integrate it and make MUSIC.” – Matthias Ziegler, Zurich Conservatoire
  • “Anything that people tell you will mean nothing until you learn it for yourself.” – Wissam Boustany, Royal Northern Academy
I have a whole journal of these wise nuggets… many of which can be held sideways and speak equally well to us as writers. For example: “We think to play better we have to make more effort, but really we just need to be freer.” – Ian Clarke

How many times can we possibly polish that first chapter of our book before we’re satisfied enough to commit to writing chapter two (never mind finishing the whole draft)?
I have returned home with a happy and inspired heart, knowing that my inner flutist is safe and sound, but that I would not change a single thing about the path which has brought me to publishing. After sharing some of these insights with my author friends, they just smile and shake their heads… “Demi, don’t you know that the way you feel about those amazing flute professors is how we feel about you?”

I’m humbled by the act of spending a week amongst flute playing’s elite, but more so by comments that remind me you and I have been brought together for a reason. I’m here to make sure you realize the importance of the message you have to share with the world, and that you believe in yourself enough to take the next step, and that you can find the support you need to polish your work and PUBLISH.

It’s time for you to define your next life-altering goal… and take that first step today!

Cheers, Demi

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