“Improvise” is a Dirty Word

Good friends will recall I’m a recovering perfectionist.

I acknowledge this is a state from which I’ll never be cured. The compulsion is too strong to slip back into the old ways. Yet, moments like this past weekend reinforce how much better my life has become since I kicked the perfectionista to the curb.

(Actually I’m falling out of love with her twin sister introversia as well, but without her I’d have to buy a whole new wardrobe, so for the moment she still shares closet space.)

Since Thursday I’ve been in Reston, VA, attending the International Low Flutes Festival. I confess I knew that all these ginormous instruments existed, but I didn’t realize just how many flutists have adopted these quirky big cousins as their main squeeze. Like for example, we’ve gotten to hear performances by a wide array of international low flutes choirs including the Japan Jazz Flute Big Band, the Desert Echoes Flute Project from Arizona, Flute Street from Toronto, Rarescale Flute Academy from England, Metropolitan Flute Orchestra’s “ContraBand” from Boston, the Florida Flute Orchestra, and not one… not two.. not three… but FOUR low flutes choirs from the Washington, D.C. area.


I got to have breakfast twice with Zurich Conservatoire professor, Matthias Ziegler, whom I met last August at the masterclass in Holland, and hear a side-splittingly funny duet by the Aussie composer Houston Dunleavy written for piccolo and subcontrabass flute.

Yet in the midst of all the out-of-the-ordinary, the takeaway moment I’m bringing home is finally “getting” the 12-bar blues. For the last 30 years I’ve known how to describe the chord changes and to hear the groove… but Saturday morning in a session with world-renowned jazz flutist Ali Ryerson, I said “f*ck off” to perfectionista and gave it my personal not-best.

And just as soon as I ceased to be concerned with “getting it right”… it got seriously fun!

Kinda like bowling or karaoke.

Then I began to wonder if all my eye-opening, life-alteringly cool moments didn’t happen this same way because there have been an excessive number of them since Year of the Book began.

Today I’m not going to overanalyze it (so there’s something to write about next week, ha), but I will ask you a question:

Is there something you were interested in that never “made sense” until you had learned and done it about a thousand times? Maybe something you’d even told yourself you’d never be able to do?

Or better yet, something you still have on that seemingly un-kickable bucket list?

I’d love to hear about your experiences, so Reply or Comment.

In the meantime, I’m headed to improvise my way through one more day of concerts and workshops about musical things I may never pursue… but at least I’ve given myself permission to try…

Happy Greek Easter!
Demi

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