Playing Flute From The Heart

An improvised post on improvising

Stellar Flutes -
A guide to improvising on the Native American style flute.

Today in the midst of our holiday rush to fill orders, I’ve been completely grounded by a nasty head cold. Needless to say, I won’t be working in the dusty shop or playing any flutes for a few days.

Instead I’m cuddled up by my fireplace sipping a cup of my trusty head cold tea ( fresh ginger, lemon slices, honey and cayenne), and trying to think of some useful flute information to share with you.

So, let’s get started. You grab your flute, I’ll grab my Kleenex, and we’ll talk about playing flute from the heart.

Improvising – how the heck do I start?!

You may feel like many of my customers, not “musically gifted”. You love to listen, but when you play you need guidance from a sheet of music or tabliture. That’s ok, but we aren’t going to use any written music today. Instead you are going to learn how to find a song that’s already in you.

The Preparation

My judgmental cat Harvey

Find Time Just like making time for meditation, you need to set a little time aside when you won’t be interrupted. Ten minutes to begin.

Find Space – It’s easiest for most of us if we are alone in some place quiet, or if possible, in nature. If you can’t be in nature, find a good window view. And put your judgmental cat in the other room.

Find Clarity – This can be the hardest part. You need to clear your mind of self judgement about your skill level and ability as a flute player. Let go of the fear of bad notes. While you are at it, let go of that of that nagging list of things you are supposed to be doing. This is flute meditation time and it’s just for you (and your flute).

Now we are ready to begin

Start by blowing into your flute and moving your fingers. (Seems obvious, I know.) For the first few minutes just feel the notes without trying to make music. This will help to wake up your mind and fingers.

What’s out your window? Mountains? Trees? Skyscrapers? A neighborhood? Play the skyline. My view is a rhododendron, it’s tall, a high note. A cedar tree, even taller. A house, very low note in comparison to the tree. A power line, a long sustained note. Small shrubs, short fast notes. I love to think that the songs we come up with will tell of our homes.

The view from the home of Stellar Flutes.

Now close your eyes and continue to play. Maybe you are looking at your internal landscape now. A memory or an emotion. Let your heart guide your fingers without the need to remember where they have been or know where they are going.

That’s it. This exercise is about removing yourself from the concept of structured playing and letting go. Revisit this flute meditation as often as you can and see how it not only helps you play better, but also makes you feel more at peace. You are giving voice to those silent feelings. Your flute is a tool to help you express joy, love, yearning, loss, anger or whatever your heart needs to say. If you incorporate a flute meditation into your daily life you will quickly find that your structured playing improves as a result.

Now it’s back to bed for me.

Until next time, keep on fluting!

Lily Wilcox

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