How I discovered I had it all wrong

August 5, 2017

Dear all,


it's time to tell you how I came to realize that I was practicing and thinking backwards.


Until my first international competition, which was Kobe 2013, all I wanted was to play the flute. 


Nothing made me happier than playing a difficult piece with all the right notes in the right places and a nice sound.

'It's already something', is what you might be thinking right now.

It was, for sure, good enough to bring me quite far.

But from time to time, a teacher would tell me my etudes were boring, or that nothing was really happening in a piece I played.


I have to say, I didn't really know what to do about it at that time. I often ended just compensating by moving around more, which has always been one of my biggest flaws, so it was no solution at all...

But I was doing my very best to play perfectly, and I was sometimes at a loss. How could it be boring, to play so fast and loud ?


I know some of you are snickering right now ! But believe me, it really was what I thought.

And you may say 'all the young ones like to play fast', but when my vision changed, I was not so young anymore.


I don't know why I didn't grasp the concept of true musicality until very late, because I clearly remember my teachers talking about it all the time. I guess everybody just has his own pace of learning and understanding.


But anyway, finally, one day, it changed.

And here is how it happened :


I went to my first competition, with the firm intention to at least pass the first round. Which I did, but then that was it.

Kobe being in Japan, and intercontinental flights being no cheap and easy to change, I just stayed there until the end of the competition, and listened to most of it.

What I remember changing my life was the final round.


Now, if you are somebody wearing glasses, like me, you are going to know exactly what I am talking about.

Do you remember the very first time you put your glasses on ? Or the time you finally changed them because they were not accurate anymore ?

Do you remember suddenly seeing the leaves on the trees, and the tiny details above your head, up in the clouds ? Do you remember this awe of the smallest thing ? Remember thinking 'there is no way I didn't see all of that before', and aching for these numerous missed hours and days of clear sight ?


Well, as I was sitting in the concert hall, and listening to the flutists who would later become the first prize-winners, that is exactly how I felt.


Like I had been playing the flute all this time, when the only thing worth playing was music.

I suddenly understood, all at once, why what I did was boring, that it was unimportant, and that my playing had no meaning at all.

I remember sitting there, listening, and wanting so badly to get all this wasted hours of useless practicing back !

I remember vowing to myself that I would do everything I could to become a musician instead of a nice flutist.


And I remember swearing that, four years from this moment, I would come back to Kobe, and that if I didn't make it to the final round, I would listen and be able to say to myself 'I am not up there but I could be, because I am as good a musician as them'.


And now, four years later, I got the first prize. I still can't really believe it.

There was this amazing eye-opening moment, which changed me as a person and as a musician.

And then I had to work very hard every single day. Because playing the flute is easy - you can always practice your scales more - but playing music is much harder, at least for me.

I won't tell you how many times I went home from my lessons crying and thinking I would never get it, but let's just say it was a long way !




How is it for you ? If you are a musician, did you live such incredibly moving moments as well ?  

And as a non musician, what changed you the most in such a short time ? Did you also have some sort of epiphany ?

Please don't hesitate to comment and share your own story !










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