Washington University in St. Louis
1, 2, Ready, Play
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Frustrated, I glared at the flute. It stared back at me as if to say, “bring it on.”
I consulted the beginner’s book, the red one that I hated: “Shape your mouth as if saying ‘whee-too,’ place the flute on your chin, and blow a long, steady breath.” I fingered a B flat, first finger on both hands, my left thumb, and right pinky, and tried again.
I didn’t hear the result at first, but it was there, hiding between the crinkling of my little brother’s math homework and the sizzling of dinner being made. I blew again, more confident this time. The B flat came out again, a little stronger, and chose this time to flit in between my dad’s complaints about work and the TV, playing that night’s news.
The red book caught my attention and begged me to play its very first piece, “The Magic Flute.” Four B flat whole notes, separated by whole rests. I sighed in defeat. How would I ever be able to hold on to that wispy little note for four whole beats? The flute went back in its case. Until tomorrow.
Every day, I got home, had a snack, then went upstairs to where my flute and the red book would be patiently waiting. The delicate B flat gradually turned into one that could be heard over my brother’s grievances about...
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