I desperately wanted to play the flute in middle school.
I leapt at the chance to learn this beautiful instrument when the band teacher let us choose what we wanted. Flutes are so graceful, so delicate and elegant…I really wanted to be that girl. The one who sat demurely in the front row, ankles crossed, while notes danced out across the audience.
Hey, you – the one snickering at “demurely” – I see you.
Alas, earning the title of talented flutist (flautist?) was not meant to be.
I already knew at that point that I could sing. We’re not talking Broadway star power here, but I could carry a tune and harmonize decently. So in all honesty I figured learning an instrument would be a transferable skill. Surely my musical ability would carry over and help me become a talented musician as well, but it turned out not so much.
I took weeks and weeks of instruction. I practiced at home, over and over again, but no matter how hard I tried I could not get that lovely silver flute to play. And by that I don’t mean I couldn’t learn the fingering, I mean I couldn’t get it to make a single noise. Well, except a few times when I could hear the sound of my breath pushing over it ineffectively.
I longed to hear that sweet note ring out. Just once I wanted to blow gently across the flute’s opening and hear even the softest note lift into the air. Just once.
Guess what I got? Nada. Nothing. A big fat feeling of disappointment over and over and over again. It turned out singing talent wasn’t transferable to instrumental talent after all. Or at least mine wasn’t, though I’ve always believed that had a great deal to do with the fact that I’d chosen the flute.
You see, I had that bad overbite as a child. I’d managed to push my front teeth back into place (a story for another day), but structurally my mouth was just a little…off. I pursed my lips, placed them on the flute just so, and blew – and nothing would happen. Was it my recessive lower jaw? An overbite that I’d overcorrected so that my front teeth were actually tilted back toward my tongue? Or was it that I just plain old wasn’t meant to play the flute?! (I like that theory least, but then again I was invested in that whole “flute girl” fantasy.)
Whatever the reason, I finally accepted that my flautist dreams were dashed. I seem to have recovered okay, but boy…that was a tough pill to swallow at the time.