Tuesday, March 19, 2019

Leaving your comfort zone to achieve your greatest success

I don't know where this graphic comes from--I've seen it shared on Instagram and Twitter in recent months.  So, my apologies up front to whomever was kind of enough to originally create this diagram and share this crucial information. 

As a college professor, I tackle the issue of working outside our comfort zones every week in flute lessons, in my online music appreciation course, and with my entrepreneurship students. A college-bound high school senior, more often than not, leaves an environment in which they have been at the top of the heap for years, surrounded by the same people who have known them their whole lives and have already decided they're brilliant. When they set foot on campus as new university students, they become novices compared to their older classmates, not only in school but in general life skills and experiences, as well. This can be a real blow to the ego (there's no shame in admitting this), and I find that it's how any given student responds to this discomfort that will determine their success as they move forward. 

If you think of your own life, it has been a series of these waves: you enter into a new community (primary school, high school, college, first job, etc.), conquer its challenges, and rise to the top. Then you move on when you sense there's nothing more to learn or achieve. To me, a happy life is never leaving this process; for some, the comfort of staying put within a conquered world is the goal. It's comfortable to know everything and never need to prove yourself to anyone. But it's BORING. And that's all you need in order to move forward: the genuine conviction that making yourself temporarily uncomfortable in order to absorb new information is worth it to avoid the inevitable boredom of treading water for the rest of your life. 

Psychological researcher Carol Dweck describes this perfectly in Mindset, which we revisit and discuss every year in the flute studio at UW.  Briefly, if you decide to embrace the discomfort of challenge, you will enjoy it. If you decide you would rather always be correct, you'll never step outside your comfort zone and thereby atrophy. But do yourself the favor of reading this inspiring book; don't just take my word for it! 

As my students look forward to graduation in the coming month, moving on to graduate school or their first teaching jobs in new communities; as my colleagues (and I!) look ahead to summer and devise new projects for ourselves to remain relevant and artistically charged; and as my future students march ever forward towards college and the beginning of their adult professional lives, I wish us all the strength to continue challenging ourselves and finding joy in those challenges. I'm doing some internal spring cleaning right now, deciding what life jackets to throw away and what remote island I'll swim to next, and I encourage you to do so, too! 

Friday, March 8, 2019

Where I'll be this year at NFA...

Thanks to record-early communication from the NFA convention chair, the flute community is all talking about what and when they'll be performing at the annual convention this summer.  I am particularly excited about the opportunities I'll have to share ideas and a great new piece for flute and piano, and the fact that it's actually within driving distance for us in the Colorado/Wyoming region makes it that much sweeter!  I hope to see many colleagues and students from the Rocky Mountains at this year's NFA convention in Salt Lake City!

I am thrilled to be performing a fantastic piece, four pieces for flute and piano, by Philadelphia composer Joseph Hallman on Thursday, August 1 at 10:30am. Each movement is dedicated to a different composer: Jolivet, Muhly, Lynch, and Poulenc. Joe does an amazing job of getting inside each composer's style and sound profile while still sounding like himself. I was introduced to this piece through the Flute New Music Consortium 2018 composition competition; it won first place in the flute and accompaniment category. You can hear a sample of it performed by Fluter Scooter here, and come here me play and talk about it in August!

On Friday, August 2 at 1pm, I am moderating a panel discussion called "Using Social Media to Grow Your Studio". It will feature some flutists who are doing really creative things I admire with their studios:

And of course, I'm excited to see what my sponsor company, Altus Handmade Flutes, has in store for us at this year's showcase.

I'll also be giving sample lessons to students considering applying to University of Wyoming, and a UW student/alum dinner is in the works, so I encourage any Cowboys and prospective Cowboys to be in touch, as well.

See you all in Salt Lake City!

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