Sunday, November 3, 2013

Being A Non-Flutey Flutist Makes Me Happy

I'm a flutist, but have had the good fortune to hear from many of my colleagues that I "don't seem like a flutist."  By this, they mean that I'm not an utter pain in the ass.
Good god.  Do you see this? A KITTEN, a FLUTE (put together incorrectly, natch), A ROSE, BALLET SLIPPERS *AND* a WHITE PIANO.  It's the grand slam of preciousness.

Anyone who has been in middle school or high school band knows what I'm talking about.  The flute players are the competitive back-biters.  The rumor starters.  The bitches.  Yes, there.  I said it.

Why is this?  Don't know.  It doesn't matter to me WHY it happens -- it just does.  Just like trumpet players are arrogant, tuba players are funny and euphonium players will never get a job, it's a fact.  I have indulged in the Flute Player Syndrome (FPS) while in junior high and high school, I had my comeuppance in undergrad, and even more so in grad school.  It wasn't fun.

I finally learned that in order to be a person MYSELF that I could stand to be around, I had to get off of it.  I needed to develop some tact, some empathy, and a whole lot of modesty.  There's ALWAYS going to be a better flutist.  And she's probably going to be younger, thinner, and have better clothes.  Again, fact.

Know what I found out?  It's more fun to be the nice flute player, as long as you are also a kick BUTT flutist.  People like playing with nice musicians.  People like to hire them!

However, sadly, it's humbling to do this.  I simply had to give up trying to prove that I was the BEST EVER. I just had to act like I am the most awesome KATE around.  Here's the thing -- if I get around another flutist (other musicians too, but mostly flutists) who is still deep in the snotty-attitude thing, my antennae go up and it's HARD to resist the pull.  I want to name-drop, to brag, to talk about all my orchestra jobs, my degrees, my auditions.

I KNOW!  It's wretched.  I have to make a conscious choice to NOT jump into that pit.  It's a deep, DEEP pit.  Lots of people are in there, too.  They are the ones who warm up on "Daphnis and Chloe" when you're getting ready for some community performance.  They're the ones who hear YOU playing your solo that you're going to do on tonight's concert and THEY start playing it too.  Ugh.  You know the type.  That's the mythical "flutist from Juilliard who bent the keys on her competitor's flute the minute before the audition."  I doubt it's ever happened, but if it did, it was a flute player.

Whenever I start out in a new location, I have to remember which flute player I want to be.  Do I want to be the snotty, rude, entitled, name-dropper? Or do I want to be the mature, elegant yet fun, educated and comfortable with herself lady?  It's tough to go with #2 sometimes.  It's so deeply satisfying to rip somebody a new one when they're begging for it.  ("You think YOU'RE hot?  I did  masterclasses with GALWAY, bitch missy!" "I gave Jeanne Baxtresser rides to the airport! She told me she liked my purse!")

I have run into a few flutists in each and every location who fall into the FPS category.  Oh, they are SO easy to spot.

One of their first questions is always -- without fail -- "What kind of flute do you play?"

Gag.  Hint, people:  If you have to ask, you don't deserve to know.  Most of us can tell by looking, and really? It's rarely polite to ask outright, because it implies that their sound comes from the instrument.  Please.  There are ways of finding out.  First think of it this way:  Do you know her/him well enough to ask what brand of underwear they like or what dentist they use?  No?

Probably should mind your own business then.

1 comment:

smalltownme said...

Middle school band. You called it. (You did not describe clarinet players. We must have been forgettable.)