So Saturday The Girl and I attended Texas Flute Society's annual flute festival at the University of North Texas. It's a fun-filled flutey day that caters to players at all levels and we recommend it highly to anyone interested in flute. Just like any convention, my favorite part is always the exhibitors rooms. There one can find all things flute-related, from accessories like flute-shaped cell-phone charms (you know I bought one) music stands, and sheet music all the way up to a $23,000 solid 14K gold Haynes handmade flute with engraved keys.
The coolest part is that all the major flute manufacturers set up exhibits and encourage attendees to play the flutes (they also provide alcohol swabs for the germophobes among us). What better way to sell a flute than to let it speak for itself? The Girl had a wonderful time working her way down the array of flutes offered by the Dallas flute specialty store Carolyn Nussbaum Music Company. She got halfway down the line of about 40 instruments and out came the sweetest, purest flute music I've ever heard her play. Her eyes widened and she said, "OHMIGOD! Did you hear that?! This is my flute, mom." She didn't want to put it down. Surprisingly, it wasn't the solid gold Haynes, either. Mind you, it was noisy as all hell in that room between seasoned pros noodling around on the Chaminade and beginner band kids who'd never even seen a piccolo before trying to screech a noise out of one, but the sound The Girl got out of that flute was phenomenal and soared over the din. It raised the hair on my arms - and that's hard to do.
One of the Carolyn Nussbaum employees came over to help us (everyone who works for her is a flute teacher and they really know their stuff). We took that flute and a couple more with several extra headjoints out to the hallway where it was somewhat quieter so The Girl could really listen to what she was playing. Our helper kep running back and forth bringing more to try. We narrowed the selections down to two, including The Girl's original selection, but just when things were getting interesting, it was time to run downstairs so she could play her solo.
In the past year and a half or so she's been pretty shy about me listening to her play, but to my surprise she actually let me go in the room to listen this time. When she started to play, it was clear that she was fighting her own flute (which is a really nice one: solid silver, open hole, B foot, French pointed keys, solid gold engraved lipplate, garnet gemstone crown - nothing to sneeze at) to get it to do what she wanted it to do. I wanted to cry. She had outgrown her flute and in her shyness to share her playing with me, I had missed it.
All I could think of is that she will be competing at All-State solo and ensemble Memorial Day weekend and she doesn't have the tools she needs to be successful at the level at which she is playing. Shit. Soooo I cooked up a plan - an activity at which I am highly skilled.
Thursday was the last day of school and she only had to be there for part of the day. I picked her up and fed her some line about how Honey (my mom) had a doctor's appointment in waythehell north Dallas and since she can't drive in the crazy traffic up there, we had to take her. We picked mom up and were on our way. We pulled up to Carolyn Nussbaum's store and the kid was clueless until she saw the name on the door while we waited to be buzzed in.
The woman with whom we worked at the flute festival was off that day, but I had called for an appointment the day before, and she remembered us and the flutes we were interested in. We worked with Carolyn herself in a quiet, private room with an impressive assortment of flutes and headjoints based on the ones we liked at the flute festival. One by one we worked through the combinations of instruments. The Girl got some major lessons in body mechanics and got to do some more serious work on the piece she's playing at All State. Carolyn was fun, professional and didn't push any particular flute, but really worked with us to find the perfect one for The Girl.
Two and a half hours later, guess which flute we ended up with? The one The Girl picked out at the festival - not because it was the most expensive or the prettiest, but because it was the one she produced the best sound on. Sure, it was more expensive than I'd have preferred but I'll be able to sell her old one for about a grand (watch for it on eBay) and she'll be able to repay me the remainder of the expense in scholarship money down the road. --Oh, and it will be the last flute I ever have to buy. Evahhh.
The coolest part about the whole deal though, besides the accolades about being The. Best. Effing. Mom. Ever., is that having the right tool for the job has sparked a renewed interest and belief in her own playing ability. That's priceless.