Not long after my injury, I was given a plastic flute from my flute playing colleagues, and began to attempt playing again. Hot cross buns was a stretch at first! While I was in the hospital, I picked up my silver flute to try and play, but was unable to even hold it up to my face. I was a discouraged, but I stuck with my new plastic flute. Over these last many months I have worked on playing and started with simple tone production, and then moved on to playing music that had slow moving notes. Now I find myself being able to play music that is almost satisfying for me to hear. Every so often I get a glimpse of the feelings I had before as I played the flute.
|The day I received my plastic flute|
On October 10, I returned to the stage for the first time. Mercedes Smith and I performed the well-known Flower Duet. Mercedes is the principal flutist of the Utah Symphony and was my teacher prior to my accident. Every year the Utah Flute Association has a guest artist come and perform at a recital and teach a masterclass the next morning. Mercedes requested of the UFA that there be a place where donations could be made to help with the expenses of my Paralympic swimming competitions. The UFA was kind enough to allow this and allow me to play the duet at the recital. Over $1,000 were raised to help fund my journey towards the Paralympics! I don't know quite how to feel at such gestures of generosity from both the donors, as well as Mercedes and the Utah Flute Association. It's a humbling experience. The flute community has been incredibly generous to me and has provided me with all the opportunities to succeed since the beginning. So thank you.
There are few events since my injury that have been so impacting and positive for me. I felt more capable than normal, and I felt so loved by those in attendance. There are few things in this life that mean more to me than music does, so it was fulfilling to share it once again. I'm grateful that I can play. In many ways I am unhappy with how my spinal cord has healed over the last nine months, but I am beyond grateful for my hands. That is one place where I am pleased with the progress that has returned, and I would be ungrateful and a fool if I didn't recognize that progress.
While I was able to play the Flower Duet at this recital, I still have a lot to work on! That piece was the perfect length and difficulty for me. I was worried toward the end that I wasn't going to make it because my fingers were slipping off of the keys, but it all worked out and I was pleased with the performance.
Here is a link to a video of the duet. My younger brother Dallas is holding my shoulders up because I fall forward without some support. I am working on getting a chair and some kind of strap that will allow me to play upright without assistance. That will allow me to bring the flute to me, rather than having to lean so far forward to play. I'm thankful to have music in my life, it does something to me that nothing else can. I believe I was inspired as a little 10 year old to choose the instrument that has brought me so much enjoyment throughout my life. I am grateful to be able to continue to both play and teach (I still have room for more students!) and I look forward to more of these opportunities in the future.