by Karen Van Dyke
Let’s review, for a moment, the history behind the stories of Ellen Ochoa, the flutist/astronaut, and Christine Beamer, the violist who created a multi-faceted career for herself. I would like to reflect on their stories, and how the pursuit of success in any field, or even any thought of that, might have an impact on you right now.
Both Ellen’s and Christine’s success stories are rooted in several ingredients necessary to get ahead: a vision, talent, drive, and most of all very hard work. Let’s talk about the last part of that sentence: hard work.
I’ve been teaching high school students for over 30 years, and in those years our world has changed DRAMATICALLY. The whole tech boom, the internet, social media, being able to research anything or contact anyone and within a few seconds receive an answer to your question did not exist until very recently. Not to mention improvements in many other facets of life (in modern countries): more focus on helping the environment, ramped up social services, access to amazing resources such as the California Academy of Sciences and other great learning institutions, enlightening and entertaining movies, mini series and documentaries, and most importantly, frozen yogurt.
Another thing that has changed, not for the better in my opinion, is the system of grading and the credit expectations of high school administrators, as well as the demands of the college admissions boards. College admissions requirements nationwide were ramped up seemingly overnight, sometime in the last 10-12 years, to raise the demands of high school graduates 20 fold compared to what it had been only a few years before. More APs, over a 4.0 GPA, higher SAT/ACT scores, extra-curricular accolades such as science and math competitions, innovations such as starting a non-profit, and over the top achievements in athletics and the arts are now commonplace expectations from college administrations, and by extension, for parents and students.
All of this mixed in with a bunch of confusing, unfamiliar hormones and social awkwardness, and what do you get Sometimes, a pressure cooker. I stand here before you to request that when you leave flute camp, if you remember only two things from this week, you remember this:
- Build in time in your insanely busy day to take just a few minutes here and there for yourself. Take a break. Take a walk. Listen to music. Read. Play some fun tune by ear that you’ve never tried before. Deep breathe. Hang out with a friend. Bake something. Draw. Play with your pet. 10 minute breaks every hour are crucial. And secondly:
- If you’re in trouble: (And by “in trouble I mean depressed, not sleeping, experiencing anxiety or thinking negative thoughts) talk to someone. Talk to a friend, a relative, a teacher, a clergy person, a coach----anyone you trust. Don’t suffer in silence. Remember that whatever your dream is: becoming a doctor, or a chef, a graphic designer, an engineer or a musician, your path toward that end depends upon your mental well being. Remember the three most important things put forth to you at orientation: be happy, be safe, be well.
By Adrian Sanborn
When you get home from Flute Camp, they will surely ask: "So, was it fun?"
"OMG yes!!" you will answer.
"Did you learn a lot?" they will ask.
"Well, DUH," you will respond.
"So, what did you learn?"
...and then you might find this question strangely difficult to answer. Sure, you will have learned a ton at Flute Camp. You could tell them about how you learned the importance of practicing your long tones and scales and Taffanel & Gaubert exercises. You could describe all the crazy new ways you learned to practice difficult passages using rhythms and a metronome. You could list the 10 flute sonatas you heard for the first time that you are now dying to play. But somehow, this still wouldn't capture everything you will have gained at Flute Camp.
What you will have gained is something I like to call the "NCFC Flute Camp effect." It is the glow on your face that persists for weeks after camp. It is the borderline pathological enthusiasm you now have for anything flute-related. It is also the tinge of sadness that nothing in your normal life is as amazing and wonderful as Flute Camp. Somehow, through practicing outdoors in paradise every day, collaborating with the most talented and supportive pianists you've ever performed with, and learning from faculty who really love what they do, we absorb the essence of beauty in music. By cheering for your friends' performances and then going up there and doing it yourself, we learn to be generous with our playing. Together we create moments both hilarious and special, whether it's a skit night parody of Harry Potter or the Hunger Games or the Magic Flute, or perhaps crying for the first time at a music performance so honest that it moves something deep inside. Ultimately, we are bonded together as we experience what music can be in its most pure form, this genuine and open statement of love, which we so often neglect in our lives.
This is the indescribable magic of Flute Camp.