Spring is on the Horizon

After days and weeks where it felt like the snow would never end, not able to remember the last time the temperature was above 0-degrees Fahrenheit, the sun finally poked out from behind the clouds. The snow and ice began to melt and for the first time in months I took a walk outside while feeling the sunshine beaming on my face. The ice and snow hadn’t completely melted leaving particularly icy patches in the shadows and the temperature was barely above freezing but for that 30 minutes while I walked the world felt different. Spring isn’t here yet, but it will come.

As we approach one year since the beginning of the pandemic, we can’t help but think about where we were a year ago when it felt like the world was shutting down. When we felt like the music had stopped. As I think about it now all I can feel is the emptiness and silence. In the weeks and months that followed, some practiced diligently knowing gigs would one day return, auditions would eventually be rescheduled, and ensembles would meet again. Some took time away from their instruments and found other hobbies, re-examined priorities, took moments for introspection and healing. Others went into survival mode, simply trying to figure out how to make it through each day. We all coped differently when confronted with the feeling that the music had just been silenced.

An amazing thing happened this year. The music didn’t stop, it just changed. We created virtual performances, virtual masterclasses, online conventions, and more. We attended Zoom happy hours, rehearsals on mute, Skype lessons, yard concerts, and so many other events we never even thought possible before! Our world shrunk into little boxes but what we created in those boxes has been more meaningful than we ever could have imagined.

One year later, we remember and we look forward. What will the next year bring? Will I get the vaccine? Will I see my extended family? Will I ever shake hands with someone again? When will I hug someone outside of my “quarantine unit” again? Will my flute choir of 25 people be able to rehearse and perform again? Will I ever go to a convention and pick up a flute from the table and play it again? When will life go back to “normal”?

Maybe it never will be “normal” again, I believe it’s called a “new normal”, but that doesn’t have to be a bad thing. I know that, personally, the first time I’m able to conduct or play with the entire flute choir IN PERSON again there will be tears in my eyes. I’m certain that the next time I can hug my friends and family I will hug them tighter than I ever did before. When the National Flute Association convention meets together in person again I will appreciate the noisy exhibit hall and go to every crowded event, even the sessions at 8:00 am! Life won’t feel “normal”, perhaps it will be so much better than that!

Spring is a time of re-birth and renewal. Today is a new day, and so is tomorrow. Whether you’ve been the diligent daily practicer or if you haven’t taken your instrument out of its case yet, I invite you to pick it up today and find a moment of joy. Perhaps it will only be for a short moment or maybe you’ll find that you just can’t put it down but either way I doubt you will regret it. I also encourage you to check out a virtual event you’ve previously passed and not attended. There are so many amazing virtual conventions, masterclasses, sessions, and my personal favorite is Flute Specialists’ live coffee chat series titled Flutespresso. Try out something new this spring and contact Flute Specialists if we can help you in any way.

My favorite part of working at Flute Specialists is helping other flutists. I recently spoke with a flutist in the Yukon Territory in Canada and helped her purchase a new flute and sheet music while the snow piled up outside her home. That interaction, although brief, was a high point for me as I felt her excitement for her new instrument. Even when we are miles apart we are bound by a love of flute and the joy of music. Despite the distance and the boxes and the mute button, the music will never stop.

It may not be spring yet but it’s coming. Don’t give up fellow flutists, spring is on the horizon.

Heather Neuenschwander is head of online sales and marketing and also serves as newsletter editor for Flute Specialists. Heather has a Master’s Degree in Flute Performance from Oakland University and a Bachelor’s Degree in Music Education from Wayne State University. Her influential teachers include Sharon Sparrow, Jeff Zook, Amanda Blaikie and Ervin Monroe. She previously taught band, choir, and music appreciation in public, private, and charter schools for five years.

Currently Heather resides in Iowa City, Iowa with her husband and two sons. She proudly co-founded and conducts the Iowa City Flute Choir and also teaches flute lessons online. Heather looks forward to being able to perform in ensembles in person again soon.