Tag Archive | music

It’s a Flute Party!

Have you ever been to a flute party? No? What, you don’t know what a flute party IS?

Don’t feel bad; I had no idea before yesterday either! But now I know, and it was pretty fun. We decided that we wanted to upgrade the girl’s flute for her graduation present, since we felt like she had outgrown her current flute. She’s going into music education in college, with the possibility of music performance as well, and we want to send her off as well-prepared as possible. And given all the things happening this year that might impact her college admissions and scholarship opportunities (State Band, honor bands, music school auditions) we chose to do it now, rather than at the end of the year.

Now, with other things, it might be simple. You go to a store, pick one out, and buy it. But instruments are different, because each musician is different. The musician has to find the instrument that’s right for her. So her flute teacher arranged for us to attend a flute party hosted by a woodwind dealer/repair specialist. There would be a variety of brands to play, plus we’d have other expert ears to help us decide. We also borrowed a flute from a local music store (so generous of Palen Music. We love them.) and ordered one on trial from Flutistry of Boston.

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We showed up to the hotel and found our way to the room, which was just a hotel suite with two bedrooms. There were two sales reps there, one from Altus and one from Miyazawa, and there were two tables full of beautiful shiny flutes. There were lower end flutes all the way up to an $11,000 gold flute!

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We quickly found ourselves in one of the rooms with several flutes, and it didn’t take long to narrow it down to four. But that’s when the work began. There were six of us listening, and while of course the girl’s opinion was the most important, her flute teacher was also very vocal. The sales reps were great, really only offering opinions when we directly asked them. And they each declined to comment on their own flute, which I thought was very classy.

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And she played the flute. Over and over. Rotating between all four brands, trying to hear differences and preferences. I can’t imagine how it must have felt, to be presented with four beautiful, high-end instruments that all play well, and say, “Here, pick one!” But that was the goal, so we kept playing. Finally we did brackets, and compared two at a time, picking one from each bracket. Then when it was the top two, which happened to be the ones from the reps, they left the room and we brought in the party host to be an objective ear.  Finally, after two pieces played on each flute, we had a unanimous winner, and my daughter finally relaxed enough to be excited about her choice. I think she’s going to do amazing things with this flute, and I feel really grateful that we’re able to do something like this for her.

Meeting Itzhak Perlman

Last night was kind of a bucket-list sort of night for me. For years, I’ve loved listening to Itzhak Perlman play his violin. He’s truly amazing. I love music in general; so many different kinds speak to me in different ways, but his music…I don’t know how to explain it. I *feel* things when he plays. Living in the KC area, I’ve seen him come to town several times and thought, Oh, I wish I could go…and then I never did. Then I saw he was coming again, this time with the pianist Emanuel Ax, and it was a few days before my birthday and I didn’t want to skip it this time. We took both kids with us and it was Amazing with a capital A.

It was held in Helzberg Hall in the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts, which is a gorgeous building. I can’t describe it so here’s the photo I took from our high-up, way-back seats. IMG_3262We were all dressed up, and I was wearing a new birthday dress, and I felt so grown-up and fancy. The crowd was silent during the performance, which was strange at first, since most of my outings are pop/rock concerts or ball games. But this was a high-class crowd, and they clearly all appreciated the special event we were part of. And the music, oh it was beautiful. I didn’t recognize it, but that didn’t matter. Toward the end, they interacted with the audience a bit and Mr. Perlman was the funny guy and Mr. Ax was the straight man. We got to sing Happy Birthday to Mr. Perlman, who had recently turned 70. Then after, after this marvelous concert, it got even better.

They held a short Q&A, and those who stayed were invited to move closer to the stage. We fought our way through the crowd, most of whom were leaving, and found seats nice and close. They were lovely and well-spoken and witty. And after THAT? Yes, truly, the highlight of the night: we got to go onstage and get autographs. There wasn’t time for chit-chat, just enough time to thank them and offer my meager praise, but I spoke to Itzhak Perlman and he signed our program. Amazing. It made my heart happy.

We made it home by 10:30 and the dogs had chewed up the girl’s shoes and they needed to go out and the girl had algebra homework and oh god the dog peed on our bed seriously OMG we have to strip the bed and clean the mattress before we can go to sleep. It kind of took the shine of the evening but today, looking back on it, I can still feel the magic of the night.