FLUTE Member Of The Week
January 17 to 23, 2000

When Larry first asked me if I'd like to be featured as Flute Member Of The Week, my reaction was, "Who Me? Why?" But the more I thought about it, the more courageous I became. And so here is my (very) humble story.

I first picked up the flute when I entered my 5th grade band program. To this day, I can't remember why I specifically chose the flute. I was not aware of any of the great flute players at that time, nor was anyone in my family particularly musical. Looking back, I can only say that it must have been by God's gentle guiding that flute became such a passion for me, although that would not be apparent for many years.

I loved band and the flute right from the beginning and can remember not wanting to do anything but practice! The hours spent with that flute were so satisfying to me, and I had found a much needed outlet of expression. (Thanks to my parents for "putting up with" my playing in those early years!) Those hours paid off as I consistently found myself in the top chairs in my school band, eating up the challenges of Solo & Ensemble contests, teaching a handful of students, and enjoying the opportunities of All Star and All State Bands in Michigan. I studied throughout high school with Judith Thomas, and always looked forward to the challenge of every lesson. I was learning, excelling, loving music thoroughly....and should have taken advantage of college to propel me into a musical career...

But college was a difficult transition for me. I liked my new flute professor, Dr. Charles Osborne, but balancing a full load of now harder classes, some of which were not music related (Ick!) diffused my focus. I just don't think I was ready for that step, and I left college after only one year.... put my flute in a closet... and headed south to Mississippi and eventually Texas. I did not know that this "flute sabbatical" would last almost 15 years!

Some wonderful things happened during this non-musical period of my life. I met and married my husband, Buddy. We moved back to Michigan, bought a home and had two beautiful daughters. And I had integrated myself into the boring and political banking industry. (No offense to bankers out there!) I held various positions in a large bank including some in management, but it was apparent I wasn't happy. Something was missing. I knew what it was.... my flute and music! .... but who had time for that now? I was a full time wife, mom, employee, housekeeper, ETC! There simply WAS no time. But I knew I had to make it so...

I can still remember the day I first picked my flute up again. I had actually agonized over the decision, knowing that if I did this, I wanted to do it "right". I wasn't going to be content to just play around.... I wanted to DO something with it... to soar! So with a close friend's awesome encouragement and my husband's full support, I began practicing in the late evening hours after putting the girls to bed. I'd sometimes stay up playing until midnight, rising at 5:30AM to get ready for work. I was exhausted, but I was playing again! In just a matter of months, I started working with an area teacher, began playing regularly in church, was asked to sub with a local municipal band, and together with a friend of mine, formed our musical flute duo, Acoustic Elegance.

I was hooked again! Loving every minute of music-making and despising my banking job more all the time. When it was announced that I would be losing my job due to a merger, I rejoiced! FINALLY, I'd have time to pursue what I *wanted* to do! So we restructured the family budget (now much leaner, but I didn't care), and I began teaching privately again. In the meantime, I was reading every flute magazine and article I could get my hands on. I auditioned for, and was accepted to participate at a summer workshop at Oberlin with Michel DeBost and Kathleen Chastain. (What an eye opener after not playing all those years!) And I attended my first NFA convention in Chicago in 1997. THAT was an unforgettable experience... being among the company of the world's greatest AND humblest flutists....all of us there to share our love of our instrument. I knew I was back where I belonged....back in the world of music. It's been so wonderful meeting FLUTE list members face to face at subsequent conventions, and some of my roommates have been found on this FLUTE list.... Ellen, Natalie, BJ. What fun we've had... and some incredible laughs too! : )

Do I have a long list of accomplishments? No, not any that would stand up to college degrees, symphony positions, or soloists' travel itineraries. But I'm happier now than I've been in a long time....I'm where I need to be. I continue to play at church, for the local municipal band, and love knowing that I'm touching lives and encouraging through my teaching of 15 students. I organize and present a student recital each year, make conventions a "given" in my summer schedule, and have recently joined the Sagwa Valley Flute Choir in South Bend, Indiana. Sure, I have higher goals: To find a "rigorous" teacher and start realllly progressing in my own playing again, to learn conducting, to begin a series of flute classes for those I've not yet reached through private instruction, and maybe start a flute/guitar duo. This is all my wife/soccer mom/housecleaner/car-pooler/ teacher schedule will allow for. But it's more than enough... (for now!)

If anyone out there is struggling over the decision to begin playing again, (I've read many accounts like mine on the FLUTE list), I have only one thing to say. DO IT!! You must follow what's in your heart and satisfy that yearning. There's simply no other way. And I thank God that I'm back doing just that today!

Kathy Davis

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