December 4 to 17, 2000
The summer before 6th grade was the time to choose an instrument for band. I wanted to play clarinet, but was told I couldn't because I had an overbite and needed braces. So I reluctantly chose flute instead. However, as soon as I brought my flute home and opened the case, reluctance vanished and excitement took over. I practiced whenever I could and absolutely loved to play!
For one year I played both piano and flute, but decided I didn't like piano enough to continue lessons. I did the typical band things - concerts, solo/ensemble contests, and did fairly well. My sophomore year I heard about an audition for a youth symphony and decided to try out. It was my first audition and I had no idea what to expect. Even though I didn't play my best (nerves and shyness were a problem for me) I was accepted in the Greater Milwaukee Touring Youth Symphony! At the first rehearsal I was completely in awe of the music. I loved the richness of the strings and the complexity of the music. That day started my love of orchestral playing, and while I still liked playing in band, it was definitely not the same thing! I was very fortunate to have been able to go with the orchestra to competitions in Europe, Nassau and Mexico. I saw so much of the world I had only read about before.
In my junior year I began studying with Elizabeth McGraw, who had been second flute with the Milwaukee Symphony. She was an excellent teacher and introduced me to all kinds of new music. I had a lot of catching up to do with techniques such as double-tonguing, and she got me to think more musically. We also tried to change my off-center embouchure, but after several months of frustration she said it was ok to leave it alone since it wasn't affecting my playing. She got out a book and showed me pictures of professional flutists' embouchures, some more crooked than mine. (I wonder now what book that was….)
I went to the University of Wisconsin -Eau Claire to major in Medical Technology, but also auditioned for band because I wanted to keep playing my flute. After one semester I decided to switch my major to music education. Unfortunately, the flute professor there at the time had a lot of conflicts with students, and several flute majors left as a result. Hindsight says I should have been one of them. However, I liked all the other music professors, so I decided to tough it out. I got through the program, did my student teaching and received my BME, but came away very discouraged with my playing. A bright spot in those years was playing in the chamber orchestra. Another high point was during student teaching when, although I realized I was not cut out to be a band director - I still was shy and was uncomfortable in front of large groups - I really loved giving private and group lessons to the students. I knew private teaching was something I could do and would enjoy.
I taught private lessons to about 30 students at a music store for five years. I also played in the Milwaukee Civic Band and played in church. After a year of teaching I realized I needed more income so I went back to college to get my Medical Technology degree. After graduating there were no jobs in the area so I moved to Dallas. I was there 7 years and didn't play except in church. Two years before I left I took on several students at a music studio. I performed the Faure Fantasie on a faculty recital and, to my surprise, received a lot of compliments on my playing. This encouraged me to start practicing more seriously again.
After going through a divorce, I moved back to Wisconsin and found a med tech job near my family. I also heard that the Moraine Symphony needed flute players and I was excited at the thought of playing in an orchestra again. It was a community orchestra and I began playing with them. After a few years the playing level and difficulty of music increased and outside players were being hired. Not wanting to be replaced, I decided to really work hard. I began studying with Carol Meves, who was very patient and encouraging while working on many aspects of my playing. I also found Larry Krantz's Flute Page, started going to NFA conventions, and joined the Chicago Flute Club.
I am still with the Moraine Symphony as the second flute and now get paid for playing! Through the orchestra I have also been asked to play for community events, Theatre on the Hill (pit orchestra) and with the Moraine Chorus. This summer I also played with Lakeshore Productions. I have cut back my med tech job to two days a week and teach 20 private flute students two days a week. I missed teaching and love working with my students. It is so wonderful to see their excitement as they understand something, or play a piece they never thought they could play!
The only drawback to teaching is that I had to give up playing with our church's contemporary worship team as it rehearses the same night I teach. I still occasionally play solos and play in a flute choir for Christmas services.
Over a year ago I was fortunate to be able to replace my Gemeinhardt with a McCanless flute. It has made such a difference! In August I bought a Hammig piccolo. In the future I would like to play flute and classical guitar with my husband. I am also planning a joint recital with another flutist in the area.
I am blessed with a wonderful family. I am remarried and have five children. Three of them already play instruments - Nicole(16) plays flute, Paul(13) trumpet, and Luke(11) percussion - the interests of Beth and Jon (both 8) are leaning toward violin and clarinet. My husband, Kevin, is very understanding and supportive of my musical endeavors.
Thank you for bearing with me - I didn't mean to write a book! I wish you all the best and happy fluting!Linnae Stewart