Lord of the Rings and Carly Rae Jepsen helped me fall in love with my flute again - Alexander Brown

I first played the flute at my primary school in the village I grew up in.

We were given the choice of violin or cello, and having selected the latter they naturally went for its closest equivalent after failing to find a teacher.

Learning to play was exhilarating, the idea that not only could I make sounds and songs out of this thing in front of me, but I could also get out of lessons to do so.

Sign up to our Opinion newsletter

I got grades in jazz, competed in school competitions and played music from Aladdin with an orchestra.

Carly Rae Jepsen performs on stage at the O2 Academy Brixton in 2020. Picture: C Brandon/Redferns

Read More

Read More
The response to sexual harassment allegations reminds me why I kept quiet - Alex...

It was as cool as it sounds, and I revelled in trying and learning every piece of music I could.

But I had started lessons at an age when everything was exciting to me, and continued them until my teens when absolutely nothing was.

My youthful enthusiasm just dissipated, and my parents’ encouragement became more a burden to ignore when I just didn’t want to put in the time.

I remember playing at an Amnesty International Charity concert organised by my school, with our local MP sitting in the front row.

I really loved playing music, but I did not like practising, the struggle of bashing my head against a complicated piece of music and hearing my own failure each time.

It wasn’t about being cool and not trying, I was just fundamentally quite lazy about it and could not motivate myself to play music I did not care for, or scales I would never perform.

The chance to show off and play a beautiful piece to rapturous applause? Yes please.

Attending lessons to learn scales, get better and generally improve? Absolutely not.

So I just stopped. I moved to London, I moved to Spain, and wherever I went my flute did not follow, instead gathering dust at home.

My parents would suggest selling it, and I dismissed them without ever showing interest in picking it back up as the years passed.

Some things that should not have been forgotten were lost, until one Christmas, my parents got me a book of the flute music to the Lord of the Rings, which was both a huge dig at how cool I was, but also, totally brilliant.

Suddenly I wasn’t just learning for exams, but for the pursuit of songs I liked, the sounds I wanted to be able to hear.

From there I started just scouring the internet for the music to things I liked, learning to play songs from Mulan, the theme to Twin Peaks and Indiana Jones.

What’s more, I learnt songs that frankly should never be heard on a flute, teaching myself camp tunes by Taylor Swift, Carly Rae Jepsen, or My Chemical Romance.

The frustration has been replaced with aspiration, wanting to nail tricky key changes to hear songs the way Nicki Minaj etc intended.

And I am getting better, with my ability now probably higher than it ever has been.

That has come not from lessons, not from practise, but just wanting to play silly songs I like.

I have fallen back in love with playing music, and all it took was pretending practise wasn’t practise.

 0 comments

Want to join the conversation? Please or to comment on this article.