My dream instrument, the one I had imagined owning since I was ten years old and finally bought when I was in my late 20s, turned out to be a terrible instrument for me. The fact that it was one-of-a-kind, valuable, and treasured had me cradling it like it was a museum piece. Once I sold it I “played” on wooden dowels (see A Trip to Lowe’s, or, the 800 lb. Flute) and my old high school flute and had breakthroughs in the practice room. Unfortunately though, that old flute wasn’t a realistic instrument for the performing I had to do.
I needed a new flute but I was stuck. What would be best at this point? I was open to anything, but was particularly excited to try a flute with pinless mechanism. At a local flute fair I watched as those around me marveled at its smooth technique as they played it. My students reacted enthusiastically noting how easy and fluid fast passages felt. I was excited to try it; I assumed “fluid and easy” was just what I needed to help reduce the dystonic movement.
I picked it up, played a little, and locked up instantly. It seems when there is less resistance in the instrument, my body creates it to compensate. Since the fluid mechanism caused more freezing for me, perhaps I needed a flute with more resistance, not less?
I tried, and then bought, a beautiful wooden Powell. The bigger bore, the texture of wood instead of gold, and the resistance in the keys and headjoint don’t spark muscular resistance in my body. With it, it is so much easier to find that “dropping point” (again, see A Trip to Lowe’s) and release of dystonic movement.