About Me: The Uncut Version
Updated: Mar 2, 2021
Welcome to my blog! In this introductory blog post, I want to tell you the raw and uncut version of my story. Ironically, Yesterday was my 16th Fluteaversary (Flute +Anniversary= Fluteaversary). You heard that right: I have been playing the flute for 16 years!
You probably clicked here because you wanted to know more about me as a person (behind the flute).
If this sounds like you, then keep on reading!
It started when I was in 4th grade when my dad was given a flute by a friend of his. Soon after, my sisters and I went to his house one day, when we listened to an album of Nestor Torres (Famous Puerto Rican Latin Jazz flutist), we heard my dad play on his new flute and I was hooked! Before this happened, my sisters and I played with toy instruments when we were little and coming from a Hispanic household, there was always music playing. I didn't start the flute right away though; when I was in 5th grade my first instrument was actually the piano.
Your first instrument was Piano? Yup!
On my 11th birthday, I was given a piano but it was not a full-size piano; this piano that I had was a 42 key Casio keyboard that didn't have a pedal. I had taken lessons for almost a year at my local music store, but I quickly lost interest. In 6th grade, I went into Band wanting to continue piano but my band director said "Piano?! No Piano! I will only let you play piano if you have been playing for a year and maybe I'll move you to Concert Band". I played piano for someone (another instructor) and I was terrible, then my band director asked me what instrument I wanted to play and I said "Percussion". Well, there was a rhythm test that I had to do before I could be called a percussionist and I failed it. My Band director asked me again what I wanted to play. I was thinking long and hard about what instrument I wanted to play and I remembered that ever since my dad had introduced me to the flute two years prior that I loved the sound (and still do). I told him "I'll stick with the flute!"
When I got home from school that day, I found out that my twin sister Karina (she's also a professional flutist) picked the same instrument as me (pretty cool huh?). I'm not gonna lie to you, the first three months of playing was pretty hard because 1) I didn't have my own flute, so I had to share my sister's flute with her, 2) It was easier for me to get a sound out of the flute than it was to remember the fingerings, and 3) I borrowed a flute from the school but it was not in good playing condition and my band director would not let me take the flute home to practice.
I started out as the worst flutist in my beginning band class and believe it or not, at the end of the first grading period, I actually got a D in the class. However, I didn't let it intimidate me so easily and I wanted to continue. On my 12th birthday, I finally got my first flute; it was a cheap used flute but that flute took me all the way to my sophomore year of high school.
After I got my first flute, I improved quickly and my love for the flute grew. Luckily, my middle school band was really good ( they got straight Superiors in out of state competitions for ten years in a row) and it made me want to get better. At that time, My 14 year old self thought "I don't think I should be in band anymore because I'll be seen as a dork" (I look back now and say "Who cares what people think?" )
Fast forward to high school, I decided to continue playing the flute because I couldn't get enough of it. However, in my freshman year I had my first setback; my high school band director sat my mom down in a parent-teacher conference and told her that he didn't think that I would have a career as a musician. You know what happened after that? I proved him wrong and it wasn't until the end of my sophomore year that I truly earned his respect. My high school was not well-funded and as a result, my band program only had 20-25 people. The music that we played was much easier than the music that we played in my middle school. Mind you, this was when YouTube was relatively brand new and before YouTube, I didn't have a clue what an amazing flutist sounded like. Around the same time, I had found the Larry Krantz flute page ( my other best friend in high school) and together, both YouTube and the Larry Krantz page got me through late high school and early undergrad.
Wait a minute, You didn't have lessons in high school?
I didn't have consistent lessons; I had taken lessons on and off from Sophomore year to Senior year. Since there were three of us around the same age and two of us played the same instrument (and still do), my family couldn't afford consistent flute lessons for the both of us. I didn't know that I wanted to pursue a career in music until around my junior year of high school when I started listening to classical flutists such as Laurel Zucker, Jeffrey Khaner, Amy Porter, Nina Perlove (She was one of the OG flute YouTubers), and just before starting my senior year, I was introduced to Emmanuel Pahud (With his recording of the Ibert Concerto).
The Summer before my Senior year, I attended a summer music camp where I met the person who would become my first undergrad flute teacher and around the same time, I got a better flute (my first flute fell apart and before I got the better flute, I had a flute that was rented from my local music store). My senior year of high school, I started getting more serious about studying music in college and I started preparing as best as I could to pass those auditions.
How did those auditions go?
Well, I auditioned for some reputable schools in Florida and I didn't get into any of the schools that I auditioned for. The two year school that I went to was my last choice of school and I auditioned and got accepted roughly two weeks before I graduated high school.
When I started my undergrad, my first undergrad flute teacher in my first lesson told me "You know, you've done pretty well on your own but I'm going to help you become the flute player that you deserve to be." I initially started my undergraduate studies wanting to go into Music Education to become a band director because it was the "safe" route and I thought that I wasn't good enough to be a performance major. I ended up spending three years at my two year school and especially during my early undergrad years, I struggled with being an underdog. It was during my last year at the two year school that I had the opportunity to sit in a New World Symphony dress rehearsal (around the same time, I was preparing for auditions to transfer schools in order to finish my Bachelors Degree) where they were preparing an all-Tchaikovsky program and I realized that I wouldn't be happy just teaching and I wanted to play perform too (More specifically, playing in orchestra).
And then what happened?
I ended up transferring to New World School of the Arts ( a performing arts high school and college based in Downtown Miami and through them, my Bachelors Degree is from the University of Florida) and I LOVED my experience there. While I was there, I ended up going from being at almost the bottom of the pack in my two year school to becoming what I jokingly call "The designated piccoloist" in my conservatory style university.
What does that supposed to mean?
It means that during my time there, I got more respect and I was always asked to play piccolo for almost every concert. However, deep down even though I was playing with some pretty amazing musicians ( some of those people included two of my professors, some students from the high school division, some of my classmates, and a world-renowned guest artist), I couldn't help but think that I was still the underdog that I was back in high school and early undergrad because I didn't have the opportunities that they had.
My senior year of undergrad, I was getting ready to prepare for grad school auditions and around the same time, I was also looking to upgrade my flute (I didn't get my flute until February of my senior year). Fast forward to November of my senior year, my second undergrad flute teacher and I spoke and we realized that it was best for me to take some time off after graduating because I wasn't ready to audition at that time. I left that lesson in tears but I realized after graduating that she was right.
So then what happened?
I ended up attending a masterclass (which would change my life and I'll get to that in a moment) and I learned SO much. Well, what was supposed to be a gap year turned into a two year sabbatical because I struggled to find work to help pay for my grad school auditions, I set unrealistic goals for myself, and I was not in a good place emotionally. On top of that, I was told by an older woman online that I would not get into grad school because I didn't go to a conservatory for undergrad.
Remember how I said that the masterclass would change my life?
Well, the person running the masterclass (she would become my flute teacher for my masters) found out that I was auditioning for grad school and reached out to me. She told me that she was SO impressed with my performance in the masterclass that she wanted me to come study with her. I didn't think about auditioning there initially but after some thinking, I realized that she and I were a good fit. After two rounds of grad school auditions and a few rejection letters, I finally got into a school where the teacher genuinely wanted me.
What did you think of grad school?
Throughout my masters degree, I still struggled with being an underdog (I was fortunate enough to be in a tight-knit flute studio and all my fellow studio buddies were equally as talented) but it wasn't nearly as bad as it was during my undergrad. While I was in my masters, I got to play in masterclasses, went to my first flute convention ever, and performed a piece that I never thought that I could play (Reinecke Ballade Op.288) in a student recital. The biggest highlight of my graduate career was being asked by my orchestra conductor (despite the fact that I didn't make it into orchestra) to play the 3rd flute part to Debussy's Prelude to the Afternoon of a Faun. (Are you kidding me?! It's every flutist's dream to play this piece and I never thought that I would get that opportunity!!)
I'm grateful for my musical journey bringing me to where I am today and I look forward to sharing my ideas on this blog and working with you!
Thank you for making it to the end!
Interested in taking lessons with me? Click here to go to my lessons page! :)