I am not a superstitious person. Friday the 13th is just another day, I don’t throw salt over my shoulder, I step on cracks, and black cats don’t faze me.
There is, however, one thing that I confess to being superstitious about: The way I warm-up when I first begin practicing my flute each day.
The first note I play each and every time is B natural in the second octave. I never play any other note first. I think it originates from the fact that the Moyse tone exercises used by virtually all serious flutists begin on a B natural and progress from there. So it just seems right to start there. And it is such an ingrained habit now that it would seem unlucky to start on any other note, as if I would be jinxing my own efforts.
I slowly play a descending chromatic scale, working my way down to the very lowest note, a B natural two octaves below. Then I go back up the chromatic scale slowly, listening to each tone and getting a sense of how clear and focused each tone is, how my embouchure feels, etc. I continue up the scale to the very highest notes and, if the dogs don’t have their paws over their ears, I figure it is going to be a good rehearsal
Next, I go through Sir James Galway’s four warm-up exercises. Then I usually move on to scales.
The whole warm-up routine takes the better part of an hour. I have to go through my “ritual” in order to really gauge how I’m playing that day and what needs correction before I proceed with working on the various literature I am seeking to master, be it etudes, solos or something else.
For the last couple of weeks, my focus after warming up has been exclusively on eight duets that I am going to play with my partner on Sunday as a prelude to my nephew’s Court of Honor and, of course, the music I will be playing with the Delta Winds on March 28 at Carnegie Hall!
So there you have my sole superstition!