As a musician and flutist, I have been fortunate to have enjoyed the wide variety of careers that music offers. I had the honor of studying with Murray Panitz while obtaining the Master of Music degree from Temple University. At that time I was a frequent substitute in the Philadelphia Orchestra and an active freelance flutist in the Mid Atlantic region.
Later on, I co-founded the flute/harp duo, SPARX with Anne Sullivan. The duo won the National Flute Association’s Chamber Music Competition twice, as well as the Chamber Music America Ensemble Residency Award. I opened the Flute Pro Shop in 2008, which is the only flute specialty shop in the Philadelphia area.Other interests include US Masters Swimming and canine obedience.
These fitness activities are important enough to me to be listed in my bio for programs and press, so you know I take them seriously! Of the two, swimming has the most obvious benefit to flute playing – it is wonderfully beneficial to breath control. It is also a real stress reducer.
The big disadvantage is that my shoulders are hard pressed to keep up with 3,000 yard workouts 4 days a week in combination with flute performance. At this point I am swimming far less than that, but am glad to say I am back in the water again after several months out.
I began swimming and playing the flute as a child at the recommendation of my family’s pediatrician. I had asthma, severe enough to curtail playing outside with frequency. Swimming several days a week helped tremendously, and when my flute practice became intense enough, the two activities eliminated, for all intents and purposes, the asthma symptoms. As long as I maintain practise of both activities, I remain symptom free.I find the best way to fit in the swimming is to join others in a practice schedule, so belonging to a USA Masters Swimming program ensures that others are waiting for me to get to practice – when practice is at 6:00 AM, it is protected from other musical obligations! I have participated in meets, and it is a big goal-setting bonus. Before the shoulders acted up, I participated in two USMS national meets, earning a couple of top-ten places in my age group- which I will not reveal here!
I could earn income from the Masters coaching that I do, but I feel it is time to give back to the sport which has done so much for me and my family. I met my husband when we were both lifeguards and swim coaches during the summers between college semesters. I should also tell you that I am writing this on the evening of my son’s last swim meet in college. A host of memories floods me, all good in the long run. This is a sport in which a person can participate for a lifetime, and I am glad I had the opportunity to learn to swim when I did, and participated in competitive swimming in high school.
Canine obedience is an activity that I inherited from my parents – my mother’s dogs have more initials after their names than I will ever have! This rewarding practice is a great deal like musical performance: you must be absolutely clear in your communication to your dog, and be completely consistent and positive in commands. I do give up an evening of teaching each week, but it is so rewarding I don’t worry about it. However, concerts and rehearsals come first, so at times I do miss class.
Obedience trials are fun events, often involving travel, so I am not very advanced with the titles my dogs have earned. I’ll be able to do more as my children become more independent! So far, my yellow lab has earned his AKC Companion Dog title, as well as his Therapy Dog International designation. My black lab is a very different character: he was disqualified in his one show when he jumped on the judge! Luckily for us, the judge had a sense of humor.
In addition to canine obedience, my dogs are a primary source of company on long, athletic walks. They are the most eager companions, and want to walk at any time of day, despite the weather. When we establish a routine, they let me know when it is time to go, and sulk when for some reason the usual walk schedule is changed. We have another 2-dog and walker team we go out with, my friend Wendy and her two Portugese Water Dogs, and I must say there are times when we have stopped traffic during our outings! I find Maverick (104 lb. Black Lab) and Blitz (90 lb. Yellow Lab) help me get in a full-body work out. Reigning them in can be quite a challenge, especially since in combination they far out-weigh me!
Both swimming and my dogs are so very different from my musical career, I find they provide me with mental holidays that refresh me and help me be prepared for the musical challenges that somehow keep coming up.Because I do them in ‘off’ times of the day, both activities rarely impact my flute schedule. Because I find I play better the more active I am, there is a built-in incentive for keeping them both going.
Now, I wonder if we could come up with a mixed swimming relay for Labradors and humans!