Pender Island Flute Retreat (PIFR)
My previous PIFR blogs have been an attempt to capture the essence of the transformations that I have encountered at Pender Island. This retreat is a week long course on a small island near Vancouver, Canada, organised by Gwen Klassen. Personal development, Alexander Technique, technique classes, masterclasses, individual lessons, amazing weather, scenery and great food (and wine!) are all part of the week. As is William Bennett (Wibb) and Lorna Mcghee, two great players and teachers (if you haven’t heard either get on it – these are musicians I admire more than any others). I won’t be necessarily giving a diary of daily activities, this will be more of a journal of what I personally get out of each day.
It is an age since I turned up to PIFR 12 months ago, with no idea what to expect. It was my first flute course beyond ones I had done locally with familiar teachers. It was my first time playing for a ‘famous’ flutist like William Bennett. I really hadn’t played in many masterclasses, and had certainly never done a week long intensive flute course before. It was also my first time travelling internationally by myself – not that I really registered that at the time.
I got so much out of that week. I found a way of playing and practicing that works for me. I found I could be happy with my identity – both as flute player and person. I found a supportive group that was non-judgemental, but also invested in each other’s development.
Fast forward 12 months and I am in need of another PIFR experience. I have had a challenging 2017, working so hard towards a dream that seems to get ever further away. It has been discouraging, disappointing, and confidence destroying. It happens so often that we lose perspective, and I am sure I am a better flute player than I was a year ago. But the process has been a bit soul destroying.
So this year I am turning up with a clear idea of what I want from the course.
I want to fall back in love with the flute.
I want to know that my mind, body and instrument won’t sabotage my best intentions.
I wan’t to find the gumption to play honestly and generously again.
Of course there is always a list of technical things I want to solve. Finding a darker sound more reliably in the low register. Ridding articulation problems. Using my body better for resonance – including removing tension and locking in my left hand/arm.
And I am sure I will learn a lot more besides.