When I decided to be a flautist, I had never seen a flute. I didn’t know what an orchestra was, and I had certainly never been to a concert. I was seven years old… lt was a sweltering hot summers day when my life changed. I had spent my time riding horses and swimming in creeks on our farm in southern New South Wales, Australia. I was trapping flies in the garden with my sister when Jean Pierre Rampal’s recording of the Mozart Flute and Harp Concerto KV299 came through my parents’ speakers. And that was the beginning. The second movement of that concerto rendered me choice-less as to what I needed to do with my life.
But I had a hurdle .... my parents.
We already had a full artistic programme at home: My mother had converted the old milking fairy into an art studio, and together with mum and my 3 sisters we “wagged” school (a-lot) and spent our days painting, making paper, Lino-cutting, screen printing, marbling, drawing... when we were not in the studio we were on our horses. Another full time commitment.
So the request for a flute was totally random and over indulgent to an already very full farm life. But I banged on about it. I was obsessed. And so reluctantly I was given one lesson on a rented flute for my birthday, by a man on the farm up the road who taught every other instrument under the sun.
I would, on occasion, ride my horse to my lessons, he’d (‘Snoopy’) wait for me tied to the fence. The teacher timed my scales with a stop watch... ‘ready set GO’... and so as an 8 year old I would rip up and down 3 octaves of a chromatic scale missing half the notes.
He thought I was fantastic. I thought it was not good because I had missed half the notes. He said it was wonderful because even so, I did it in 5:43
Needless to say I failed my first exam miserably ... and so it was no longer possible to ride my horse to my flute lessons, and the long journey of a musical education. Mum drove me 100’s of kms in the old landrover...until finally it was time to fly 1000’s of kms to Paris. Where it all began.