Excerpts from a 2023 interview with ShoutOut magazine

What was the most impactful thing your parents did for you?

My parents and grandparents helped me overcome life challenges by modeling and instilling three basic values:  a strong work ethic, flexibility, and determination.  Even though they are no longer with me, their voices remain strong in my mind.

I grew up on a farm in Connecticut, where all family members worked together to improve life for everyone.  When I first decided to play flute, changing instruments out of frustration was simply not an option.   Once I committed, I was expected to see any project through.   This became a habit and now at age 75, it keeps me vibrant, heathy, and engaged.

My mother in particular would sometimes tell me that I was not capable of doing something.  Even today I take that kind of comment as a challenge and say “Watch me!”   Because of that, the willingness to try things and explore the unknown is part of my DNA.  For example, the transition of the Central Arizona Flute Ensemble from a music group to a non-profit organization was a huge hurdle.  It took a lot of research and creative problem solving, but it was a turning point in our success because now we receive grant funding to bring our music to our community.

There is a balance between a strong work ethic and being flexible, though.  In the process of being committed, sometimes you need to change either what you are doing, the way you are doing it, or your own expectations.  I find the hardest thing is expecting too much of myself because disappointing myself is worse than disappointing someone else. Accountability is important, too.  If you make a mistake, own it.

How did you develop your confidence and self-esteem?

When I became President of the Arizona Flute Society (AFS), part of my responsibility involved facing one of my greatest fears:  public speaking.  I did it, but I didn’t like it.  I shared my concern with my friend and mentor, piccolo player Lois Schaeffer from the Boston Symphony.  She said that she used to be that way, too, and then somebody told her, “If they can do it better, why don’t they come up and do it?  You are just a capable as anyone sitting in front of you, so go for it.”  That just stuck.  Now I have no problem being the main spokesperson during CAFE concerts.

I practiced delegating as AFS President. Feeling that “no one else can do a task as well as me” is a dangerous path to follow.  It’s a sure path to burn out.  If a delegate needs help, it is appropriate to help them, but not babysit.    While it can be daunting to ask others for help, it is important.

One of my strengths is organization.  Setting up a viable system, using it, then revising as I go along is as natural to me as breathing.  For example, the music library in my home houses over 200 pieces that are clearly catalogued so I can find, copy, and distribute music as needed.  I am simply more relaxed and confident when know exactly what is available.

What do you do when you are overwhelmed?  Any advice or strategies?

There have been many times in my life when I have been overwhelmed with work, loss, or health issues, especially.  It helped simply being aware that I was feeling overwhelmed.  The strategy that worked the best for me in that situation was prioritizing the ONE thing (or maybe two things) that were the most important.  Period.  You can almost always narrow a path forward by choosing no more than 2 things to do.

Thinking things through can generate alternative strategies to cope.  After a recent surgery, I was told not to lift.  What the doctor meant was not to lift using my abs.  I determined that I could lift using just my arms. When friends questioned me about that,  I  explained my thinking and said,  “I’m stubborn, but I’m not stupid.”   They agreed.

It’s hard sometimes to realize that not everyone cares whether something gets done or not.  Not everyone recognizes time-sensitive constraints or has the same work ethic as me.  That became clear last week when I attended the first rehearsal of the summer 2023 Paradise Valley Community College Flute Choir.  As we were introducing ourselves, conductor Nancy Sowers  had to remind me that I’ve been a member for thirty consecutive years and in that time missed a total of four rehearsals.  She had to remind me – I’m committed in the best way!