The Honest Flutist
By Kim Lewis
Have you ever looked at another flutist’s Instagram page and thought, “Wow, they have it all together, and they are always winning? I will never get there.” Social media accounts often present a polished production of a musician’s life. Here are the moments where I won the competition, performed in a fancy dress, got the job, and staged my music and instrument in the perfect position for a photo opp. And while all of those moments are important, I wanted to create an account that shows an honest reflection of the day-to-day life of a working flutist. A 9-5 job with a 45 min commute, five years out of school, two years into a pandemic, not quite sure what the next step is. The process and the progress that go into achieving that final shiny Instagram post.
I have been a musician for as long as I can remember. And for all of that time, I have also dealt with performance anxiety. It wasn’t until I got to college that I began to really address it as a legitimate issue that was holding me back from my highest potential as a performer. I looked into it and worked on it, but as I transitioned into my master’s degree, I still felt its grip on me. I was taking a class that dealt with techniques to handle performance anxiety and spoke to the professor privately about still struggling, despite so much understanding and practice with these different techniques. She felt that there might be something deeper going on that I needed to explore. Five years later, I am beginning to understand how right she was.
I started going to therapy regularly in 2019. Over the last three years, I have been able to dive deeper into the roots of what fuels my performance anxiety. Practice techniques, breathing exercises, etc. are wonderful tools, but until you reach the embers of the fire of your fear, you cannot extinguish it. Having a clearer understanding of myself has allowed me to approach my performance anxiety from a different angle, to address the root of the problem, rather than constantly trying to provide temporary relief to the symptoms.
Digging deeper into who I am and how I got here has also helped me better understand many general feelings surrounding my career choices and the direction I might go next. I believe that it is truly important for every musician to have an understanding of their strengths, weaknesses, shadows, and the path where they truly belong.
In the last several months, I have finally felt like I am coming out of an introspective and exploratory phase and am finally able to take steps to change and move forward. I was preparing for a performance of the Gordeli Concerto with The Chelsea Symphony in NYC and found myself inspired to create a platform where I could share my thoughts, struggles, and growth with other musicians. With social media, we have become obsessed with showing a polished final product and often hide the path that got us there. Nobody is exposed to others’ shortcomings, missteps, or outright failures. I wanted to create a space where honesty overrules perfection. I created the.honest.flutist.
This Instagram page is an expression of personal reflection and accountability, as well as a place for others to maybe see a bit of their own struggles in another musician. I saw a need for honesty in my own life and in the culture in general. I have to be honest with myself and my own struggles to grow. And I want to share my struggles with others to help them and let them know that they are not alone - to break down the barriers that are in our minds and all around us that hold us back from our true potential. I hope you will follow and that we will find a little bit of ourselves within each other.
Kim Lewis is a New York-based flutist with immense passion as a performer and teacher.
As a soloist, Kim has performed with the Central Jersey Symphony Orchestra and the Chelsea Symphony in NYC. Kim received first place in the New Jersey Flute Society Concerto Competition, as well as the Central Ohio Flute Association Competition - Collegiate Division.
Chamber ensembles that Kim has collaborated with have received honors in the Lillian Fuchs Chamber Competition and the Douglas Wayland Chamber Competition. Kim is a member of NU, a NYC based woodwind quintet that celebrates and expands the wind quintet by reimagining repertoire, performance, and the classical music culture. As a freelance musician in NYC, Kim regularly performs with the Chelsea Symphony.
Kim holds bachelor’s degrees in Music Education and Flute Performance from Bowling Green State University, where she studied with Conor Nelson, and a master’s degree in Flute Performance at the Manhattan School of Music, where she studied with Linda Chesis. She is currently a Resident Flutist at the Flute Center of New York.