Yep, I'm talking about the sport where people kneel down on the ice and throw stones from one end to the other. Well, I come from a family of avid curlers and this weekend I got to try it myself again. I hadn't been curling for years, and honestly, it doesn't get enough credit as a sport. If you ever have the chance to try, I'd highly recommend it.
As my dad was coaching me on how to balance and shift my weight as I practiced throwing some stones, I realized there are a lot of similarities between curling and flute playing.
Both require a level of bodily awareness that is easy to forget about in your daily life. They involve kinesthetic memory, which involves learning how something feels and being able to replicate it. To place a stone right on the button (aka the center of the "bullseye" on either end), you throw the stone with a certain amount of weight. It takes practice to know exactly how much, and where you need to put this weight in your body. Similarly, in that really loud high note that you want to sing out, you need to place the airstream and set up your embouchure just so to make sure that it comes out forte, but not too sharp. This takes focused training and self-awareness.
The good thing is, as with many skills, both flute playing and curling can be practiced and refined little by little over time. Cultivating self-awareness of your physical body, and how that changes your sound, can happen with short, regular check in's.
In your practice this week, choose one body part (embouchure, left elbow, right shoulder, chin, forehead, etc.) to pay attention to and check in with it every 5, 10, 20 minutes. What do you notice? Is it tense, super loose, or void of any feeling? What does noticing that part of your body change in your sound? What if you imagine your sound resonating in that part of your body? Keep track in a notebook, or make a mental note, and reflect on what you noticed at the end of the week.