I can still remember the day my father walked into our apartment in Orlando, FL with a small black case holding inside what would become a life long passion. My first flute was not made by any famous maker, in fact I have yet to come across a Hermes USA flute in my many years of flute convetion and festival attendance. This didn't matter at all though, my eleven year old self had never been so excited to receive such wonderful gift. This flute was so shiny with a silver plated body and a Gold plated headjoint (which eventually flaked off, but I still was so very proud of). I instantly became obsesed, practicing every day for hours after coming back from school. At the time I had only been living the the USA for about a couple of months and had no friends. When my ESOL teacher, Miss Morales, found out about my new adventure she gifted me a Yamaha flute methods book which I used to teach myself the flute figerings and eassy melodies. She was the best!
My parents saw some talent in my playing and decided to seek some expert guidance for me, a private flute instructor. I remember going into a music retailer in Florida, much like a Guitar Center, and meeting this six foot tall heavy set man with a hilarious laugh which he could not contain, specialy at the end of his sentences- this made it all more interesting in trying to desifer what he was saying but made my lessons so much fun (I still imitate him till this day and it makes my mom laugh out loud!). I can not remember the name of this teacher, but I'm so thankful to him. He was the first to work with me in tone development, taught me the basic rhythmic patterns, and placed me on a stage for my very first flute performance in a Christmas concert.
My Middle school band teacher would not accept me into the music program because I spoke very little English then (nevermind that I already knew how to read music as I had just finished a one year course of Solfege at the Simon Bolivar Conservatory in my home town of Caracas, Venezuela). I was very determined to get into my school's band and this made me study English even more! I quickly learned enough English to join the band and in a matter of three months went from being the last chair of the flute section to the third chair in a section of about twelve flutists. This was very exciting to me and it provided a huge sence of pride and security in this foreign country and culture in which I was fully imerged with no warning!
High School years came around and my little Hermes USA flute had done it's job, but was getting tired. Like most young flutists, I never really followed up with the Basic Maintenance of my flute. The only reason I took my flute to the technician was to repair something that usually could have been avoided with proper follow-up, but ignorant of this I let it go too far to the point that fixing the instrument would cost more than the instrument itself! So my band director at the time, Mr. Belongia, recomended it was time to get a new instrument and refered me to a shop near by that had a special deal on a silver Gemeinhardt flute with a gold lipplate. My mother bought this flute for me, which I know was not an easy thing for my parents to do at the time but was so much appreciated!