Music & Me with … Dr Jessica Quinones- 01 Dec 2019 -
Image: Dr Jessica Quinones, Flautist, blogger, specialist #Skypeflute #Piazzolla #tangoflute. On research panel of @nfaFlute. Founder Boho Flute Retreats. Mommy to a wild toddler
When were you first introduced to music?
Looking back on my childhood, I appreciate how there was no musical elitism or snobbery from my parents – they played what they wanted and that was it! For example, the sounds of 1980’s America, Gloria Estefan, James Taylor, Cindy Lauper, Madonna and U2, as well as more esoteric tunes – George Winston’s piano improvisations, Ennio Morricone’s film soundtracks, Mozart’s Clarinet Concerto in A major, Dire Straits, Mannheim Steamroller, Linda Ronstadt’s Mariachi melodies and Vivaldi’s 4 Seasons – were a huge part of my upbringing. We even had the sounds of the rain forest complete with monkey calls and waterfalls played in the house – much to my embarrassment when my friends came around. So, all in all, I’d say it was a fabulous well-rounded auditory landscape for my young ears!
My first experience of live musicians was in my hometown, growing up in Las Cruces, New Mexico – where every year there is a celebration for the largest flat enchilada in the world – ‘The Whole Enchilada Fiesta’ (yes, really!). I remember being about 7-8, and sitting in the desert heat eating ice cream, and watching one of the marching bands pass by the parade. The front row had flute players, whose flutes were shiny and reflected the sun, and the players looked so proud and like they knew what they were doing. That was when I knew I wanted to play the flute too!
Tell me about your favourite teachers
A teacher that I will never be able to thank enough – in fact, I owe my career path to her – was my phenomenal first flute teacher Jenny Paulson (now Krueger), who’d studied with true masters, and won a job as a flautist in the El Paso Symphony. For months and months, I begged my parents to have lessons with her – aged around 12. Jenny was thorough and insisted that her students learnt strong foundation skills, also pushing us to play in local concerto competitions, give public recitals, and learn the core repertoire and orchestral excerpts. Thank goodness she was in my little hometown!
What are your fondest musical memories?
When I first got my flute, aged 9, I would sit on my front porch steps and play ‘Hot Cross Buns’ repeatedly for all to hear, because it was the only song I knew (well, let’s face it, I only knew 3 notes!). I wanted the entire neighborhood to hear it because I was so proud of my achievement. I adore this memory because there was no embarrassment or ‘I am not good enough’ feelings – music making was pure and innocent!
What is your favourite TV theme tune and film soundtrack?
I’ll have to side with soundtracks more than TV tunes as they had the largest early influence on me, with ‘Out of Africa’ and ‘The Mission’ for the sheer beauty of this music. One of the first things I wanted to play by ear on my flute was ‘Gabriel’s Oboe’, of course!
What was the last music download/ CD you bought?
Earlier this year I decided it was finally time to learn and honour more compositions by female composers. Wanting to hear some ideas, I purchased Chris Hankin’s ‘The Feminine Flute’ – it’s a beautiful album.
Imagine you’ve been given GBP 250.00 to spend on equipment, downloads, vinyl, CDs, DVDs or concert tickets. How will you spend it?
I’d probably end up purchasing more scores that are a bit off the beaten track. I’m particularly interested in music from other genres put into a westernised notation— such as tango Indian classical, Native American tunes, etc. For me, scores are simply stories on a page waiting to be told in the form of musical notation— and this absolutely thrills me.
How do you balance music with your other obligations?
After 30 years, I’ve learnt to accept that flute playing must fit into my life and I shouldn’t feel guilty about that. Yet, when I was younger, I put the flute before everything – much to the detriment of my relationships, enjoyment of life, and even mental health.
Nowadays, my young family will always be first, and my flute has to slot in. This means practicing after my young son has gone to bed late into the night and snatching time between flute students and when dinner is cooking! It also means I only focus my energy on projects that absolutely thrill and delight me.
My favourite quote is ‘you can do anything but you can’t do everything’. Given this mindset, balancing my career has been more about letting go of a lot of things. You can find a lot about this topic on my blog, in fact!
Happiness is … being who I am authentically, fully, wholeheartedly— in all my roles, whether as a flautist, a mother, a teacher, or a performer. It’s a really beautiful feeling when I’m in that space, it’s where I feel most empowered and aligned with the world. That, for me, is when I am happiest!