I started playing the flute in fifth grade at a public school during lunches. In sixth grade I joined the beginning band.
In eighth grade I moved to Utah and thought I was doing well because I was in my fourth year of playing. Well the new public school band in jr. high was much better then the one that I had come from in middle school. In ninth grade I took my first private flute lessons. I didn’t know how to look for a good teacher. She helped with my sight reading and rhythm skills, but didn’t do anything for my tone quality.
I took band all four years in high school and was required to take private lessons again my senior year so that I could be the flute section leader. I went to a different teacher who expected me to memorize. I didn’t even know what a good flutist sounded like until mid-high school, when my dad bought me a bunch of James Galloway CD’s. This was long before ITunes and YouTube.
In college I was required to play at a whole new level. My teacher, Cindy Henderson, took me back to the very beginning to start me over learning good tone quality. It was frustrating to start over with a new embouchure for the second time, but very necessary. I felt like an awkward beginner all over again and here I was in college!
I played bass clarinet in the band, because they were needed and flutists were not.
After four years of lessons with Cindy Henderson I played a Junior Flute Recital and received my flute performance music minor.
I learned more in the four year of private lessons then I did in the eight years of playing in public school bands. Part of it was the expectations placed on me at the college level, but most of it was the one-on-one tutoring of my playing ability.
For some, playing the flute comes more naturally than others. I find that the biggest three factors in how well someone plays are: the amount of daily practice, private lessons, and the amount of listening to good music.