Black and white photo of Nicole, a Filipino-American flutist, standing at the shore of a small lake, in front of a cluster of tall grasses.  She smiles at the camera, holding her flute vertically in her left hand and resting it against her shoulder.  She wears a black sleeveless blouse and a white skirt with a swirling wave pattern, and her hair is pulled back in a low braided bun.

Hi, I’m Nicole!

I’m here to share stories about music history from perspectives you don’t cover in school.

Grab a cup of coffee, pull up a comfy chair, and let me tell you how this all began. 

When I walked into my first flute studio class in college, I received a list of recommended repertoire to learn throughout my undergrad in Music Performance. This was fine, for a while – there were plenty of cool, creative pieces to explore. But when I became principal flutist of my university orchestra, I was suddenly faced with a much stricter and narrower set of expectations surrounding the way I looked, sounded, and interpreted music. When I asked why I needed to play to this specific aesthetic, my teacher only said “that’s just the way it is.”

I’m super stubborn, and resisted conforming to those expectations because I felt stuck. On top of the pressure of delivering “perfect” performances, I felt like I was losing my sense of identity and my ability to express myself through music. And I started to wonder if the sounds coming out of my flute were really “music” if that connection was gone.

Breaking free of the practice room also led me to study abroad in Kenya and spend a few years working in youth development – including two years developing educational resources for library programs in remote communities in Fiji. I loved working with grassroots youth organizations because their framework fostered the type of community support that I never felt from my studio experiences as a flute student. Applying the skills I learned abroad to music education has been a huge healing process. But I’ve also come to realize that while I miss playing in orchestras, my old relationship with classical music is no longer a good fit.

A rose gold flute headjoint lays diagonally on top of a stack of blue anthropology textbooks.  The titles on their spines read "Anthropological Theory: An Introductory History," "Custom Anthropology," and "Essentials of Physical Anthropology."

How can I reconnect with classical music, but retain my sense of curiosity and exploration?

Is there a way to reconcile my love for older styles of music with my identity as a modern woman?

And how can we frame Western music within a global, human perspective instead of elevating it blindly?

If you’ve ever wondered those things too, you’re in the right place ♡

Nicole, a Filipino-American flutist, playing her flute in a church in Fiji.  Purple curtains hang from low railings behind her, and clusters of orange flowers border the window on her left.  She wears a purple sulu jaba with a pattern of white hibiscus flowers.  A black wire music stand is in front of her, at the right side of the photo.

On to the fun stuff!

When I’m not playing music, you can usually find me curled up with a fantasy novel and a cup of tea or out sailing on Puget Sound.

When local mask guidelines allow, you can also find me performing with the ah tempo flute choir, based out of Woodinville, WA.

Still have some coffee left?

Photo looking forward from the cockpit towards the bow of a 30' sailboat along the port side of the deck. Both the jib and main sail are out, and the boat is slightly heeled over.  A rolled-up dinghy, yellow jerry jug, and two blue fenders are secured along the side of the deck.