Alida Santandrea is a wonderful and simple Native American flautist from Blackstone, Massachusetts. She has her own flute project called Spawn of Sirius. A few years ago, Alida majored in molecular biology and biochemistry and always loved science. However, she learnt that science isn’t where she wants to draw a career from. Alida has come a long way in her life learning many things over the period. She has always been humble and kind to everybody on her journey. From life she learnt that her decisions need to be made by her and that others’ opinions shouldn’t be the basis of what she does. Alida grew up with music in her life, humming to The Beatles with her musician parents and playing around with her father’s flute. She draws her inspiration from Maynard James Keenan (vocalist of Tool, Puscifer, A Perfect Circle).
Alida believes she was born to be a healer through her music and in any other way possible. Music healed her, made her a more confident musician. She wishes she can create similar music for others.
Here is a small interview with my old friend Alida.
I grew up around music; my parents were both musicians and were in a local band together. I remember listening to Beatles records with my dad when I was very young and singing along.
I first started playing the concert flute in 4th grade.
How and why did you choose the flute as the instrument you adopted?
I didn’t start playing a Native American flute until 2003 when I started attending drum circles. I’m not sure why I chose the flute, probably because my dad had one and I had started messing around trying to get sounds out of it before I started taking lessons. I was maybe seven or eight at that time.
Why did you switch over to the Native American flute?
I started going to drum circles and I thought they would be a good addition to the group to accompany the drums.
Do you still play concert flutes?
Not really, unfortunately, I don’t even think I could read music anymore; I improvise on the Native American flutes. I stopped playing concert flutes after my freshman year of university.
What do you think is more important, to formally learn or self learn and improvise, considering you’ve done both?
That’s a really good question! I’d have to say it probably depends on the individual musician and his or her learning style. For me I liked starting out by messing around on the instrument I played as a child. Then learning the basic theory and formal stuff, and finally learning to really express myself through improvisation.
I find that now, with improv, I’m not as much of a perfectionist as I was in school and now I can focus on creativity rather than just the technical aspects of playing. I think it’s important to learn the technical aspects, but the goal is to find your own voice, so to speak.
So do you think music being a part of you has changed or affected you in anyway?
Yeah, definitely! I have gained confidence in myself but also gained friendships and a sense of community with fellow musicians that I’m not sure I could have found anywhere else.
You went in for major degree biochemistry in college. What was the experience like?
Yes, I majored in biochemistry and molecular biology. While I’m glad that I had the experience of being at college, I’m not sure I’d do it over again if I had the chance. Without going into great detail, let’s just say it was not the right career choice for me – I love science and find it fascinating but I didn’t enjoy working in that field.
What has been your driving force? Musically and personally?
On my twitter profile, I describe myself as a “musician and healer”. I enjoy helping people and would heal the world if I could. I know it sounds really silly and maybe cliched but I think that art has the power to transform people and if I can reach even one person with my music or anything else that I do in my life, I’ve made a difference in the world.
I always look at this question from a time travel perspective – if I could go back in time and give a younger version of myself any advice, what I would tell her. I would probably tell myself not to be afraid of following my dreams, and to listen to my heart instead of the advice of people who didn’t have to live with those decisions.
I unfortunately have many regrets in my life but I am working my way back to where I wanted to be when I graduated high school.
If you had to describe who you are and what you do, how would you do it?
I tell people I’m a musician most of the time, but like I said on my twitter profile I call myself a healer as well – I mean that literally as in I am a certified reiki practitioner and can do energy treatments and chakra balancing – but I also believe in the ability of my music to heal people. I have had people tell me that my music helps them sleep at night or that they play my CDs for their children before they go to bed, and that’s great, that makes me happy.
What does the world look like through your eyes?
It’s easy to turn on the television or look at news sites on the internet and hear about all the evil in the world. Still, there is a lot of love and light in the world as well and we only have to practice compassion toward other people in our daily lives in order to see that. I believe in treating people the way I wish to be treated. I’m just now beginning to turn that compassion inward to myself. It’s been a long and painful journey but I’m slowly getting there.
What is your biggest dream?
My biggest dream is to see as many people on earth realize their potential and follow their own passions and dreams. That could mean starting his or her own business or making art of some kind or working in science or the medical field. I understand for some people their dreams don’t necessarily revolve around their careers but I think life is much more enjoyable if you’re doing something that you love to do.
My biggest regret is that I didn’t recognize my own potential sooner. I went through the motions, hoping that my life would improve if only I worked harder but I found that I was trying to please other people instead of pursuing my own goals.
Most motivational person?
I’m trying to think of someone besides Maynard but I’d be lying if I said otherwise.
Maynard James Keenan has overcome so much adversity in his life and has not one but three successful music projects, plus a winery in Arizona, a somewhat unlikely place to start growing grapes. It worked! In addition, he continues to challenge himself creatively and I think that is very inspirational.
What do you plan for yourself musically in the future?
I’m not sure. I really don’t have a plan. I’m just putting myself out there as much as possible and seeing where it takes me.