DeLaina Billingsley’s flute has enabled an array of fantastical experiences


DeLaina Billingsley

A photo of DeLaina Billingsley

Inspiration comes in a diverse range of forms. It can come from the objects we see to the people in our lives. For senior DeLaina Billingsley, it came in the form of a charming woman she had known for only a few moments: Betty Whyte.

However, it wasn’t the beloved actress Betty White, rather, she was a sweet older lady whom DeLaina met at a convention in Chicago.

“When I went to the flute convention [in Chicago], I met this older woman,” DeLaina said. “Her name is Betty Whyte—she spells it differently [than Betty White]. She was the sweetest old lady… She’d been playing the flute since fifth grade, and her flute choir was performing at the conference. I got to hear her, and I think she is one of the people who inspire me and my flute playing now.”

Meeting remarkable people and going through indelible experiences have all become a recent reality, all thanks to one item DeLaina has had for eight years: her flute. 

Although DeLaina has played the flute for many years, this past one in particular, has been a period of branching out and creating unforgettable memories—some leaving a lasting effect on her. One moment that particularly stood out to her occurred at that same flute convention at which she had met Whyte.

“This is the conference that all the flute players go to; [they’re] the best of the best,” DeLaina said. “I got to go there and experience that and see a lot of really good players who have played for years and mastered their craft. It was so eye-opening.”

Experiences like these have allowed DeLaina to learn more about both herself and her flute. 

However, that does not mean that every moment she experiences because of her flute is a life-changing one. At times, these events simply give her a funny memory to reminisce and smile about.

I got to go there and experience that and see a lot of really good players who have played for years and mastered their craft. I think it was so eye-opening.

“One of the events I went to [at] the conference was someone playing a contrabass flute, and he put a piccolo [up to the contrabass flute],” DeLaina said. “Then, he started blowing through the piccolo, and then the piccolo blew through the contrabass. It was one of the wildest things I’ve seen in my life. I don’t know how he did it, but he did it and I was just like, ‘wow.’”

As memorable and enjoyable as the conferences in Chicago are, the events DeLaina attends are not always characterized by her watching other people play their instruments. DeLaina relishes being able to participate in the competitions themselves. 

Even though it isn’t a particularly common occurrence, one competition DeLaina has repeatedly enjoyed doing is one through the school: solo and ensemble. 

“Solo-ensemble is a statewide competition where you go in and you play your piece for someone, a judge, and there are two awards you can potentially get, or you can also not get an award,” DeLaina said. “All the times I’ve done it—I’ve done it three years—I’ve gotten an award.”

Instances and experiences, such as solo and ensemble performances, give DeLaina a chance to show the imminent progress she has made since her last performance.

Even in the moments when the event hadn’t gone as planned, it doesn’t stop DeLaina from looking back at the experience fondly. Instead of seeing it as a setback, she chooses to see it as a positive experience.

“I did try out for All-state this year, which is an honors band thing,” DeLaina said. “I didn’t get in, but I think the experience was still really good  just trying for it.”

Within recent years, DeLaina’s flute has enabled her to experience a handful of enjoyable events and meet many beguiling people that, without her flute, she would have never been able to see.

The future has a lot to behold; it is a mystery filled with boundless possibilities untold. However, if there’s one thing that DeLaina knows for certain, it is that she and her flute will continue to experience adventures together.

“I definitely want to keep playing [the flute in the future],” DeLaina said. “If I can, I would love to do marching band in college, because it is also something I love. If I can’t do marching at all, most colleges have a concert band or wind ensemble-type [class], and I would like to participate in that.”