There are several very helpful threads dealing with counting, but none of them answer my rather dumb question: do musicians always count? By which I mean are they always saying or thinking 1~&~2~&~3~&~4~& (or whatever count) while playing?
The reason I ask is that I can't seem to do it for more than a couple of bars. I'm an adult beginner on C flute. I don't have the option of counting out loud or speaking rhythm words because my mouth is busy trying to maintain tone, articulation and intonation. I start to count then I forget, or I count and can't help articulating on each count, as if to count out loud. Basically, I don't seem to have the mind space to count as well as managing everything else.
A related question: do orchestral or ensemble players count bars always? In other words, how do they know when to come in?