Saturday, April 22, 2006

Inspiration and the Flute

The thing we were most taken with at the Native American camp was the flute performance by William Whitefeather. Sunburst has been learning to play a Choroi pentatonic flute for a month or so now, struggling through her third song, and it was neat for her to see real flute playing in action-- on a stage and everything.

I love the sound of the Native American flute. It's different than what Sunburst is learning to play-- the Choroi pentatonic makes me think of angels, sort of a hovering, airy sound, while the Native American flutes seem to sound more earthy, sweeping, and I don't know, connected to the whole of life. Maybe that makes sense to someone besides me?

Anyway, I asked Sunburst to watch Whitefeather's fingers, particularly, to help her get a better sense for what he was doing. At one point she turned to me and whispered, "Hey, I know that song!" He was playing a Native American lullaby off of "Under the Green Corn Moon," a cd that we have listened to on and off since Sunburst was just a day old. Hearing something familiar like that sealed the deal for her.

When he was done playing and started to pack up for the day, Sunburst went up and asked to see his collection of flutes, and she let him know that she recognized the lullaby. He told her that he has the same cd, and he just figured out how to play it by listening to the song. Then she asked him to play a couple of different-looking (and sounding) flutes he had, including a triple- chambered drone flute that was a thing of beauty and wonder in itself, before she admitted to him that she's has been learning to play the flute at home.

Next thing I know he had handed her a small flute so that she could show him. She was shy and reluctant at first, but then she took it and began to play "Deedle Dum," the first song I taught her using David Darcy's wonderful pentatonic flute book. The fingering is different, but she quickly worked it out and then lit into the second song she knows. While she was playing, a group of older school children had materialized behind her, so that when she turned around she found herself giving a surprise concert. Undaunted, she played the song a couple more times before thanking Whitefeather and coming back over to me with a huge grin on her face.

When we got home she took out her own flute and began to play around with it, not practicing the songs, but just trying out different notes and combinations-- happily playing with the sounds. She's used to hearing her dad and I play the pentatonic flute, and she hears her dad play the Native American flute and Irish Tin Whistle (among other things,) but somehow it's not the same kind of inspiration. Apparently Whitefeather struck some chord in her that we hadn't. Life is funny that way.


  1. Did you really pay $80.00 for your pentatonic flute? If not, wherist by you came it?

    So glad Sunburst is finding this means of expression within herself. You are just nurturing such incredible beings!

  2. No, it was a little bit cheaper than that. I bought it from Mercurius, a Waldorf school supplier (they also sell to homeschool coops.)

    I reworked the link so it takes you to Mercurius, but you have to register with them as a coop in order to view their prices.

    Thanks for the kind words, Moxy. They mean so much.


Thank you for taking the time to leave a message. I appreciate your sweet words so much!

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