Louisiana Native American Flute Circle

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Classes Begin

The first class of “Beginning Native American Flute and Tablature” was held Thurs. Mar. 3. A few weeks ago, we had four students on the roster. Last week, we were up to 6 students. Fortunately, Byron had made several extra flutes because by the beginning of class on Thursday we had a total of eight students! I was thrilled.

Several of the students already had flutes they had purchased. One was by Andrew Begay, one was a High Spirits flute, and two I could not identify the maker. Three of the flutes also failed to identify the key. It made me really appreciate makers who label their flutes.

We went over basic flute construction, basic scale, and using the Fibonnaci chart I found on Robert Gatliff’s website. We have a range of ages and abilities in the group which should keep it both challenging and fun. Next week we will introduce reading TAB, but also try some call and response. I also told them the last class would be a sort of recital for friends and family. Everyone is welcome to visit us Apr. 7th at LSU. (E-mail me for specific directions and time.)


New Music Page is Here!

On January 8, 2011, Byron and Paula welcomed their first grandchild into the world. Between helping with baby, and Byron’s business travel, we managed to get the new music page de-bugged enough to upload. Paula worked on converting the music files and Byron did the page design. We are still working on new songs to add, so keep checking back. As always we welcome your suggestions and comments.


Reflections on NAF – Practice

Last post, I spoke of practice as it related to experience. Often the question arises, “What should I practice?” This question arises no matter what instrument you are learning. Many players wish to only “play from the heart.” For these musicians, the question does not arise. Yet, for many, the desire to move ahead in their playing leads them to the point where this question becomes important.
This is my opinion on the subject. A portion of your time should be spent on technique. On piano this means scales. On Native American flute it may mean scales, finger dexterity exercises, embellishments, breathing techniques or learning TAB. A portion of your time should be used to learn other people’s music. And a portion of your time should be used in improvisation or playing from the heart.
Most players have no problem agreeing with me on playing from the heart, or practicing embellishments. But why learn Nakai TAB? Or other people’s music? Other people’s music is easy to understand when you see how frequently people ask how to play “When the Saints Go Marching In” or a Beatles tune or “Amazing Grace” etc. However, many of these songs can be learned by ear or using flute diagrams. So why use Nakai TAB? That is a subject for another post.
Remember, this is my personal opinion. You must personally ask yourself, what it is you want to learn. Then design your time with your flute to bring you ever closer to your goals. Your practice will be different from mine. That is how it should be.


New Music for the New Year

I have been working recently on new music to add to our music page. These songs will be linked as I get them completed. The music page is getting crowded, and I am working on plans to re-do the page. I keep going back and forth in my mind between having all of the music alphabetical, or having them in categories even if that means clicking through to other pages. Any comments are greatly appreciated. Byron and I are always working to make this website as informative and useful as possible.


Reflections on NAF – Experience

At Native Rhythms Festival, Clint Goss had us repeat as a mantra a thought expressed by Rae Denton, “It’s just experience!” What makes one person more comfortable playing in front of a group? or using a microphone? or playing a certain embellishment? “It’s just experience!”
“How do you avoid mistakes?” and old joke goes. “Through experience. And how do you gain experience? By making mistakes!” Of course, experience is also gained through practice and repetition. “Practice makes perfect,” is something we’ve all heard. Yet, the thought is not completely correct. Practice and repetition make permanent. Only perfect practice makes perfect.
Practice is a term that is frequently avoided in flute circles. Practice is often associated with work and drudgery. Yet, playing an embellishment over and over because you WANT to learn it is practice. Anything you choose to learn involves repetition until it becomes natural. This is the practice I’m recommending. Not a discipline imposed from without, but a learning that begins with a desire from within.
So choose what you wish to learn on the flute. Currently, I’m learning to free myself from my fear of the microphone. I’m playing into a microphone set up in my home – a safe environment. Soon, I’ll become comfortable enough to play at flute circle. (Actually, I have used the microphone at flute circle, I just prefer to play without it.) Little by little, I will build my confidence through experience. You can do it too.


Reflections on Playing NAF – “Mistakes”

Beginners on the flute are frequently painfully aware of their “mistakes.” Some in an effort to encourage will state that there are no mistakes. There are no wrong notes. Yet, the beginner who makes squeaking tones, or consistently overblows knows that they are not producing the kind of sound or music they wish.

I prefer the view that “mistakes” are simply signs of what you need to learn. Adults often feel that they ought to know something and are therefore reluctant to be beginners. “Do you know how old I’ll be by the time I learn this?” they may ask. One writer responds, “The same age you’ll be if you don’t.”

Slow down, relax. Examine your “mistakes” as guides to learning and growing. Examine them, learn from them, then forget them and move on. The Native American flute is easy to learn, but making music takes a lifetime. A good teacher can set the beginner on the right path, but only the musician knows what music is inside of them waiting for them to share it with the world.


Native Rhythms Flute Festival

Byron and I have just returned from a trip to Melbourne Florida for the 2nd Native Rhythms Flute Festival. It was a wonderful weekend of seeing old friends and meeting new ones. Due to wonderful support from the town of Melbourne and Brevard County, the festival and all workshops were free to all who attended.

What a treat to spend three mornings in Clint and Vera’s Playshop. Everyone had a chance to learn and grow in a safe, accepting environment. Plus it was just plain FUN!

This was our first time being volunteers. We worked a few hours each day at the information/t-shirt/raffle/ booth. We hope to be able to help out next year as well. Getting to know some of those who work so hard putting it all together was a real treat. Seeing behind the scenes increased my appreciation of the event and all who work on other flute events as well.

It was announced that the festival organizers wanted to do something to help Jan Seiden with her medical bills. Vendors generously donated items to be auctioned specifically for Jan and those attending were generous with their bids and cash donations.

We missed Randy Granger who could not make it to this year’s Native Rhythms. However, there were many fine musicians on stage including Mark Holland and Autumn’s Child debuting a new cd, Jeff Ball and his band debuting their new cd, Johnny Lipford, and wonderful Robert Mirabal who made the journey at his own expense.

Byron and I have been known to purchase several flutes and cds at each event we attend, however, we escaped with only one flute and one cd. Our collection has grown to the point where we have already purchased the cds and fluted we most wanted. Our new flute is a drone in high Cm. the drone side has three holes, so the drone note can be changed. It’s something new for us, and has been fun.

After the evening concert on Saturday, Scott Kennedy and his wife Ann gave a performance on crystal bowls, tuned gongs, and on Tibetan bowls. It was all very meditative and soothing. Across the grounds, an impromptu drum circle was formed. The energy there was much different. We had learned in the playshop that high flutes carry better over drums, so Byron tested the theory with his new high Cm drone. It worked well and we both had a good time.

I also came away with good ideas for the class I will be teaching in March. Until then, both Byron and I will be playing with the new flute, and I’ll be working to add more music to the website.


Latest Changes

OOOPS! Late last night, during website and blog maintenance work and updates, the blog up and disappeared. So if you tried to access the blog or the website in the last 24 hours, you likely would have encountered an error. Well, we’re back and new and improved. The Blog and Website switched places (now if you follow a link to www.lanaflutes.com it brings you to the blog instead of the website). You may have to refresh your browser to clear the cache, but all the same material and music is available either on the Blog or the Website, and both are linked to the other, so take your pick. Let us know if you like the change or not. just click on any of the “Contact” links and drop us a note. Sometimes we wonder if anyone even sees this site.



Paula’s application to teach an LSU Leisure Class was approved today. It will be a combination of basic Native American flute playing skills and basic tablature.

Byron worked on a prototype pvc flute while Paula prepared lesson plans and handouts. Now we get to the actual work. Hopefully, we will be needing several more flutes, and we are planning on recording a cd of the songs we will be using with the class.

The class begins on March 3, 2011. Mark your calendars! A good time awaits those who sign up.


Sunwatch Flute Festival

Sunwatch Dancer

Byron and Paula attended the SunWatch Flute and Art Gathering for the first time this year. It is held at the SunWatch Indian Village/Archaeological Park near Dayton, Ohio each August. We got to hear quite a few flute players for the first time as well.

Johnny Lipford

A familiar favorite, Johnny Lipford was there. He is always so upbeat and entertaining. We also heard SOTIW, who have performed at the last two INAFA conventions we attended. Jan Seiden had originally been scheduled as well. It was announced during the day that she had canceled due to injuries from a fall. Our thoughts are with you, Jan, wishing you a speedy recovery. We look forward to hearing you again at Native Rhythms in November.

Douglas Blue Feather

New to us, but not to those in the Dayton area, were John DeBoer and Douglas Blue Feather.Douglas Blue Feather brought his band for the first night’s performance including a native dancer. They put on a very entertaining show.

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