First Native Flute Circle Held at AAWM Center for the Arts
Even with an impending winter storm on the horizon, 11 people showed up for the first Native Flute Circle at the Center for the Arts in Show Low on Saturday, Feb. 18.
Led by Chuck Moore, CEO of Navopache Electric Cooperative in Lakeside, the Native flute wannabees were encouraged as Moore shared that he had only begun playing native flute five years ago when encouraged by a friend who had also taken it up. Moore bought his first flute from Sky Redhawk, of the Lakota and Apache nations, who owns the Native Sounds Store in Santa Fe, N.M. Practicing and learning new techniques over the last five years, Moore wowed the group with his flute-playing ability.
The majority of those attending did not have their own flutes, so Moore happily shared his collection with them so they could experience what it is like to begin playing. Most were surprised they could actually produce sound.
Five of the participants heard about the event in Payson and traveled from that location just to see what the class had to offer. One in the group shared a hiking experience he had in Sedona, where he was led to experience a lady sitting on a rock playing beautiful flute music. The gentleman said it was so soothing, he just listened while she played for about half an hour. He said it was a spiritual experience.
Bob Manygoats, a Navajo artist from Snowflake who does not play the flute, came with an array of flutes he makes himself. Manygoats has only been making the flutes a couple of years, but actually tested the waters and gave playing a try along with the other participants. His flutes, like Moore’s, are of different types of wood — soft and hardwoods — and of different sizes.
Artist and musician Isaiah Lee, of the White Mountain Apache tribe, who has made hundreds of flutes himself and played at many ceremonial events, shared a bit of the history of the native flute and gave a brief overview of how the flute actually works.
Lee demonstrated the open finger holes, the two chambers — the one that collects the breath and the second which creates the sound. He explained that most flutes are played in the minor pentatonic scale, the most basic and simple scale which creates a beautiful melodic sound.
Lee described how he made the flutes and how, as he was commissioned to make more and more, he found a more efficient way of producing them. He also said that much of the native flute music is related to love or courting.
Though somewhat intimidated after experiencing the playing of Moore and Lee, nearly everyone gave playing a try and to their surprise, produced some lovely sounds.
Written by Barbara Bruce, White Mountain Independent
Reprinted from the White Mountain Independent, February 21, 2017