Wednesday, November 30, 2005


My good friend RuthiE Neilan is presenting a 3 day workshop in February. Signups are open now:

Playshop for Native American Flute: Focus on Healing February 1-3, 2006 with RuthiE Neilan RN, MA, at Franciscan Renewal Center, Scottsdale, Arizona. This "Playshop" is for those with at least basic skill and technique in playing the Native American flute who wish to take their playing to a deeper and more personal creative level. The first thing we do in life is take a breath, the last thing we do in life is take a breath, in between all we do is breathe. Come share breath through playing the Native American flute with a focus on healing with RuthiE Neilan. All healing begins with self-healing. Healing = wholeness.

"We are told to play from our hearts. No one tells us how to get there, RuthiE shows us." (C.T. participant in 2003 Native American Flute: Focus on Healing retreat, Costa Rica).

Check in at the Renewal Center mid afternoon on Wednesday, February1, 2006. The opening session will be held in the Ventura Room ofPiper Hall at 4 PM. With an evening session following dinner. OnThursday the 2nd, there will be morning, afternoon and eveningsessions. Room check out is 10 AM on Friday, however we will haveclosing session in the Ventura room and depart after lunch.

Sessions will include meditation, art making, journaling, labyrinthwalk and yes all this pertains to playing the flute. We will play,play and play. No experience in creative arts necessary beyond basicskills in playing the Native American flute, just have a willingnessto be open to new experiences and trust your creative Spirit inprocess. Bring your Native flute in key of G for class sessions.

For more informaition contact RuthiE: ruthieneilan AT comcast DOT net

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

New Magazine: Fretboard Journal

I just heard about the publication of a new magazine called "The Fretboard Journal". Yeah, yeah, I know that this isn't really a flute or drum related topic, but hey it sure looks like a cool magazine for those of you who play stringed instruments and it's my quest to bring interesting new music topics up here. This is the premier copy and it looks like a high quality magazine (er, Journal). You might pass this on to your guitar or mandolin playing friends.

Saturday, November 26, 2005

NAFFAQ: Can I clean the mouthpiece on my flute?

There has been a lot of discussion about spreading germs by sharing flutes at flute circles or when trying out new flutes from a flute maker. There are also many opinions about this. My opinion is just one of the many. It is tempting to try other folks flutes at a flute circle, especially when someone gets a new flute from a flutemaker that you may be interested in buying from. All I can tell you is that you should use your own judgement about sharing your flutes as well as playing others flutes. Definately don't play others flutes if you are feeling the least bit ill.
With respect to new flutes, there are a variety of methods that flute makers and resellers use to allow clients to tryout their flutes. For the flutes which I sell to my students in class, I use Purell hand sanitizer to clean/santize the flutes. Purell is a great product for this purpose (IMHO) because it includes moisturizers that help prevent the wood from dryings out and it minimizes and damage to the finish on the flute. Plus it has a nice smell.

Friday, November 25, 2005


OTHER MINDS in collaboration with Swedenborgian Church and Piedmont Piano Company presents three concerts -- Saturday, December 3, 2005, at 2pm, 5:30pm, and 8pm
Hypnotic, spiritual music to be performed on Piano, Violin, and Disklavier in candlelight concerts at San Francisco's Swedenborgian Church

WHAT: Other Minds presents a New Music Séance, in three mesmerizing candlelight concerts
WHO: Pianist Sarah Cahill, and the violin-piano duo of Kate Stenberg and Eva-Maria Zimmermann
WHERE: Swedenborgian Church, 2107 Lyon Street, San Francisco
WHEN: Saturday, December 3, 2005, at 2pm, 5:30pm, and 8pm
2pm, Concert No. 1, Walk in Beauty - works by Henry Cowell, Daniel David Feinsmith, Peter Garland, Janice Giteck, Bunita Marcus, Leo Ornstein, Dane Rudhyar, Eric Satie, Charles Ives
5:30pm, Concert No. 2, Nude Rolling Down an Escalator - works by Ruth Crawford, Alvin Curran, Kyle Gann, Andrea Morricone, Terry Riley, Henning Christiansen
8pm, Concert No. 3, Toward the Flame - works by John Adams, Johanna Beyer, William Bolcom, John Cage, Henry Cowell, Daniel David Feinsmith, Mamoru Fujeida, Lou Harrison, Gary Noland, Alexander Scriabin, Ronald Bruce Smith
HOW MUCH: Each concert $20-$50, sliding scale; Series tickets$50-$150, sliding scale
TICKETS: (415) 934-8134,
INFO: (415) 934-8134,

MORE: The intimate candlelit surroundings of Bernard Maybeck's Swedenborgian Church, built in 1895, will be the scene of America's first-ever New Music Séance, presented by Other Minds. Pianist Sarah Cahill and the violin-piano duo of Kate Stenberg and Eva-Maria Zimmermann will perform hypnotic, spiritual and rarely-heard contemporary music in a meditative mode. The music spans the period from Erik Satie's Gnossienne No. 5 (1889), to Charles Ives' Sonata No. 2 for Violin and Piano (1907), and through the 20th century to the present, including Self (2005) by Bay Area composer Daniel David Feinsmith.
Produced by Other Minds Artistic Director Charles Amirkhanian, the three concerts in the New Music Séance feature five hours of solopiano music performed by Sarah Cahill, with additional performances by Kate Stenberg, violin, and Swiss pianist Eva-Maria Zimmermann. Audiences will be treated to performances of Alexander Scriabin's Vers la flamme (Toward the Flame, 1914) and the world premiere of Three Fantasy Pieces, from the early 1960s, by Russian-born American composer Leo Ornstein. Further highlights will be the American premieres of Andrea Morricone's Studio I and of Danish artist-composer Henning Christiansen's Den Arkadiske for violin and piano (1966), a Fluxus gloss on folk fiddling. Humanly unplayable music by Kyle Gann, Daniel David Feinsmith, and Gary Noland will be self-performed on a Yamaha Disklavier grand piano, including the world premiere of Feinsmith's Amalek.
For more information contact Other Minds at (415) 934-8134,

Thursday, November 24, 2005

Join Elysium Calling at Border Bookstores!

Garth and Kenneth are starting out the busy holiday season with some concerts at select Borders bookstores. If you happen to be in the area, stop by and say hi and support Garth and Kenneth.

Enjoy live music from Elysium Calling while you get a little holiday shopping done, find your next good book, or simply relax with a cup of coffee. Elysium Calling will be performing this December, at Borders in Modesto, Stockton, and two Roseville locations.

Here are the latest dates:

Friday, December 2nd, 2005
Borders Books and Music
10776 Trinity Parkway, Stockton CA 95219 209-951-2226
Price: Free!

Saturday, December 3rd, 2005
Borders Books and Music
3900 Sisk Rd., Modesto CA 95656 209-543-6095
Price: Free

Friday, December 9th, 2005
Borders Books and Music
2030 Douglas Blvd, Roseville CA 95661 916-768-3461
Price: Free

For additional dates, times, and locations, follow this link to their calendar.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Bear's Thanksgiving Prayer for Friends and Family, 2005

This prayer touched my heart. It was written by Bear Limvere, if you decide to pass it on, just make sure that you give Bear credit. You can contact him at:
matotanka AT yahoo DOT com

"Grandfather, whose voice I hear in the winds, and in the stillness of
my spirit; whose breath gives life to all the world. Lean close to
the earth and hear our prayers, both those spoken aloud, and those
spoken in our hearts.

We gather with our relations to celebrate the gifts we have received.
Help us remember the gifts and blessings we have. We all have many
things to be grateful for, even if sometimes we have to search for
the reasons behind the gifts, or we feel overwhelmed by the pressures
of this world. We are thankful to be alive; to have the ability to
raise our voices in songs and prayers.

We pray for our elders and teachers; for our brothers and sisters;
for our children. We pray that children will honor and respect their
elders, and that elders will deserve that respect. We pray that
children will honor and respect themselves. These values encourage
our youth to become leaders and contributors in society. We pray for
our children and their children yet to come; for they are our future;
help them stand and be courageous.

We remember those who have gone before us. As we sing their songs,
and tell their stories, their memories are honored, and their ways
passed on. We mourn those that have left us, and pray for them as
they make their new journeys. Help us to remember them in a good way.

We pray for the people that come to the circle, and for those that
cannot, or will not. We pray for peace, and an end to wars. We pray
for our warriors that serve in the military, and for those that serve
the people at home. We pray for those who travel; for those who
cannot be with family; for those who are sick, or dying; and for
those who are hungry, cold, or alone. We pray for those who are
prisoners of war, crime, politics, and religion. Guide us to remember
and help them. We are all related. We all share the future.

We pray for commitment and responsible behavior to help those in
need. Help us be examples in life that others may follow. Let us
serve all people, our communities and country. Help us strive to be
leaders and contributors. Let us unite together so that we may have
the strength to protect our future. We pray to learn ways to settle
differences peacefully. Help us learn respect for each other's ideas.
Help us to value honesty and open-mindedness on all levels, from
children to parents to community to politicians to governments. We
will be happy when we create peace with each other. Remind us to live
what we teach. Spiritual values, honesty, and integrity start in the

We pray for those whose minds are closed; who believe that fear,
deceit, war, hate, bigotry, and repression are the way to success.
For those who are so insecure that they feel they must impose their
beliefs on all others. For those who must tear down others to make
themselves seem better or stronger. For those who are afraid to
accept responsibility. We pray for them, that their eyes and minds
may be opened, and the hearts of those around them to lessen their
impact on our country and the world.

We pray to learn and use the wisdom of all that have come before us.
Only when we all learn respect for all things can we truly succeed.
Help us remember that we are related to all things. The earth is our
Mother. All two-legged, four-legged, creatures of the air and water,
and the standing people are our brothers and sisters. What happens to
them also happens to us. Help us to be strong and gentle and
compassionate. Help us to always live in a good way. Help us respect
all of creation in our decisions and actions. Help us remember that
while we have the ability to change our environment and affect all
things, we must be sure that we should do this.

We are thankful for our families, those that we have chosen, and
those that have chosen us. Family is important and precious. Help us
always let them know that we love them; that we are always there to
support them, and that they mean the world to us. We pray that our
children will not repeat our mistakes.

We pray for these things, not for ourselves, but for all our
relations. Hear our prayers. Aho Mitakuye Oyasin. ? All my Relations.

Blessings to all, Bear Limvere

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Two Village Heartbeat events coming up

Invitation for Women Drummers in NoCal

I thought that I would pass on this invitation from Zorina:

"You are invited to the rhythm and ritual retreat for women. This retreat will be an opportunity to experience the simple ways that we can connect with ordinary ritual. Drum , dance, sing, and feel your spirit!
There are 8 slots left for this residential event spanning December 9th, beginning at 6 pm and ending at 3 pm on Sunday , December 11. The retreat will take place in Pescadero at the Venture Retreat. The setting is simple which can allow participants to enter deeply into the world of rhythm.
The cost is $275 per participant before December 1 , including meals and lodging. After that date the price will be $350.
Village Heartbeat


This event is for everyone (starts tonight):

What : TaKeTiNa, an exciting musical group process.
When: November 22th and November 29th
Time: 6:30- 8:30 PM
Where: The Friend's Meeting Hall in Palo Alto at 957 Colorado Avenue.
Donation $2 per person to pay the rent! Comments: This is a bigger space so you are welcome to attendwhether you have experienced TaKeTiNa before or not. Check it out! PS This is a practice group, so we are practicing!

Monday, November 21, 2005

Remembering friends

With Thanksgiving approaching, we are planning for our travels to visit friends and family in Arizona. I am sure that many of you are as well (planning to visit family & friends that is...). The trip to Phoenix is a biannual event for us, as my parents and two of my uncles families gather every year for a friendly family golf tournament and get together for the four day weekend. Four years ago when we attended, there was both a joyous and sad event to commemote. One of my uncle best friends has passed away that year, and since "Bud" had been involved in the annual golf tournament every year since its inception, he was like a member of the family. My aunt and uncle wanted to dedicate and plant a tree on the golf course fairway just outside their patio.
So on the Friday after Thankgiving that year, as a gorgeous Arizona sun was setting, we planted the tree. I played "Amazing Grace" on the NAF, while every member of the gathered circle of friends and family put a shovel full of dirt into the ground around the tree. This year, sadly, we have another passing to commemorate. Another friend of my aunt/uncle has passed this year. Marvel, was a wonderful lady who always had gifts for my kids, even though she only saw them once every two years. I'll always remember her generous spirit. Marvel's tree has already been planted early in the year, but I still plan to bring my flute and play for her tree as I grieve for her passing.
I hope that you find a moment this weekend to play your flute for thansgiving, peace and understand around the world or whatever fills your heart this holiday.

Sunday, November 20, 2005

Thanksgiving Stories

Don has posted a couple of stories about Thanksgiving from the Native American perspective on his blog. I was considering posting them here as well but Don beat me to it, so while you're at it, check out his blog.

Friday, November 18, 2005

Kokopelli Christmas Songbook

With the holiday season approaching several folks have inquired about Christmas songs for the Native American Flute. The best book on the market is "A Kokopelli Christmas" by John Sarantos and Kimble Howard. It has a great collection of songs with both Nakai Tab and finger Tab (pictures of the flute fingerings) for both 6 hole and 5 hole flutes. It includes some classics such as: "Away in a manger", "O come all ye faithful" and "Silent Night". It also includes some less popular songs that still sound great on the limited scale of the NAF, including: "Conventry Carol", "Noel Nouvelet" and "Still, Still, Still". I have a half dozen copies for sale at $15 or you can purchase from the Oregon Flute Store. If you're interested in buying a copy, drop me a line at: oitz AT naflute DOT com.

Sunday, November 13, 2005

New "Favorites" feature for the Blog

Repeat vistors might have noticed that I just added a "Favorites" section to the sidebar. I've seen similar elements on other blogs, so I thought that I'd experiment with the blog template to see if I could add my own as well. Note that these are MY favorites, and don't reflect any"official" recommendations of the Northern California Flute Circle. I'd add more over time. I hope that you find this a valuable feature of the blog.

Saturday, November 12, 2005

NCFC Leadership Council Meeting and Member Survey planning

I am trying to schedule a NCFC Leadership Council meeting in the next month for all current and potential clan leaders. We need to work out the 2006 schedule, begin initial planning for the INAFA 2006 conference in August 2006, and discuss new ideas for expanding the circle. I have already received inquiries from 2 new regions who would like to join the NCFC as a new clans. If you are interested in creating a new clan or stepping up to a leadership role in your current clan, please contact me now!! It's always exciting when we have a core group of folks meeting on a frequently basis, who'd like to reach out and join the greater NCFC as a whole. We're also going to need additional leadership in many forms next year with the INAFA conference in Northern California.

In addition, I am working on the Fall 2005 newsletter. One of the key elements for this end of year newsletter is the member survey to help us better understand the needs and desires of our membership. If you'd like to contribute to this, contact me immediately. I am planning both a paper version distributed with the newsletter and an online version.

Friday, November 11, 2005

Shamanic Journey at the Center for Spiritual Living

I attended an excellent musical event on Wednesday Nov 9 this week at the Center for Spiritual Living in San Jose. I learned about this event from my drum teacher and friend Mike Fair who teaches and performs middle eastern drumming (if you're interested in learning to play the RIQ, TAR or doumbek, let me know... I'll put you in touch with Mike). I was further intrigued when I saw my friend and Bay Clan member Pat Wyatt on the bill, playing the Native American Flute.

The Center for Spiritual Living is buried in a residential community in South San Jose. I got off the freeway and followed my google maps to the Center. As I was driving down a residential street I was beginning to wonder if the address was correct. But, as it turns out the Center was right where it should be. The crowd started small, but gradually grew in size as we were serenaded by excellent guitar music (I apologize that I don't know all of the performers from the evening). The event started with a belly dancing performance, in which Mike played rhythm along with another drummer for a belly dancer. After that there was also a jazz dance performance to drumming by Mike and others. The real treat for the evening, however, was the meditation and shamanic journey in which Pat played the flute and Dave led the drumming on a frame drum.

This was my first experience with a shamanic journey. Dave led us on our path by invoking the journey with a strong cadence on the frame drum. It took a few minutes for my brain to relax and settle into the sounds which surrounded me, but my journey began. In my vision, I was met by my spirit guide in the form of a hummingbird. The hummingbird had glittering green feathers covering its body and hovered immediately in front of my face, beckoning me to follow him. As I agreed to follow, I was transformed into a hummingbird form, and my perception was changed such that I immediately could see every beat of my spirit guides wings as if time had slowed down. I also percieved the beat of my own wings and had the ability to fly. My spirit guide beckoned me to follow him again.

He took me on a journey through a huge (even more so from the perspective of a hummingbird) redwood forrest. At first it was very much like the scene from Star Wars as we dodged tree trunks and bushes as we sped along the forrest floor. My spirit guide would disappear behind one tree, only to reappear further up our path rounding another tree trunk. The sunlight played off of the bushes and plants and tree trunks as it filtered through the canopy above. This changed when my spirit guide brought me to the base of a gigantic tree, the largest in the forrest. He waited for me to catch up and then he immediately began to fly around the circumference of the tree as he spiraled up the tree. I followed. I could percieve in great detail the bark of the tree to my right as I followed clockwise around the tree. I could hear the drumming in the background growing in intensity, surrounding me, pushing me on. I took energy from the drumming and continued my journey.

As we sped to the top of the tree, I finally looked down and realized that we were out of the atmosphere, the blue sky had changed to the darkness of outer space. I could see the tree truck extending back through the clouds to mother earth, like the giant beanstalk that Jack climbed. My spirit guide stopped, hovering at the tip of the tree and made it known to me that he could go no further. I could see the stars spreading out above us. I knew that I was on my own from there. I thanked my spirit guide and began the rest of my journey towards the stars.

This where this journey ended. I am not sure what might have happened had I continued my journey or what will happen the next time I journey there. But I must say that I was enthralled by what I experienced and I am still replaying the journey in my mind.

Thanks to Dave, Pat, Mike and the other musicians who made this event possible. I will be back for other events at the Center in the future. I encourage you all to push your comfort level and limits as I did in this experience.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

The woes of Sony Digital Rights Management

This is more general music related, than specific NA Flute related. But there has been a huge backlash against Sony Music in recent months about the
Digital Rights Management solution which they have implemented on many of their recent CD releases.
For those who are not familiar with Digital Rights Management, it's all about controlling the capability of a computer user to "rip" a song from a CD to an MP3 or other digital format. Now regardless of how you feel about copyrights and ownership of music by the musician, it's one thing to put the legal muscle behind it, and it's another thing to implement a draconian (in my opinion) method for restricting a users rights.
To make a long story short (
there's plenty of info available on the web), Sony has put a piece of software on some of their recent CD releases which installs itself on your computer when you insert the CD into your CD drive on your computer (normal stereo CD player are not effected...). Basically, this piece of software 'hides' itself deep in your computer and watches for you to play or attempt to copy the CD in question. What most folks are complaining about is that there's no way (for non-geeks) to remove this software from your computer once it's installed itself. Futhermore, it violates some of the basic consumer protections about installing such things as spyware, etc. As a result, it was just announced that Sony is being sued in the State of California over this issue.

The Electronic Frontier Foundation has posted a list of Sony CD in question.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

One of a kind, contrabass ocarina

I saw this on the web, it's a contrabass ocarina, built by
Clayzeness Whistleworks' Richard Schmidt on commission from a customer. Sandi and Richard make a wide variety of beautiful and inventive whistles, flutes and ocarinas. I have one of their plastic ocarina's and plastic flutes made under the BearPaw brand. The plastic ocarina plays really well, I highly recommend it for a $10 investment. The plastic flute does well for a $20 plastic flute, but the fingering is not the "easy" mode 1/mode 5 fingering (oh well, when will the flute makers learn that the cheap flutes need to be in the "easy" pentatonic fingering...). Posted by Picasa

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Don't forget: R Carlos Nakai in NorCal next week, Nov 18th

See my prior post for details...
Join a global network of Concerts for Peace
The Music for Peace Project, March 31 - April 2, 2006

I just learned about the Music for Peace Project, which is a global effort to fill the world with music as a call for peace.
According the the MP4P website, since its inception in 2003, the annual 3-day Music For Peace Project has sponsored 251 concerts in 30 countries on every continent. Founded by the Musicians' Alliance for Peace (MAP), an international community that promotes empathy, ethical thought and critical social involvement through music, each Music for Peace Project has been shared with audiences as diverse as the music itself.
The Music for Peace Project 2006 continues this tradition. By coordinating a vast number of concerts worldwide between March 31 - April2, 2006, the Music for Peace Project 2006 will bring popular and media attention to international peace efforts while building a global community of socially conscious artists.
To help MP4P reach their goal this year of 500 concerts spanning every continent during the weekend of March 31 - April 2, 2006, they are asking musicians worldwide to perform a concert in the name of peace, or to dedicate a pre-existing concert to the Project. All one must do is complete a simple, 30-second online form -- any musician can participate. I would encourage any of you to schedule and dedicate a concert or event on this weekend. Maybe we can arrange to have a flute circle for every clan during these dates.

To join, and learn more, please go to
write MAP at .

Monday, November 07, 2005

NAFFAQ: What's the most popular wood for making Native American Flutes?

No doubt, the Native American Flute can be made from many different varieties of wood. I would expect that everyone would develop their own preferences over time, as you have the chance to hear and play many different types of flutes/woods.
But the answer to the question: "What's the most popular wood?" would have to be cedar...
There are many varieties of cedar used for flute making today, including:
  • Western Red Cedar
  • Eastern Red Cedar
  • Aromatic Cedar
  • And my favorite: Port Orford Cedar

However, one of the key attributes to cedar is that it is a softwood. In wooden musical instrument manufacturing, different woods are used for different purposes. For example in guitar and violin construction, soft wood like spruce is used for the sound board (top) because they transmit sound the best. In Marimba construction, a hard wood like Paduk is used for the keys. In my experience, my cedar flutes practically jump out of my hands, while my hard wood flutes (like walnut) are much quieter. Of course there are many other elements of flute design which come together to contribute to the 'voice' of the flute, but if every variable could be held constant, then a cedar flute would be louder than a hard wood flute (IMHO). In fact, I only have my custom flutes made from cedar now.

The other consideration is that in the spiritual beliefs of many of the first nations, cedar and the other evergreen trees represent everylasting life, because they don't lose their leaves like the decidous trees do. In this respect, cedar has many spiritual properties which are apart from the sound.

By the way - if you have a question that you'd like me to answer here, send an email to: ncfc AT naflute DOT com

Sunday, November 06, 2005

Now for something completely different...

If you're looking for something completely different, check out the Zapotec Clay Death Whistle. This is a clay vessel made by Nashtavewa (Nash) who is a native of Mexico in the Oaxaca region, but who now resides in Southern California. Nash has studied the craft of clay flute making with Guillarmo Martinez.

Friday, November 04, 2005

Google Print Search Online Now

Despite all of the noise from authors and publishers feeling threatened about Google cataloging the world of print and making it available for the masses to search, Google print is now online. In my opinion, this is just another silly example of "old school" folks not "getting it" when it comes to the new world order. Why wouldn't you want to make your information available to the largest audience? In fact the Google Print interface puts links to purchase the material that you're searching right next to the results. What could be better for bringing new customers to your material? Those of you who have been reading my blog know that I support the new concepts of sharing information (see my prior Creative Commons posts). Anyhow, if you'd like to experience the beta version of Google print check out this sample for Native American Flute.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Information on Native American Languages

I stumbled into (or was led by the spirit to) the
Native American Languages Online Resources website. The Native Languages of the Americas is a small non-profit organization dedicated to the preservation and survival of Native American Languages. This website is a growing online collection of information, history, linguistics and vocabulary for over 800 indigious languages of the Western Hemisphere. There is a ton of information currently on the site, more than can be browsed in a few minutes, so make sure that you have some time to spend if you click through to the site.

They also have a webpage dedicated to supporting
Native American Flute Makers.