Monday, July 31, 2006

Beginning Native American Flute in the bay area

I excited to announce that starting this month, I will begin offering a drop-in Beginning Native American Flute class in Palo Alto on the 1st and 3rd Tuesday of each month.
I will be holding the class at the Marhatis Enlightenment Center in Palo Alto from 5:30 PM - 7:00 PM. Cost will be either: $60 for 3 months (6 classes) or $15 drop in.

Initially, (at least for the first 6 classes) I am starting this class as a "Beginner Class" since I know that there are a lot of folks out there who are anxious to get started on their path playing the Native American Flute. This class is actually open to all levels, and I'll work with whatever level of student attends, so that everyone learns. Overtime (or occasionally), I may evolve the class to focus on special topics/skills and I'll post the weekly topic here.

For more information check out this link. FLUTE CLASS

Following the flute class each week will be a new format of "Gentle Jam", 7 PM - 9:30 PM, hosted by Rev. Maxi Harper. This is a 'softer' drum circle featuring a variety of instruments to pull the improvized melody. Of cource Native American Flute players and the beginning flute class students will be encouraged to stay and play.

Saturday, July 29, 2006

Share a story or a tune at INAFA

Duke Addicks, one of the presenters at the upcoming INAFA Convention, posted this message on the Montana Listserv:

"I’m Duke Addicks and I’m guiding a process at the conference of sharing stories and tunes. We’ll start at my general session entitled Kokopelli Story and Tune Swap, where, in the tradition of the Giveaway, and in remembrance of that traveling storyteller and fluteplayer Kokopelli, we’ll begin to give each other tunes to play and stories to tell without restriction, in the hope that the tunes and stories will be remembered, replayed and retold long after we are forgotten. Those who want to just listen are more than welcome!

I’m an eagle expert and the “official” storyteller for the Mdewakanton Indian Community of Mendota, and I’ll start off by giving you a true story you can retell about a Mdewakanton Indian boy who played his courting flute to catch a golden eagle. The story contains one of my All Nations Dance flute tunes you might like to learn (I’ll bring copies in tab, but you don’t have to do that for your tune). Then I’ll talk briefly about giving away stories and tunes and the similarities between tunes and stories. Then I’ll turn the mike over to you. Yes you!

Anyone who wants to share a flute story (a story involving a flute, a flute player or something about a NA flute) or give away a tune that others can play on the flute, will have an opportunity to do so. There will be a sign up sheet at the registration table when you arrive at the conference. Those who want to just listen are more than welcome!

Since there won’t be enough time for everyone who wants to participate to share their story or tune at the general session, we’re making arrangements to continue the telling and playing in a more or less organized but informal way at specific times and locations during the rest of the conference where we won’t conflict with other programs.

So bring a story: it can be anything from a traditional story about the boy who played the first flute to the dog who ate your flute. Remember a story is about conflict and resolution, about someone who discovered they had a problem and overcame difficulty to resolve the problem by themselves. And/or bring a tune. A tune is the same: tension is created then resolved. Just as you practice playing a tune, practice telling your story out loud a few times. Just as you recognize when a tune is over, recognize when your story ends. Then stop, and enjoy the applause.

Your story may be almost true but not necessarily. Your tune, likewise.

For more about my flute tunes see my web page where I recently posted my ideas about Metis/Model/Mdewakanton flute music in some detail (and would appreciate feedback)

INAFA Concert Flyer Online

I just posted a flyer to advertise the INAFA concerts this week. Now we need your help to download, print, copy and post the flyer where ever you go this weekend and week. If you have the time, post 'em at the local coffee shop, music store, record store where ever you think you get attention for this event.

Here's the link to the poster: link

Friday, July 28, 2006

Looks like the weather is going to cooperate

Phew! It's been a hot couple of weeks in California. Luckily it looks like this weather is going to leave us and we'll get back to some nice weather before the INAFA convention starts next week.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

NAF Playing Tip #25: Playing with Microphone

With the INAFA convention coming next week, there will be several opportunities to play in front of a microphone. The NCFC will have a sound system setup for "open mic" sessions at various times throughout the event.
With that in mind, I wanted to dedicated this week's playing to some guidelines for playing in front of a microphones.

Open Mic Sessions

A great place to gain confidence and experience playing for others is at the open-mic sessions either at a flute circle or at the local coffee shop. This is your chance to attempt to perform a new song that you have been practicing, to play a new flute, to try a new scale for improvisation.

Some tips on playing at an open mic session:

  • Introduce yourself, this is your chance to let people know who you are and to help reduce your nerves a bit before you start playing. Connect with your audience and they'll be more attentive to your performance.
  • Tell a story as an intro to the song you are about to play. How did the song come to you? Is it an intrepretation of a known melody? Describe the flute that you are about to play
  • Take the time to adjust the microphone – THIS IS CRITICAL. Don’t think that you are wasting time, as nothing is more annoying for a listener than not being able to hear the performer. Listeners also hate to see the performer playing at an ackward angle, just to get sound from the microphone.
  • Make any adjustments to sound level or echo/reverb before you play or give the sound person a quick sound check (a few notes) to test the mic placement, etc. Announce to the audience that you want to quickly test the sound level before you start. You might ask “Can you hear me now?”

Mike’s Simple Microphone Rules

Here are some tips for using a stage microphone with a Native American Flute.

  • Most stage microphones only pick up sound within about 6”-12” from the end of the microphone (this may be different in the studio where the mic used can pick up everything). So make sure that you stay within this 6"-12" range.
  • The strongest sound comes from the sound hole in front of the block/fetish on your flute, thus the sound hole needs to be in the sound field of the microphone. Adjust the mic up or down to put this part of the flute in front of the mic.
  • Remain stationary during the song if you are using a stationary mic (don’t turn your head, or sway). Note: you can use this idea to actually "fade" the sound by moving away or to the side of the mic.
  • NEVER, EVER cover the mic with your hand (this will cause the speakers to squeal or feedback). If it starts to feedback, stop playing for a moment. If you have a sound person, they will lower the sound volume. If there is no sound person, you'll need to jump to the volume control of the amplifier (a good reason to find this knob for the channel you are using, before getting on stage...)
  • Did I mention: DON’T EVER cover the mic with your hand!

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Nice Listing of Upcoming Flute Gatherings across the country

This was posting on Mary Youngblood's Listserv by Sharon. It's nice concise listing of upcoming events across the country:

INAFA Convention 2006 (
August 2 - 6
Belmont, CA (near San Francisco)

Flute Quest 2006 (
September 15 - 17
Kenmore, WA

Silverhawk Native American Flute Gathering
October 7 - 8
Dade City, FL

Zion Canyon Art and Flute Festival (
October 13 - 15
Springdale, UT

Fall Flute-In
October 19 - 22 ???
Camp Bethel near Roanoke, VA
Contact Leonard McGann at

Armadillo Flute Retreat
November 16-19
Flower Mound, TX (Near Dallas/Ft. Worth airport)

Potomac Native American Flute Festival
February 16 - 18, 2007
Rockville, MD (near Washington, DC)

Native American Flute Spring
early April 2007
Lebanon, NJ
Contact Jan Kirlew at

Musical Echoes (
April 27 - 29
Fort Walton Beach, FL

Friday, July 21, 2006

Haunted Flute or Good marketing, you decide...

Martin B. sent me an interesting link to a flute for sale on ebay. It's worth a look just to read the story associated with the flute that for sale. You decide if this is good marketing, since the flute already has over 20 bids...

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Group NAF Lessons in the Bay Area

I am considering starting a bi-weekly, on going flute group flute lesson at a house in Palo Alto. It would be on Tuesday evenings every other week. If this is something you might be interested in attending, drop me a line at: ncfc AT naflute DOT com

Playing Tip #24: Spanish Gypsy Scale

I wanted to post this scale for folks to learn, as it is a great scale for finding some completely different music on your flute. This scale has a very 'middle eastern' feel to it, and once you learn the basic notes for this scale, you soon be making up some new phrases/songs. I typically provide this scale (and many others) to my intermediate students who are stuck in their playing and looking for some new inspiration.

I first heard this scale on a specialized side blown flute. I immediately went home and looked it up online at a guitar scale website (I've played guitar for many years) and then I translated it to the NAF. One interesting issue with this Spanish Gypsy scale is that the first note should be a half step, but that's impossible to get on the typical NAF, so it's omitted from this interpretation.

One other caviet is that this scale (on the left) is designed for a six hole, Mode 1/Mode 4 flute (the typically 'hold down the third finger of your top hand' type flutes).

Here are the notes for the Spanish Gypsy scale in the key of A for the Native American Flute. This might help you find the right notes (trying playing this on a piano) if your flute is fingered differently. Note that the second note in parenthesis can not be played on a Mode 1/Mode 4 Native American flute.

A (A#) C# D E F G A

The actual interval spacing for the Spanish Gypsy Scale over an octave is the following:

H 1.5 H W H W W

Where: H - Half step; W - Whole Step: 1.5 - one and half step intervals.

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Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Blogging During INAFA Conference

I am going to "attempt" to blog during the upcoming INAFA Conference (Aug 2-6, 2006). I am going to take pictures during the day and then post each evening, so that all of you out there in the blogosphere who can't attend live, will get the opportunity to experience some of the events and highlights of the events each day.

We'll see how it goes ...

Upcoming July Bay Clan Flute Circle

I wanted to pass this along, since I won't be able to update the NCFC Calendar until Friday this week...

EVENT: July Bay Clan Flute Circle (before INAFA convention)
DATE: Sunday, July 23rd, 2006
TIME: 1:00 to 4:00 PM
LOCATION: Los Altos, California (contact organizer for details)
HOST: Pat Scheid
ORGANIZER: Frankie Sierra 1-408-242-6464, f dot sierra at comcast dot net

1:00 PM: Arrive, share photos stories from Mary Youngblood gathering. Also good time for flute introduction for new beginners.
2:00 PM: Open fluting time.
3:00 PM: Talk about INAFA convention (activities, volunteering, and miscellaneous).

1. Share experiences and photos from Mary Youngblood gathering.
2. Talk about the upcoming INAFA convention (first week August).

Pictures and memories from Mary Youngblood gathering. Also think about how to help make the INAFA conventiona success. And flutes, flutes, and more flutes, plus drums and other noise makers. In addition, some snacks and drinks to share wouldbe appreciated by all.

DIRECTIONS:Contact organizer for details

News from the Middle East

I wanted to take a moment and pass along an opportunity to share and experience what's going on in the middle east. I have corresponded with Elian Gilad on the frame drummers list serv. She is a musician/framedrummer who lives in Israel, not far from where all of the missles are currently dropping, and runs/maintains the

Monday, July 17, 2006

NCFC Spring Gathering Photos onliine

I posted some photos from the Spring Gathering, online at:

Note that I posted the best of what I received so far. I am still looking for some photos of Mary and Michael Bayern during their class, and so more photos of folks at the open mic or other candids of folks throughout the day. Did anyone get a photo of Mary's Birthday Cake?

Thanks, enjoy.


I apologize for the sparse postings the last couple of weeks, getting ready for the event at Mary's house, followed by the prep now for the INAFA convention is soaking up all of my free time (oh yeah, and then there's that "work thing")...

I look forward to meeting many of you at the INAFA convention.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Memories from the NCFC Gathering

Wow. What a day we had. I am still tired from all of the fun and excitement of Saturday. First of all, at one point I counted over 60 people. I only wish that I could have had more time to chat with everyone individually. Thanks to everyone who brought and shared their energy on Saturday!

Mary Youngblood and special guest Michael Bayard put on a great improvization workshop. There was such a large crowd of folks interested in learning from Mary and Michael, that we moved the workshop outside under a big tree in Mary's backyard. Mary and Michael have a great on stage working relationship.

Garth Brooks and Kenneth Hooper of Elysium Calling, played a set in the hot evening sunlight. I thought that Garth was going to melt, but he held in there for some great music. Garth and Kenneth came up and jammed with a variety of folks from the circle throughout the evening. Thanks to Garth and Kenneth for sharing their sound system.

Francesca jammed with several folks, Mary's daughter in law got up and blessed us with her beautiful voice and guitar playing. Lee Aviles sang some wonderful song with the drum, after some prodding from his wife Morningstar - he really has an awesome voice.

It was always fun to see and talk to Lew Paxton Price. We're always blessed to have such a wonderful spirit in Lew be a part of the event.

I was blessed to join Mary onstage, on percussion, for a few songs. It was the highlight of my day. Mary sang to her one year old grand daughter Berkeley. We celebrated Mary's birthday with a birthday cake gifted by the Loping Wolf clan.

Steven DeRuby, Geoffrey Ellis, Brian Revheim and Lonnie & Andrea Murphy all displayed their wares, and I know that several flutes found some new homes.

The award for driving the furthest goes to Al and Dawn King who drove up from Lompoc to join us for the day. It was also nice to met Jeff Lock of the Reno Flute circle came "over the hill".

Frankie Sierra displayed and shared his world flute collection. I saw a lot of folks attempting to play the fujira (spelling?).

And some more exciting news came out of the day, as I had a chance to sit and chat with Marion Cole of Garden Valley, we are going to adopt the Garden Valley fluties as a new clan: the "NoNahme Clan". This group is fortunate to have Lew Price in their membership! Welcome NoNahme Clan!

I am having problems getting picture uploaded today, so I'll post pictures on the NCFC website this weekend and post a link to the page.

Friday, July 07, 2006

Big NCFC Gathering tomorrow

It's late, and it's been a while since I've posted (I just realized). The long 4th of July weekend kept me busy plus I had a touch of the flu on Sunday and Monday last week, so I didn't feel like doing much of anything.

I am busy tonight, packing the car with all of the stuff I am bringing to the big NCFC gathering tomorrow at Mary Youngblood's house. I promise to take lot's of pictures and then post comments and pictures over the next couple of days about the event. We've got well over 50 people RSVP'd. Four flute makers: Geoffrey Ellis, Steven Deruby, Brian Revheim and Fairy Mushroom.

I talked to Mary today, and she's really excited about the improvization workshop tomorrow. She's bringing in a special guest to help with the workshop (I am not spoiling the surprise...). We've got Elysium Calling playing a set in the evening, starting at 6PM, and Mary also said that she's got 2/3 thirds of her band and a fill-in for the other 1/3, so there will be some special performances in the evening. It's going to be a great day. I hope to see many of you there.

If you're interested, check out the link on the NCFC website for last minute details: