As owner of Peaceful Spirit Flutes and having sold over 1000 flutes, I have witnessed many amazing stories from the people I meet. I have begun to understand the powerful call of the flutes, The flute being discussed in the video below took an amazing journey before arriving in the hands of Lucy, It started when I ordered a test flute from a maker in Missouri. It was a purpleheart F#. I liked it and had planned on keeping it for myself however I did want to find out how people would respond to this flute, I took it to a market in Sydney, BC, That night, Lucy visited my booth and after a great deal of deliberation chose that flute to purchase. It made its way from Missouri to Nanaimo where it was to connect with the person from Salt Lake City Utah. I believe that she was meant to be the owner of that lovely flute. It is one of the experiences that taught me that I am a connector of flutes to people who are answering the call of the flutes.
The story below also has a few more interesting details so I encourage you to take a few minutes to watch the story unfold. It includes more information about Lucy's journey as she describes how the flute helped her breath through a challenging injury.
Breath and Inspiration by Terry Mack
A Native American flute is but a simple hollowed out wooden tube with a hole to blow into, 6 holes to cover and a little wooden block sitting atop the flute. With your fingers and your breath, you can create magical sounds releasing the music that comes from your own soul.
Just the feeling of a beautiful flute in your hand inspires you to want to play wonderful sounds with it. And if you are like me, you want to do that right away. Slow down for a minute. Playing the flute involves connecting with your breath while mastering the art of covering and uncovering the holes producing sound that you find pleasing.
A first-time flute player with no other wind instrument playing experience (and even a few who have played other types of wind instruments) pick up the flute and randomly cover and uncover the holes trying to find out how the flute makes sound. This produces wildly random and often dissonant sounds. Anytime you pick up a flute, cover holes and blow into it you are playing the flute. The flute is making the sounds you are asking it to make with your finger movements and your breath. They are just not the melodious sounds that you want to hear yet. These are the sounds that you can learn to control with practice, once you have spent time getting to know your flute.
To breathe in!
To animate or take action.
Your breath inspires the flute to sound. Your breathe inspires you to be present and aware of how it impacts the sounds you and the flute will create.
In approaching your flute, remember your breath.
Before playing, breathe in and breathe out a few times to slow yourself down and release the tension of the moment. Let the breathing open you to your inner spirit.
Move your fingers slowly over the holes, letting the sounds you are producing with your breath catch up to the fingering the holes of the flute, so the sound can be heard.
Take your time and get to know how your breath, covering the holes and producing the sounds feels. Let yourself connect to that process and soon your will find your way into your own beautiful sound through the flute.
One of the best ways to create good sounds on your flute is to simply go slowly and play each note for at least a count of ten. This lets you begin to hear the subtleties and variations that can happen in playing each note and how your breathing can impact the sound.
A hand crafted Native American Flute is a wonderful combination of the spirit of the tree, the spirit of the maker and your spirit as the player. The tree has taken time to grow. The flute maker honors the wood and the tree taking time to carefully construct the flute. And now you as a flute player, can honor the flute with your breath, creating and sending forth a beautifully interconnected exhalation of sounds --- the breath of life. I love to think of it as capturing the mysterious.
Terry Mack, Copyright, 2018
What’s after the basic scale?
By Terry Mack, Intuitive Player of the Native American Style Flute
Explore, explore and explore more to see, hear and feel how the sounds seem to work together.
Playing a flute has a lot to do with controlling your breath and controlling your fingering of the holes. My experience with newer players is they often want to go fast before they have mastered slow and they take on playing too many notes and get lost along the way as the musical and muscle memory is just developing.
Experiment with 3 to 4 notes:
Imagine answering your phone and it is the local TV station asking if they could do a video about you. That is exactly what happened to me a few months back, Shaw cable approached me about doing a one minute video for there Where You Live feature and of course I said yes. This was an exciting moment. I hope you enjoy it.
Breaking out of the Rut when you are playing.
By Terry Mack, Intuitive player of the Native American Style Flute and Musical Explorer
Hello fellow musical explorers. Whether you are new to playing the flute or creating your own music and sound or a seasoned player there will be times when you simply get stuck and/or bored with your playing. Here are a few fun things to explore to change up your approach to playing. I always find it more fun to start with the concept of beginner mind when I explore my flute. It helps silence the critic that gets in the way.
For just one little minute or two, forget about making songs or learning to play other peoples songs and focus on getting to know your flute.
Let’s start with playing contrasting sounds and elements. Imagine the emotions that come you feel around some of these things and see if you can capture them with your flute. Remember, there is no right and wrong with this, just the simple joy and learning that comes from the exploration.
As you explore these fun little techniques they become part of your musical tools that begin to wind themselves into your playing. This type of musical exploration helps you to add texture, richness and depth to your playing.
Go ahead, give it a whirl and have fun with some joyful, musical exploration
PEACEFUL SPIRIT FLUTES FLUTE CARE TIPS - Terry Mack
Flutes will get better with age providing you look after them.
Wooden flutes experience wetting out. As you blow your warm breath into the short air chamber of the flute, the moisture from your breath condenses and leaves water droplets building up in the slow air chamber and in the flue, (air channel under the block). When this happens, you will notice a change in the quality of the sound you are making with the flute.
If you have been playing for awhile and your flute is quite wet, I recommend taking the block off to let the air chamber dry out and to let the bottom of the block dry out as well. Looking after your flute in this way, helps to prevent the development of cracks in the air chamber. This is especially important in humid climates.
It is recommended to avoid eating or drinking when you play your flute. Food particles carried on your breath can be a source for anything that that might grow in the slow air chamber. Liquids will make your flute wet out faster.
Here are a few more tips on caring for your flute.
Some people suggest using a clean, dry cloth to dry the air channel but make sure it is a cloth that does not leave little bits of it in or on the flute.
strapping, and take the block off, to let the flute dry, you can always check with the maker to find out if alcohol will have an impact on the finishes used.
OILING OR WAXING YOUR FLUTE
Most flutes will not require any extensive oiling on the inside. When in doubt check with the flute maker or your flute seller for further information.
For more information you can visit: http://www.woodenflute.com/maintaining
Use Back Tracks to Develop Your Flute Playing Skills By Terry Mack, Owner of Peaceful Spirit Flutes
If you are out there playing on your own and have not been able to connect to another flute player or other musical type a great way to explore and develop your playing is to play to a back track. A back track is a recording of music or rhythms usually instrumental or drum tracks.
I have been able to create some very lovely pieces by using back tracks in several different ways. Some musicians are creating backtracks to their own music that you can buy and others like Clint Goss and the late Stephen deRuby create backtracks that can be used with Native American Flutes.
For easier playing it is best to buy the track in the same key as your flute or in a key that you can harmonize with. This is less of a concern when you are buying straight drum tracks. If you have an opportunity to listen to parts of the track before you buy or download that will give you a better idea of whether it works with your flutes.
If you are new to playing to a back track choosing backtracks with simple rhythms are often easier to start out with and play along to. An excellent percussion CD to start with is Stephen DeRuby’s Rhythms To Accompany the Native American Flute. It offers a wide range of sounds and rhythms that you can easily follow along to.
Before you buy a CD or compilation of back tracks, check to see if all of the songs on the CD are for one key. Backtrack CD’s will sometimes have a variety of songs recorded in different keys so you do want to make sure that the CD does have a song that your flute can play along with.
Jonny Lipford has one back track with the same songs but recorded so that you can play in the different keys of the flutes (at the time of writing these are available for digital download for $5.00)
Clint Goss has created a wonderful set of Jam Tracks for each key of the flute. I really enjoy playing to these different CD’s. They are more complicated with changing rhythms and key changes in the middle of songs providing interesting opportunities to explore.
Another interesting resource to check out is http://brokensky.biz/backingtracks/
This link is generously provided by William Hopper, a member of the facebook page, Native American Flute Musicians. There is a very wide range of tracks to play along to.
Try connecting various techniques to playing along. If a rhythm or musical phrase is long and slow, feel what fits with it. You can follow along with the rhythm or see if you could play a faster counter point to it or short fast notes. You can play along to a track or you can add bits of sounds for impact that work with the piece. I like to think of my playing as adding a story along to the music so I incorporate pauses for effect and try different embellishments. However, you decide to explore, playing along to back tracks can enhance your flute playing journey
In this class Terry will help you break away from your normal patterns of playing and explore the many ways you can sculpt and shape sound in the beautiful basic scale.
You will learn and practice breathe control, embellishments, simple sound structure, fingering patterns and techniques and get a chance to play along with another flute player
This exciting session runs on October 14 from 2: 00 to 4:00 PM at Terry's house. The class is limited to 5 participants to ensure you get lots of time to practice and play.
The registration fee is $40.00.
Location: Terry's house - Nanaimo, BC Canada. The address will be provided at the time of registration.
To learn more or to register, contact Terry Mack at 250-740-0473 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
New flute playshop from Terry Mack, Intuitive and accomplished player of the Native American Style Flute
Terry Mack is offering a new and excting playshop for people wishing to move beyond playing the basic scale with your flute.
Date: Saturday, September 9
Time: 2:00 to 4:30
Location: Terry's house (address will be provided to people who register.
Registration Fee: $40.00
Participants should be comfortable playing the basic scale of the flute.
For more information visit:
Often when we are learning new things we get stuck in the same routines and patterns. Here are a few tips that can you help develop a deeper understanding of the range of sounds your flutes can produce.
EXPLORE EACH NOTE.
Make a song on one note and repeat this for every note. You can explore this by varying your breath. Try long breaths, interspersed with short breaths.
Blow harder, blow softer, stutter the sound, flutter your tongue, pause for a bit and then begin playing again, tell a story in your head expressing it through the one note Find as many ways as you can to vary the sound on that one note. Start with a gentle breath creating a soft sound and increase the air pressure raising the volume of the sound to the point where it is no longer a pleasant sound. And then add in a second note and have some even more fun with it.
PLAY A DIFFERENT SCALE
According to Clint Goss in his Flutopedia website there are over 1200 scales that people can explore. I am not sure how many of those will work on the Native American Style Flute I am willing to try as many as I can. Trying out different scales is a great way to expand your playing techniques, connect to more of the sounds you can produce with your flutes and build more fingering skills. To explore more scales, you can check out the 66 scales that Clint has collected on this page:
One of the reasons I enjoy playing with the different scales is that it helps me to learn how the notes sound together in that scale. As a player we get very used to hearing the notes in the basic pentatonic scale. I find playing the flute to be a real exercise in listening. When I step into a new scale and play within the notes in that scale, new music begins to emerge from the playing. I have to listen with my ears, and pay attention to my fingers to try the new fingering and make sure I don't slip back into playing in the basic scale. It expands my playing skills and if you challenge yourself to play with a new scale every week you will hear some interesting developments with your own playing.
So go ahead and take the plunge. Have some fun trying a new scale toda
It make so much sense.... Listening that is. The flutes have taught me more about listening than anything else in my life. When I connected with the CD that Clint Goss produced with Walter Mathieu, the importance of listening gained even more significance.
In this CD of Mathieu reading segments from his powerful written material in the Listening book ( which I have and have read) and The Musical Life ( which I now must get) I have found an even deeper understanding of the concept of and the process of listening.
After playing the CD several times, I found myself reaching further inside expanding my own awareness of sound and 'musicalness' moving into and integrating a more delicious sense of the world around me and its expressive nature.
Coming from a bad musical education experience as a child, I have stayed away from any technical teachings of music and don't even read music. When people talk to me about scales and timbre and other musical terms, I freeze up inside, my eyes glaze over while I try to sink into invisibility. Listening to these powerful CD's has brought a deeper awareness, an experiential opportunity to grasp hold of in both listening and in my playing. His material turns fearfulness into playfulness.
Mathieu is a musical explorer offering anyone from any background a true opportunity to grasp and connect to the wonderful world of sounds and music. His own deep connection to sound and music and his love of this come through in the rich sound of his voice as he reads the material. He artfully uses musical accompaniment to emphasize his points making what he is speaking of all the more real and easy to understand. I find in this approach a brilliance that I simply did not get from simply reading the Listening Book. Somehow listening to his voice, and his music twining around his words, moves you out of the intellectual mind and into the experiential realm.
In listening to Mathieu, I have been moved to explore and experiment with sounds. In the second disc the section “What Should I Practice?” motivates me to make my practicing something that comes alive with joy. All the rest of the tracks continue on offering you a way to take action and in doing so integrate at an almost cellular level a truer sense of where you are in the creation of sound, music and song. The material is inspirational. It can be listened to in short snippets or you can take the plunge and listen to both CD's in one setting. However you decide to approach this material you will always find something new to bring to your own musical journey.
It is an experience to listen to Mathieu's material. Anyone who enjoys music from a beginning player to a seasoned expert can enhance their own playing and listening from this CD set.
To purchase your own copy of this wonderful CD, click on the link below.
Looking for some basic steps in how to get started playing your Native American Style flute? I have some good news. I have just added by beginners booklet, First Steps With Your Native American Style flute to my website at www.peacefulspiritflutes.com You can view it on line or you can download your own copy.
"When you begin a note, it comes from somewhere and keeps going forever after you have finished. It comes from your impulse to sing, from your mind and heart, all the way back to the beginning of time. It goes into thin air, into walls, patient trees, open sky, molecules, heat, radiation, and on into vibrations there aren't names for. Part of it does, anyway. The rest of it goes into the hearts and minds of others. Nothing is lost. Everything keeps going around." from The Listening Book, by W.A. Mathieu.
Isn't that a powerful thought?
One of the things I have been learning as a flute player is that setting the intention to play from the heart opens up a channel to allow beautiful sounds to find their way from my heart to the flute. Sometimes it doesn't seem to matter what sounds I play as long as I am not fussing about "being right" , then a flow begins to happen and it almost seems like the flute is telling its own story. I have just become the tool to set it free. I am learning to listen to the spaces between the sounds of the flutes and just let those be. Instead of creating a song I often feel like a soundscape unfolds from my fingertips through the flute.
Our world is such a busy place and the thoughts spin so quickly in our head that sometimes we can't catch up with our own thoughts. The only time this stops for me is when I am with the flute playing that beginning note. As I started my adventure with the Native American Flute, the phrase " the flute will teach you how it wants to be played" was one I heard often. It perplexed me at first until I began to let go of playing the right note or playing the right way. What I am continuing to learn is the art of listening to the flute, to the world around me and to the gentle guidance that flows through me as I play.
Keeping Mathieu's quote in the back of my head reminds me to set the intention with my playing that as it reaches out to be heard by others that it fill them with whatever they need most in that moment. Sometimes people will come up to me at the same time and tell me a song sounds like a Peruvian flute and another will say that the same song has a celtic flavour. The first time this happened to me I was taken aback as I felt the song I was playing was simply meant to be a bit mysterious. As people listen connecting to their own lifetime of experiences the song takes on a meaning for the listener that fits with them in that moment.
When you play whether you feel like a master player or a stumbling beginner, your thoughts, your desire to express something through the flute connects to the world. I encourage you to 'silence the inner critic', that person who needs to be right and acknowledge that anything you do to produce sound with the flute is right and is teaching you, if you are willing to learn to listen.
Set the intention and play on fellow flutie, play on
Terry Mack, owner of Peaceful Spirit Flutes is a natural and intuitive player of the Native American Style Flute. Since 2006 she has been connecting people to these flutes and helping you to free the music in your soul.
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