About The Flute Maker

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About the Flute Maker
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The Birth of a Flute
Born in a small town in the back woods of Upper Michigan, I grew up in a family of carpenters and woodworkers.  The basement of my parents' house was always set up as a work shop and, in my youth, I spent many hours working on wood projects that I had either found in books or had dreamt up at the time.  My familiarization with the tools and rules of woodworking helped me to become a skilled craftsperson and my love for woodworking has brought me great rewards in life, from building furniture pieces to remodeling homes and, most recently, crafting flutes.

In my early teens, I was involved in my school's band program as a percussionist and had branched out from that to start learning how to play the guitar, which was a passion of my father's.  In my mid teens, I began playing in garage bands, while continuing to fine tune my musical abilities.  Over the last 25 years or so, I have been heavily involved in music, playing in several bands in Upper Michigan and Northeastern Wisconsin, and in the last 15 years, I have recorded enough original music to fill a couple of CD's.

During my high school years, I spent many hours in our school's wood shop making lawn furniture, a gun cabinet (which still stands in my parents' house) and building garages and sheds, while taking classes in Advanced Shop, Building Construction and Drafting.  When I entered college, I continued to sharpen my drafting skills by taking Architectural Design, which gave me my first exposure to AutoCAD.  Having an understanding of structural design, as well as Mechanics and Statics, gave me powerful tools which I later utilized when I started my own Construction business, remodeling homes for a local Contractor in the Tampa Bay area.

Around the time that I was into the remodeling business, I met up with a group of folks that had started a great store in St. Petersburg, called Indian Stuff.  Following a robbery that took place at an Import Gift Shop that my business partner and I used to own and operate together, these kind folks came into our store and conducted a ceremony to clear the negative energy from the location.  Since that day, I have come to know and love these fine people as my own family and my life has been enriched greatly by their presence in it.

Being part of the Indian Stuff community since 2003, I have come to know many wonderful people in the Native American community here in Tampa Bay.  Spending many weekends joined in celebration with these beautiful people gave me a sense of family that I was desperately lacking, being so far away from my native land near the shores of Lake Superior.

Indian Stuff began selling flutes back then and, at that time, the Native American flute was not as popular in this area as it has now become, and I would dare to say that much of the reason for its expanding interest is due to them being sold at Indian Stuff.  My dear friend Yona began learning to play the flute around this time and had always encouraged me to get a flute of my own, saying, "You're  a musician.  You need a flute!".  Well, that went on for some time and, all that time, Yona continued to get better at playing the flute while continuing to encourage me to get one and start learning.

Eventually, Yona decided to gift to me one of his flutes.  It was a Coyote Old Man flute in the key of F#.  I began learning how to play and was invited to take part in the St. Petersburg Heart's Breath Flute Circle, which, at the time, was being held at Indian Stuff.  Being as nervous as a long-tailed cat in a room full of cloggers, I went to the circle and made my debut, accompanied and supported by my best friend, Nellie.  I survived my first flute circle, even with all the squeaks and missed notes I played, met some new friends and felt I was now on the path to becoming a real flute player!

During that same month, I began gathering information from Yahoo's Native Flute Woodworking Group  and started planning my first flute.  Since that time, I have made over 35 flutes (as of January 8, 2010), and each time I give a flute its first breath, it is a very exciting feeling knowing that another one of these instruments is being born.

I feel very blessed to be on this journey and it is my hope that my creations reflect the love and passion I have for this instrument and the art of fine craftsmanship.  With my flutes, form follows function, and each piece I create is designed to play as well as it looks and I take special care to make sure each flute is tuned to perfection.  No decorative wall hangings here, folks.  These are serious instruments.

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Questions or Comments: Email Michelle
Last Updated 1/8/10