Take my free 4-day Embellishment walkthrough!
JL Students Share: Carol's Accelerated Growth In Flute Playing
What led you to want to play the Native American flute? How did you hear it speak to you?
I’ve always loved the beautiful, haunting sound of the Native American flute and Native American music in general. I find the sound very meditative.
Last summer while traveling in Maine, we stopped at a scenic overlook and a hiker was playing his NAF. That kind of put it in my head that maybe I would like to learn to play one myself.
Also I’m an opera singer and of course, during 2020 all performing arts were closed. So this seemed like a good time to take on something new.
Where did you find your first flute or did it find you?
Once I decided I wanted to learn, I did a bit of googling to find flutes. I found High Spirits and ordered my first flute, a Sparrow Hawk in Am.
How long have you been playing the Native American Flute?
Since September 16, 2020.
Do you have a favorite flute key and why?
I tend to go to A. Mainly because it’s easy to pay (smallish hands). I also really like my mid E and my F#. That said, I also very much enjoy my Island bamboo flutes in high C and D.
What feelings or emotions come up for you when playing your flute?
Peace. I find the NAF to have a very peaceful sound.
What style of NAF music are you drawn to? (ie. traditional, contemporary, new age, improvisation)
That’s tough, I enjoy so many styles. I enjoy playing traditional folk tunes but also enjoy of the JL originals and arrangements of covers. I’ve also worked up a number of songs myself and notated them with the finger tabs. I also enjoy improv.
I love playing with my sister who purchased an Am flute shortly after I did. We play some duets, we will improv together, it’s a lot of fun.
Why did you choose lessons/workshops/small group lessons over self-learning?
Because I’m impatient and want to learn faster!
High Spirits provided some excellent online self paced lessons which I completed pretty quickly. These gave me a start. Sometime around then, I stumbled on the Jonny Lipford Music site as well as many JL youtube videos and demos. I signed up and completed the Beginning Your Journey Native Flute course. I followed this with the High and Odd Notes and Getting Unstuck courses online.
I really liked your teaching style so that is when I reached out to be added to your list of people wanting 1:1 lessons. I find that 1:1 lessons give much more attention to the finer details of playing and I improve more quickly that way. Having someone listen and advise in real time is very helpful.
I’ve also participated in a number of group workshops and masterclasses with Jonny and his colleagues. I’ve gained some valuable tips from these. I still do the online courses however and find them useful. In fact, I’m working my way through your Achieving Embellishments and Learn To Play12 Songs (from your fabulous songbook) online offerings along with my 1:1.
I think the combination of the self paced and 1:1 is perfect.
Have you been stuck? How have you overcome it? Where is your plateau?
I have - the Getting Unstuck course was helpful. Suggesting different improv formats (3-2-1, call and response,etc.) has been helpful. I’m doing this w/ my drone, I've been a little stuck there and the suggestions we discussed a while back have been helpful.
What motivates you?
Hearing you and other advanced players play!
What led you to want to work with me?
Your YouTube music videos were stunning and your demos and flute reviews were helpful. I heard your Beyond Blue Eyes first and loved it. You seemed to have very positive and encouraging energy and I thought you would be nice to work with.
Describe a noticeable improvement in your NAF journey since you started working with me.
Fixing the “leftovers” when coming off of the 6th hole note. High and odd notes are more consistent after your suggestions for approaching these often tricky notes.
Also, not tonguing EVERY SINGLE note also brought nice flow to my playing.
Do you have defined goals in your flute playing?
Yes, continue to learn and incorporate embellishments consistently and accurately. Continue working on songs and improv so that both sound smooth and cohesive.
What’s your favorite thing about playing the NAF?
The beautiful and haunting sound!
What environment do you play your flute?
It varies. Sometimes at my desk between client calls. I have a stand on my desk with a couple flutes at my fingertips. I do most of my practice in my family room or kitchen.
If the weather cooperates, my favorite places are anywhere in Nature. Often this is on my deck with our woods as my backdrop. I also enjoy playing while hiking. A couple weeks ago, while on a Reiki Retreat, I played in a Zen Peace Garden on the grounds.And next week, I head to Maine for a long weekend and look forward to playing by the lake!
Below: Hear Carol play out in the woods to the singing cicadas! (PS: She really loves these little creatures!!)
Is there anything else that you’d like to add?
Learning the Native American Flute has been an element of positivity and the gift I discovered during Covid. It was a tough year with so many things closed and unavailable. So, my sister and I decided that we would support our own mental health by taking the time to learn some new things. NAF was one of these, watercolor was another. I think that even in times of great challenges, if we are lucky enough to be healthy, we can still find something wonderful. The NAF was one of these for me.