A Review of Flute Haven 2009
by Jeanne Lyle, Lou Boden, and Frank Rävenwolf Henninger
After six days at the Flute Haven Native Flute School, each of us came away with an itch to write a review for Voice of the Wind. And each of us did! When it turned out that VOW could only post a single review, our three reviews were combined into this one Trio Review, taking snippets from each … three voices written as one …
Attending Flute Haven was the most fun I have ever had since starting to play Native American Flute. It was an amazing experience, and expanded my skills and musicality more than any other flute event I have attended. We played and played and played, and experimented with vocalization, other instruments, and with all kinds of accompaniment.
The event, held October 13-18 in Phoenixville PA, was a complete success thanks to the dedicated, talented and highly trained leaders. Clint Goss on flute, Eric Miller on guitar, Ron Kravitz on percussion, Lynn Miller in fine voice and Vera Shanov keeping it all together make an excellent band of leaders on a wide variety of instruments. Their energy and knowledge delighted the 40 students of varying amounts of experience.
What I discovered at Flute Haven was a new world of facilitation, an increased passion for the NAF, an extended family of accepting and nurturing people of all ages and from all paths, and a faculty of fun-loving, music-loving, people-loving, innovators with huge hearts and a zest for life.
I experienced a two-hour session lead without a spoken word, using rhythm, sound, flute, movement, and dance. I was having too much fun to realize what I was learning until after the session ended. It was not only experiential, but total immersion in a very safe container.
I later experienced rhythm, explained and ingested without the traditional musical mathematical terror. We even learned the basics of playing in 10/4 time by using syllable repetitions that seemed nonsensical, until I realized that it was built on Eastern music and syllables that are part tonguing exercises. Our whole bodies were engaged in the wonderful process.
Flute Haven began on Tuesday evening with 14 participants (including the three of us) who signed up for the “Facilitation Training Track”. This was a program designed to teach basic music facilitation techniques that could be used in flute circles and other music gatherings. The techniques come from the 4-year Music for People training program that all the Flute Haven staff have taken, and at which several now teach. The methods are based on a Humanistic approach that uses time-proven activities to stimulate creativity in musicians. All participation is based on the needs and comfort zones of the students.
We were led through many sessions of playing and simultaneously learning how to lead a group in playing native flutes and other instruments. The interplay of the professional facilitators and the facilitators-in-training was exceptional.
Then, on Thursday evening, the Flute Haven Four-Day program began and our group grew to 40. So we had many more people to work and jam with over the next four days. The classes offered during the Four-Day program included whole group jam sessions and small group breakout sessions on topics such as: Playing with Rhythm, Breath Control Techniques, Playing With A Guitar, and Using Your Voice. Participants self-selected from three tracks — Novice, Intermediate, and Advanced — which ran simultaneously throughout the day. Classes were intensive, but fun and casual. Everyone had a chance to play, jam and explore different instruments including their own voices.
Our flute fever even extended outward into the Phoenixville community. Several of us performed at “open mic night” at the Steel City Coffee House, and then we also took over the stage in the Pickering Creek Inn on Saturday night together to rock the entire population dining there with native flutes, didgeridoos, hang drum, percussion, vocals, and dance.
Towards the end of a very powerfully charged week, those of us on the facilitators track got to try out some new skills. I love helping and facilitating and for me, sharing passion for Native American Flute is just the icing on the cake.
[Lou] Would I go back to Flute Haven? IN A HEARTBEAT! Will I go back next year? Yup. But the best thing I can say is that I have wanted to start a Flute and Drum Circle in my own area. My prayer is that is creates a joyous fun community that desires this kind of shared outlet for what is inside.
[Frank] If you truly love playing Native American flute, do yourself a favor and register to attend the Flute Haven Native Flute School in either of its two locations next year. It was worth every penny I spent to attend and every vacation day I used from my “day job.” I was so excited about what I learned there that I performed in public several times very soon afterwards using new scales and new skills that I had learned. And I am actively working on expanding a small local flute circle, with plans to use the facilitator skills I learned when that new flute circle starts to meet.
[Jeanne] There will be many of the same faces at the next Flute Haven and no doubt many new ones to be fed spiritually, mentally and physically by the talented staff and by each other. Thank you!
P.S. A blues song came to me as we were leaving. Here are the words - you can improvise the music. "I had rain down my neck! I had rain in my shoes! Now I got the End of Flute Ha-ven Blues! I had rain down my ne-he-heck. I had rain IN MY shoes. I got the End of Flute Haven the End of Flute Ha-haven Blues!"
Tracks from past participants: