My Love Affair with the Flute

fluteshop-004.jpg My Love Affair with the Native American Flute
by Chuck Pavey

Hello. I’m Chuck and I am going to talk about flutes, on what they mean to me and how I came to fall in love with the Native American flutes. I really don’t know…it just sort of came over me like a blanket. My sister was interested in them and I didn’t know it. She was buying them and the next thing I know I bought one and found out that she was interested in them. So there is a sort of connection that was felt in a unseen way with Connie. At any rate I bought a few flutes, and I look at them and played them, and fell in love with them, and realized that I could make them. So, I revised and remade my entire workshop so that I could produce these flutes. I found that it would take me three days to a week to make a flute depending on how complicated it was.

Working with the wood touches me in a way that moves my Soul. I love to touch it, I love to work with it, as the finish begins to come up on it. It is a moment of excitement for me. The tuning of these flutes is wonderful, I tune them with a tapered metal rod, heat it until it us cherry red hot and I actually enlarge the hole with this until the note comes up to an electronic tuner at the proper scale. This takes probably one hour to one hour and a half to tune a flute to really get it right, and it even requires several tunings. I tune them a little bit flat and bring them in sharper, sharper until the green light comes on my tuner and tells me the note is perfect. These flutes do change a little as the temperature changes.

So, producing these flutes, Oh my Goodness, is a pleasure that I can’t hardly describe! It’s a moment in my own thought, it’s changing the form of something into something else, a more beautiful piece of wood into a more beautiful piece of wood and one with functionality. The music itself moves me, maybe like no other music. I have enjoyed guitar through these years and drums and they all fill a certain spot inside of me and fulfill me in a certain way.

These flutes, they do something that nothing else has. I play them everyday, especially in the morning. I get in the hot tub, first thing in the morning and I take a flute out there with me and I blow softly into that flute and play different tones, and they have a soothing effect on me and help me to start the day in a bright and easy way. The other thing I would like to mention about them, for me, is the breath. The only way I can get a kind of breath it takes to blow a flute is by doing hard exercise, something to get my breath completely empty in my lungs. Very often when I am blowing the flute I am trying to get that last note and I find myself emptying my lungs completely to get that note. I have the feeling, the sense, the intuition maybe that this is really good for me.

There have been times when I played my flute that great emotion has come from me. Once when I was deer hunting, after I have taken a nice buck, we sat on a circle and my sister bought her pipe, and she was going to do a Pipe Ceremony. She is into the Indian Tradition quite in a big way, and we did this Pipe Ceremony and as we were beginning to set this up to do, I sat down to play my flute and I found myself playing my heart out, tears rolling down my face, and I had no idea of what was going on inside of me, had the music not sort of pulled it out.

So, it has many functions in my life. It can be relaxing, can be releasing, it can be creative, and it can be mundane, boring, speaking maybe from somebody to sit with me and listen to all the time. What I really like about this instrument is that it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to play it. If you can cover the holes and keep them from leaking, and control the air that comes out of your mouth, without blowing real hard all the time or soft, you can play this instrument. You just learn the scale, how to you raise your fingers up and down, and then let your intuition take over. The scale is called the pentatonic scale — what a Jazz musician uses — where every note blends with every other note in the thing. So, you can’t hardly do it wrong, but you can certainly do it right, and maybe righter!

Well, that is all I can think of, right now, about flutes. Of course, there are many different keys. I sit in my chair, surrounded by flutes and I can pick the key that both soothes me in that moment, sometimes I grab a higher key, other times a low one, sometimes in the middle. They all have a different voice, a little different speaking to me. You can see my flutes including the Plains flute, Drone Flute (double barrel) and the Woodland Flute (our best) at