“When you look back on a lifetime and think of what has been given to the world by your presence, your fugitive presence, inevitably you think of your art, whatever it may be, as the gift you have made to the world in acknowledgement of the gift you have been given, which is life itself. And I think the world tends to forget that this is the ultimate significance of the body of work each artist produces. That work is not an expression of the desire for praise or recognition, or prizes, but the deepest manifestation of your gratitude for the gift of life.” Stanley Kunitz, The Wild Braid, A Poet Reflects on a Century in the Garden

Hi there……………….Let’s talk about TUNING HOLES.

Tuning holes are the little holes at the end of some flutes. By drilling them, the fundamental key is raised, as the flute thinks the end stops at the holes instead of the far end of the flute. I don’t like them, and rarely use them unless I can do something tricky with them. I would rather chop the end off the flute to acquire the fundamental note, unless the wood is exceptionally beautiful. Some builders will build a huge standard flute, and burn tuning holes to raise the fundamental to a buyer’s specifications or for what they think rounds out their selection of keys. Some builders will also charge more money because they’ve created, for example, a 25-inch bore length flute in the key of Am, with tuning holes nine inches back from the foot or far end of the flute. Although the Am can be achieved with a 15-inch bore length without the holes, the extra ten inches of unnecessary lumber appears to legitimize the pricing. Put another way, more flute equals more money. Buyer beware.

YOSEMITE FLUTE AND ART FESTIVAL……Has come and gone. The organizers, Rick and Linda Dunlop, as well as their army of volunteers did a remarkable job in assisting lazy folks like myself in setting up and tearing down our flute displays. I found that if I walked around with a fake limp, these volunteers did pretty much all of the work. Mike Oitzman of the Northern California Flute Circle did a fine job of covering the event in his blog, http://www.naflute.blogspot.com/. The only challenging aspect of this event was the weather. More specifically, the heat. The triple digit, record breaking heat is never a friend to wooden flutes, and I wasn’t too fond of it myself. Having just returned from eight days in Blythe, CA, where the temp was 116 degrees every day, 102 degrees in Oakhurst was different. It was somehow hotter. No, it was brutal. Maybe there is less heat-deflecting atmosphere between Oakhurst and the Sun. Actually, I found out it was the rocks. The area has a lot of really big rocks, and they heat up as well. It was kind of like being in a big stone skillet. To make matters worse, the air conditioning in the Querenciamobile was on the fritz, but I didn’t want other motorists to know that, so I drove around town with the windows rolled up, to create the illusion I had icy air conditioning.

The photo shows the new look for my flute and snake-oil display. This year marked a radical departure from previous set-ups, where I strived to make my flute display look exactly like a Mexican beach bar, and I don’t know why. The current display is somehow simpler, plus, if I stop building flutes, and start building caskets…this setup appears good to go for those too.

On a totally unrelated note, as we approach the end of a truly watershed year, in terms of violent, and/or embarrassing human behavior…I find that the President’s stimulus package has not yet trickled down to improve flute sales, at least my flute sales. Sales here at Querencia are off by about 30%, which only translates into about seven flutes in need of a new home. I think flute and shoe polish manufacturing are the last industries to see the effects of an economic recovery. With that in mind, sadly, I have to suspend my Black Friday/Pre Christmas, across-the-board 10% price reduction event (20% for previous purchasers). Some of these instruments currently work out to an hourly wage of $4.50USD, and I think the minimum wage currently hovers around eight bucks. With that in mind, for those of you who simply have to own a flute in the $70.00- $125.00 price range, and need it NOW, I again encourage you to check out my friend Odell Borg’s website, http://www.highspirits.com/ I own and play a number of his flutes.

Well that pretty much wraps it up. Like I mentioned this time last year, as winter approaches the beaches here in Southern California, if any of you reading this little rant live a few clicks south of the equator, and can see either a pool with a slide, or a white sand beach, right outside your back window, I’m available for serious flute instruction, and can hang out with you until it warms up around here. Then I can do the same for you when it’s winter where you live. Happy Holidays, and play nice.