Letting The Native American Flute Speak - With Tony FrancisAug 16, 2023
The Native American flute is an expression of self that has captured hearts for thousands of years. Its enchanting melodies and soothing vibrations make the flute an excellent tool for integral sound healing.
You may have seen our recent Free Online Sound Healing Course on The Native American Style Flute - An Introduction outlining the possibilities for integrating the flute into sound healing practice.
To learn more about this instrument, we talk with Cherokee flute maker Tony Francis, who gives insight into the significance of the Native American style flute.
About Tony Francis
Tony has been making Native American flutes for roughly 35 years and has since used them for self-healing from PTSD and recovery after a stroke.
“I've always wanted to play music,” says Tony, “and I couldn't carry a tune in a bucket. I was in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, once and found a flute in a store, so I went in and picked it up. I ran a scale on it, and the lady in the shop asked me, ‘Do you play the flute?’ And I say, ‘I do now.’ I bought my first flute, and the rest is history.”
Tony began learning from Native American flute makers he met and discovered his unique instrument crafting style.
“I just had to learn how to make them and get in touch with something inside yourself that makes you whole. We all have a song inside of us, and I was always trying to get mine out. Once I found the flute, I got to get it out and make them. Hopefully, it helps others find their song and connect with their inner selves. They’re the greatest instruments I’ve ever encountered and easy to play!”
To find out more about Tony and his love for the native American flute, check out our interview with him:
How Was The Native American Flute Designed
Flutes today look very different from older flutes. Traditionally, flutes were made to the measurements of a maker’s hands, and each note was whatever the maker felt was the best sound.
This is something known as “grandfather tuning.” In other words, flutes were designed to share each flute maker's personal, inner song. Today, flutes are tuned to a minor pentatonic scale that can be played with other instruments. This means you can play a flute paired with a guitar, singing bowls, a piano, and any other instrument you want to create songs with.
When conducting a sound bath or co-leading a group healing session, you and your musical partner can interweave melodies in harmony. The possibilities for collaboration and Native American flute music creation are endless!
How To Choose Your Native American Flute
When you are looking for a Native American flute, Tony says that it is important to let the flute “pick” you.
“All the makers, the good makers, they'll have a sound that they listen for when they make their flutes. And that sound may resonate with you, or it may not. So always, any time you see a flute, play it! See if you find one that likes you, and just continue to play it. They're great for calming you and calming down your soul.”
In addition to making flutes, Tony is dedicated to keeping Native American culture and tradition alive. He has donated flutes to Native youth and taught countless people how to begin playing.
Several years ago, Tony and Gareth Laffely (the teacher of our Free Flute Course) worked with Penobscot elder, James Neptune, to reintroduce the Native American style flute back to the Penobscot people in their reservation in Old Town, Maine.
For the first time in 100 years, flutes were again being played and made on the island reservation.
“It means everything to me,” says Tony, “and I’m just glad I can give back.”
The Native American flute is an incredible instrument and the perfect addition to any sound healing instrument collection.
To learn how to play the flute, check out our FREE Online Sound Healing Course on The Native American Style Flute - An Introduction.
And in case you missed it, we have another great blog on The Native American Style Flute & Your Sound Healing Practice that you can read to learn more!
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