Monday, June 8, 2015

Question: Where can you learn to play xiao (or other end-blown flutes) in Rochester, New York?

A question that was posed at this months Finger Lakes Flute Circle meeting:

Do you have a xiao, and can you get xiao lessons in Rochester, New York?

My response (at the meeting, combined with information I later mentioned on, with some additions):

Regarding your inquiry into the Chinese end-blown flute, the xiao. Unlike the Native American flute, which has a fipple sound mechanism like the recorder or tin whistle, the xiao is open-ended and you blow across a sharp cutting edge, something like blowing across the mouth of a soda bottle to make a tone. The Chinese School of Rochester Traditional Music Ensemble performed at the Memorial Art Gallery Asian Pacific American Heritage Family Day this year. The flutist, who played dizi (side-blown with buzzy paper membrane) and xiao, I believe was Yinhao Ye. You might check with the Chinese School of Rochester about lessons <>. I don't (yet) have a xiao, but I do have a number of contemporary, Native American-inspired rim-blown (end-blown) flutes created by Michael Graham Allen, Coyote Oldman Flutes. These are the Anasazi/Prayer Rock flute and the Mojave/Desert flute. Michael Graham Allen is on hiatus for flute production for the rest of the year, but there are other makers of these styles of flutes, such as Geoffrey Ellis and Jon Norris. I will be sure to bring my rim-blown flutes to future Finger Lakes Flute Circle meetings to show and play. The flutes require developing a proper embouchure, forming the lips and mouth to direct the right stream of air over the cutting edge of the rim, and that requires quite a bit of practice, and the result is a very beautiful, resonant sound well worth the effort.
The Japanese traditional end-blown flute, the shakuhachi, is the most challenging of these to play, and is quite formal in approach to instruction. My teacher, Ronnie Nyogetsu Seldin, lives in NYC, and regularly travels to Ithaca, Rochester, and Buffalo to teach lessons to his students in western New York.

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