The goal of WindPeople Music is to make the Native American flute with Music Education available to American Indian students who live on Reservations across North America.
The Native American flute is a musical instrument that holds
a special place for many. For Native American people it is an
instrument that gives voice to songs and melodies from a time
that was nearly forgotten. The beauty of this indigenous wood-
wind instrument is in its magnificent resonant sound. Those who
have heard the Native flute describe this sound as hauntingly
beautiful and soothing. Such descriptions speak of the feelings that
are brought to the listener as well as to those who play the Native
flute. Today many have embraced this instrument for how that it has affected their lives by its musical sound.
As an instructor of the Native flute I have witnessed the connection that Native American students feel with their cultural instrument. Some readily play songs that they have heard others play. Others create songs that express their feelings which they share with others. For many of these students it seems like they have found
another connection to who they are as Native Americans through the Native flute. It is
the way of the past that they feel. In our history we were encouraged to be expressive
in song, dance and with the arts by our parents and elders. To be able to bring Indian
youth to this place of self expression and to help them to be connected to their culture
in this way is of great importance.
Recently, the mainstream media has brought to our attention the plight of American
Indian youth although we Indians have been aware of this sad story for a long time.
When people think of troubled youth they immediately think of the inner cities with
their drugs, gangs and violence. There is another place that is nestled here and there
all across this country. In this place there is unspeakable poverty, family violence/abuse
and suicide that is at epidemic levels. Here alcoholism has ravaged a large segment of its people. People have been held in the grasp of hopelessness for generations in this place. The only way to survive it seems is to leave and never come back. This is the Indian Reservation that most people vaguely know exists. In any broken society it is the youth who are the innocent victims. Children are helpless in changing the life they have been dealt. They learn to cope with life as they know it. When this doesn't seem possible they make other choices. The following experience that I share made that truth so real to me that it changed what I live for today.
About 11 years ago I was schedule to play a concert for a high school in Indian country and I arrived the day before. I was eating dinner at a Denny's Restaurant and I noticed a group of youth and their parents who looked like they come from some function-they had come from a burial. The youth spoke of their friend who had committed suicide by hanging himself over the family dining room table. I was amazed at how they spoke of this tragedy. There was so little emotion. I realized that anyone of these kids was capable of making the same decision to end their lives. One of his friends said matter of factly, "His number just came up." I was crying as I listened to these youth. I knew what I was seeing was taking place all across Indian Country. I had to leave for my motel room where I fell on my knees and began to cry out to God, "Lord, someone has got to help these kids!"
That day I realized it was imperative for me to help the Indian youth by sharing the
gift of music on the Native flute. The Chromatic method I had developed on the 6
holed Native flute that enables one to sight read music, play and perform Classical,
Jazz,Traditional as well as any music would deliver Music Education to these students.
I now understood the importance of this music system I had created for the Native
flute. It was for the American Indian kids! It wasn't for me to show the world what I
could do as a musician. Wow!
I recognized that in order for these students to change the way they see life and themselves they would have to change their thinking process. Music Education that involves reading music, disciplined practice and performance is known to create a way of thinking that is helpful in the growing minds of young people. I couldn't change what had happened in their lives but when a positive change happens in the way one thinks-good things will follow!
I didn't know how the American Indian youth would receive this but their initial response was that they embraced the Native flute as their own. I really had no expectations for how the students would work with the disciplines of Music Education. It is difficult especially with an indigenous instrument with only 6 holes. They have far surpassed any musical progress I could have ever imagined!
It is now just over 10 years since I began teaching the Native flute to American Indian students who live mostly on Indian Reservations throughout the Southwest. I have found that Indian children are extremely talented and are gifted in music. One class has performed throughout the Southwest: National Conference of Native American Writers, National Conference for Youth Directors, Navajo Language on Rosetta Stone release ceremony-Navajo Nation Museum. This class regularly performs Classical music and now is performing Jazz music written by Bob Mintzer, Composer/Arranger and tenor sax great. Bob is allowing these students to use his Jazz method materials written for saxophone on the Native flute.
They are recording their own CD of Jazz/Classical music along with Traditional Native songs from their Tribe. This class of Navajo students is where it all began for me teaching the Native American flute. There are other classes where students are learning to read music and one class of very young students recently performed a concert at the 70th Anniversary of their Indian school with a Catholic Bishop in attendance! They were great! I am so proud of all these students!
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The Goal of WindPeople Music
On October 2, 2012 Three WindPeople Music students performed at the Vatican in Rome for the Canonization ceremony of Kateri Tekakwitha-the first Native American saint! They performed Canon in D, Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring, Litugical pieces-as a trio, as well as an original work written for 4 Native American Flutes and Traditional Native music.
"Sonata for four Native flutes"
Written by Mike Levy for the flute students performance in Rome.
WindPeople Music was founded in 2009 by Vince and Diane Redhouse.
WindPeople Music is currently teaching Native Flute Classes in AZ,
New Mexico, Utah and Washington State.
Vince Redhouse has dedicated his life to teaching Native American
children on Reservations because of the benefits that music education
delivers while bringing the Native Flute back to its people. Diane Redhouse joins her husband Vince in dedicating her life to helping by documenting through video and photography. She travels with Vince often to the Native Flute Classes and events taking video and photographs for the website and student class books.