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Flute's music adds much to life

I started playing the flute when I was about 9 years old. I had an old Armstrong flute that took a lot of air to create sound.

When I was playing in the high school orchestra, a boy brought in a Haynes flute for me to try. That flute had been in his family for many years. The tone was amazing, and it seemed that I had only to breathe into it for it to produce a most beautiful, full sound. Thereafter, he would loan me that flute whenever I had tryouts for positions in the flute section. Because of this I was never beaten. Later, when he wanted to sell it, my parents couldn’t afford it.

I played through college but stopped as my life became busy balancing a career and raising three children. My flute was put away.

Many years later when I decided to try playing again, I was amazed that the fingering and techniques learned at an early age still came naturally.

One day, I saw a vintage Haynes flute from the same period as the one I had borrowed in high school for sale on eBay. A quick decision was required since the auction was ending in several minutes. I bought it. This was kind of reckless since it was being sent in the mail, and I wasn’t able to try it out. When it arrived, it seemed an exact duplicate of the one I so loved in high school. As I played it, it seemed to come alive in my hands. It responded with just a whisper of breath.

With that flute, I began performing. One day I met another lady who also had a Haynes flute. When we played together, we were amazed by the overtones and sublime blending of our sounds.

We loved playing together. We added a talented harpist and called our group Seraphim. We played for benefits, weddings, a local radio station, house parties and church services.

One day, we went to a recording studio to record two pieces. For some reason, we prayed before we went in to record. This was unusual because we were a Christian, a Jew and an agnostic. That recording session was miraculous; it was as if time stood still. The soundman kept telling us we had more time so we played every piece we knew. When we finished he told us we had enough to produce a CD.

That was our first CD, “Seraphim Album One.” This recording seemed to be blessed. One copy was sent to Israel during a bombing. We were told that no mail got through except this CD and that it had a calming effect on those who were nervous and afraid. Another copy was used to sooth a woman suffering severe pain, and she told us that is was the music that got her through.

A composer of two of the pieces on the CD came to town to meet us. She told us that she listened to our CD every night. We felt humbled and honored.

Later when the other flute player dropped out of our group, we changed our name to Seraphim Nova. We produced a Christmas CD called “Angels’ Noel.” We found that we were able to take a simple melody and improvise variations. We also began writing our own compositions.

Our next CD we called “Slumber Songs.” We took lullaby melodies from many countries and arranged them into unique songs.

A highlight was writing a lullaby for my new grandchild. This was a thrilling and very creative period.

After my daughter bought me a Native American flute, I started playing that as well as the silver flute. I loved the mellow sound. That instrument I only played from my heart and not from any written music.

We started experimenting with harp and Native American flute by tuning the harp to a pentatonic scale.

My adventurous harpist had us hiking to waterfalls and playing in nature. We produced a video called “Spirit Flute at Barr Falls,” which has more than 200,000 views on YouTube.

It seems as if I was destined to play a Haynes flute and this has brought me great joy.

Esther Halvorson-Hill is a member of the Jottings group at the Lake Oswego Adult Community Center.