Playing music is simple with one of the world's most ancient instruments

by: POST PHOTO: JIM HART - Native American style flute player Randal Veenker loves to hear the haunting sound of a flute in a natural setting. Veenker will show a film about the flute, show examples and play a mini concert Saturday, July 20.Randal Veenker of Sandy has a lot of stories to tell. He’s not Native American, but he certainly has the heart and spirit of a Native storyteller and musician.

Since he first discovered the pentatonic-scale flute, he has been in love with its poignant sound. That flute allows his heart to express itself in music.

“This style of flute,” Veenker said, “is the easiest wind instrument to play in the world.”

Veenker teaches people how to play the flute, performs mini concerts and shares stories with audiences.

His next sharing with the community is the 48-minute documentary film “Songkeepers,” the saga of five Native American flute makers.

Those flute players, who are well known among their peers, tell their stories and demonstrate their skills. A flute maker also demonstrates the art of creating flutes, telling the history of the flute and the generational story behind each flute.

After the flute began a slow descent in use during the first half of the 20th century, one man (shown in the film) began learning how to make and play in the traditional ways, finally teaching all he had learned. During the past 50 years, the Native American flute has regained its popularity. Veenker says he attends flute festivals around the country. The next event Veenker will attend is the Flute Quest Festival in Washington in August.

Attendance at the 48-minute film is free but requires registration.

Veenker wants to show local residents that they can do things with a Native American flute that cannot be done with a metal concert flute.

For one thing, he wants to show everyone that they could play a pentatonic-scale flute. He says he can teach anyone to play in 10 minutes.

“You don’t need music,” he said. “You don’t need printed music and you don’t need published music. You play what comes out naturally. We call it playing from the heart.”

Veenker says he is composing the music as he plays it. A song he has just played, he said, is similar to another he has played in the past — but not exactly the same.

Following the movie, Veenker will play a mini concert to demonstrate the sounds one can make with a flute. He’ll also answer all questions about the flute or the classes he offers through the Sandy Community Center.

Veenker is offering a class on Thursday, Aug. 8 and 15.

For more information about the movie or the class, call Veenker at 503-68-0764 or email him at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

To register to see the free movie or sign up for the class, call the Sandy Community Center at 503-668-5569.

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