Many years ago I felt the Lord lay on my heart a vision to bring traditional instruments to worship. For over 30 years all I ever played was the flute and piccolo. When I received this vision I started to pick up and play instruments that I was not able to play before. When God gives you a heart for something He wants you to always remember that He also equips you for His purposes in you.
Needless to say I currently have a large and growing "bag" of instruments I use and carry with me (it makes going through airports always an interesting experience). People are always interested in the instruments I use so on this page I will show my "current" bag and hopefully give details on each which I hope you find interesting.
AKAI EWI (Electronic Wind Instrument)
The instrument on the left is called an Akai EWI which is short for Electronic Wind Instrument. These have been made for many years by Akai and Yamaha. Professional instruments (not toys) these allow a wind player to play many different sounds from a full range of individual orchestral instruments, world sounds, synth sounds. Basically if a sound can be sampled, it can be played on an EWI.
This is a favourite of mine that allows me to produce literally any sound that can be sampled into my computer and most importantly allows me to play that instrument with expression, breath control and creativity. I have recorded on a number of albums with the EWI and regular use the instrument on tour across the world.
Concert flute with wood headjoint
This is my Miyazawa 375E which was made in April 1996. I purchased from its original owner in April 2005. The flute is handmade and solid silver throughout.
With my Miyazawa I play a Harry Gosse All Wood headjoint - this is my favourite headjoint (after searching for many years). The All Wood Grenadilla is a fantastic head which has a wide range of colours (which is rare for a wood headjoint).
The Alto flute is one of my favourite instruments to play. It has a wonderful silky tone and blends so well with so many instruments and voices. This is my own alto made to my specifications. I prefer the straight head on an alto as I have long arms and the reach is not an issue for me. I use two headjoints, a solid silver headjoint and a headjoint with solid silver lipplate. Both have slightly different characteristics due mainly to the different cuts on each headjoint.
I only took up the alto flute seriously after 30 years of playing the concert flute. I initially thought it would be a difficult instrument to get a good sound on. It is not and I have actually found that playing the alto flute has helped my concert flute playing. To play the alto you really have to relax and focus the tone. Personally I found it has enriched my flute playing. Often concert flute players are frightened of the alto and try piccolo. I suggest you have an go with an alto flute. It does produce a wonderfully rich sound and the sound of the alto flute touches the heart in a very gentle way.
Michael Burke Irish Whistles
Michael Burke makes wonderful Irish Whistles in every key you will ever need. I am always adding his whistles to my "bag" and currently have a Low D Viper in Brass, a Low E in Aluminium, a Low F in Aluminium, a Low G in Brass, a High Bb in Brass, a High C in Brass and High D in Brass.
Each whistle is handmade and signed my Michael who personally makes sure each whistle is made to the highest standards. These are my first choice of Irish Whistle. For more information go to www.burkewhistles.com.
If you would like to support the ministry work of Christianflute one of the ways to do so is to help provide the instruments for the ministry to use.
Michael Burke has kindly said that for anyone who wishes to purchase one of his whistles for me to be used in this work that he will give a discount on each purchase. Please tell Michael that you are ordering a whistle to be sent to me and he will give you a discount. Thanks, Raymond.
Roy McManus Irish Whistles
Roy McManus from Belfast is also a fine whistle maker. I own some of Roy's whistles. Roy makes whistles in various types of wood and metals. I currently have an aluminium combination whistle in Bb and A (one head two bodies), two high E's and a high F.
Other Irish Whistles
Although I use my Michael Burke whistles as my primary whistle, I do carry back up whistles from other makers and other whistles that I simply need occasionally or like the sound of.
I have "tweeked" each of these whistles to my personal taste (see the video below on tweeking). It is very simple to do and will improve your whistle. The "other" collection currently includes a Tony Dixon Low G, a Susato Low A, a Tony Dixon High Eb Brass, a Tony Dixon High E Brass and a Generation High F Brass.
Doug Tipple Flutes
I currently have two Doug Tipple flutes. These are an interesting instrument made from white pvc pipe that are good instruments and surprise many players on how they sound. I currently own a Low E and Mid A both fitted with the Tipple-Fajardo wedge and the optional lip-plate on the Low E. The video below was recorded using the Low E and demonstrates the flute's sound. For more information go to http://sites.google.com/site/dougsflutes/
Native American Indian Flute by Chris Ti Coom
I play a Native American Indian Flute made by Chris Ti Coom. With six holes on top and no thumb hole this Native American Indian Flute is a wonderful instrument to play although the fingering combinations are different from traditional 6 hole instruments. Remembering the fingering combinations is all part of the challenge. To play, you simply blow into the blow hole at the top of the flute. There is no embouchure to form. The speed of air that you put into the flute changes the pitch of the notes which means you can bend notes easily. Great fun. This flute is handmade from Walnut and has a wonderful sound that is very unique. For more information on Native American Indian Flutes go to the following website www.christicoom.com.
In August 2008, I had the honour of visiting India. I travelled with the Kairos Trust. We were visiting projects in India that Fisherwick Presbyterian Church support and also to run a four day conference for Pastors and Church Staff in the Vellore Diocese. I had a wonderful time and the hospitality of the Indian people is very humbling. While I was there I met a gentleman called Charles who introduced me to the Indian Bansuri. These simple bamboo flutes have a wonderful rich deep tone. I have had the opportunity to collect some Bansuri over the years from music shops in India. Wonderful instruments from a wonderful people.
Thomas Richardson - Middle Eastern Bamboo Forest Flute
Sometimes when you are researching flutes you come across wonderful makers who are quietly making facinating flutes. They deserve a wider audience and one of those makers is Thomas Richardson (www.thomasrichardsonmusic.com).
I now own a unique one off design Middle Eastern Forest flute from Thomas' wide range. These are not expensive instruments but are made with the highest care and quality. This is a four holed flute with thumb hole and has a great scale.
Thomas made this flute with an eagle on it as one of my favourite verses in the Bible is "God lasts. He's Creator of all you see or imagine. He doesn't get tired out, doesn't pause to catch breath. And he knows everything, inside and out. He energizes those who get tired, gives fresh strength to dropouts. For even young people tire and drop out, young folk in their prime stumble and fall. But those who wait upon God get fresh strength. They spread their wings and soar like eagles; they run and don't get tired, they walk and don't lag behind." ISAIAH Chapter 40 verses 28 to 31. Translation "The Message".
Chinese Dizi Flute
Chinese Dizi are the most natural progression for a flautist to ethnic instruments as they use the same basic embouchure principles as the modern western concert flute. The biggest issue with Dizi is finding high quality instruments in concert pitch as there are hundreds of poor quality examples of this fine instrument. I spent many years testing various makers and eventually found a great maker who makes the highest quality instruments.
The Dizi that I use are made by one of the most famous Dizi and Xiao makers in China, Master Dong Xue Hua. These are the preferred Dizis of professional Dizi players in China and represent the best quality Dizis to come from China. They can be purchased through an excellent supplier, Eason Enterprises in Singapore and although these are professional Dizi they range in price from around $100. For a history of Dizi go to the "Resources" page on www.eason.com.sg. The Dizi themselves are on the "Products" page.
I currently play Dizi in Low G and High A.
Bahu Chinese Folk Flute
The Bahu or Bawu or Bawo Chinese Reed Flute is a flute that everyone can play. The Bahu (Bawu or Bawo( flute is a folk instrument that is similar in design to the Chinese Dizi flute (above). Made from bamboo, this flute requires no embouchure to make a sound. You simply put your lips over the white lipplate creating a seal over the mouth hole and then simply blow into the instrument. I think it is fun to play and it has a rather unique sound. To listen to it click on the video below.
English & German Recorders
Probably like the majority of wind players across the world the instrument I first played at school was the humble recorder prior to learning to play the flute. Today I play Moeck wood recorders and a Yamaha Tenor. On the right is my Moeck Descant (bottom). I have owned a number of Moeck recorders and prefer the Descant with the plastic head and wood body as I have found the wood heads in the Descant tend to clogg easily. In the middle is my Moeck Alto Tuju, which is extremely rare now and on top is the Yamaha Tenor which is a great sounding instrument. Great instruments for all ages. Of the three the Tuju is the recorder I use the most as it has a very full unique character to the sound. Tuju's are not made anymore but if you find a good one, buy it, as they are rare. More information on Moeck recorders is available at www.moeck.com and Yamaha recorders at www.yamaha.com.