Friday, February 15, 2013

Native American Flute

I recently started playing a Native American Flute (NAF). Historically, NAFs are played by improvisation. I read music and have never improvised. I’m trying, but all my melodies sound very WASP-ish. I am white, after all . . .
There are flute circles made up of people who play the NAF, just like there are drum circles. I recently attended one and it was amazing! First, the setting was the Nature Center of a metropark, a beautiful log and stone structure. We met in the birding room, which has 3 sides of windows perched right on the Huron River; it’s outfitted with lodge-style furniture and a nice fireplace. The acoustics are great, too.
I was expecting everyone to show up and play their flute, like happens in a drum circle. I didn’t realize that NAFs become addictive after you obtain the first one. Everyone (but me) had at least 6 different flutes and some people had nearly 20! There are all kinds of them and once you learn to play them, it seems you want to make them.
The people were all so nice; the organizer, Karen, said that everyone who plays NAF is nice. One of the guys kind of took me under his wing; apparently, he had trouble overcoming his past traditional musical education when he started, so he had lots of tips for me. People showed up with drums, too, just to keep everyone in sync.
I’m excited to learn from these people!

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Michigan's YMCA Camps

I'm working towards getting my certification as a lifeguard. Taking the class requires some pre-course tests, some of which involve swimming underwater for longer than I can hold my breath, so I'm training towards that goal. Besides getting a free membership when you work (even part-time) at a YMCA, I'd also like to spend some of my summers working with kids at summer camps.
Michigan has a lot of YMCA Camps all over the state; they are usually owned by an individual branch or by the combined branches of a single metro area. YMCA's from four different states own camps in Michigan! Most of them were built in the early 1900's and they contain beautiful old log structures perched alongside some crystal-blue lake. They really are beautiful places to spend a vacation, besides the fun of mentoring kids for a couple weeks.
I would likely start at Camp Storer, located in the Irish Hills area and owned by the Toledo metro YMCA/JCC. This particular YMCA Program is special for a couple reasons. The local Jewish Community Center has partnered with one of the area branches, adding religious and cultural diversity. Another great thing about Toledo's YMCA/JCC network is that a membership is good for every branch. In most programs, you have to join an individual branch; making you a "guest" at any other branch. This serves to keep people from the 'hood in the 'hood, and I'm happy that Toledo's Y Leadership is truly practicing the Judeo/Christian principles espoused by "Corporate YMCA."
The picture is from Camp Nissokone, owned by the Metro-Detroit YMCAs, located in Oscoda. The hospital where I work actually rents this camp for a week every summer to hold session for kids who are transplant recipients. I may vounteer there, too.
My first attempt at the lifeguard testing is Monday. Wish me luck!