Don Hosek - Flute - July 1999
The jackdaw acquires an object of his affection, discovers a complete inability to make noise

Inspired by a bit of an Ian Anderson fetish, I decided that I'd like to take up the flute. Since my dad had played flute in high school and still had his flute, I figured I could liberate that instrument and use it to teach myself to play. So on a visit to my parents' place I picked up the flute and despite warnings from my dad that his flute was in bad shape and probably not terribly playable, I took it home.

As a child, my dad had once taken the flute out and tried to show us how to play it. I had been completely unable to make a noise. But now I'm a grown up with years of experience tooting pop bottles behind me. It should be a cinch to make the flute make some noise. I put the flute to my lips and blow. Ffffffffff. I try again. Fffffooffff. Such horrible noises I've never heard before. I check the internet find pictures of what my mouth should look like, check my mouth in the mirror, it looks like I'm doing everything right, but not getting anything resembling a usable note. This flute thing is harder than I thought it would be.

I talk to a friend who has played flute and persuade her to give me a quick lesson one evening. I bring the flute over to her house and she looks at it and points out that I should have a cleaning rod and cloth and moves to try to clean out the flute. "Hey, there's something in here," she says when she puts the cleaning rod into the headjoint. Some manipulation reveals a bit of felt-covered wood knocked loose from the case. With the wood removed, I try puffing the flute. The tone is awful, but it is (more or less) a C#. I can make some noise.