About Robert Gatliff
and how FluteTree.org came about.

Besides starting this sites web, I'll introduce myself by describing the Native American flute as a wonderful tree with many branches to explore, and I’m that squirrel jumping from branch to branch.

On a whim in 1996, I attended a solo performance of R. Carlos Nakai. Maybe that whim had something to do with my family's stories of distant native ancestry. Maybe it had something to do with spending three years as a child in Oklahoma at an impressionable age, and attending powwows. Whatever the case, this concert marked the beginning my journey into the world of the flute.

Shortly afterwards, I purchased a flute at a local powwow. At the time, this flute was an awkward experience; not the sound that I heard in concert nor in my rapidly growing collections of recordings. I’ve since learned that even wall-hanger flutes can produce good music, but at that time I decided I could make a better flute than that first flute. This led me to learning how to make flutes. For the next few years, I toyed with both making flutes and making music. In 2000, I attended the “The Renaissance of the Native American Flute” (RNAF) outside of Helena, Montana, which introduced me to a growing community of flute players, makers, and future friends. In many ways at this workshop, R. Carlos Nakai, Ken Light, John Sarantos, and Kimble Howard didn’t as much teach how to play as they taught a way to approach playing. For the next year, not a day passed without picking up a flute and playing.

The years since then, I’ve spent 4 to 5 weeks a year on the road: attending workshop and events; taking classes; teaching classes; visiting museums and flute collections; performing for children and charities; researching the history; hosting flute circles, experimenting with making flutes; or just hanging out and sharing the flute trail with friends. Much of this adventure has been shared with my lovely wife, Julia Gatliff, who is a wonderful flute player and teacher.

After 14 years of sharing my flute explorations through this website, this site was placed under the stewardship of the FluteTree Foundation, formerly known as the Renaissance of the Native American Flute Foundation (RNAFF). Thanks to this name change, the foundation is easier to find on the web and it helps promote the service we provide the flute community.

Julia and I are actively involved with this organization and continue to take care of the web site's day to day needs.


 --- Robert Gatliff (website administrator)