Founder of Dream Spirit Flutes takes pride in crafting
McCarthy / Correspondent
Tuesday, April 2, 2002
- Six years ago when Al Solbjor built his first Eastern Woodland
style flute, he gave his masterpiece to his lifelong friend,
who is Native
his best friend loved flutes, Solbjor played the first note
of his newly
made flute with such happiness.
was practically dancing around the room. I couldn't believe
that I got this
sound out of this piece of wood. Virtually, every flute that
I make, I feel that
same excitement," Solbjor said.
is the founder of Dream Spirit Flutes in Waltham. Although he
is a Norwegian and was born in Boston, many of his Native American
friends inspired him to assimilate to their culture, beliefs,
and ways of making
traditional Woodland flutes.
believes that everything in life is connected and has a soul.
flute is a wind instrument. And it takes the breath of life
to make the flute come to life. And so it's like sharing your
life's energy with this piece of wood and the wood comes alive
from your breath. There's a synergy and a connection, at least
with me," he said.
origin is unknown. The tale that Solbjor heard "from three
(Native American) story tellers at three different times and
in three different
places is that the woodpecker was pecking on a tree and a tree
he worked on it, and worked on it, and worked on it. Eventually,
that branch fell
off and an Indian came by, picked it up, and blew on the end
of it. And it was a
musical instrument. The flute as we know it," Solbjor said.
instrument was initially used as a courting flute ("A young
man would entrance the lady of his choice with the sound."),
but today, according to Soldjor, people attach a spiritual element
to the flute, because of its healing
and soothing sound.
the way I see myself, as a spiritual, peaceful instrument that
can spread beauty through the world," he said.
fascinate him. In the 1970s, he worked for two renowned companies
in and near Boston, "the flute capitol of the world. "
For more than eight years, he helped produce the best silver
and gold concert transverse flutes.
entered the medical field. As a modern technical machinist,
designs and builds experimental surgical instruments. "I
can keep one foot in
high tech, which does interest me. But, also I have one foot
in the past, which
is the rusticness of my flutes," he said.
music and things are Solbjor's after-work obsessions. In his
power of the Native American flute and "the physics of
sound" must be
reckoned with, acknowledged and respected. The flute not only
him, but also its sound touches his soul.
doing this, because I think it's a calling of some sort. It's
the sound of this
instrument that just grabbed me," he said.
to Betty Solbjor, his wife of 31 years, Solbjor builds and fashions
high quality flutes in their Waltham home. To him, flute making
is a sacred
rite. He begins each creation with a purifying process called
let the wood speak to me. Sometimes the wood is not ready to
flute ... Then, the inspiration will come and suddenly the flute
will be calling to
me, " he said.
and his flute circle friends teach people their techniques of
American flute making and playing.
belief in sharing is the most important thing in life, because
that's taking care of each other," he said.
am very fussy about the sound of my flutes and the tuning of
my flutes. For me, it's primarily a musical instrument and the
extras come afterwards, such as the decorations and things like
that," he said. "The spirit of the flute is that
you can pick up this piece of wood and make it sing with little
or no training, " he added.
a Native American flute is a therapeutic way to express your
feelings and the mood of your soul.
sound of these flutes touch your heart right away. It can make
you melancholy, but it can make you happy," hesaid.
Spirit Flute is similar, yet different. The key and type of
wood chosen determines the uniqueness of the flutes' color,
texture, and sound. While his flutes are primarily handmade,
Solbjor makes the entire sound
whistle portion by hand.
tone of my flutes is fairly round and mellow," he said.
collects variegated species of wood from new or recycled sources,
such as lumberyards, old swing sets, junked pianos, dead trees,
or support beams. What is given to him by people and the Earth,
he gives back in the form of music.
creation, he learns something new. And each time he gives up
a favorite flute, another one is born. "It's the circle
of life. The more I put out energy into the flutes and then
put the flutes out into the world, the more that
comes back to me," he said.
greatest pleasure is the joy that his flutes bring to others.
would like more people to have Native American flutes. Not just
my flutes, but more of these flutes. With a flute in every house,
I think it will change the world, " Solbjor said.
article also appeared in the Metrowest Daily News, Milford
Daily News, and Neponset Daily News on Sunday,
April 14, 2002.