Dream Spirit Flutes

Founder of Dream Spirit Flutes takes pride in crafting
the instruments

By Terri McCarthy / Correspondent
Tuesday, April 2, 2002

WALTHAM - Six years ago when Al Solbjor built his first Eastern Woodland
style flute, he gave his masterpiece to his lifelong friend, who is Native

Realizing his best friend loved flutes, Solbjor played the first note of his newly
made flute with such happiness.

"I 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.

Solbjor 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.

Solbjor believes that everything in life is connected and has a soul.

"The 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.

The flute's origin is unknown. The tale that Solbjor heard "from three different
(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 branch. And
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.

This 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.

"That's the way I see myself, as a spiritual, peaceful instrument that can spread beauty through the world," he said.

Flutes 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.

Then, Solbjor entered the medical field. As a modern technical machinist, he
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.

Making music and things are Solbjor's after-work obsessions. In his mind, the
power of the Native American flute and "the physics of sound" must be
reckoned with, acknowledged and respected. The flute not only speaks to
him, but also its sound touches his soul.

"I'm 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.

Married to Betty Solbjor, his wife of 31 years, Solbjor builds and fashions his
high quality flutes in their Waltham home. To him, flute making is a sacred
rite. He begins each creation with a purifying process called saging.

"I let the wood speak to me. Sometimes the wood is not ready to become a
flute ... Then, the inspiration will come and suddenly the flute will be calling to
me, " he said.

Solbjor and his flute circle friends teach people their techniques of Native
American flute making and playing.

"My belief in sharing is the most important thing in life, because that's taking care of each other," he said.

"I 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.

Playing a Native American flute is a therapeutic way to express your feelings and the mood of your soul.

"The sound of these flutes touch your heart right away. It can make you melancholy, but it can make you happy," hesaid.

Each Dream 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.

"The tone of my flutes is fairly round and mellow," he said.

Solbjor 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.

With each 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.

Solbjor's greatest pleasure is the joy that his flutes bring to others.

"I 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.

This article also appeared in the Metrowest Daily News, Milford Daily News, and Neponset Daily News on Sunday, April 14, 2002.