One advantage of having your own domain is being able to speak your mind.  There are a lot of fantastic folks in the music world.  Here are a just a few of my personal favorites:
Flute Repair - PLEASE FIX MY FLUTE!  

No, I just don't have the time anymore (unless it's something very interesting and unusual).  There are a lot of good repair people out there. It's much like finding a family doctor.  If you want a healthy flute, you need to find a really good repairman and establish a long-term relationship.  The ones I'm recommending here are people I know well. 

I've been teaching flute repair for about 25 years now, mostly for flutists who just wanted to understand their instruments a bit better.  About ten years ago I started offering graduate courses here at WCU with a similar modest goal.  My best hope was that at the end of two years of training, a motivated student would be competent to replace pads in an otherwise sound flute. This is part of a performance degree and was never intended as a vocational course.  HOWEVER, out of the eight people who have finished the coursework, three went on to work for major flute companies (plus one undergraduate).  And one simply decided to be a full-time flute repairman:

Reuben Councill is one of the most gifted individuals I've encountered in a long teaching career.  He is a fine performer and certainly could have followed that path.  He is also extremely curious and simply smart, -- in the best sense of the word.  Reuben could have done anything. However, he REALLY loves working on flutes and has focused all his gifts in this area.  Reuben is now well experienced and equipped to handle almost any problem.  He is great with routine repairs, but amazing with unusual problems. He just loves the detective work -- tweaking a flute to get the absolute most from it.  He has a great ear, a very light touch, and his attention to detail is second to none.  He is also totally honest and reliable.  I trust him with my flutes.  He has recently moved to Pennsylvania and set up shop in Selinsgrove.  Check his website for directions.  If you are within driving distance, I'd make an appointment to visit him.  Take your best flute and let him check it over.  You will be amazed!


While I'm on the topic, here are three people that I didn't train who I can also recommend without reservation.  I've visited in their shops and learned quite a bit from all of them:

Paul Rabinov lives near  LA and is a prot�g� of Bob Gilchrest.  He is simply a miracle worker.  I've seen and heard him do things to a flute that blew my mind.  All these folks are really bright and could be making a lot more money doing something else.  Paul actually has done other, much more profitable things, and simply has a passion for working on flutes.  His time is worth MUCH more than he charges.  He is a wizard with modern flutes, but has also developed an interest in restoring old French flutes.  Paul is also as kind and generous an individual as you will find.

Eric Satterlee lives near Lansing Michigan.  He's been a good friend for a VERY long time. These other folks are flute specialists, but Eric can repair ANYTHING.  Lucky for us, he has a particular gift for piccolos.  I (and most repairmen) HATE padding piccolos.  Eric actually seems to enjoy working on the little monsters.  I have a piccolo that he repadded about a decade ago and it's still going strong - no adjustments whatsoever.  He is direct and prompt about getting things done -- something very rare -- almost impossible -- in the repair world. 

Clifford Trettick lives in Asheville, NC.  Another fine flutist, Clifford worked for Brannen for twelve years.  He's been responsible for any number of technical developments, both at Brannen and on his own.  His understanding of the mechanics of padding and the results he gets are simply the best.  And he's just a great guy.


Altus Flutes - There are a lot of fantastic flute makers working today and for decades I've avoided giving any one a public endorsement.  When I think about a flute company, it's the people that matter.  I really like the folks at Altus.  I've known Suichi Tanaka for nearly twenty years.  There is no more committed or more intelligently innovative flute maker working today. 

Brannen Brothers Flutes, Inc - They certainly don't need my recommendation.  I've known Bob and Bick Brannen a very long time, though not as well as I would like.  I don't write fan mail, but Bick is something of a personal hero to me.  He's created the ultimate flute company and done it it a way that will employ and take care of a group of people for a very long time.  A bit of flute history:  William Haynes founded his company and eventually hired a guy named Verne Powell as foreman.  Powell quit and started his own company, which got it's identity from his very strong personality.  After he retired, the company lost direction.  A lot of Powell-trained folks left and started their own companies.  These include (among others) Ed Almeida, Jon Landell, Jack Gooseman, and of course Bob and Bick Brannen.  All of these were truly gifted people, but the success of Brannen Brothers speaks for itself.  Talented people often decide that they're ready to strike out on their own.  In the past decade four of Brannen's best have left - and three have ended up in nearby Asheville (lucky me!).  When Powell left Haynes, it was not on friendly terms.  Bick Brannen seems to be both friendly towards and truly supportive of his former employees.  This speaks volumes about the man.

Roger Holman - Roger is a terrific person   always my #1 criteria.  He's also got a truly innovative and creative mind.  One of my hobbies has been tracking the invention and reinvention of flute related gadgets.  The original concepts are few and far between.  Roger's Flute and Piccolo Flags are a new and original solution to an age-old problem.  I use them myself and strongly recommend their use in my wooden piccolo heads. 

ALRY Publications - Amy Blumenthal was a pioneer publisher for flute choir who has built a "garden shed" company into something quite impressive -- and not confined to flute choir.

Abell Flutes - Chris Abell was committed to wooden flutes a very long time before they were fashionable.  In fact, I thought he was a little crazy when he started his own company to make wooden flutes exclusively.  Time has shown him to be both a brilliant flutemaker, but right on target about wood.  And he's a genuine human being.

Wildacres Flute Retreat - I attended the first flute class at Wildacres in 1978.  This was organized by Anne McFarland and taught by William Bennett.  I arrived wide eyed and totally unprepared -- only to find that I was first up to perform.  I was terrified and later learned that so was Wibb (nobody calls him Mr. Bennett).  I kept going back, first as a student and later to teach a class in flute repair.  Through Wildacres I got to know Wibb, Trevor Wye, Stephen Preston, Robert Dick,  and large group of flutists who have become my second family.  Anne eventually moved to England and the class was run by Amy Rice Blumenthal and later Karl Barton.  Things came full circle for me in 2002 when I was asked to serve as William Bennett's teaching assistant.  And they will come full circle again in 2003 with the return of Anne (now Anna Thibeault) to run a completely new class with Goran Marcusson and Stephen Preston.


More to come . . .