Flutists blow away the stereotypes


Ron Burgundy, Jethro Tull and eight BYU students have proven the worth of one  oft-forgotten instrument — the flute.

Eight of BYU’s talented flutists will take the stage Wednesday night to dispel the negative perceptions of the instrument. BYU Flute Choir will perform at 7:30 in the University Parkway Center, room 313. The eight-person choir will perform a wide variety of pieces including Christmas carols and love songs.

Although Burgundy, the legendary fictional anchorman, did much to improve the flute’s reputation, male flutists today still struggle to prove the instrument’s worth.

Brian Sheahan, a student from Hamilton, Mont., and member of the group, did his best to prove his masculinity as a male flute player.

“The real question is, does Superman wear tights and still stop trains with his bare hands?” Sheahan said. “Does Justin Bieber sing like a girl, and still get the ladies? Well, that pretty much says it all. If anyone has doubts, come to the concert and see for yourself.”

Although Sheahan believes men can overcome these negative perceptions, Chris Carman, a graduate from Ithaca College in New York, spent his high school years concealing his flutist identity.

“Yeah, maybe some of the greatest flute players in history were men,” Carman said. “But that doesn’t change the fact that for years I had my mom drop me off at school 45 minutes early with a conspicuous black trash bag that covered up my flute.”

The eight-person passionate pack makes it a goal to dispel negative perceptions with their well-rehearsed performances. Although none of the group members are music majors, they take time away from their majors to practice for performances.

Katie Tolbert, from Concord, Calif., is the group’s director this semester and had the responsibility of choosing pieces that would show off the group’s range and talents.

“There will be a broad spectrum of songs from many different musical periods,” Tolbert said. “Our hardest song is called ‘Blue Train’ and it sounds like a jazzy-modern piece that shows how the flute can sound like a train in many ways.”

According to Tolbert, the flute is one of the most difficult instruments to play and the instrument can be played by both women and men.

“It takes a great deal more skill to play the flute than many realize,” Tolbert said. “Unlike a clarinet or trumpet, there is nothing touching the lips on the flute that creates resistance so all the sound is created just by the lips. There is a negative stereotype that boys cannot play the flute, but some of the best flute players of all time were men.”

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