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Youngster develops flute skills early

December 22, 2205

the looks of his room, Chris Peterson has much in common with other 11 year old boys. Basketball, soccer, football trophies line a windowsill, pictures of wolves grace the walls. Chris&

4 year old brother, William, bounces around the room with his big brother&

s beagle puppy, while Chris talks about his varied interests: animals, especially wolves, Tasmanian devils, lions, tigers and dogs; sports and music.

What Chris doesn&

t share with most 11 year olds is his talent for playing the Native American flute. Not only can he play a song once he hears it, he is self-taught, creates his own music and plays intuitively, bringing joy and often healing to others.

The 11 year old&

s parents, David and Teresa Peterson join us at the kitchen table and Teresa tells a story that exemplifies this intuitiveness. It is a personal story, but a bit can be shared without revealing identities. While performing at a concert, Chris felt led to play for a woman in the audience he had never met who unbeknownst to him had lost a son close to his age. &

When I saw her in the audience, and when I looked into her eyes, I just felt like her child had died. I played a song for her,&

recalls Chris.

— — — CHRIS PETERSON

While he practices before each concert, Chris says he doesn&

t &

really know what I&

m going to play. I just breath into the flute and move my fingers. Most of the time there is a group of people I play a song for.&

This isn&

t a specific group of people or a section of the audience, but rather individuals, often those he&

s never met, who may or may not be seated next to each other.

Chris gave his first public performance at age 7, playing to a crowd of 500 at the national flute festival, Musical Echoes in between the sets of Grammy award winning Native American flutist Mary Youngblood.

The family had attended the festival the previous year and David had brought home a flute that &

Chris quickly took over,&

says Teresa explaining how the first performance came about. &

He would play hours at a time, making up different songs.&

The following year while shopping for a flute at a store in Ft. Walton Beach, Florida (where the family lived and home to the festival), Chris asked a the proprietor if he could be in the concert. The 7-year-old was told he could play his flute on stage - before or after the concert of course. &

After he heard me play the flute in the store,&

Chris notes, &

He said &

145;you&

re going to be in the concert!&

&

The following day, acclaimed Native American flutist and winner of the Silver Arrow award, Jeff Ball, invited |Chris to play on stage next to him.

Chris now owns six flutes, all gifted to him by elders at performances. Two of his favorites include the smallest one &

because I don&

t have to stretch my fingers,&

and the cedar concert flute &

because it&

s half brown and half white.&

He has composed two songs: &

Big God&

to welcome the birth of his baby brother and &

Oh Dad&

in celebration of his then step father David&

s adoption of him.

Chris has performed at several events since he and his family moved to Ashland two years ago, including James Twyman&

s &

Day out of a Time,&

a town meeting at Lithia Park, First Friday Art Walks, a traditional Native American wedding where he played for the bride&

s entrance, and a mother drumming ceremony at Jackson Well Springs.

Of the latter event, Chris says with a big smile, &

They felt the energy and they were like &

145;Wow.&

It makes me feel good that people enjoy my music.&

His mother says she would like Chris to record a CD, but the prohibitive costs have put that on the backburner for now.

A fifth grader at Ashland Middle School band, Chris plays the marimba and drums in the band.

Asked about future music goals, Chris replies, &

I want to be like to be like Jeff Ball and have my own band...I love being on stage. I can&

t wait to see the faces on the people, and a lot of it does come from my heart.&