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Steven Gigante

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Ever since I was in grade school, I always had an interest in the Native Americans. I loved their art and their culture. I also really enjoyed Native American Music. The very first Native recording that I purchased was The Gathering of the Nations pow wow 1991. I remember the very first time when I played the cassette tape. After the first song I was hooked! It was a sound that really grabbed me and I continued to buy more of the Gathering of nations recordings. Then several years later, I received a Native American Flute recording as a gift from my Mom and Dad; it was the Emergence Recording from R. Carlos Nakai. It wasn't until several years later that I would get lost in the sound of Native American Flute Music and decide to do something with it.
I remember when I attended my first Pow Wow, it was a very moving experience for me to hear the music and see the beautiful Regalia that the Native Americans wore. While at the Pow Wow, I noticed a gentleman playing a Native flute and it sounded just like the recordings that I heard. I continued to attend Pow Wows in the Chicago land area and up in Northern Wisconsin. In 1995, when I was attending a Pow Wow in my neighborhood, I purchased a cd recording from one of the vendors and I remember the man who sold me the cd. I remember very clearly him placing the cd in a green bag and placing his business card in the bag as well. As I was leaving the sale booth I noticed his business card which read ' Native Sounds'. This gentleman's name was Mike Becker. Little did I know that this was the man who several years later would teach me how to play the Native Flute.
When I went to this same Pow Wow the following year, I continued to buy items from Mike. My father and I purchased a flute and my dad spoke to mike who told us that he gave lessons in Native flute playing. I continued to buy Native American Music and began collecting flutes. I began self teaching but was not happy with the sound I was achieving. I decided to consult Mike for professional lessons. When I attended another Pow wow, I went to Mike's booth, I sat down with him and spoke to him about what I wanted to do, the next day I called him and I set up my first lesson.
This was not the first time that I decided to play a musical instrument. When I was in grade school, I played the piano and the Clarinet. I performed in recitals and performed Clarinet in our school band. I was 18 years old and in College When I began my lessons of Native Flute. I have been receiving lessons from Mike ever since 1999. Mike Becker has been a fantastic teacher for me and a great inspiration to me. He holds a Bachelors degree in music and a Masters degree in Musicology (music history). He's taught at various different colleges, given presentations, traveling to various Pow wows selling his merchandise as well as performing. Mike enjoys playing flute but he also enjoys playing recorder; which I have seen him perform. He is an excellent Musician.
I don't hold a degree in music but rather I hold an Associate's degree in Ornamental Horticulture. I currently am working at a Nursery, Garden center and Landscaping company, I've been in this job for about 8 years now. I think that my love of nature and the outdoors coincides with my love for the flute and Native American History.
Each flute is made from wood, Red cedar being the most popular. Some of the other woods are Alaskan yellow cedar, cherry, and I have seen flutes made out of Birch and maple. River cane is also another material that flutes are made from. Some of the beautiful craftsmanship on the flutes represent nature such as the Eagle , the Bear or the Buffalo. Each flute sounds different, so you can never be satisfied with only one flute, it's good to have a collection. I own about 21 flutes. When I play the flute, I really enjoy improvising, just picking up the flute and playing something. There are also songs that Mike and I have written.
I am also a member of The American Indian Relief Council's, Circle of Friends. The American Indian Relief Council (AIRC) helps Native Americans improve the quality of their own lives by providing opportunities for them to bring about positive changes in their own communities.
Native Americans living on the reservations of the Northern Plains struggle daily with isolation, limited employment opportunities, and a harsh and resource-poor environment. The extreme poverty that many Native Americans face, weighs heavily on the elderly, children, and families. As a member of The Circle of Friends, I provide the Native people with a monthly donation that is used to provide food, Winter Fuel, and various other positive changes.

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