OTC instructors combine to produce unique book

OTC instructors combine to produce unique book

Friday, January 11, 2013

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A collaboration by two OTC instructors, one in music and the other in art, has resulted in a unique music instruction book for those looking to learn to play the Native American flute.

The Mel Bay-published book, "First Lessons Native American Flute: How to Sit on a Rock" was developed and written by music instructor Andrew Bishko, who brought in art instructor Tom McCune to do all of the book's illustrations.

Bishko, who has been playing the Native American flute since 2004, said the book is not so much an instruction book but a guide that urges experimentation and creativity in learning how to play. That's why the title includes the suggestion to learn how to sit on a rock.

"If you want to learn how to play, go sit on a rock and play. Let the flute teach you by imitating the sounds of the wind and birds," he said.

Bishko, a classically trained musician who plays the traditional flute, piano and saxophone, said he loves world music and was introduced to the Native American flute many years ago while playing with a reggae band when a man handed him one of the wooden flutes.

"I vowed to get one some day and 15 years later I got one in Alaska," Bishko said. "I only played it outside for two years trying to imitate bird songs. I got the idea to turn what I was doing into a book because no one was doing it as I was."

After putting a draft of the book together, Bishko contacted McCune, an accomplished artist in ink drawings and watercolor painting, who was teaching at OTC.

"I loved his watercolors. His graphics are so clean. They flow right into my text," Bishko said.

McCune, who has been painting for 45 years, said Bishko showed him the rough draft and liked the theme.

"He had a great storyline, the seasons and the sounds of nature. He had original ideas of what he wanted to show. I put his verbal ideas into illustrations," McCune said.

McCune admits he was a little nervous having never illustrated a music instruction book.

"I donít know anything about music. I can't play anything but the radio," he said.