One of Patagonia’s most successful businesses, High Spirits Flutes, is celebrating its 25th anniversary this year. Originally based in California, the business moved to Patagonia in 1996. Owner Odell Borg says that “the climate, the grasslands, the mesquite groves, the wildlife, and the community” that drew him here have inspired many of the flutes he sells today.
From its origins as a primarily Native American tribal instrument, the native flute has grown in popularity and become a mainstream musical instrument, used in
nearly every form of music. The craftsmanship of Borg’s flutes—and his business
savvy—have contributed to as well as benefited from that evolution.
The High Spirits Flutes website contains a broad selection of flutes and related instruments, a blog with tips and lessons for new players, CDs, and, in honor
of the anniversary, a “Flute of the Month” offer, in which selected flutes are available at reduced prices. The anniversary also inspired Borg to write monthly musings on his development as a flute maker. The May entry explains why he attributes the sound quality and durability of his flutes in part to his “unibody” construction method, which eliminates
seams that can be affected by moisture, and a boring process he developed that provides
greater precision and tonal consistency.
One reason that this type of flute has gained popularity is its relatively short learning curve. Although it is used by experienced musicians who have mastered complex progressions and melodies, the flute can also be played by novices who find that they can
produce lovely simple tunes with little or no instruction. At Creative Spirit Artists Gallery in Patagonia, which carries a selection of High Spirits Flutes, it is not unusual to hear someone pick up a flute for the first time and be amazed at the sounds they can produce.
Borg notes that the native flute has also become a part of programs employed by therapists, ministers, and teachers who use it in hospitals, hospice facilities, prison outreach programs, 12-Step recovery programs, retirement homes, and children-at-risk programs. He sees the native flute’s future as one of continuing integration into the world of music, education, healing—and by people who just want to have the joy of music in their lives.
Says Borg, “Its melodic voice engages the heart, brings the joy of musical creation, and touches the spirit of all who play it . . . anything with so much positivity, soul, and power will be with us forever.”