October 23 to November 5, 2000
I grew up in Bremerton, Washington and began studying piano at the age of six, partly due to an early hearing loss. My mother believed I needed ear training, even though the tonsils were removed and my hearing restored, I still was not a good listener. The other reason for lessons was that I had taught myself to read in a zigzag pattern, and since she was a teacher and a violinist, reasoned that teaching me to read music would straighten me out. (I explained to her how to read "Run, Spot, run" from either direction). My best piano lesson was when I was about seven and my teacher's three-year old twins emptied the box of gummed stars into the grand piano. That was memorable!
In fifth grade I began flute instruction. The first thing I learned from my elderly teacher was to stand still. The second thing was that I must never march with a flute! He told me his story about growing up and marching in a band that took a shortcut through a farmer's field. He stepped in a hole and cut the tip of his nose by catching it in the embouchure hole. So, I acquired a D-flat piccolo, a Cundy-Bettony. It still plays "Stars and Stripes" just fine. My first solo experience was playing the Bizet Minuet from memory. I was accustomed to doing piano recitals but this felt different. The judge complimented my vibrato, which was actually my chin shaking. Anyway, I got a Superior rating and continued to do so each year.
I began travelling from Bremerton to Seattle for lessons with Frank Horsfall when I was eleven and in the seventh grade. My mother went with me, as it was a long trip: an hour's ferry ride across Puget Sound, a walk to the bus, the bus ride to north Seattle, the 45 minute lesson and home again. All in all, it was about a six- hour trip. Mr. Horsfall was worth it. I studied with him eight years and although I no longer wish to go for a ferry ride, I have many fond memories of the high school friends who all trekked to Seattle for clarinet and violin lesson from the symphony players. The 8:30 AM ferry on Saturday was a popular place to be.
Mr. Horsfall was an inspirational teacher and for me more like a father figure, idol, friend and confidant. He was the one who placed the order for my Powell flute, by writing directly to Verne Q. The correspondence between Frank and Verne must have been something! I have a collection of letters from Verne in response to the ones my mother wrote asking him, please, when, would Katherine's flute be ready? We were so patient waiting for that new flute. Three years had gone by and the letters were getting very chatty, partly due to my mother's gift with words. Verne explained in one letter how the work had fallen behind due to three snowstorms in March, workers out with the flu and the electricity going out. All the letters are signed with a very large "Verne Q. Powell". How amazed I was to learn the value of that flute some twenty years later. This was the flute my widowed schoolteacher mother managed to buy for me and I remember the agonizing day I had to decide between a B foot and a C# trill because there was no money for both. Thanks, Mom!
As I went through high school I also became principal flute in the Bremerton Symphony and acquired a silver piccolo (not D-flat). I was young and inexperienced but Mr. Horsfall saw me through Brahms symphonies, Peter and the Wolf and Scheherazade. My piano studies continued at the University of Puget Sound in Tacoma. I accompanied all the choirs at school, did the usual musicals and supported my friends at solo contests. My last big performance (without beta-blockers or bananas) was to perform the Warsaw Concerto with the college orchestra.
I graduated magna cum laude (1962) from Eastern Washington University (then State College) in Cheney, Washington with a degree in Music Education, major in flute and piano. It was there that I met my husband, Jerry, who was studying pipe organ and tuba. After graduation, a commission into the US Army for Jerry, and a wedding, we moved to France for three years. We did lots of sight seeing, and listened to organs in cathedrals throughout Europe, saw "Rigoletto" at the Paris Opera House and heard the dreadful local brass band rehearse once a week.
Our son was born in Verdun, France (1965) and when he was a year old my husband went to Viet Nam and John and I stayed in Tacoma, Washington. It was there that I returned to playing with the symphony and teaching once again, only this time it was elementary music classes in two schools and 900 students. My first day on the job included my introduction to the principal, who declared that music made him "physically ill" and that concerts were to be short. Then I discovered that the previous singing teacher was such a perfectionist that the 6th graders refused to sing a note until their teacher began singing, rather off tune, but with great gusto.
We moved to Oregon and our two girls were born in 1974 and 1975. Shortly after the girls began attending a private pre-school and kindergarten, I was asked to take over the music program at the school, 220 students in ten classes. We're talking about 4-5 year olds, now…not flute students! I taught tiny tots their songs, dances and games. It was such great fun! When the school needed a regular kindergarten teacher, I could not resist.
In addition to teaching and family obligations, I had thirty-five flute students and was principal flute/piccolo in the Beaverton Community Band.
This was my "involved" time of life. The list got longer. I accompanied the school choirs as a volunteer and coached high school flute sections. After joining the Greater Portland Flute Society, I became the newsletter editor, which I enjoyed for eight years. When the board members suggested holding a Flute Fair I became the chairman of the first fairs in Portland, which have expanded each year with outstanding guest artists, exhibitors and increased attendance.
My family has grown up happy, healthy and with their own interests in music. They support my passion for the flute and attend my concerts. I, in turn, try to listen to the blues, Greatful Dead, Phish and even Dan Hicks from the early 70's. John is a graduate of MIT and spends most of his time in front of a computer screen in Seattle (or at Mariners games). Suzanne and husband Nat are planning to make me a grandmother in February. She played bassoon in the Portland Youth Philharmonic and cluttered up the living room with a contra-bassoon, in addition to the string bass her sister, Karin, had brought home from school. Suzanne's career in merchandizing is on hold for now and Karin has graduated from Southern Oregon University. The children have moved on, but our house is still full of instruments: flutes, 3 piccolos, an alto flute, a recurved flute, a set of recorders, bamboo flutes, a ceramic flute, a baby grand piano, and Italian 140-bass accordion (don't ask).
My gratitude goes to the managers of the FLUTE List for their time and effort keeping the List running smoothly, watching our manners and giving flute lovers a chance to participate in a worldwide flute forum. I never know what questions will appear on the screen and am always intrigued by the variety of answers. Some are deleted immediately and others are printed and put into a notebook that keeps growing with intelligent ideas from all the contributors to the List. Thanks again, Larry, for adding my name to the Featured Member.Kathy Burroughs