Performer & Teacher
Since leaving academia, James J. Pellerite has pursued a new career --- performing contemporary music on the Native American flute. His publishing company, JP-PUBLICATIONS, well established as a leader in the field of contemporary flute literature, has commissioned works by American composers for the Native flute. Beautiful compositions have been created by an impressive roster of outstanding musicians. They feature the Native flute in solo, chamber, and orchestral settings.

As a performer on the modern flute, Mr. Pellerite is well-known as an orchestral musician. He succeeded his renowned teacher, William Kincaid, as solo flutist of the Philadelphia Orchestra. He has held the position of principal flute also with the symphony orchestras of Detroit and Indianpolis and performed with orchestras of Chautauqua (NY), Radio City Music Hall (NYC), L’Orquestra Sinfonica de Puerto Rico, as well, the San Francisco Symphony, Dallas Symphony and the Minnesota Orchestra. His performances have included those under such eminent conductors as Leonard Bernstein, Pablo Casals, Neville Mariner, Dimitri Mitropoulos, Eugene Ormandy, Leopold Stokowski and Igor Stravinsky.

For many years he served as Professor of Flute at Indiana University, and many of his students now hold prominent university and symphony positions. During much of his career as a classical flutist and artist teacher he has appeared throughout the U.S., Canada, Mexico and abroad. Numerous residencies have included tours to Australia, Japan, Taiwan, Singapore and People’s Republic of China. For a return invitation by the National Youth Orchestra of Hong Kong he offered classes and woodwind seminars.

--- The teacher --- Let us share in the Excitement as
The NATIVE AMERICAN FLUTE GOES CLASSICAL

Throughout my career I have enjoyed opportunities to learn from all disciplines in music, and have experienced frequent moments of powerful influence. I have welcomed these with great eagerness and enthusiasm, as eclectic sources, and represented by valued crosscurrents. The gift of inspiration has been my reward. Conceptually, this is the platform for my new direction --- playing contemporary music on the Native American flute.

When hearing this flute for the first time, I immediately recognized its unique potentialities. Its traditional styles and pentatonic flavors evoked a magical sound that was as natural as the “grandeur of the West”. Its haunting expressiveness summoned a tonal beauty seldom heard. Inevitably, all performers are drawn to its pure and timeless sound.

--- My Mission --- As a dedicated musician I treasure the Native flute’s natural beauty, and respect the Indian’s spiritualistic approach to the instrument. I embrace these intangibles as principles, and imagine their musical intervention with the processes of classical instrumental techniques. The beauty of the Native flute is notable--- either from a mere improvisation, or a structured musical phrase. My purpose is to draw from its naturalness but within a new sphere of musical identity. I perceive a magical spirit that never leaves. It has made me proud to bring the Native flute into the classical arena by sharing in the creation of its new music. A great number of composers have already written wonderful compositions for this magnificent flute that now I may refer to as a “NEW WOODWIND INSTRUMENT”.

“Study the Instrument, but BE your own Pedagogue”

I invite instrumentalists to join in this unique musical experience, playing the Native flute in a classical manner. Even those with a brief exposure to classical instrumental influence will derive much pleasure from this experience.

A “formal” approach to the development of technique, tone production and the use of proper fingerings for the control of pitch is absolutely necessary. For this, we must exercise patience in organizing a daily practice routine. The primary goal is to conceptualize and structure musical phrases which will add another dimension to the flute’s capacity for expressiveness.

We must be guided by disciplined instrumental methods and be dedicated to practicing as though on a modern woodwind instrument. I offer here a simple format for practicing the more important aspects of musical performance on the Native American flute.

Some helpful guidelines to arrange your daily practice routine ---

  1. Long-tone studies -- They should be played to provide a secure base for instrumental control. Recognize the response of the “wood”. It will dictate the proper use of breath for each flute.

  2. Learn to play all diatonic scales that are possible on your flute. Practice slowly to ensure optimum tone quality and attempt to play these with expression.

  3. Chromatic scales also should be practiced slowly, with a careful action of the fingers over the tone holes.

  4. Learn to connect the notes -- Create the intervallic relationships (listening to each note!) to develop good intonation.

  5. Strive to produce “a liquid legato” in all scales and exercises (the secure slurring of all notes) and always strive for a beautiful soulful sound. Remember that many of the traditional tribal songs that were sung, now are being expressed also on this flute. Enhance the flute’s natural characteristics by adding a “chromatic” flavor to the instrument. This too can ring, and sing out as a haunting expression. Introduce your application of vibrato, particularly for those prominent notes of the musical phrase.

  6. The action and control of the fingers on the Native flute are as important as the proper use of embouchure on a modern woodwind. Be attentive to the memorization of fingerings while reading the notation. (Read notes, not fingerings!!) Musicians are trained to do so on modern instruments --- why not for the Native American flute?? Breath control and secure placement of the fingers in the scales and exercises are to be coordinated to assist in stabilizing intonation.

“Select your own music for study”

Special materials for practice on the Native flute can easily be adapted by borrowing musical phrases, and/or, exercises from any woodwind instrumental materials. These are to be selected for their overall musical and technical value. They must be carefully recreated for performance on your flute (according to the flute’s basic scale). Additionally, one-line solos from orchestral compositions of the great masters represent a valuable source for practice materials. These solos. or other phrases may be chosen at random, from whatever period of music attracts you most.

Those which I have selected as my own exercises have become my prime musical examples, and represent a resourceful collection of daily studies. They continue to assist in forming my technical base for the performance of contemporary music.

Our commissioned compositions (published by JP-Publications) also will contribute to an ongoing development of your Native flute technique. These may be selected according to the grade levels which are assigned to each composition. (A FREE copy of our complete catalogue of Publications is available upon request. Email your postal address to JP-PUBLICATIONS)

Performing our new music, with its GRADED technical demands, will contribute greatly to the overall development of your flute technique.

“The flute’s overpowering beauty of sound gives us the motivation to pursue its new identity --- creating disciplined music on the Native flute”.


Mr. Pellerite is available for Lecture/Demonstrations, Seminars and Recitals ---
Topics for his in-depth discussions that surround the performance of contemporary music on the Native flute have been planned for Music Classes in all Disciplines.
For additional information and available copies of his outlines please direct all inquiries to:

    ZALO/JP-Concerts & Lectures
    Phone: 812-339-8866
    P.O. Box 7273
    Bloomington, IN 47407