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Hey Jef. How did you come to start playing the flute?
I come from a musical family. My dad and his brother play guitar and sing, my great uncle played banjo, and at family events on my dad’s side there would usually be a jam session where people would play an instrument or sing. My grandma on my mom’s side plays piano.
One day, when I was about 10 years old my parents asked me to pick an instrument I would like to take private lessons on. For some reason, the first thing that came into my mind was flute. I’m not really sure where that came from, as I didn’t know anyone who played the flute, and I’m not really even sure how much exposure I had to the instrument at the time. I know it was around that time that I heard a famous Canadian flautist, Moe Koffman in concert … but I have a feeling it was after I started. It may have been due to seeing a couple cool looking Alexander Zonjic records my dad had. I think in a lot of ways it could be best described as fate.
My arms were actually too short for the reach of the keys, so I had to start out by playing recorder for a year; which is pretty much the exact same fingering.
I started out taking classical lessons, worked hard on it, and stuck with it for a long time. I always felt more of a connection to pop, R&B, and hip hop. The first song I lifted was Phil Collins’ “Do You Remember?” Things progressed from there to lifting other styles of music.
The first R&B song I performed with someone else outside my lessons was likely Mariah Carey’s “I Don’t Wanna Cry.” I picked up the sheet music, and had her learn the accompaniment for it. Mariah has always been a big influence on my playing.