Dan Hooke may have built a career around music and instruments, but he said he would never consider himself a musician.
“I just was never musically trained. I’m really clumsy,” Hooke said. “I’m more of a creator than a musician. I like to build.”
Hooke, who works at The Kosmic Shaman in Nob Hill, crafts bamboo flutes and fixes drums. Hooke carves each flute by hand, whittling holes into the freshly grown bamboo, most of which he grows himself. Before Hooke is done, he slowly burns an image across the underbelly of each flute, giving each instrument a unique signature.
Hooke said local flute-maker Ingrid Burg sparked his interest in making flutes when he met her at the ASUNM Arts & Crafts Fair in 2006. The two connected over a shared interest in working with their hands, he said, so he worked under Burg as an apprentice for a year, learning the tricks of the flute-making trade.
Dan Hooke heats up a tool used to brand designs onto his handmade bamboo flutes. Hooke said each design is unique, a signature for each flute.
“The first flute I made was the most inspiring. It had a great piece of art, it had a samurai image, sitting in the lotus position, rain pouring down on his patty hat. It had a beautiful voice,” he said. “My teacher Ingrid played it, she shed a tear and said ‘I’ve obviously taught you everything that I can; you can take this art somewhere else.’”
After his apprenticeship, Hooke said he went on to promote his work at small shops around Albuquerque. In 2008, Hooke’s networking led him to volunteer at Peacecraft, an arts and crafts store in Nob Hill. Hooke said he began fixing drums for the store after noticing most of its equipment was in poor shape.
“I’d like to think there’s a lot of drums out there that are on the shelf or in the closet, and they don’t get played, but really there’s a spirit within the drum that needs to be shared. That’s the drive: I’m helping somebody grow in some way,” he said.
After volunteering at the store for a year, Hooke said he began selling his flutes at The Kosmic Shaman and the Rainbow Gathering, an annual international gathering that promotes peace and community.
Hooke said he looks for a connection between his customer and a flute before selling to that person.
“There’s an exchange you get from another person when they find their flute — or when their flute finds them, rather. There’s a sense of satisfaction that’s almost unsurpassed; you’re giving a person a new outlook on life and a different practice to partake in,” he said. “You won’t find me flipping burgers for people — that appreciation isn’t there.”
Elizabeth Love, one of Hooke’s students, plays two bamboo flutes she bought from him. Love said she appreciates Hooke’s approach, because everyone has a personal connection with his or her flute.
“He really takes time when you are interested in learning how to play; he takes time to sit with you and teach you, so you have some kind of theory and knowledge,” Love said. “You have a unique artist who is hands-on and a wonderful teacher and guide.”