Mon, Aug 22, 2011 - Page 15 News List

Octogenarian makes flutes out of walking canes
八十六歲翁 柺杖魔笛取悅眾人

Chiu Kuo-chih, right, plays his flute which, doubles as a walking cane, with flute teacher Hua Pei, center, and guitarist Su Meng-feng in Taipei on Aug. 8.

Photo: Liao Chen-huei, Taipei Times

It’s hard to believe that a walking cane can make such sweet melodies, but for a decade now, the 86-year-old Chiu Kuo-chih has been using scissors to make hand-made flutes out of walking canes. He has already made over 40 of these unique instruments, and become known locally as an elderly offbeat flute maker.

Hua Pei, a flute teacher of twenty years, was quite surprised at the accurate intonation of his flutes. Hua, who studied music in France, was so moved when she heard the story of how much Chiu loves music that she decided to present him with a gold-plated silver flute which she had had and cherished for many years. Beside himself with joy, Chiu said the flute was by far the most valuable gift he has ever received and that he would like for her to become his teacher.

Growing up as a child there were many mouths to feed in the Chiu household. He was the sixth oldest out of 12 children. He received a Japanese education growing up during the Japanese era. After graduating from primary school, he started working as a child laborer. It was around this time that Chiu saw someone playing a flute and decided to make his own since his family was too poor to afford such luxuries.

Chiu worked as a blacksmith and a knife whetter most of his life and never had any children of his own. After retiring he fell in love with hiking in the mountains. During his hikes he would pick up pieces of bamboo and add wooden handles to them to make walking canes for himself. The thought of having a flute to serenade people with whenever he rested during his hikes eventually inspired him to start making flutes out of his walking canes. Chiu is extremely fond of playing Taiwanese songs and Japanese nursery rhymes on his flutes. His fellow hikers seem to appreciate the novelty of his invention too. Chiu has already given away around a dozen of his walking cane flutes.



1. offbeat adj.

特異的 (te2 yi2 de5)

例: The teacher’s offbeat teaching style always kept her students from falling asleep during class.


2. inspire v.

給予靈感 (gei2 yu3 ling2 gan3)

例: After I heard him play, I was inspired to go home immediately after the concert to practice my cello.


3. novelty n.

新奇事物 (xin1 qi2 shi4 wu4)

例: It’s hard to imagine the novelty of the television when it was first invented nearly a century ago because of its ubiquity now.







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