MADELEINE BRAND, host:

From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Madeleine Brand.

MELISSA BLOCK, host:

And I'm Melissa Block.

Today at the National Flute Association Convention in New York City, the world-renowned flutist James Galway tried to break a record. He led an attempt to challenge the Guinness World Record for the largest flute ensemble. That record is held by a group of 1,975 Chinese students.

Reporter Lara Pellegrinelli was a part of the effort.

LARA PELLEGRINELLI: When I was a kid, I wanted to play the flute just like James Galway. His album, "The Man with the Golden Flute," came into my life as I struggled with my nickel-plated Bundy. Grown-up fans seemed wowed by Galway's "Flight of the Bumblebee," but it was a waltz that held me spellbound.

(Soundbite of music)

PELLEGRINELLI: It was such a pure expression of joy that I could feel it down to the tips of my braids. If only I could have a golden flute, a treasure rivaling my grandparents' electroplated flatware, used only for the most special occasions.

(Soundbite of music)

PELLEGRINELLI: I never got a golden flute, but when I was invited to perform with James Galway, in honor of his 70th birthday at the National Flute Association Convention, it was a dream come true.

Unidentified Woman: Can I trouble you to fill out a registration form for the Guinness event?

PELLEGRINELLI: Okay, so I wasn't the only one who'd been invited to play with Sir James. There were nearly 2,000 other flutists there to help break the Guinness world record. I rounded up four to help me rehearse the medley of Galway favorites on the program.

Mr. DENIS BOURIAKOV (Principal Flutist, Metropolitan Opera Orchestra): Okay, so one, two, three.

(Soundbite of music)

PELLEGRINELLI: Denis Bouriakov, the new principal flutist of the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra; jazz flutist Anne Drummond; and nine-year-old Emma Resmini.

(Soundbite of music)

PELLEGRINELLI: Honestly, I hadn't played in a decade, years in which I've become asthmatic, and the muscles in my face had apparently atrophied. But I figured if Leslie Stahl had the guts to play the piano on "60 Minutes," I'd survive. I practiced the lowly fourth flute part every day, unlike little Emma.

Ms. EMMA RESMINI (Flutist): I just played through it once or twice and then once or twice with my sister.

PELLEGRINELLI: You're making me look bad.

Making 2,000 flutes look good was the job of the conductor, Sir James Galway.

(Soundbite of music)

Sir JAMES GALWAY (Conductor): Can you play it a bit nicer because you're (unintelligible).

(Soundbite of laughter)

Sir GALWAY: It doesn't sound nice.

PELLEGRINELLI: I didn't know if I could play it any nicer. I threw myself at the feet of the master and asked if he had any words of wisdom.

Sir GALWAY: There's nothing I can tell you that's going to make it any better. You just do what you can do, and that's it. You can't, in one day, suddenly become better.

PELLEGRINELLI: I played all week.

Sir GALWAY: I played for the last 61 years religiously.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Sir GALWAY: You see? No, it's not going to make any difference. You just enjoy yourself. That's my advice.

PELLEGRINELLI: Those words lifted a burden from my shoulders, and I let the mighty winds of the fourth flute section carry me.

(Soundbite of music)

PELLEGRINELLI: This morning, my playing attained new heights, even if I couldn't quite produce the most glorious, golden tones. Luckily for me, and for everyone else, I'd inherited my grandparents electroplate.

For NPR News, I'm Lara Pellegrinelli in New York.

(Soundbite of music)

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