My mother dreamed my name before I was born, with the spelling I use. It is also a surname in the Netherlands. In one of the dialects of Frisian, it means "necklace," and in Finnish, it is a geologic term for a dip (which some of my friends find apropos.)
At age 12, I saw an engraved drawing of a panpipe in a dictionary from about the year 1900, and knew immediately that I wanted one. My father helped me locate what may have been the only one available in Amarillo at the time (Thanks, Dad) and I have been an aficionado of wooden flutes ever since. My great-grandmother was the person who first introduced me to the effect music has on the faeries and vice-versa.
Growing since 1991, in elflocks (as they were called in English, centuries before Rastafarianism) since 1993.
How "difficult" an instrument is depends on A) What you already have experience playing, and B) at what level you want to play. For instance, it could be argued that piano is easier than a 6-hole flute, because anyone can make a note sound on the piano, while it takes practice to make a note, or certainly a sweet-sounding one, on the flute. Many people assume that the piano would be necessarily more difficult because of its range and polyphony (many notes at once.) But virtuosos on Irish flute, like Kevin Crawford or Matt Molloy, or a master bansuri-player like Pt. Hari Prasad Chaurasia, spend as much time learning and refining their skills as concert pianists.
But to give you a shorter answer: of the instruments I play, the ocarina is one I often recommend to people first starting on an instrument, because it is very "forgiving" in its response, and a range of different techniques can be applied and still sound good. The two most difficult types to play are the Japanese shakuhachi, and obliquely-blown flutes like kaval and nay, which took me months of regularly adjusting my embouchre (mouth position) until I consistently had a decent sound, but once I learned these techniques, I could play almost any tubular object, from crutches to ice cubes to hollowed-out french fries.
Recorder technique is very specific, and it is strange just how many instruments people ask me this question concerning. One unfortunate thing about the common practice of teaching kids recorder as a first instrument is that too few of those teaching have themselves heard virtuoso recorder music (it was one of the primary instruments of European art music from the Middle Ages to the Baroque,) let alone exposed their students to the music of recorder experts. Thus too many people in my generation have come to falsely regard recorders as just "educational" or "toy" instruments. "Whistle" or "duct flute" are more general terms for a flute that is sounded by blowing into it, rather than forming an embouchre. So when someone asks me whether a whistle is like a recorder, I explain how, historically speaking, it's the other way around: a recorder is a specific kind of whistle designed for better chromatics (sharps and flats.) To hear incredible recorder music, both period historical and modern compositions, I would recommend such artists as Saskia Coolen, Paul Leenhouts, Frances Blaker, Tom Zajac, and Jan Jackson.
Linguistically, Celtic refers to the cultures which speak/spoke one of the Celtic languages, which include Irish, Scots-Gaelic, and Manx (the q-Celtic branch,) and Welsh, Breton, and Cornish (the p-Celtic branch). Many more Celtic languages were once spoken in continental Europe, but none has survived in writing beyond place-names and inscriptions. Culturally, and specifically musically, the term extends to musical styles traditionally performed in the above cultures, including forms preserved in diaspora (one of the standard collections that Irish musicians use for reference, both in Ireland and around the world, was compiled under the direction of Francis O'Neill, a Chief of Police in Chicago), and arguably the music of some related cultures with similar musical features, such as Galicia and Asturias in NW Spain.
First, I shall explain why people should never ask that question. Second, I will provide other ways to ask this question that are not patently offensive. Not only was the flute the instrument of choice for Pan the goat-boy and other wild deities of Greece, it was also played by the Spartans as they approached a battlefield (some say as a dirge for all the enemy they were about to dispatch). The shakuhachi was not only played by the dispossessed Samurais of Japan (in one of the great forgeries of history, they granted themselves exclusive rights to play for tips with that flute), they also used it as a weapon when needed, making them from the thick root-end of bamboo. So when you ask a musician playing an instrument with centuries of tradition if they play a "real" flute (i.e., like you played in band camp) be prepared to deal with an angry psycho with Ninja-like skills and a pirate's vocabulary, because within every person who loves wooden flute is an inner berserker. Aarrrrgh.
Now- ahem- if one wanted to phrase the question differently, one might ask if the person also plays a "Boehm flute," after the name of the man who invented the keywork system, or it is also acceptable to refer to it as a "silver flute" or "symphonic flute." And yes, at times I play Boehm flute as well. It has both advantages and disadvantages compared to early classical flutes, depending on what piece is being played.
No. Around the world, folklorists estimate that 85% of cultures have an active or latent belief in some form of "little people." The reason why the faeries of diverse cultures are not as widely recognized as they perhaps could be is twofold. Such beliefs have often been used by people in empires as one of the justifications to invade/convert/destroy indigenous cultures, so the people from these cultures quickly learn not to share their beliefs with the dominating culture. Secondly, the portrayal of Celtic and other Western European faeries in pop culture differs so much (in the form of such things as Victorian flower-fairies and sanitized Disney versions of literary fairies) from the traditional beliefs that people from indigenous cultures who have beings similar to, for example, the sidhe of traditional Irish tales, would never consider the possibility- because they can't imagine conflating what they know with what they have been lead to believe are depictions of "fairies." For some interesting reading on some non-European faeries, I would recommend the following books- they are hard to find outside of university libraries, but they can quickly change what you thought you knew about faerie-lore:
Although, like many symbols, the use of the seven pointed star has varied historically (e.g., in the National Library of Ireland is a seven-pointed star drawn by W.B. Yeats while in the Order of the Golden Dawn as an emblem of the planet Mars,) currently people who study faerie-lore will often wear it and display it to be recognized by others with similar interest. To the extent that the five-pointed star represents humankind (think of DaVinci's "Vitruvian Man" à la The Davinci Code,) the seven-pointed star represents fae-kind (now imagine the Vitruvian man as a lithe faerie with wings, and the resulting geometric proportions.)
The first consistent spelling of the word was arguably used by Edmund Spenser in The Faerie Queene. Folklorist Katharine M. Briggs found around 100 different spelling variations for the word in English-language literature, so most any conceivable way of spelling it has no doubt been used by someone. In this age of search engines, using Spenser's spelling has become a common way of distinguishing the representation of these "faeries" from the numerous pop and commercial "fairies."
I can customize my shows to many different specialty audiences. The storytelling in most of my solo shows, particularly the faerie-lore, is not aimed at young children. For audiences largely consisting of kids younger than school-aged, I would recommend interactive ensemble performances such as Where Faeries Dance or my show Winds of the World combined with the Musical Instrument Petting Zoo.
The music I play stem from many traditions where four generations might be making and enjoying these tunes together. So it can work well for mixed audiences.
The faerie-lore that gives context to these melodies sometimes demands more from audience members. Although we use the term "Fairy Tale" (a direct translation of the French Contes des Fées) to describe stories aimed at young children, Faerie-Lore is much different. Most traditional tales of fae describe gray areas in the interaction of cultures, the perception of the world and time, and are not as clear-cut as literary Fairy Stories. For the stories that often accompany these tunes, I have observed that often the more cultural knowledge a listener has, the more he or she will appreciate the context that my stories give the music. So, unlike many performers, I try to never underestimate my audience, and even when aiming a program at young children I try to leave some "room for them to grow into" these tales. Many people can appreciate the authenticity and complexity of the material I choose, who would not be part of the usual crowd at a faerie event.