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#1 2007-07-25 10:14:58

Harazda
Member
Registered: 2007-06-07
Posts: 126

Teacher/No Teacher

Alright... picking this up from the Ask The Pro zone...

Watazumi, commenting on his piece "Tatebue Mudai," said the following:

"This is only the player's opinion but when your music begins to live within you, notated or practiced pieces become tangential, without the ability to bring forth your full power.  Rather, it is only music which is played according to your level of power at that moment, and which expresses your true state of mind at that instant, that is truly alive."  Tatebue Mudai is described as "pure improvisation" by Watazumi in his commentary.

I thought this quote might be a good place to start.

In a conceivably related spirit, Paul Horn, in the notes to his collaboration CD with Nakai in Canyon de Chelly sates, "The music is totally improvised which is the only way to capture our true and innermost feelings."  Sorry if this reference is meaningless or irrelevant to some people, but I think it is cogent here.

Just to cut to the chase, I think the issue is basically twofold, in that it reflects the issue of authenticity in the context of the issue of the meaning of Buddhist realization vis-a-vis music for music's sake in a social setting.

Now - for the record - I have always played alone, since 1974.  No teachers, other than several million playings of Watazumi and a few others.  33 years.  That's a lot of hot air!

Acknowledging the power of rationalization, nonetheless I always felt that honkyoku was too confining.  I remember saying to people, "Who would want to spend a year playing 'Mary Had A Little Lamb' over and over again, only to finally move on to 'Michael Row The Boat Ashore' for another year's endeavor?"

Instead, I was always interested in getting to the heart of Buddhist realization from the very start.  Yeah, I know... typical impetuous American. Maybe... maybe not.

One aspect of the debate may actually center on hotchiku vs. shakuhachi from the get-go.  Frankly, I can relate to both paths (are they two?).  I can relate to polished studio sound quite nicely.  Just last night I was hanging with my 2.4 Tai Hei Master jiari model that I absolutely adore.  It's a great "tool of the breath," regardless of it's super-duper sleek Jaguar polish.  I put it down and easily transitioned over to my 2.93 self-made wide bore absolutely natural (I'm lazy) hotchiku.  So, it's not like I'm stuck on one side of that equation, but I AM stuck in the notion that playing these things is not about proficiency and technique so much as it is about realization.  This may be the fly in the oimtment for many who are anti-rebel.  For many, it's probably not about realization at all!

Can a person break through the bonds of attachment to this life through the use of hotchiku (and shakuhachi?) in a self-illumined setting?  Was this the aim of the first player?... or the first group of players?  What would those guys say about Watazumi and Yokoyama?  What would they say about the komoso/komuso transition?  What would Daruma say about "tangential" practice?... would he liken it to sitting before a wall?  These are intereting questions.

In my own life, after spending so much time as a wandering nobody in the wilds of nowhere (now here?), it has been a great joy in recent years to work with some traditional notation and get at least a little rooting in some recognized earth.  Again (or still), I am alone here.  BUT, I would LOVE to make contact with a teacher, unlearn some errorful ways (they must be there!) and make a connection to a lineage.  I think I would run up to spend time with Takegawa in B.C. One thing I know through many years of Buddhist practice is that connection to lineage is perhaps the most important aspect of following the Path... though for some people, no matter how connected they are, they still never seem to "get it," because they still are basically only worshipping themselves... and there isn't one.

Being mindful of Watazumi's statement above, if he felt that way about improvisation, why didn't he hang out there all the time?  Perhaps he did, when he was not in a recording studio!  But do his LP releases reflect the sole marketability of honkyoku? Was he trapped within a system that he could've done without?

At this point, I'd like to enter silence and see what kind of feedback arcs back around...

-Chris H.

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#2 2007-07-25 11:45:05

Moran from Planet X
Member
From: Here to There
Registered: 2005-10-11
Posts: 1521
Website

Re: Teacher/No Teacher

Joseph Bueys, the modern Dada artist and co-founder of the Greens Party in Germany, made a lot of utopian statements to the effect that  'every (man) is an artist ....' which was then interpreted as "anybody can make art" which gave lots of licence to people scribbling crap on walls and generally contributing to urban visual pollution.

Of course, Beuys was a deeply traditionally schooled artist.

Watazumi's statements can likewise be taken to rationalize a number of postures like "Freedom from Pedagogy" (i.e. Who needs teachers and their 'tyranny' ?, Do your own thing etc.) without keeping in mind that Watazumi played traditional Myoan (Meian) shakuhachi for may years before making his improvisational recordings. (There used to be a link on the forum to a Japanese page which contained some 78's of Watazumi playing Tamuke, San' Ya, Saji etc that presumably were from the 30s or 40s.)


"I have come here to chew bubblegum and kick ass...and I am all out of bubblegum." —Rowdy Piper, They Live!

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#3 2007-07-25 12:18:48

philipgelb
Chef, musician, teacher
From: Oakland, California
Registered: 2005-10-08
Posts: 135
Website

Re: Teacher/No Teacher

Harazda wrote:

Acknowledging the power of rationalization, nonetheless I always felt that honkyoku was too confining. 

I remember saying to people, "Who would want to spend a year playing 'Mary Had A Little Lamb' over and over again, only to finally move on to 'Michael Row The Boat Ashore' for another year's endeavor?"

first, how can you be confined by something you have never approached or studied?

Do you have a similiar approach to acupuncture? Why bother with begining techniques when you need not be confined to them and just jump to advanced ones, eh?

I could write more but instead i have to go teach some serious students smile

phil


Philip Gelb
shakuhachi player, teacher & vegetarian chef
Oakland, CA
http://philipgelb.com  http://myspace.com/philipgelb, http://myspace.com/inthemoodforfood

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#4 2007-07-25 13:51:25

Zakarius
Member
From: Taichung, TAIWAN
Registered: 2006-04-12
Posts: 361

Re: Teacher/No Teacher

Part of the source of debate in this particular topic apparently revolves around the fact that not all shakuhachi practitioners are aiming for the same things. As a proponent of DIY honkyoku, my goal in playing the shakuhachi isn't for religious reasons. It's not to stroke my ego. I don't sit in 'proper' specified positions and mull over the meaning of the universe (or 'nothing' as the case may be). I play the shakuhachi as an emotional release.

I believe that the center of all 'powerful' art is emotion. A painting which angers people or makes them sad is just as powerful as that which makes them beam. If you listen to me play and feel nothing, then I have failed as a performer. If others feel and you do not, consider the possibility that you have failed as a listener.

In my first few months of playing I hit upon a 'melody' which I wish I'd recorded... I gave away the flute I played it on and the 'feeling' can't be reproduced on my current flutes. When I played those notes, they made me cry. I don't cry easily so there was something visceral in the release of those sounds. I'd like to think that others might have cried had they heard the sounds as well. That is art. It was unrefined, sure, but it was pure. Perhaps Nyokai is right... perhaps it was foolish to think I could skip the steps he outlined above.

I practice very regularly and am pleased with my slow but steady technical advancement and of course the emotional release. If I had access to a nearby teacher, I would certainly give it a try. (And no, I'm not really interested in Internet/video lessons.) My path may require twice as long to reach some notable level of technical proficiency but it's entirely possible that my art will bring you something new.

Finally, I'd like to thank all of the participating members of this forum. In a way, just as I am my own teacher, you all are as well.

Zakarius


塵も積もれば山となる -- "Chiri mo tsumoreba yama to naru." -- Piled-up specks of dust become a mountain.

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#5 2007-07-25 14:08:36

Harazda
Member
Registered: 2007-06-07
Posts: 126

Re: Teacher/No Teacher

Good points, one and all.  Philip, you know, if there'd been a real teacher around Tampa years ago I'm sure I would've been their student.  Acupuncture?  A highly regulated invasive procedure.  You have to be taught.  You're right; you have to learn the basics to move forward into the arcane.  TCM acupuncture schools don't teach the arcane at all.  You have to get that later on your own!

Like I said, I really enjoy working with notation, though I can truly imagine just working on one peice for one's entire life.  I can even imagine blowing ro for one's entire life!

If a dokyoku piece can be said to supplant sutra chanting, and if one particular sutra could be said to be enough to bring one to realization, then could study of one piece of dokyoku bring one to Enlightenment?  I'd wager that the answer to this question is yes.

One note?  Why not?  I was pretty jazzed lately when I saw that group ro practice is going down in Vancouver.  And Seth in NYC has the same aspiration... to me that's really cool.

Please understand y'all: I'm not putting down standard student/teacher method at all.  I just think that the Innate Nature spoken of by Lord Buddha, the Patriarchs, all Lamas and Gurus has the ability to activate in people naturally and should never be put down.  There's a big difference between "New Age doodling" and playing from pure heart shen and realizing the non-dual.  I would certainly hope that my efforts, for example, are never seen as being so pointless, fluffy, and without meaning.  That being said,  I'm sure that getting grounded in tradition can only solidify one's stance within the art... that's why I'm so open to connecting with teachers and other afficionados at this time along my own personal journey.

Nyokai, no question I've placed the cart before the horse!  What might be the Causal Law behind this bass-ackwards approach?  What did I do in former lives to deserve this fate?  Ha ha!  One thing for sure: we're all lucky people just to be able to be around these flutes.

Last edited by Harazda (2007-07-25 14:12:50)

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#6 2007-07-25 14:19:33

Horst Xenmeister
Shiham
From: Germany
Registered: 2007-05-26
Posts: 69
Website

Re: Teacher/No Teacher

If we think of playing of shakuhachi or of of hocchiku or nerve saw without any lessons or teachers then, do we place in relation to dilemma the music tone? That well are and us to be left or do feel it stink and can people be vomited good? If we answer this question in the confirming or even, attempt is to failing at this experiment there NO noises in the world. Therefore I play my cast bore, until I see Nirwana volatile, is it the best way?


i am horst

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#7 2007-07-25 14:24:11

Harazda
Member
Registered: 2007-06-07
Posts: 126

Re: Teacher/No Teacher

Zakarius, I'm totally behind what you're doing.  The flute is medicine.  The other day I gave a 2.0 flute to a patient of mine.  You wouldn't believe what a mess this fellow is.  There are medical reasons why the man should be dead, though he's quite functional.  I sent him home with a flute and advised him to just blow down the tube even if he couldn't get a note.  "Extend the outbreath," I said... as doing so nourishes yin (there's a little arcane info for you guys!).  I told him that when thoughts of being beaten up by his father - or whatever tragedies in his life - came into his mind, to blow them down the flute and out the end.  Gone!  Extend the outbreath, tonify Pectoral Qi, nourish yin, calm shen, achieve tranquility.  No beliefs, no concepts... just the raw breath and interface of awareness with... appearances.

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#8 2007-07-25 15:52:35

radi0gnome
Member
From: Kingston NY
Registered: 2006-12-29
Posts: 1030
Website

Re: Teacher/No Teacher

Even though on that other thread I took the stance that learning without a teacher is fine, I think I'll add that I see some similarities to another hobby of mine, dancing. That's club dancing I'm talking about, swing, hustle, etc... not really ballroom, but for those who don't know  you might as well call it ballroom to get an idea of what I'm talking about. You absolutely need a teacher to have a wide vocabulary. But, if you travel around some, you'll find large communities of dancers, cajun/zydeco and salsa comes to mind, who had no teachers but have a handful of moves that they were briefly shown or imitated that they execute so smoothly that it's enough to make a student who's been learning from a dance teacher for 5 years cry. As Zakarius mentioned to me offline, practice is of utmost importance. Until anyone can pick up the instrument, put it to their mouth, and play the note they intend at the volume they intend with the attack they intend for the duration they intend, there's a lot of practicing and learning you can be doing on your own. A teacher may be able to help some with issues of simply having a command over the instrument, but for the most part the key is pratice, practice, and more practice. Some may get bored and need some logical mind kind of teaching for notation, repertoire, and style in the meantime, but I think you can go really far on your own just learning to blow. It should make it a lot easier if you ever decide to go the student/teacher route in the future too.


"Now birds record new harmonie, And trees do whistle melodies;
Now everything that nature breeds, Doth clad itself in pleasant weeds."
~ Thomas Watson - England's Helicon ca 1580

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#9 2007-07-25 16:36:44

Seth
Member
From: Scarsdale, NY
Registered: 2005-10-24
Posts: 270

Re: Teacher/No Teacher

I am enjoying this string greatly as it hits on many topics of great interest.

And I greatly appreciate everyone’s spirit of openness on this topic in listening to others. 

Again, I am of the opinion that the successful study of the traditional music of the shakuhachi requires a teacher.

And, yes, no argument, there is a tremendous amount one can do, beautiful moving music, that can be created outside of this tradition – but the tradition, by definition, can only be handed down by someone else. 

I know the above point has already been said before – but now allow me to embark on a self-indulgent rant about the value of that tradition:

For me this is one of the most beautiful aspects of studying shakuhachi – that, with years of practice, you can fit into a lineage and be part of a very small but vibrant chain of people who have decided to pass this music down to another generation.  I am utterly fascinated that this chain starts with a small group of Japanese Buddhist monks but that now it has extended its ends to New York, San Francisco, Australia and so on.   In fact, at the pace of things going, in 100 years Brooklyn and/or San Francisco may well become the future world centers of traditional shakuhachi music in the world.   (Sounds too fantastical to ever happen? Keep in mind that before the shakuhachi was Japanese it was Chinese…)

Obviously there is great beauty in the sound of the shakuhachi, and a good number of us are equally mesmerized by the look of the shakuhachi and the challenge of crafting them as well, but the mystery of the instrument’s history, and by that term I also mean the music’s history, is another part of the whole story – and it is an aspect of this instrument of which we are active participants.   

When I started studying shakuhachi it was not as a spiritual endeavor, and nor was I a Japanese-o-philo.   I really was just interested in studying an art that was culturally unique and historically deep as a response to my world which seems to be becoming more and more homogenized and culturally septic at an alarming pace. 

For me globalization is rapidly swiping away the most precious aspects of what makes a culture a culture and it is a painful process to witness.  And as a child of globalization (modern liberal New Yorker) I don’t even have much of a culture to hold on to.  So, for me, grabbing onto the shakuhachi is kind of like tying myself to a precious object in the middle of a flood.   Everything that one can’t sell and package for a mass audience seems to be disappearing right before my eyes and I feel a need to just grab something precious before it all gets washed out to sea. 

If you ever go to Kumoso.com take a look at the lineage charts and look at the chain of masters who have passed down the knowledge of the traditional music to Western teachers who went on to plant the seeds that blossomed into the majority of the participants on this forum.   Yes, it sounds corny as hell, but that lineage is a living chain that, for me, is very precious.

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#10 2007-07-25 18:26:16

philipgelb
Chef, musician, teacher
From: Oakland, California
Registered: 2005-10-08
Posts: 135
Website

Re: Teacher/No Teacher

Harazda wrote:

Good points, one and all.  Philip, you know, if there'd been a real teacher around Tampa years ago I'm sure I would've been their student.  Acupuncture?  A highly regulated invasive procedure.  You have to be taught.  You're right; you have to learn the basics to move forward into the arcane.  TCM acupuncture schools don't teach the arcane at all.  You have to get that later on your own!
.

i think you just furthered the point i was trying to make, Chris smile

Many are trying to get to the point of the arcane (using the terminology you used) without having any foundation to the basics. Of course with acupunture there is a little more severity to the matter than with shakuhachi.

Yes, music and art is all about the emotion. But we need technique to develop a vocabulary and language that we can use as a vehicle to emote with....

Sort of like a person who just bought a tenor saxophone and starts randomly blowing and moving fingers and says they are playing in the style of late period, Coltrane. uh....yeah

Someone else said it is all about practice. I used to think that way. Then i noticed in my own playing and with some of my students that practicing alot, incorrectly does not lead one to become a better player. Actually it makes them really good at playing badly. And this is where an accoplished teacher comes in very handy. Keep one from going down wrong paths and getting better and better at sounding worse and worse.

To answer an early question of mine, Vinny Golia is a person who plays shakuhachi who has never studied the instrument yet plays well. Of course, Vinny plays practically every wind instrument from Europe and quite a few non european ones and is a serious virtuoso. He does not try to play traditional music at all but plays his own work.  I am not aware of other exceptions but would be delighted to hear of some.

phil


Philip Gelb
shakuhachi player, teacher & vegetarian chef
Oakland, CA
http://philipgelb.com  http://myspace.com/philipgelb, http://myspace.com/inthemoodforfood

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#11 2007-07-25 19:19:10

edosan
Edomologist
From: Salt Lake City
Registered: 2005-10-09
Posts: 2185

Re: Teacher/No Teacher

For the moment, to the extent possible, let us put the 'spiritual practice' aspects, and the 'ego stroke' elements of the shakuhachi endeavor aside;

just consider looking at learning to play it as a practical matter. The majority of what you get from a good teacher is just having him/her sitting right in

front of you doing it, and then come the tips and technical fine points. There is really no substitute for this.


The shakuhachi has evolved such that is the the traditional Japanese music--including Honkyoku--gets at what the shakuhachi does best. Even

if you don't care to study or play traditional music, the vocabulary you get from working with it is invaluable. You can't really come out with the

'new', if you haven't a handle on the old.

eB


Zen is not easy.
It takes effort to attain nothingness.
And then what do you have?
Bupkes.

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#12 2007-07-25 19:19:12

nyokai
shihan
From: Portland, ME
Registered: 2005-10-09
Posts: 613
Website

Re: Teacher/No Teacher

philipgelb wrote:

He does not try to play traditional music at all but plays his own work.  I am not aware of other exceptions but would be delighted to hear of some.

The other exception I know of is similar: William Parker, a world-class musician who adds shakuhachi to his act for spice but does not claim to be a "shakuhachi player."

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#13 2007-07-25 19:36:11

baian
Member
Registered: 2006-03-28
Posts: 83

Re: Teacher/No Teacher

I  asked a prominent player/teacher of shakuhachi what was a safe pracice for someone to do in the absence of a teacher. My concern of course was to avoid ingraining bad habits that would be hard to fix later. His response was "that's a good question "

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#14 2007-07-25 23:27:30

Tairaku 太楽
Administrator/Performer
From: Tasmania
Registered: 2005-10-07
Posts: 3204
Website

Re: Teacher/No Teacher

nyokai wrote:

philipgelb wrote:

He does not try to play traditional music at all but plays his own work.  I am not aware of other exceptions but would be delighted to hear of some.

The other exception I know of is similar: William Parker, a world-class musician who adds shakuhachi to his act for spice but does not claim to be a "shakuhachi player."

I have his new album with Hamid Drake. It's a nice album but the shakuhachi playing is not good.


'Progress means simplifying, not complicating' : Bruno Munari

http://www.myspace.com/tairakubrianritchie

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#15 2007-07-25 23:32:51

nyokai
shihan
From: Portland, ME
Registered: 2005-10-09
Posts: 613
Website

Re: Teacher/No Teacher

Tairaku wrote:

It's a nice album but the shakuhachi playing is not good.

I guess he needs a teacher.

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#16 2007-07-25 23:46:19

geni
Performer & Teacher
From: Boston MA
Registered: 2005-12-21
Posts: 829
Website

Re: Teacher/No Teacher

teacher/no teacher..
I kind of learn things on my own -beacue I never had a good teacher till I come to US!
It will be great to take lessons (if there is teacher nearby/internet ) whatever works.
But, learning is not only the formal lesson. Live performance,CD, interevews with people.Internet. What ever information you can get ,the more the better.
When I started to play shakuhachi, I have no idea how the music was written nada..Just liked the sound from the movies:-)
So, I started to take lessons, I discover some wonderfull music,that is so deep like a ocean.
In order to play shakuhachi Like a shakuhachi studing traditional music is a must...if not-will sound like a quena:-)
Maybe some people don't like how their teachers sound..but, still you can have your own sound and learn as much as you can from them and play better than them (if you can:-)
I want to thank Nyokai for his lessons for me. There was a time I didnt have any money, and gave me lessons!!!He is the MANN!!

Ciao
Geni

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#17 2007-07-25 23:58:18

chikuzen
Dai Shihan/Dokyoku
From: Cleveland Heights,OH 44118
Registered: 2005-10-24
Posts: 401
Website

Re: Teacher/No Teacher

Phil, I'd give you a name but will back out in the name of "professional curtesy". I know a guy here in Cleveland who claims to be a "shakuhachi teacher" but has taken only 4 lessons. Only in the USA? I don't know.
     I also studied with two very very talented people with strong individual personalities:Yokoyama Katsuya & Taniguchi Yoshinobu. Both were the Ippiki Ookami types, "the lone wolf on stage" who owned it (and they did) but they were always very humble and respectful talking about their teachers. They always acknowledged their debt to them even though they play very differently. I think the discussion has gotten hung up on the question about learning with or without a teacher. I question more can you develope the INTUITIVE SENSE needed to play this honkyoku music from another country without all the cultural props that come from that country? I think one has to reproduce the conditions of the culture that the music came from a much as possible. Yokoyama used to say that Honkyoku belongs to no country and that it is music of the cosmos. Easy for him to say. Let's look at his shakuhachi upbringing. A life that would be impossible to imitate in a NATURAL manner: he was hearing shakuhachi in the womb; his mother played koto and shamisen and sang; his father made flutes and taught in his home as he was growing up;  his father taught him; he also heard various kinds of singing: Noh theatre, Kabuki, Biwa, gagaku, he studied hogaku music formally, learned from Watazumi (who got, yes, Jiari flutes part in trade for the lessons from Yokoyama's father);  on and on. Conditions that are difficult to imitate. Not to mention what the rest of culture brings in to create a support structure for one studying shakuhachi: East Asia is  Buddhist region. Buddhism's ways of thinking are deeply engrained in the psyche of everyone there to a point that they don't realize it (usually). Think of the Japanese arts that are based in breathing: anything with voice and dance has been influenced by Buddhism. Hearing shamisen and voice, hearing biwa and voice, Noh Theatre with voice and shamisen, Shigin:poetry written and sung (bellowed) into the mtns., Hauta, the shamisen and songs sung by geisha and maiko, not to mention the use of space and time in all the arts. Experiencing these things helps one develope the INTUITIVE sense you need to play shakuhachi. I don't think it's just weather you need to take lessons with a teacher or not. I used Yokoyama sensei as one extreme example but he used to talk about what he had to do to develope an INTUITVE SENSE to play. He went to many calligraphy exhibits for one thing. To study the "line" of the calligraphy, the expression of it through thick and thin brushes, how the form was effected by the content and vice versa.
     How about temple life? Meditation and chant (not just the Heart Sutra but Shomyo). If you listen to this chanting everyday before playing I bet it will influence your playing? Listen to Lama Taishi do deep multiphonic Tibetan throat chanting and then play your long jinashi. Your playing will be influenced. So what are the major influences on your shakuhachi playing? A good fair question to ask oneself. And that will lead you to ask what experiences developed the references that you try to answer questions about the shakuhachi experience. More than lkely, any void due to a lack of experiences will be filled by western ways of thinking since they are right at hand. That's fine. Let's just be real or natural about it and look at these things objectively to understand where the influences of our playing come from in order to realize how we might improve or get to the place we want to. When I first learned shakuahchi I stopped listening to any western music for almost 4 years. I knew I loved the sound of the shakuhachi but it was also foreign and hard to grasp what was going on. I listened only to those things I mentioned above. Actually experiencing them "live" several times a month. After 4 years, I went to a concert of the Kyoto Symphony Orchestra. I got free tickets and thought, what the hell, a cheap date here. Later, I was amazed at my own responce to hearing the music. Even after playing long grizzly jinashi for just a while, as I heard the flautist playing what seemed to be very light humorous Mozart piece, I thought, "what the hell are you doing? A grown man doesn't play that kind of stuff". Well, it sounds egotistical and I'm not proud of it but in a way I was later as I knew my experiment had done something good. It had moved me out of a certain acquired way of existing. So add to these things study of the japanese language and some formal study of Buddhist thought.
   So, this was a bit rambling as it's late here but you see my position isn't weather you simply need a teacher or not but I believe you need a whole lot of other experiences too. Many of these can be obtained in this country and some of them can't.
    I write here not to hear myself but in hopes this will stimulate more discussion. This is not about me. I can play Honkyoku. I am a teacher. I'm used to thinking for the student.  I'm surprised that there were no questions sent out to the teachers specifically to get their points of view.  Thinking for oneself is different than thinking for a student. Being responsible is part of a teacher's job. People give you money, you give them something in return.  A good thing for teachers to keep in mind. the SENSEI has changed quite a bit, naturally since WW2. Being a shakuhachi sensei used to carry a coonotaton that the teacher knew something about Buddhism and his life was related to it. Not so now. Many teachers in japan are simply musicians with a shakuhachi in their hands. That's fine too. The shakuhachi doesn't care what, when, where, why, who, etc. But the shakuhachi is honest. A Japanese saying that nobody can deny. My title is sensei. But what does this mean? Sensei is made up of two characters: SEN: "before" and SEI, 'to live or exist". I view myself as a coach for my students. I have more experience so it's natural. I'm also a leader. I continue to study and grow as a player, researcher and teacher. I share the fruits of this with my students to help them. In the area of Yokoyamafied honkyoku playing, I am the teacher. I know what I'm doing and we do not have discussions. They have questions and I have answers. Thus the exchange of money is justified. In the area of research and developement, we have discussions. 

    My teacher, Taniguchi Yoshinobu said this to me the first day we met," let's get this straight, you are the student and I am the teacher". "You need me, I don't need you".Let's be clear about this and play are roles the best we can". I thought, "wow". I was really happy to hear something straight from a japanese teacher. He didn't make me feel great emotionally but he was setting the pillars we were to stand on from then on. He was also the strictest that first day so that he didn't have to be from then on. I knew where he was coming from. Later on, when one day I thought I had a momment of enlightment (oh no), I questioned one of his ways. He simply stated," discussion is for college students, do that some where else". Hmm? I kept my opinions to myself  and was able to continue studying. I also knew that Taniguchi's uncle and grandfather were zen monks. So, I understood his language. I didn't expect him to rub my shoulders and hold my hand as he walked me through the garden of shakuhachi study. I can't say that I enjoyed my lessons on an emotional level all the time but I didn't take it personally. I was able to study how the zen mind effected the study and teaching. I was able to experience him and the zen influence on him and what he was experiencing as he taught. I say this as I think Tairaku's response to the Zen section by creating a new section, which I think was a stroke of genius. Of course, I was going to recommend this but my genius is slow moving. If you're going to have Gishin be the moderator than it should be for Formal Zen and Zen and Shakuhachi Historically.  Gishin has much to offer in these areas and is willing to share this. However, I think you cannot expect most zen monks to candy coat their language. Zen monks are serious dudes on the whole. It comes from the language too. Studying zen in China using Chinese and studying zen in Japan using Japanese can and usually has a very different effect than studying in English. It's not so ROMANTIC. I should say the attitude is not so romantic. I think this is what bothered most people. Don't expect it to be and it won't bother you so much. I think this works both ways. When the informal meets the formal and all in between, respect and a better time and place we bring things to light totally anew.  I think the internet has a way of bringing out something different in people. I know many of the people involved in those discussions and it brought out the worst, not the best in most.
    Thanks for your time and I look forward to more discussion here about whatever I just said.


Michael Chikuzen Gould

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#18 2007-07-26 00:16:34

Harazda
Member
Registered: 2007-06-07
Posts: 126

Re: Teacher/No Teacher

I believe my actual point has been made, and I don't need to restate it.  It doesn't have to be a situation of the Teachers vs. the Rebels.  Nor is it those who know vs. those who are ignorant dummies.  Perhaps it is more like just yin and yang, or those who are still and those who are moving.  It's a door in space swinging back and forth.  People gazing through different facets of the same crystal.

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#19 2007-07-26 00:43:42

Zakarius
Member
From: Taichung, TAIWAN
Registered: 2006-04-12
Posts: 361

Re: Teacher/No Teacher

First of all, thanks to Chikuzen for the above input. It really added perspective for me.

chikuzen wrote:

My title is sensei. But what does this mean? Sensei is made up of two characters: SEN: "before" and SEI, 'to live or exist". I view myself as a coach for my students. I have more experience so it's natural. I'm also a leader. I continue to study and grow as a player, researcher and teacher. I share the fruits of this with my students to help them. In the area of Yokoyamafied honkyoku playing, I am the teacher. I know what I'm doing and we do not have discussions. They have questions and I have answers. Thus the exchange of money is justified. In the area of research and developement, we have discussions.

I studied a Japanese system of jiu-jitsu for many years and later taught. My "sensei's" teaching style was not what one might expect from a Japanese martial art but it's relevant to what Chikuzen said. In class, 95% of the students' learning was based on trial and error. The other 5% were 'suggestions' from the sensei and your classmates (often from those more experienced but not necessarily). We sparred for hours on end. "When you try something which works," my sensei frequently said, "try it again in a slightly different way. You will eventually stumble upon a perfect technique." So there we were, 20-odd students constantly trying to toss each other on the ground or get the other to submit. I learned a hell of a lot which not only saved my life on a couple occasions but also came in handy when I later taught using the same philosophy. The root of this concept is that each person's body and mind are different. What works for me as a solid technique may be next to useless for another -- perhaps we are different height, strength, speed... or that it won't feel 'natural' to others even if they practice it over and over.

chikuzen wrote:

My teacher, Taniguchi Yoshinobu said this to me the first day we met," let's get this straight, you are the student and I am the teacher". "You need me, I don't need you".Let's be clear about this and play are roles the best we can".

I no longer teach self-defense/fighting/jiu-jitsu. Now I'm an English teacher and I tell something to my students who grew up in a culture in which people simply DON'T try to learn things on their own: practice what you already know as much as you can... you don't need a teacher holding your hand all the time. On the other hand, continued practice of one's mistakes will make them more difficult to overcome. I pose this question: in martial arts, a 'mistake' is when you attempt to use a technique which doesn't (for some reason or another) succeed in achieving its goal of besting your opponent or freeing yourself from such a fate. (E.g. keeping your center of gravity too high, anticipating an attack and dedicating oneself to a response, etc.) What is a 'mistake' in the world of shakuhachi?

Zakarius


塵も積もれば山となる -- "Chiri mo tsumoreba yama to naru." -- Piled-up specks of dust become a mountain.

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#20 2007-07-26 03:02:39

philipgelb
Chef, musician, teacher
From: Oakland, California
Registered: 2005-10-08
Posts: 135
Website

Re: Teacher/No Teacher

nyokai wrote:

philipgelb wrote:

He does not try to play traditional music at all but plays his own work.  I am not aware of other exceptions but would be delighted to hear of some.

The other exception I know of is similar: William Parker, a world-class musician who adds shakuhachi to his act for spice but does not claim to be a "shakuhachi player."

all due respect to William Parker, a very fine person, but listening to him play shakuhachi was not a pleasant experience.
Hearing him play bass with Cecil Taylor's trio many years ago, now that was a life changing listening experience!!

phil


Philip Gelb
shakuhachi player, teacher & vegetarian chef
Oakland, CA
http://philipgelb.com  http://myspace.com/philipgelb, http://myspace.com/inthemoodforfood

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#21 2007-07-26 06:32:39

Tairaku 太楽
Administrator/Performer
From: Tasmania
Registered: 2005-10-07
Posts: 3204
Website

Re: Teacher/No Teacher

philipgelb wrote:

nyokai wrote:

philipgelb wrote:

He does not try to play traditional music at all but plays his own work.  I am not aware of other exceptions but would be delighted to hear of some.

The other exception I know of is similar: William Parker, a world-class musician who adds shakuhachi to his act for spice but does not claim to be a "shakuhachi player."

all due respect to William Parker, a very fine person, but listening to him play shakuhachi was not a pleasant experience.
Hearing him play bass with Cecil Taylor's trio many years ago, now that was a life changing listening experience!!

phil

Yeah, I saw him play at one of Dennis Charles' last shows, with Willem Breucker and Peter Brotzman and that was incredible. Dennis Charles was my favorite drummer, too bad his career was derailed by bad living.


'Progress means simplifying, not complicating' : Bruno Munari

http://www.myspace.com/tairakubrianritchie

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#22 2007-07-26 06:56:38

Tairaku 太楽
Administrator/Performer
From: Tasmania
Registered: 2005-10-07
Posts: 3204
Website

Re: Teacher/No Teacher

nyokai wrote:

Tairaku wrote:

It's a nice album but the shakuhachi playing is not good.

I guess he needs a teacher.

Maybe we're harshing on Parker's shakuhachi playing a bit too much. His ideas are good but he could use some help with the execution. Anyway if it brings shakuhachi to some people who wouldn't otherwise hear it more power to him.


'Progress means simplifying, not complicating' : Bruno Munari

http://www.myspace.com/tairakubrianritchie

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#23 2007-07-26 09:42:31

chikuzen
Dai Shihan/Dokyoku
From: Cleveland Heights,OH 44118
Registered: 2005-10-24
Posts: 401
Website

Re: Teacher/No Teacher

Zakarius,
     A mistake, as you are talking about, is a condition that arises due to lack of awareness. Awareness is supposed to be the result of attentiveness. So, it would depend on what your objectives are in the activity. If the person in training  continues to do something that works against himself it would be a mistake. What constitutes a "mistake" can change very much in the teachers eyes according to what's needed to be said at that time. It sounds like you had a good teacher since he had your "progress" in mind. "Progress" being something that goes in a good direction, i.e. opening a path or continuing on a path. He moved your mind around just a bit but did it in a way to instill confidence . He acknowledged that you had developed a level of skill, yet moved you out of that comfort zone just a bit in a way that allowed you to discover something else, which again, gave you more confidence.  From one perspective, moving the person in training out of their comfort zone is the job of the teacher or leader. The teacher can "see" your future and knows where you came from so he could see the other potential experiences you could have.
     On my first day with my teacher I also told him that I wanted to be a "professional", simply meaning, take this to a high level. I had no idea that I would be doing this for a living someday nor the aspiration. So he taught me accordingly to what he thought I had requested. I do the same for anyone who walks through the door. I always ask them what their desires are and teach them accordingly. A mistake for me would be not to do so. I had a person who wanted to learn a couple folk tunes so he could play at the hospice where he worked with people dying. So we didn't waste time on learning techniuqes to play Honkyoku etc. In one lesson or two he got what he needed.
     If you practice the wrong fingering or do something that's not quite so effective to get the result you desire but don't realize it, is it a mistake? Not if you're playing alone and don't realize any better. If you have experienced something else and it might have helped you but you chose to ignore it, then you're making a mistake. If your chose to do something that takes away from the essence of the song you are learning, it's a mistake. If you are looking at and thinking about the next note to play when you are supposed to be concentrating on the breath, it's a mistake. So, I would say again that a "mistake" is a phenomena that arises out of a goal oriented activity. Even if your goal is just to play a strong healthy sound and you do something that builds obstacles to this, it's a mistake. And kind of stupid if you keep doing it. But we all make mistakes and build on them. In Japan they say that the shakuhachi "teaches you". Not asking the shakuhachi is probably a "mistake". Since that would reveal much just by the nature of the question. Not having the inclination to "ask" the shakuhachi is a bigger mistake akin to being married but not caring enough to listen to you partner. Ones relationship to their shakuhachi will dictate much of what happens since everything comes down to breathing with a shakuhachi as part of you. If you care about the shakuhachi you will understand it and the result of your bond will result in something unique and beauitful. Mabe it won't be for public consumption but so what. That's only one perspective.  It is still a wonderful thing. Your relationship with the shakuhachi is much more important than what the commercial market thinks.

Last edited by chikuzen (2007-07-26 09:46:01)


Michael Chikuzen Gould

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#24 2007-07-26 09:48:20

Zakarius
Member
From: Taichung, TAIWAN
Registered: 2006-04-12
Posts: 361

Re: Teacher/No Teacher

Wow... what a response. Now I feel like I owe you money! Thanks again.

Zakarius


塵も積もれば山となる -- "Chiri mo tsumoreba yama to naru." -- Piled-up specks of dust become a mountain.

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#25 2007-07-26 10:06:13

chikuzen
Dai Shihan/Dokyoku
From: Cleveland Heights,OH 44118
Registered: 2005-10-24
Posts: 401
Website

Re: Teacher/No Teacher

I have to apologize for sounding like a teacher. I forgot this was the Outside Tradition section. Hopefully some of what I said can be useful in other traditions too. I'll keep my teacher's voice in the Ask The Pro section so I can join the discussions too.  I certainly learn a lot about what's going on in people's minds in these discussions.


Michael Chikuzen Gould

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