Mujitsu and Tairaku's Shakuhachi BBQ

World Shakuhachi Discussion / Go to Live Shakuhachi Chat

You are not logged in.


Tube of delight!

#1 2008-02-19 21:08:50

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

Is shakuhachi just too damn hard?!?

Sorry to see the previous thread come to a premature tragic end... (Ah, technology!)

But the short burst of communication did raise a really interesting topic:

Is shakuhachi just too damn hard?   Obviously not for a lot of people - but I do have a sneaking suspicion that many people who pick up this instrument have no idea how much work and investment it takes to actually get it to produce music.   (Or at least music any third party person would want to listen to.)

Anyone willing to make a guess as to what is the stickiness rate of people who study shakuhachi?  How many eager students last a year?  Two years?  Five years?   I have even heard of masters dropping out...  (I heard something about Ray Brooks... yes?)

There is not doubt that the shakuhachi is a brutal and cruel instrument.  Even a couple of days off of regular practice can make an impact on one's sound.  (An impact, thankfully, that goes away after a few days... but no one can just take a month off from shakuhachi and just pick it up again and start tooting away with no frustration...)   

The point here is that the shakuhachi is, sadly, not a 'casual' instrument that one plays a bit on the weekend.  Great casual instruments would include the guitar, the piano, the harmonica, the recorder, but, sadly, not the shakuhachi. 

I would also offer the observation that the real obstacle to playing the shakuhachi well is time and effort as opposed to money.  Expensive shakuhachi sound great - but my sensei sounds awesome on anything - even on PVC.    And while the ideal is regular lessons, an occasional lesson now and then can go a long way. 

But if you have the most expensive shakuhachi in the world, and plenty of budget for lessons - and you dont have the time and energy to practice for at least a focused hour a day... it is just not going to happen.

And to brag for a moment: I am a middling amateur at best - but the fact that I have been able to practice an hour a day almost everyday for the past several years despite my full-time job and family life and work travel is a testimony to the strength of the human spirit.

The secret of my success:  deep down inside I have the trait that is at the heart of most passionate shakuhachi players:  I am a devoted masochist.

Last edited by Seth (2008-02-19 21:17:23)

Offline

 

#2 2008-02-19 22:01:05

dstone
Member
From: Vancouver, Canada
Registered: 2006-01-11
Posts: 552
Website

Re: Is shakuhachi just too damn hard?!?

Seth wrote:

Is shakuhachi just too damn hard?

Thankfully, yes.

-Darren.


When it is rainy, I am in the rain. When it is windy, I am in the wind.  - Mitsuo Aida

Offline

 

#3 2008-02-19 22:37:10

geni
Performer & Teacher
From: Boston MA
Registered: 2005-12-21
Posts: 830
Website

Re: Is shakuhachi just too damn hard?!?

It makes more easy when you get to play with other musicians & perform for people in concerts.
Sometimes it gets lonely .Practice & practise ......
But it all worth it to play this great instrumen.

Last edited by geni (2008-02-19 22:37:31)

Offline

 

#4 2008-02-20 00:36:10

Daniel Ryudo
Shihan/Kinko Ryu
From: Kochi, Japan
Registered: 2006-02-12
Posts: 355

Re: Is shakuhachi just too damn hard?!?

Yes, concerts and playing with others definitely give one good incentive to practice.  When I think back now to how I used to volunteer to play for people in the days when my sound must have excruciating to listen to...  Kind words certainly help; in Japan one tends to get a lot of encouragement when pursuing something like shakuhachi even when one's ability is very low.  It's like saying a few words in Japanese and then getting praised for one's excellent language skills; something that frequently happens  over here but isn't likely to occur in the West.

Offline

 

#5 2008-02-20 01:21:16

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

Re: Is shakuhachi just too damn hard?!?

Seth wrote:

Is shakuhachi just too damn hard?   Obviously not for a lot of people - but I do have a sneaking suspicion that many people who pick up this instrument have no idea how much work and investment it takes to actually get it to produce music.   (Or at least music any third party person would want to listen to.)

So what's the problem with playing music no one would want to listen to? I've been doing it for many years on almost every instrument I've picked up. If it's something others would want to listen to you're probably in high demand. I don't think shakuhachi is any more difficult than any other flute, or any other instrument as far as that goes.

   

Seth wrote:

The point here is that the shakuhachi is, sadly, not a 'casual' instrument that one plays a bit on the weekend.  Great casual instruments would include the guitar, the piano, the harmonica, the recorder, but, sadly, not the shakuhachi.

But with the "easier" instruments you're expected to do more. For example, you included recorder in list of easy instruments. Did you listen to that virtuoso mp3 recorder example on that recent thread about recorders? Silver flute or baroque flute is easier to blow, but if you ever tried to play the Bach flute sonatas I doubt you'd say it's easy. And shakuhachi is way easier to blow than Turkish ney, but when you try to control the wide array of sounds you can get from shakuhachi, there's no way you'd call shakuhachi easier.     

Seth wrote:

The secret of my success:  deep down inside I have the trait that is at the heart of most passionate shakuhachi players:  I am a devoted masochist.

The rest of your points I agree with, but I don't think that anyone who likes the process of learning something difficult is necessarily a masochist. In general I'd say it's not true at all. Those who really think it's torture would probably avoid it. I think it's fun putting in time working on something and finally getting it.


"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

Offline

 

#6 2008-02-20 01:34:01

geni
Performer & Teacher
From: Boston MA
Registered: 2005-12-21
Posts: 830
Website

Re: Is shakuhachi just too damn hard?!?

for me the Key for playing shakuhachi (& doing music) is to enjoy.
I love music. And playing shakuhachi brings me somewhere else. .high:-) no need to smoke. Just play music.

Also its usefull to try to play other kinds of music. Just for fun. Going out of the box (or boxes).

Best
Geni

Offline

 

#7 2008-02-20 02:12:06

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

Re: Is shakuhachi just too damn hard?!?

radi0gnome wrote:

Seth wrote:

The secret of my success:  deep down inside I have the trait that is at the heart of most passionate shakuhachi players:  I am a devoted masochist.

The rest of your points I agree with, but I don't think that anyone who likes the process of learning something difficult is necessarily a masochist. In general I'd say it's not true at all. Those who really think it's torture would probably avoid it. I think it's fun putting in time working on something and finally getting it.

Rad-

Much merit in all of your points, and of course I am sure I am wrong on and from many perspectives.

But I will say - that while there is clearly tremendous pleasure in meeting any great challenge, shakuhachi playing is unique among musical instruments in regards to the degree of challenge it provides.

So I will stick to my hypothesis:   Really dedicated shakuhachi players take glee in imposing upon themselves a certain degree of pain and suffering.

Offline

 

#8 2008-02-20 02:28:15

caffeind
Member
From: Tokyo
Registered: 2006-04-13
Posts: 148

Re: Is shakuhachi just too damn hard?!?

I think that if you dont suffer on the shakuhachi...

a: you dont understand
b: you dont care
c: you have done your time

(:

Offline

 

#9 2008-02-20 03:11:00

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

Re: Is shakuhachi just too damn hard?!?

Seth wrote:

So I will stick to my hypothesis:   Really dedicated shakuhachi players take glee in imposing upon themselves a certain degree of pain and suffering.

I'd think that there must be enough dedicated players on this forum to get a feel whether most like the frustration or the end result or something else in the process. Weren't you the guy who was asking about the hand pain recently? Could there be a psychological cause to it in that you like it? I'm not kidding, this is deep stuff.


"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

Offline

 

#10 2008-02-20 03:54:48

amokrun
Member
From: Finland
Registered: 2006-08-08
Posts: 413

Re: Is shakuhachi just too damn hard?!?

Seth wrote:

Is shakuhachi just too damn hard?   Obviously not for a lot of people - but I do have a sneaking suspicion that many people who pick up this instrument have no idea how much work and investment it takes to actually get it to produce music.   (Or at least music any third party person would want to listen to.)

When I started playing, nearly two and half years ago, I had a simple goal in mind. I decided to practice until I could sit down and play things that popped into my mind and hopefully play a simple tune or two to amuse myself when I'm bored. For the last year or so I've been able to do this. The nice thing is that I'm now more or less done with my goal and I don't need to sweat about that anymore. Everything else that I happen to learn is kind of added bonus. With this in mind, lessons and practice have become much easier and more fun to do because I'm no longer running for any particular goal.

I'm pretty good with computers. I occasionally get people asking me how they could match my skill on some particular area they want to learn. They ask about things like how long it takes, how much they must practice etc. I keep telling them that they got it all wrong. I never "practiced" computers or set any goals for myself. I just learned in the process of doing and having fun. I never planned to become any good at what I do. It just happens naturally when you like what you are doing and keep doing it. I think much of this is true for the shakuhachi as well. If you keep doing it and find it fun, eventually you are going to learn something. Having all sorts of goals in mind just makes you focus on the goals and not on the practice which in turn makes the whole process seem much longer. I doubt there are many masters who started out by thinking "gee, I must master me some of this shakuhachi stuff".

My guess is that whether or not someone sticks with shakuhachi depends on what he plans to accomplish. If someone only wishes to play for people as fast as possible and impress the ladies, then year, I'd go with guitar instead. I'm sure that shakuhachi is not the fastest instrument to learn.

Offline

 

#11 2008-02-20 05:12:07

Lance
Member
Registered: 2008-01-18
Posts: 74

Re: Is shakuhachi just too damn hard?!?

Like most things, some people have an affinity for a particular 'type' of instrument, wind, string, percussion, ect. I find playing the guitar quite difficult (I've tried a little, and don't play guitar) and HARD to get good enough to play any sort of sound that is pleasing... or any sort of 'song'...  whereas with flutes, I can at least doodle around 'easily' and make some 'music'. I have been surprised actually at the fact I could produce some nice sound within a few seconds of picking up the Shakuhachi, and with less than a month under my belt and very little time invested, I can sit with the Shakuhachi and enjoy myself, even sounding nice (to me) often. So I think it certainly will vary from person to person, and getting to a place where the instrument is fun to play and sounds ok has not been hard, for me.

Of course I'm only pleasing myself... and perhaps some birds.


“The firefly is a good lesson in light, and darkness”

Offline

 

#12 2008-02-20 05:54:48

Daniel Ryudo
Shihan/Kinko Ryu
From: Kochi, Japan
Registered: 2006-02-12
Posts: 355

Re: Is shakuhachi just too damn hard?!?

I started playing shakuhachi because of a fascination with the instrument itself and the history of the instrument, not because of any particular goals I had in mind, and not with the intention of playing for people.  A good friend of mine considered shakuhachi but ended up choosing saxophone because he specifically wanted to perform; he thought shakuhachi would take too long to learn to play well.  Now he plays and teaches sax in the U.K...

Last edited by Daniel Ryudo (2008-02-20 05:55:22)

Offline

 

#13 2008-02-20 06:36:08

KenC
Member
From: Western Massachusetts
Registered: 2006-01-05
Posts: 75

Re: Is shakuhachi just too damn hard?!?

I think much has to do with "what" brought one to the Shakuhachi in the first place.  I came to it after learning about it through a Zen related activity.  Around that time i was considering an instrument as a hobby.  My interest peaked, i read a lot about the instrument, found many of the great sites here on the internet.  Then, finially decided i wanted to persue it, but persue it in a  way that was disconnected from the way we  "DO" so much in our lives.  I had no hard and fast goals, nor pre conceived notions of doing grand performances, and quitting my day job.  Simply to learn to play the instrument and dig into its history. Plus i've always ben a sucker for the unusual.

It is certainly a difficult instrument,  we all know that.  But i think that difficulty lies in the western notion of  instant gratification. The need to progress quickly, achieve, master, choose the word.  If we set aside the word difficult, we simply have an instrument that takes  time, patience and a bit of courage to play well.  Of course i am writing from the perspective of one that can squeeze 1-1.5 hours of practice on a very regular basis.  Those that are fortunate to have greater time will probably proceed more quickly, but then they can  be our inspiration to keep up or practice.

That is the blessing of this board.  Here we have those with decades of playing under their Hakama's, to those just beginning and everywhere in between, all lending their support and advice!

Ken

Offline

 

#14 2008-02-20 08:57:44

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

Re: Is shakuhachi just too damn hard?!?

I wouldn't consider myself a masochist, but others might -- I started college as a computer science major (after having already used computers since the age of 5)... it was too easy and not particularly engaging. Then I switched to majoring in psychology... an interesting field but only when you get into the 3rd- and 4th-year classes (and then there's the question of what one can do with an undergrad degree in psychology). Next I moved on to philosophy... which I found interesting through the end, analyzing and criticizing others' systems of thought (but finding a job with a phil degree is even more unheard of). At that point, I realized that I wasn't eager to graduate and enter the 'real world' so I focused on poetry... I apparently had a lot of talent in that department and my seeming success felt empty. Finally, I took a Chinese class and was so frustrated that I fell in love! It wasn't masochism but the challenge of finding something which was both interesting and challenging. I managed to finally finish the degree in Chinese and have no regrets.

It's been much the same with the shakuhachi. Having studied martial arts and been an absolute kung-fu flick freak for most of my life, I adored the image of a quiet but deadly kung-fu master sitting under the sun and in the cool mountain breeze blowing away on a long, deep flute before the final showdown. (Strangely, I think Tarantino and I share this symbolic image.) I realized, however, that the type of music I was always drawn to in these scenes was wholly un-Chinese... and I only came across the shakuhachi a few years ago. Love at first listen.

When I started to do more reading on the instrument, the phrase "hardest instrument in the world" (from a number of sources) really caught my eye. "If it's hard, then I can do it," I said to myself. And since then I've enjoyed the challenge of shakuhachi honkyoku.

Nothing's too hard if it's worth doing... and the things in life which are most worth doing are never easy.

(Just thought I'd illustrate why I play.)

Zak -- jinashi size queen


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

Offline

 

#15 2008-02-20 10:08:38

mrosenlof
Member
From: Louisville Colorado USA
Registered: 2006-03-01
Posts: 82

Re: Is shakuhachi just too damn hard?!?

I agree that shakuhachi is difficult, sort of.

I believe that the standard of being a "good player" rises and falls along with the inherent difficulty of the instrument.  Or, to state the somewhat obvious, to be in the top 5%, you need to be better than 95% of the population.

So let's say it were easy to play Shakuhachi like Riley Lee does today, that anybody who stuck with it for a year could do so.  If that were the case, the truly dedicated students/players (like Riley, of course) would advance the state of the art far beyond what that one year student could do, and playing like Riley, which in our real world is fantastic, would be the playing of a one year student, and the playing of a master would be at a level that we might not be able to imagine.  I think one could make the same analogy about violin, bongo drum, or oil painting.  Mastery of _anything_ by definition requires a lot of hard work.

I don't think the study of shakuhachi, or another instrument, is masochistic.  It is humbling.


Mike Rosenlof

Offline

 

#16 2008-02-20 11:29:03

Bruce Hunter
Member
From: Apple Valley CA
Registered: 2005-10-10
Posts: 258

Re: Is shakuhachi just too damn hard?!?

Emphatically, Yes!!! Shakuhachi is too damn hard. TDH to stop playing when you pick it up. TDH to stop exploring timbres, pitches, effects, etc.. If you don't stop after making your first shakuhachi-shaped-object, it's TDH to stop punching holes in bamboo, pvc, or whatever. TDH to get those soul-stirring sounds out of your mind's ear after hearing a master player do things to your inner-most being that you didn't even know were possible. TDH to ignore all the great people on this forum and on the mail-list. I'm sure there's more, but it's TDH to think of it all. 8^)

later,
Bruce


Develop infallible technique and then lay yourself at the mercy of inspiration. - Anon.

Offline

 

#17 2008-02-20 11:38:48

Tairaku 太楽
Administrator/Performer
From: Tasmania
Registered: 2005-10-07
Posts: 3222
Website

Re: Is shakuhachi just too damn hard?!?

It's good that shakuhachi is hard. Look at the instruments which are easy such as didgeridoo, acoustic guitar, djembe, etc. they have created musical plagues.

Every 16 year old girl in the universe who knows D, G and A7 on the guitar wants to tell us about her problems.

Praise appropriate deities for difficult instruments.


'Progress means simplifying, not complicating' : Bruno Munari

http://www.myspace.com/tairakubrianritchie

Offline

 

#18 2008-02-20 15:50:54

Ambi
Member
From: Leeds UK
Registered: 2006-06-22
Posts: 108

Re: Is shakuhachi just too damn hard?!?

Josh, I do hope Radiognome is wrong and that you're not talking real physical pain type masochism (there must be easier ways!)
But you seem to have kicked of an interesting thread, thanks.

I play becasue after years of playing other instruments I realised that what I really enjoy IS the discipline of practise, without long term "performance" "getting girls" etc goals.
One of the things I've found with other instruments is that sometimes when you plateau for a while; the best thing to do is to take a week off, and come back fresh.

I've reminded of a Tai Chi story I can't be bothered looking up to get right.

Student   : "How long will it take to master the form?"
Master     :"If you study and hour or so a week then maybe 5 years"
S  : "What if I practise 3 times a week for 2 hours?"
M  :" Then it would take 10 years"
S  :"What if I practise every day for 5 hours"
M  :" Then you will never master it"

(With apologies to CMC - who probably said it all in Chinese anyway)


"The trouble with having an open mind, of course, is that people will insist on coming along and trying to put things in it."

Offline

 

#19 2008-02-20 17:14:36

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

Re: Is shakuhachi just too damn hard?!?

Tairaku wrote:

It's good that shakuhachi is hard. Look at the instruments which are easy such as didgeridoo, acoustic guitar, djembe, etc. they have created musical plagues.

I did halfway OK with didjeridu, but I never got as nearly as good as Alan Dargin or Mack Yidaki ( http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8hCKMkU3OEk ). I tried taking classical guitar lessons for 1 an 1/2 years, practiced a reasonable amount and got nowhere. I got a few rhythms down on djembe but it's far from easy. Here's another "easy" instrument I got nowhwere with - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MYflxDm08QI

I see what you're saying about musical plaque, but I think it's mostly because of the popularity of the instruments and not the easyness. You've got tons of people playing hard instruments poorly.     

Tairaku wrote:

Every 16 year old girl in the universe who knows D, G and A7 on the guitar wants to tell us about her problems.

Hey, lay off, they're finding themselves smile

Tairaku wrote:

Praise appropriate deities for difficult instruments.

How about the sun - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9LwjzdZa3BY


"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

Offline

 

#20 2008-02-20 18:25:04

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

Re: Is shakuhachi just too damn hard?!?

I am actually a bit surprised by all of the thoughtful and interesting responses so I am not sure where to begin.  But here goes….

First off to all the merry music makers:  If you approach the shakuhachi with no artistic aspirations whatsoever, then, yes, I imagine playing the shakuhachi could be almost an entirely pleasant past time with little or no angst whatsoever.  And there is nothing wrong with this approach.   My comments were more directed at those who pick up the shakuhachi with the goal of using it as a tool to produce objectively beautiful music. 

I appreciate the commentators who are in the second group but who wish to embrace the process of becoming proficient in an art form in a mentally healthy fashion.  In this school of thought one is not frustrated by the shakuhachi, but humbled.  One is not overly obsessed with achieving a goal in a set period of time, but rather embraces the time and process required for mastery to evolve as a worthwhile end in itself.     All very admirable and quite healthy.  Such a shame that I can’t relate to this bizarre alien mentality in the least.

I can recall so many times during my first two years of playing that I wanted to smash my shakuhachi against a wall.  “Why?!?” I would ask “Why could I play the entire kan register just yesterday, but today I can’t even get a slight screech out of even the ro kan?” 

The worse feeling was when I would go away on a trip for a week, come back and not be able to get anything out of the shakuhachi at all.  It felt as if I had just lost all the gains of countless hours of practicing.   And it felt really really bad… and I loved it.  I really dug (and dig) how crazy this little piece of wood was making me feel. 

I recall one really tough day when I couldn’t make a single note sound clean at all and I was clutching the shakuhachi in my fist and, I swear, it felt like the shakuhachi and I were staring each other down as if we were about to have a bar fight.   I said “I am going to win you mother fucker! I am going to learn how to play you! You are not going to beat me!”  And we have been inseparable ever since.

Now some of you might be tempted to think “Hey this is an interesting post, but this is more of an anecdote about Seth’s personal mental health issues than anything about the shakuhachi in general.”  I am sympathetic to this line of thought, but I must disagree. 

In general I think the act of pursuing an art with any degree of seriousness entails the capacity for self-cruelty.  Developing an artistic skill entails being highly self-critical, having the will to punish oneself with repetitive drills, and corrections that require serious discipline- and, once again, an appetite for pain.  Did you ever read Katsuya’s description of all he did to become the best player he could be?  That is one serious masochist!   

Have any of you read the book Musashi?  Yes Musashi is a swordsman, but he is really primarily an artist.   And his development as an artist is inextricably linked to his capacity to suffer for the sake of his artistic development.   

Now please don’t think I am comparing myself to Musashi or Katsuya!  I probably have suffered  about 1/100th of what they did for their respective arts and I proudly perform with a corresponding degree of excellence.  But, nevertheless, that link between excellence and pain is still there.

Offline

 

#21 2008-02-20 18:56:21

Moran from Planet X
Member
From: Here to There
Registered: 2005-10-11
Posts: 1524
Website

Re: Is shakuhachi just too damn hard?!?

Seth wrote:

I can recall so many times during my first two years of playing that I wanted to smash my shakuhachi against a wall.  “Why?!?” I would ask “Why could I play the entire kan register just yesterday, but today I can’t even get a slight screech out of even the ro kan?”.

Smash My Shakuhachi has an awfully familiar ring to it. It would make an interesting Punk piece with accompanying YouTube treatment.

In many cases a handy shakuhachi teacher would be helpful, but how many of we students live in close proximity to a good shakuhachi teacher or a good shakuhachi player, for that matter?

Access, access, access.


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

Offline

 

#22 2008-02-20 20:18:36

axolotl
Member
From: Los Angeles
Registered: 2007-11-16
Posts: 215
Website

Re: Is shakuhachi just too damn hard?!?

Funny, I got into shakuhachi because it seemed easier (better) ergonomically for me than bansuri.   I get frustrated sometimes, but not too much.  A 'bad' practice or lesson is more fulfilling for me than none at all.  I don't spend an hour a day on the thing, but I try for 30 minutes a day when I can.  I look forward to vacationing with the thing.

I recall acoustic guitar being pretty hard when I first learned it.  It takes a few months to get those basic chords down well.  Granted, you can get pretty far with a few basic open chords, but that isn't the end of acoustic guitar--that would be kind of like playing a shakuhachi with no meri notes, or perhaps a better analogy would be playing guitar without any string bending.  Now that I'm trying to get into some more advanced hammer-on and -off techniques, that's hard too.   Anyhow, what I'm saying is any instrument worth playing has greater depth, and the fact that shakuhachi has a steeper learning curve ain't so bad.

Offline

 

#23 2008-02-20 20:20:43

amokrun
Member
From: Finland
Registered: 2006-08-08
Posts: 413

Re: Is shakuhachi just too damn hard?!?

Seth wrote:

First off to all the merry music makers:  If you approach the shakuhachi with no artistic aspirations whatsoever, then, yes, I imagine playing the shakuhachi could be almost an entirely pleasant past time with little or no angst whatsoever.  And there is nothing wrong with this approach.   My comments were more directed at those who pick up the shakuhachi with the goal of using it as a tool to produce objectively beautiful music.

This reminded me of a conversation I had with a friend. When I do things I am generally not that goal-oriented. I can do something just for the fun of doing it and I usually find that I get better in the process. Because of this I usually don't think about getting better much and I just focus on doing things. My friend, however, brought up an interesting point. If you simply play with no goals whatsoever, you may very easily use it as an excuse at some point. Say, if you haven't gotten any better during the last couple of months because you haven't really been practicing, you can just say that since you aren't really aiming for anything in particular it's perfectly acceptable to slack off occasionally. If you aren't serious and don't aim for anything at all, odds are that you aren't really going to get anywhere either. In other words, you have technically given up before you even got started and are simply justifying your lack of dedication.

This kind of reasoning was difficult for me at first because it goes against my way of doing things. However, after I gave it some thought I started to notice that it does make sense to some degree. I'm trying to find a place between the two extremes that works for me. If I was certain that being very strictly goal-oriented would help, I'm sure that I could learn to do that. Right now I'm still somewhat torn about what the best strategy is for learning.

Offline

 

#24 2008-02-20 22:39:26

Daniel Ryudo
Shihan/Kinko Ryu
From: Kochi, Japan
Registered: 2006-02-12
Posts: 355

Re: Is shakuhachi just too damn hard?!?

I think I mentioned the incentive that playing in front of other people gives one in an earlier post on this thread.  Our shakuhachi teacher here, Kyodo sensei, didn't give us much of a choice in that matter.  After roughly a year or so of shakuhachi lessons had passed we were all expected to play one or more gaikyoku pieces, individually accompanying koto and/or shamisen players, in front of an invited audience at an annual saraikai (end of year recital).  The sensei didn't have the sensibilities of the audience in mind at his first saraikai, as three of us were required to play the same three pieces (Kurokami, Shintakasago, and Rokudan No Shirabe) consecutively so the audience had to sit through each piece three times, but it actually ended up being two times for listening to the shakuhachi part as one of the participants wasn't able to get a sound out of his flute for the duration of the three pieces, though his fingers were moving the whole time.  After that embarrassing experience he never returned to the shakuhachi class but the other fellow and I continued learning the flute.  The other player, who was also my senpai (had started learning before me), and who acted as my interpreter in those early days of learning the flute, dropped out of the group four years later after playing a gaikyoku piece in front of an audience of over 500 people (a special occasion as my sensei's teacher, the iemoto, and his entourage of players had come down from Tokyo to give a concert); he didn't stop playing shakuhachi but quit the sensei's lessons as the stage fright had been too much for him. 

From the year of the second recital the sensei had us all play different pieces for the event; three of us still had to play three or four pieces on our own; if we couldn't get a sound, or lost our place in the piece, the sensei would start singing the shakuhachi part or playing the part until one figured out where in the piece one was; there was no stopping and starting over once the piece had begun. One's initial goal was just to be able to get through those pieces without looking like an idiot in front of the members of the audience (and to the koto/shamisen players one was accompanying).  Refinement of the pieces came later (and is still ongoing).  Many of the invited guests would sit through one saraikai and never return again as four hours of listening to beginners play squeaking flutes was something of an endurance contest, though there was (and still is) a great post concert meal of sashimi, beer, and sake free for all guests which often attracted some audience members who would show up after half of the show was over.  Over the years the playing gradually got better for those who continued playing, and with the increase in students now each of us usually only plays one gaikyoku piece individually.  We have our twentieth annual recital coming up later this year.

Last edited by Daniel Ryudo (2008-02-20 22:43:25)

Offline

 

#25 2008-02-21 03:18:35

Karmajampa
Member
From: Aotearoa (NZ)
Registered: 2006-02-12
Posts: 574
Website

Re: Is shakuhachi just too damn hard?!?

My teacher told me I will never reach my full potential......
.......because our potential is unlimited.

Perhaps the rigid fixation to some goal orientation is a cause of suffering.

"No Hope, No Fear, I am Free", Nikos Kazanzakis.

Kel.


Kia Kaha !

Offline

 

Board footer

Powered by PunBB
© Copyright 2002–2005 Rickard Andersson

Google