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Hi. This is my first post, and I enjoy reading this forum.
New with sakuhachi, but two months old allready ; ) Before I played some bamboo transverse flute and quena, so learning went on rather easyly. I found a teacher in Paris, but want to grow mostly in learning with CDs and playing by myself and not belong to any perticular school, at the moment.
My question is related to some experience where I wanted to play to someone to show the instrument, and couldn't allmost get any sound. I was somehow a bit perturbated as I previously had a few days of intense professional work dealing with demanding clients. Result was loosing most of my capacity of playing. Allmost any sound went out - not the first time, but I thought I learned how to get over. Not the case.
I'm a bit concerned as I'm supposed to play impro - or whatever I feel like, in front of real audiences, accompanying some concerts in a few months (10' play alltogether).
Can you give me some tips, of how avoiding this problem, though I'm used to deal with audiences, rather like an orator, and I like it very much usually. I'm thinking at (beside than getting less touched by any circumstances, be it external or emotional, and go to find peace where it is - that I do cultivate) :
Get used to play in front of any public
Play in public places
Play whatever the moods I can go through
Blow Ro everyday
Get used to play alternatively with my both shakuhachi (an ABS Enhanced shakuhachi. Yuu 1.8 from M. Levenson bought SH by an add placed in Buy/Sell from this site, and a Perry Yung Earth 2.3 which are both fine and interesting in different ways and personality) to learn getting adjusted
Play a lot classicaly (music sheets) rather than impros not to escape difficulties.
Find a better instrument easier to play with ? (are the 1500/2000 USD shakuhachi easier to play than the 200 ones? Not sure)
I saw that this is a very zen story and like it that way: You want to play, you can't. You let it play, it does.
But still when you have to play, you have to be right there, with right spirit, some strenght and technics.
Surely a nice challenge, but need some tools.
I am a beginner with just 1 month behind me. I just came back from the Australian Shakuhachi Festival (great weekend!), and I can tell you that everyone, even an experienced player, has the same thing happen from time to time.
I can offer one small tip that works for me: Find the easiest note to get on your shakuhachi. For me it is Tsu. When you have to play, just blow your favourite note before you start, like a warm-up. When you have your embouchure working, then you can start your piece.
This won't work for a more advanced player, because you wouldn't want to start your performance this way. However, a beginner can get away with it as like a "tuning" note that string instrument players use.
Another tip - play in front of people as often as possible. Ask your friends and family to help you. One of the many tips I got from the festival was that it is important to become comfortable with making mistakes, or no sound in front of people. After all, if you are trying hard to learn and practice, then you are doing all that can be expected, and it is out of your hands how long it will take. There is no personal failure involved, you have to take your ego out of the process and just watch and listen as though you are part of the audience.
Last thing - it would be good if you can perform with 2 or 3 others together. Playing solo is difficult, and I would not try after only a few months. Playing with others is better, because so long as one of you is making sound at any time, it doesn't matter if you drop out from time to time. You can all support each other.
Hope that helps.
It almost sounds to me like you're putting the horse before the cart, and perhaps wanting more out of the flute than you're capable of doing at this stage. I'd love to play in front of people, and do concerts, but I'm nowhere NEAR that, and I've been playing for over a year now.
Honestly, if you can't make sounds consistently with the flute yet, then it might not be time for you to play a concert. I'd doubt, in general, that you'd be ready in three months, either. Not to say you don't have talent in it or whatever, you may be exceedingly gifted...but it sounds like, from what you're saying, that you're just not ready, and that you're frustrated with it. Did you get into Shakuhachi to play it and learn it, and to find some peace, or is this just another intrument to you? Not that there's anything wrong with that, I'm just curious. Basiclaly, if you weren't that great at guitar, would you play it live? Probably not.
I get annnoyed with my playing from time to time, but then I realize that I'm playing for the wrong reasons, and that I've never had a teacher. Honestly, until you can sit and take your time with the Shakuhachi, it's never going to give you what you want; in fact, it'll just frustrate you.
My advice is to be patient, and do NOT worry about playing in three months. Why give yourself all that pressure? This is a low-pressure instrument, and should be treated as such. Don't push yourself. If you're not ready now, it's doubtfull that 3 months will change that; it seems to me to be too short a time to try and get "pro" at playing, if you're starting from an amatuer status. If the concert comes and you're not able to play how you want, then don't play. Find some other instrument to use, unless you've already sold yourself as a Shakuhachi player to whomever you're playing with.
In the end, the only one here who can give you the "tools" you need is you. You have to find out how to play through your emotions, you have to figure out how to play better, and only you can figure out if you're going to be ready in a few months. I'd also find a teacher; in Seattle it's not too easy, but I'd think there are more than a few in Paris. Go the non-teacher route if you wish, but know that this isn't just a "pick it up and play like a pro" kind of flute, so you'll be struggling with it longer than you need to. I'm trying to get with a teacher soon, because I know I have a lot of bad habits that I need to break, and I need to figure out how to get into the 2nd octave.
It's also probably not your flutes that aren't producing the notes you want, it's just that you're new at playing. I have a Yuu and 3 other rootends that I've made, and they all play about the same right now, due to me. Don't go getting new flutes until you can play the good-quality ones you already have.
As far as trying to impress your friends, or showing them how the flute sounds...I'd wait until you can play consistantly, then play...no one wants to hear anyone squeaking on the shakuhachi. At least, most don't. It tends to remind them of why they don't like Asian music in the first place; most Westerners think it's screechy and atonal, so why make it true for them? Wait until you can play nice notes, and they'll be that much better off, and maybe even get into shakuhachi music themselves. You can also play them a CD to give them a good idea of how it sounds until you get better.
Also, if you want to learn how to play other styles of music, then just do it. I play to non-shakuhachi music all the time, just to get my ears and fingers trained.
Just my thoughts...I get really into my flute sometimes, and wish I were a better player, but then I remember why I picked the thing up in the first place, and the "musician" in me shuts up about technique and the like.
Myself, I'd wait to play this concert, and relax, and enjoy the flute. Peace.
Last edited by kyoreiflutes (2006-02-13 17:40:26)
I would concur with jumbuk's advice:
Just do it.
Thank you all for your answers. I'm glad to get your feed-back and encouragement.
I replied personnaly to Jumbuk and I will to Koreiflutes. Don't want to overload this forum with answers to answers.
Every point of view reflect sincerity, and everone's life is so personnal, in our evolution too.
I allways listen, specially as you take some of your time to give your advice. And follow my way, a little bit richer and aware.
Don't worry about it now Safiya. It takes two years to be able to make a consistent sound. Just keep blowing regularly and strongly and your sound will improve.
Yeah, I hope I didn't come off too harshly. I really just meant that, in my opinion, you shouldn't push it, just let it come out of you. I get the feeling that's the kind of player you are, anyway, perhaps with an innate ability to play, and you're not "getting it" as soon as you might like, and it's leading you to frustration. I might be wrong, but that's happened to me; I tend to be decent at playing a good range of intruments, and I'm sometimes upset when an instrument that I really like, like the Cello, and I don't communicate right, and I can feel that it's never really going to happen. It's too bad, because i feel like I could make a Cello sing, but I just know that it'd take me years to get a good note, and I'm too impatient. I got lucky with the shakuhachi.
It's been exceedingly difficult for me with the shakuhachi, however; I've felt many times that I was "done" playing it, that I couldn't go any further, and I should just stop playing it, but then I remember how long it takes for most people, and that I need to take lessons. I have a really short attention span, and I've never been able to sit and learn an instrument, but I'm trying to do it properly with the shakuhachi.
I definately wish you the best in your efforts.
I empathize so much with the desire to play better NOW that I need to also throw in my own personal story.
I have been playing shakuhachi for bit more than 4 years - and have been practicing an average of one hour a day this entire time. Would love to be the kind of guy who has 4 hours a day to practice, but shakuhachi will always be my much loved hobby and not my livliehood. (Maybe in my next lifetime...)
I think for my first year listening to me must have been an unbearable punishment for the people in my life. They may have kindly said otherwise, but my screechy efforts to hit the second octave was really touch and go for much longer than I had anticipated. It is a real wonder I stuck with it.
It was only in my third year that I was able to play in public and honestly accept that people might be enjoying what I am playing. (At least I think so..)
And now, at 4 years, I think that now and then I can actually make some beautiful music, but even that is very touch and go.
In retrospect the times when I became obssessed with playing well where actually the least enjoyable. The only reason I am still playing is because I find the instrument incredibly beautiful, graceful, and its history wonderfully sophisticated and deep.
And one more thing: Do not fall into the trap that a better flute is going to make you play better right now. Yes, another $5,000 - $10,000 will get you an amazing flute, but the really great players sound great on anything. James, my sensei, can make plastic sound like gold. I hope to prove this right myself at about year ten in my studies.