World Shakuhachi Discussion / Go to Live Shakuhachi Chat
You are not logged in.
I am very interested in hearing from individuals how they use James Nyoraku Schlefer's book in their practice. I would really be interested in hearing from James Nyoraku Schlefer what he feels the best regimine is for using his book. Should I work on section one for one week of practice for 5 miniutes per session or section 1 and 2 for 10 minutes each. I appreciate any input on it. Thanks!
I have split my practice time into chunks of 7 minutes now (I started with 5 minutes). I start with ro-buki. Then long tones from the book as recommended from James. And next another exercise from his book. followed by special exercises, new pieces and repeating old pieces. Closing with Kyorei (as far as i can play it)
As a beginner i can't play a lot of the exercises. Not even the full basic exercises. I play what i can and afterwards i try to go a little further every day. I am working thru the exercises line by line. When i mastered a line i go to the next.
I select the exercise to my needs. What must be improved (almost everything of course). Make notes every day what is going better and what to do next day.
Do you have a link to the book? I'll check Amazon also.
Can't find it at Amazon.
Last edited by Todd Frederick (2009-09-26 19:56:53)
He suggests using one exercise from each section and alternating.
Todd Frederick wrote:
Do you have a link to the book? I'll check Amazon also.
Can't find it at Amazon.
It should be noted that although this is an excellent study guide, it's not a book designed for beginners. If you are thinking of getting it, Todd, I'd recommend you spend the money on lessons, or something more basic. This book will most likely confuse you at this point. Get it down the road a piece...
Edit: Another forum member (MikeL) just posted this link to Tom Deaver's Ichiyo Shakuhachi Manuals, Vols. I & II on another thread:
I also highly recommend these materials, which consist of two large fanfold 'books', each with an accompanying tape of all the tunes and exercises. When I was first starting out, I was fortunate to have these manuals, and they gave me a big leg up. The two manuals, including tapes, are priced at about USD77.00, and well worth it, as there are years of study there, beginning with the very basics with many simple songs arranged in order of difficulty (Vol. I) followed by more complex folk songs (Minyo) and many useful drills, and some sankyoku pieces, all played by a very competent Kinko player. All items can also be purchased separately, as you'll see on the link. For 1.8 shakuhachi.
Only possible downside is: who has a cassette player these days?
Last edited by edosan (2009-09-27 13:19:06)
Hello Brian et al,
Regarding "The Practical Shakuhachi" I am happy to share some thoughts. First of all as Edosan correctly points out, this is not a beginner or "How To" book. Rather it is intended as a supplement to proper learning of the traditional repertoire. I based both "The Practical Shakuhachi" and my "Shakuhachi Workbook" on Western flute playing workbooks and adapted them to the shakuhachi. Exercises, Scales and Etudes are de rigor practice for any student learning an orchestral instrument, but have been absent in traditional shakuhachi training. Until now. Since each person has a different amount of time they can devote to practice, different strengths and weaknesses, and varying degrees of natural ability, it is hard to suggest a general practice regimen for everyone. A good teacher will be able to suggest which exercises to spend more time with. That being said, here are some thoughts based on my own routines.
The first sections of each book are devoted mainly to long tones and intervals. I always start each practice session with 20-30 minutes of long tones before playing anything else. The long tone exercises present several ways to slowly go through the range of the instrument as a way of warming up. (Let's face it, this can be rather dull so a variety of exercises makes it a little more interesting.) As the phrases become longer from section to section, you must play faster and faster in order to do it in one breath.
Interval practice is an excellent way to develop the embouchure but can be very taxing for the lips, so I suggest not overdoing it. "Shakuhachi Workbook" has a much more extended section devoted to intervals. The exercises get increasingly wider, and therefore more challenging to execute, so go slowly and progress from the shorter intervals (Fourths) to the wider ones. I sometimes do this in the course of one practice session and sometimes over the course several days.
In each book these sections are followed by scale exercises; "Shakuhachi Workbook" has Japanese "In" scales, "The Practical Shakuhachi" has Western scales and arpeggios (chords played one note at a time.) Depending on what kind of music I am working on, I develop my technique by practicing these scales. Again, this kind of rote practice can be dull, so by providing several options, I had hoped to make the variety a little more interesting.
Now to address Brian's original question about the best regimen for using the book. This all depends on how much time you have to practice. I recommend you begin practice with exercises before practicing the piece your teacher assigned for the week. Let's say you have one hour total of practice time. Spend 10-12 minutes on long tones. Then 5-10 minutes on intervals. (Each day you can do a different one for variety.) Then: If the piece you are working on has a lot of meris, you should practice some of the meri exercises in either of the books. (5-10 minutes) If there are a lot of skips, practice wide intervals. Practice the scales that are being used in the piece you are studying. And while you are practicing the piece for your next lesson, there may be a difficult section that correlates to one of the exercises. So practice that too.
One final recommendation. Whatever you are practicing, practice it slowly and EVENLY. THEN go a little faster. When you can play that evenly, THEN try it a little faster. This is the way to develop technique.
I hope this is helpful.
PS Both books are available at http://www.shakuhachi.com/ under "Playing Guides and Books."
Awesome! Thanks, that was what I was looking for
Thank you...I have no shame in being a beginner. "For a beginner, there are many possibilities. For the expert, few. Let us all be beginners." Suzuki. I'm open to anything and am learning great patience. The book mentioned is too advanced for me. I need a teacher. One will come to me soon. This is a slow and difficult challenge but small steps make for great progress.
It would be good to have a beginner's sub-forum here.
Last edited by Todd Frederick (2009-10-03 20:01:43)
I agree. I live in a small rural town in the middle of the California Central Valley. The most exotic musical instrument here is guitar. The nearest teacher is in San Francisco...about 200 miles away. I'm looking into the on-line video idea. That will take some time to set up and finance, and there is nothing better than face-to-face learning. I'm working on it. Thank you.
Your mindset is spot on.
Todd Frederick wrote:
Thank you...I have no shame in being a beginner. "For a beginner, there are many possibilities. For the expert, few. Let us all be beginners." Suzuki. I'm open to anything and am learning great patience. The book mentioned is too advanced for me. I need a teacher.
I have Jim's book. It is an excellent guide for gaining and understanding musical technique.
One will come to me soon. This is a slow and difficult challenge but small steps make for great progress.
It will be slow and difficult for some time even if you do take lessons. I played the shakuhachi for five years before I took a lesson. I was perfectly happy with my playing and only started traditional lessons because I wanted to make better flutes. There are things I do on the flute that came from my own explorations that are not part of any traditional techniques I've learned. I do them in my contemporary performances and personal playing. Had I started right away with lessons, I don't know if I would have discovered them.
If you desire to simply enjoy the rich visceral experience of blowing a single tone, there really is no need to rush into lessons. Listen to the flute, enjoy your discoveries and seek a teacher when you feel it is time.
Of course, there is nothing wrong with taking an on-line lesson at all! There are some good teachers here.
Last edited by Yungflutes (2009-10-03 22:01:17)
If I could play devils advocate I would recommend lessons as soon as you can because once a bad habit or habits are developed it can be a real PITA to fix. Also, there will always be time to discover and explore once you have a strong foundation with the flute. As a matter of fact you may be able to discover even more because you have good tone and technique which allows more access to the flutes capabilities. Everyone has their own path but I find that on my journey a teacher was necessary. I am very glad I did get one so I could enjoy the journey more and make greater strides without as much frustration. Notice I said "as much"
If I could play devils advocate I would recommend lessons as soon as you can because once a bad habit or habits are developed it can be a real PITA to fix.
Of course you can play devils advocate!
Everyone has their own path but I find that on my journey a teacher was necessary. I am very glad I did get one so I could enjoy the journey more and make greater strides without as much frustration. Notice I said "as much" smile
Of course we should find a good teacher when the moment is right and especially if a traditional style of music is what the player seeks. My response to Todd's posting was basically saying that he should not feel frustrated because he doesn't have a teacher near him. There's lot to learn from the piece of bamboo and the journey can be no less enjoyable... "when the student is ready, the teacher will appear"
Some of the most important relationships in my life are with my shakuhachi teachers. After I landed in Japan, I studied with four teachers a week. And even today, I can not get enough lessons with Ralph here in NYC. If one wants to play a traditional style of shakuhachi music a teacher is necessary. No argument about that. But, if one seeks something else, a simple piece of bamboo can reveal a world only limited by the player's ears (as the ears direct the lips and breath on what to do).
As for bad habits, just curious, any beginner's out there with bad habits they can not break even after repeated lessons with a teacher?
Be well, Perry
I know a teacher has opened my eyes to a lot of ther possibilities. At first, I thought honkyoku was all I wanted to do but know I can see a lot of other areas that look interesting. I especially, like the fukada rando type music. A teacher can open your eyes.