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#1 2009-12-27 03:24:01

Todd Frederick
Member
From: Dos Palos CA USA
Registered: 2009-08-30
Posts: 70

New Shakuhachi Players: Discoveries and Transitions

I am new to Shakuhachi. It took me over 6 months to discover how to position my lips and hold the flute to play one single note for a mere second. I even now rest the end of the shakuhachi on one knee to steady it so I don't lose the best angle. I also discovered that practicing inside the house where it is warm is much more effective than playing in my studio in the garage where it is cold. I also discovered that using a Yuu flute is a very safe and effective way to learn to play since it is made to produce correct standard tones for a 1.8 Shakuhachi (even though I have other bamboo shakuhachi that I play with and enjoy them greatly).

I am concerned that there are many who buy these flutes and just give up. They become decorations. Don't give up. That first note will come and it is a blessing but learning to play is neverending.

Does anyone have any discoveries that have helped you to find that first note and to transition to a new level of skill?

Being a Beginner is a Blessings, Toadosan (todd)

Last edited by Todd Frederick (2009-12-27 03:36:02)

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#2 2009-12-27 06:32:02

airin
Member
From: Vancouver, BC, Canada
Registered: 2008-10-18
Posts: 303
Website

Re: New Shakuhachi Players: Discoveries and Transitions

Hey Todd, yes, many discoveries and slow, sometimes seemingly imperceptible progress has been my experience too.  Having a teacher has been a big help.  I didn't have a shakuhachi to try to blow  until my first lesson with my teacher. Then, thanks to his skillful guidance, I could make the first notes right away.  That experience did a lot to convince me that having regular lessons in order to learn to play this instrument would be a wise thing to do.  I have been documenting my skakuhachi journey in a blog (see my signature below).  Maybe you will get some ideas or at least feel you have some company on your own bamboo flute travels if you care to read some of the posts in the blog.

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#3 2009-12-27 09:51:11

rpowers
Member
From: San Francisco
Registered: 2005-10-09
Posts: 285

Re: New Shakuhachi Players: Discoveries and Transitions

Todd Frederick wrote:

I also discovered that practicing inside the house where it is warm is much more effective than playing in my studio in the garage where it is cold.

Keep trying different things. You might well discover that what is most comfortable is not necessarily the most effective learning experience.


"Shut up 'n' play . . . " -- Frank Zappa
"Gonna blow some . . ." -- Junior Walker
"It's not the flute." -- Riley Lee

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#4 2009-12-27 12:13:16

purehappiness
Member
From: Connecticut USA
Registered: 2009-01-13
Posts: 528

Re: New Shakuhachi Players: Discoveries and Transitions

Yes, you will hit spots where you don't feel like any progress is happening at all but don't quit. I have been playing about 11 months now and feel I am progressing, slowly. I have a YUU also, and find it takes me about 10 to 15 minutes then I get back into the swing of things. Choshi or honshirabe is great for getting yourself going. When you get that far that is.

Last edited by purehappiness (2009-12-27 12:13:50)


I was not conscious whether I was riding on the wind or the wind was riding on me.

Lieh-tzu

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#5 2009-12-27 19:07:36

Todd Frederick
Member
From: Dos Palos CA USA
Registered: 2009-08-30
Posts: 70

Re: New Shakuhachi Players: Discoveries and Transitions

Airin, I like you're blog. I will follow it. Gives me inspiration. You are far ahead of me. I'm just beginning to feel comfortable with the flute, am finding the tone much faster, getting better every day, more consistent, and longer tone for the first 4 notes. A live teacher is important but can't be done for me now...I'm getting lots of help from another member of this forum, plus video and CD's. It's slower, but will work. I'm trying to learn Japanese notation. I'm in no rush. Every day's triumph is good for that day, one day at a time.

I live in a very rural farm area of the Central Valley of California. When I bought the house, I mentioned to a friend that I'd like to set up a small rock and sand garden but she replied that the neighbors might wonder why I was trying to "grow rocks."  A shakuhachi is as alien here as is a zen garden. big_smile

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#6 2009-12-27 19:27:04

Matt Lyon
Member
From: North Eastern Oregon
Registered: 2009-06-30
Posts: 92

Re: New Shakuhachi Players: Discoveries and Transitions

These are the things that help me.


Play everyday. That is the most important for me. Even if it is only for five minutes I pick it up. The muscle memory is very important and as a beginner when you find the things that work it really helps to cement them in.

Play only one flute. Also, I would rather have 1 nice flute than several bad flutes in comparison to each other. This is personal and just my preference tho. Back to just playing one flute: This goes back to muscle memory as well. I find that it has helped me to focus on getting better on one flute. I have a 1.8 from monty and a taimu. The taimu gets played a bit but I am 90% on the 1.8 for now. I have been playing for about a year now and this next year I am planning on working toward 50/50.

Keep experimenting. If it works keep doing it. If it doesn't sound right try to fix it rather than just keep on sounding bad and play the correct pitch. Just recently I have changed the position of the flute on my chin (again). This change has really helped. It came from working on getting some notes to sound better and on trying to get my meri's down where they should be (technique matters and a teacher really helps here).

I also like to push myself. It can be frustrating at times but for me I find that by playing a song that is a couple of steps ahead of my ability makes the current songs in my lesson book much easier. Proper technique is very important tho and it receives much of my time when playing ahead. Bad habits don't help at all.

Enjoy and relax...... repeat as necessary....

Hope it helps,

Matt

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#7 2009-12-27 23:29:38

Todd Frederick
Member
From: Dos Palos CA USA
Registered: 2009-08-30
Posts: 70

Re: New Shakuhachi Players: Discoveries and Transitions

Matt...good ideas. I've gotten to the point where I'm doing that too. Thanks.

Where did the avatar come from? I tried to post one but couldn't get the size correct. It's nice.

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#8 2009-12-27 23:43:59

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

Re: New Shakuhachi Players: Discoveries and Transitions

Todd Frederick wrote:

Matt...good ideas. I've gotten to the point where I'm doing that too. Thanks.

Where did the avatar come from? I tried to post one but couldn't get the size correct. It's nice.

One of the men behind the curtain did that. They seem to want everyone to have an avatar.

Last edited by edosan (2009-12-27 23:44:34)


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

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#9 2009-12-28 01:52:29

Matt Lyon
Member
From: North Eastern Oregon
Registered: 2009-06-30
Posts: 92

Re: New Shakuhachi Players: Discoveries and Transitions

Todd Frederick wrote:

Matt...good ideas. I've gotten to the point where I'm doing that too. Thanks.

Where did the avatar come from? I tried to post one but couldn't get the size correct. It's nice.

Glad you like it. I took the picture in my back yard. You are welcome to come over if you would like a similar shot big_smile

I used GIMP (free and opensource) to resize it and change the format to get it to fit. It took several tries to get the size down.

Matt

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#10 2009-12-28 06:36:02

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

Re: New Shakuhachi Players: Discoveries and Transitions

Matt Lyon wrote:

Todd Frederick wrote:

Matt...good ideas. I've gotten to the point where I'm doing that too. Thanks.

Where did the avatar come from? I tried to post one but couldn't get the size correct. It's nice.

Glad you like it. I took the picture in my back yard. You are welcome to come over if you would like a similar shot big_smile

I used GIMP (free and opensource) to resize it and change the format to get it to fit. It took several tries to get the size down.

Matt

Your avatar is dandy, Matt, but I think Todd was refering to the one that the admins put in his spot, the coat of arms thing  smile


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

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#11 2009-12-28 08:13:55

Matt Lyon
Member
From: North Eastern Oregon
Registered: 2009-06-30
Posts: 92

Re: New Shakuhachi Players: Discoveries and Transitions

Hmmm, it does appear that way now after I reread it......

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#12 2009-12-29 01:36:33

Todd Frederick
Member
From: Dos Palos CA USA
Registered: 2009-08-30
Posts: 70

Re: New Shakuhachi Players: Discoveries and Transitions

Hey Matt...when I get really good, I want one of myself like yours playing zen melodies.

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#13 2009-12-31 05:03:37

Todd Frederick
Member
From: Dos Palos CA USA
Registered: 2009-08-30
Posts: 70

Re: New Shakuhachi Players: Discoveries and Transitions

I should probably start a blog as Airin has done regarding my progress with the Shakuhachi. Posting on a forum is fragmented at best. I also don't have a network of players in my area. I may be the only one!

Anyway, I've had a cold or H1N1 or whatever, and have been saving my lung strength for a few days.

I picked up my Yuu a few minutes ago and was playing notes right away. That's a good sign.

Why did it take me months to play one note and now I can pick it up and begin to play without effort? I don't know, except for getting the embouchure correct (without any more pain), getting the flute angle correct, and working on breath control and force...nothing more fancy than that.

I am finding that this all takes time and patient practice.

I'm not playing tunes, I have not yet learned Japanese notation, I have no clue about anything other than getting as close to good tones as I can...but that may be enough for now. Edosan has been helping me and that help has produced observable results. He also made up my lovable Avatar for me. Thank you.

So, I keep working on this, and improve day by day. How about you?

Blessings, Todd

Last edited by Todd Frederick (2009-12-31 05:21:15)

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#14 2009-12-31 12:56:13

purehappiness
Member
From: Connecticut USA
Registered: 2009-01-13
Posts: 528

Re: New Shakuhachi Players: Discoveries and Transitions

I think patience is the one thing you need with shakuhachi. Just enjoy the moment and what you can do now. I am almost at 1 year of playing now and still have problems. It will take years to get real good but practice is what is important. It is like karate. You can't become a black belt overnight. It will take years, and so is the shakuhachi way.


I was not conscious whether I was riding on the wind or the wind was riding on me.

Lieh-tzu

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#15 2009-12-31 16:36:24

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

Re: New Shakuhachi Players: Discoveries and Transitions

purehappiness wrote:

I am almost at 1 year of playing now and still have problems.

There are people here (such as myself) who after a few decades of playing still have big problems.
And some of these problems are even shakuhachi-related.
Enjoy the hell out of the journey, as there's no destination.
Happy new year.

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#16 2009-12-31 16:39:59

purehappiness
Member
From: Connecticut USA
Registered: 2009-01-13
Posts: 528

Re: New Shakuhachi Players: Discoveries and Transitions

Great advice and wisdom. smile


I was not conscious whether I was riding on the wind or the wind was riding on me.

Lieh-tzu

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#17 2010-01-01 00:34:24

Todd Frederick
Member
From: Dos Palos CA USA
Registered: 2009-08-30
Posts: 70

Re: New Shakuhachi Players: Discoveries and Transitions

I'm delighted that I have come so far once I found the notes. Every good note is a blessing for the day.

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#18 2010-01-01 01:26:35

purehappiness
Member
From: Connecticut USA
Registered: 2009-01-13
Posts: 528

Re: New Shakuhachi Players: Discoveries and Transitions

They will all come and then there will be another thing to conquer. smile


I was not conscious whether I was riding on the wind or the wind was riding on me.

Lieh-tzu

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#19 2010-01-01 01:53:55

lowonthetotem
Member
From: Cape Coral, FL
Registered: 2008-04-05
Posts: 529
Website

Re: New Shakuhachi Players: Discoveries and Transitions

I just try to relax and enjoy being able to play.  I fumbled with a couple of instruments in my adolesence and crapped out on them quickly as drinking, dope, girls, and cars took presidence.  Now, almost at 40, I really appreciate the opportunity to pick another instrument and enjoy simply making some noise that turns out to sound rather musical at times.  I think lots of folks may have a similar experience as me but never get back to playing anything later in life.  It is truly a blessing that many, for what ever reason, don't have the opportunity to experience, sadly.  After two years, and one year with a teacher, there isn't much that gives me more satisfaction, or sadisfaction when I botch something.


"Turn like a wheel inside a wheel."

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#20 2010-01-01 11:19:10

Bas Nijenhuis
Member
From: Groningen, the Netherlands
Registered: 2008-10-30
Posts: 160
Website

Re: New Shakuhachi Players: Discoveries and Transitions

The playing itself and the practicing is the goal, the rest will follow smile
It is all about training your (small) muscles and your brain to 'know' when en how to make a sound on this flute; once learned you won't forget it (I hope). It's like learning to ride a complex bike. Fortunately it sounds a lot better too smile


Read more about my shakuhachi adventures at:
Bas' Shakuhachi Blog!

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#21 2010-01-01 16:59:25

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

Re: New Shakuhachi Players: Discoveries and Transitions

Bas Nijenhuis wrote:

It's like learning to ride a complex bike.

More like a complex unicycle, methinks...


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

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#22 2010-01-01 17:33:14

purehappiness
Member
From: Connecticut USA
Registered: 2009-01-13
Posts: 528

Re: New Shakuhachi Players: Discoveries and Transitions

But when you get everything just right. smile smile


I was not conscious whether I was riding on the wind or the wind was riding on me.

Lieh-tzu

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#23 2010-01-02 17:24:59

lowonthetotem
Member
From: Cape Coral, FL
Registered: 2008-04-05
Posts: 529
Website

Re: New Shakuhachi Players: Discoveries and Transitions


"Turn like a wheel inside a wheel."

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#24 2010-01-02 20:04:52

Jim Thompson
Moderator
From: Santa Monica, California
Registered: 2007-11-28
Posts: 421

Re: New Shakuhachi Players: Discoveries and Transitions

lowonthetotem wrote:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y9P2V0_p6vE

Speaking of bikes.

Thank you!  Absolutely priceless.


" Who do you trust , me or your own eyes?" - Groucho Marx

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#25 2010-01-03 01:42:04

Todd Frederick
Member
From: Dos Palos CA USA
Registered: 2009-08-30
Posts: 70

Re: New Shakuhachi Players: Discoveries and Transitions

Wow...that inspired me to practice. lol

There are a bunch of good Frank Zappa interviews on YouTube. Check out the one from the Today show, 1993, when he was very ill. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UDYzuwG- … re=related

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