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#1 2011-01-13 08:40:15

Thomas
Member
From: New York City
Registered: 2006-04-21
Posts: 81

Reading Upside Down

So, I have begun the Teaching level of the Jin Nyodo repertoire and I am struggling with reading the music notation upside down; specifically, the fast sections of Gaikyoku.  I'm sure I'll get it with time and practice, but... Does anyone have any advice, suggestions, or technical hints for this matter?   Any info would be appreciated.

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#2 2011-01-13 09:23:07

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

Re: Reading Upside Down

Thomas wrote:

So, I have begun the Teaching level of the Jin Nyodo repertoire and I am struggling with reading the music notation upside down; specifically, the fast sections of Gaikyoku.  I'm sure I'll get it with time and practice, but... Does anyone have any advice, suggestions, or technical hints for this matter?   Any info would be appreciated.

Turning it right side up might be a boon...


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

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#3 2011-01-13 09:33:55

Thomas
Member
From: New York City
Registered: 2006-04-21
Posts: 81

Re: Reading Upside Down

edosan wrote:

Turning it right side up might be a boon...

?

I practice the music both ways.  The point is to be equally adept and proficient in both directions.  Ultimately, I'd like to read the flipped notation as smoothly and 'musically' as I can when it's right side up.  Anyone else?

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#4 2011-01-13 10:02:01

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

Re: Reading Upside Down

Thomas wrote:

edosan wrote:

Turning it right side up might be a boon...

?

I practice the music both ways.  The point is to be equally adept and proficient in both directions.  Ultimately, I'd like to read the flipped notation as smoothly and 'musically' as I can when it's right side up.  Anyone else?

You learned to read it right side up; seems to me that whatever you did to learn it that way could be applied to reading it upside down.

There are no mysteries or quick tricks to learning to read notation.

Last edited by edosan (2011-01-13 10:02:40)


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

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#5 2011-01-13 11:31:55

airin
Member
From: Vancouver, BC, Canada
Registered: 2008-10-17
Posts: 303
Website

Re: Reading Upside Down

Maybe its just me, but it seems learning to play the shakuhachi and read the notation, regular side up, is already a reasonable challenge, sufficient in my case.  I'm confused about adding the extra challenge to trying to read notation upside down.

When at a lesson, on skype, I have the notation right in front of me, right side up, as does my teacher on his side of skype.  When face to face in a lesson, we can sit side by side or face each other and each have the music on our music stands in front of us.  So, praytell, for what reason would a player need to be able to read the notation upside down?

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#6 2011-01-13 11:53:54

Rick Riekert
Member
Registered: 2008-03-13
Posts: 97

Re: Reading Upside Down

When Tom teaches in person he will be facing his student. Since there is only one copy of the music which faces the student right side up, the teacher must needs read the notation upside down (the notation that is, not the teacher).


Mastery does not lay in the mastery of technique, but in penetrating the heart of the music. However, he who has not mastered the technique will not penetrate the heart of the music.
~ Hisamatsu Fy

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#7 2011-01-13 12:26:31

airin
Member
From: Vancouver, BC, Canada
Registered: 2008-10-17
Posts: 303
Website

Re: Reading Upside Down

Rick Riekert wrote:

When Tom teaches in person he will be facing his student. Since there is only one copy of the music which faces the student right side up, the teacher must needs read the notation upside down (the notation that is, not the teacher).

With scanners, printers, iphones ... readily available, why not have a second copy of the music?

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#8 2011-01-13 13:08:36

Rick Riekert
Member
Registered: 2008-03-13
Posts: 97

Re: Reading Upside Down

airin wrote:

With scanners, printers, iphones ... readily available, why not have a second copy of the music?

There I suspect we enter the deep, murky waters of shakuhachi tradition.


Mastery does not lay in the mastery of technique, but in penetrating the heart of the music. However, he who has not mastered the technique will not penetrate the heart of the music.
~ Hisamatsu Fy

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#9 2011-01-13 13:53:20

Thomas
Member
From: New York City
Registered: 2006-04-21
Posts: 81

Re: Reading Upside Down

Yeah, it's tradition -one of the many puzzling traditions one encounters along the way.

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#10 2011-01-13 13:58:05

Elliot K
Member
From: Santa Rosa, CA
Registered: 2005-10-11
Posts: 132
Website

Re: Reading Upside Down

Rick Riekert wrote:

airin wrote:

With scanners, printers, iphones ... readily available, why not have a second copy of the music?

There I suspect we enter the deep, murky waters of shakuhachi tradition.

Not so mysterious. Having the teacher read the student's copy of the music allows the teacher to make sure that any necessary notes, score corrections, etc., are present and, if not, add them (often in bold red pencil!). Also, the low table being used between teacher and student is often too small to accommodate two full scores.

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#11 2011-01-13 14:21:20

Rick Riekert
Member
Registered: 2008-03-13
Posts: 97

Re: Reading Upside Down

Elliot K wrote:

Not so mysterious. Having the teacher read the student's copy of the music allows the teacher to make sure that any necessary notes, score corrections, etc., are present and, if not, add them (often in bold red pencil!). Also, the low table being used between teacher and student is often too small to accommodate two full scores.

In the spirit of airin's inquiry, if the teacher were looking at a second identical score right side up wouldn't that enable him or her to ensure that necessary notes, score corrections, etc. were present and, if not, to add them? And in this modern age with tables of all sizes readily available, mightn't a low table large enough for two full scores be easily obtained?


Mastery does not lay in the mastery of technique, but in penetrating the heart of the music. However, he who has not mastered the technique will not penetrate the heart of the music.
~ Hisamatsu Fy

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#12 2011-01-13 15:04:06

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

Re: Reading Upside Down

Yamato Shudo Sensei would play along with you, point to where you should be when you got lost, and make corrections in the music with white out and pencil- all upside down. I think the fact that Japanese masters have been playing these pieces all their lives might be a a factor in that ability. Or maybe just teaching for so many years looking at the music upside down is how he learned. He is 85 years old so I'm sure he  learned to do it before copies were easy. Hats off to you, Thomas. I'd call that "manning up".


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

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#13 2011-01-13 16:50:55

Nyogetsu
Kyu Dan Dai Shihan
From: NYC
Registered: 2005-10-10
Posts: 222
Website

Re: Reading Upside Down

Thomas is a "mago-deshi" (grand-child student) of mine. He is a student of James Nyoraku Schlefer - one of two of my students who have attained Dai Shihan (Grand Master's) Licenses.
When I began the "teaching level"  to license students over 35 years ago, my idea was to copy my teacher (Kurahashi Yodo !) as closely as possible.

Indeed, I probably have taught (some to the end of the repertoire and some not) over 1,000 students since I started teaching, and I believe that I have played Shakuhachi with the music turned upside down more often then right-side up !!

The thing is, if you start with the folk-songs, it really is quite simple to get used to, although it seems that it would be difficult.
I believe that my students who are on the teaching course usually find that having to "sing" the names and pitches of the Gaikyoku pieces by themselves to be far more formidable a task. But, of course, if they are going to teach, they need to sing.

I think that the main reason for having to learn to have the music upside down, is that when you are "singing" or beating out the right and left beats, your hands would be reversed if you were facing the student and had the music "right-side up". This would, of course, confuse the student.

The course of study that I teach is:
1-Intro Book
2-Shoden Gaiyoku
3-10 Honkyoku
4-Review Shoden Gaikyoku with Kinko-Ryu onraments and conventions
5-Chuden Gaikyoku
6-10 More Honkyoku
7-Review Chuden Gaikyoku with Kinko-Ryu onraments and conventions
8-Okuden Gaikyoku (part one)
9-10 more Honkyoku
10-Review Okuden (part one) Gaikyoku with Kinko-Ryu onraments and conventions
11-Okuden Gaikyoku (part two)
12-Final 10 Honkyoku
13-Review Okuden Gaikyoku (part two) with Kinko-Ryu onraments and conventions
14-Final Okuden Gaikyoku (part 3)

At this point the studnt is at KAIDEN (can play everything) level.

THEN we turn the book upside down and the student teaches me the entire course!
It is accelerated of course, but you can see that by the time the student finishes all of this she/he is well trained.
It is a 9-year course ,on the average, but I have had students who have done it in 6 years, and ones who haven't finished in 20 years.
---After this there are MANY more optional pieces that we can work on, both Honkyoku and Gaikyoku as well as Shinkyoku.

At the end, the student plays at a licensing recital, and receives her/his Jun Shihan License and Gemei (professional name).
I will save the explanation of how one gets a SHIHAN (Master's License) or Dai Shihan (Grand Master's License) for another time.

Gambatte !
(Perservere)


The magic's in the music and the music's in me...
"Do you believe in Magic"- The Lovin' Spoonful

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#14 2011-01-13 17:45:29

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

Re: Reading Upside Down

airin wrote:

Rick Riekert wrote:

When Tom teaches in person he will be facing his student. Since there is only one copy of the music which faces the student right side up, the teacher must needs read the notation upside down (the notation that is, not the teacher).

With scanners, printers, iphones ... readily available, why not have a second copy of the music?

Tradition.

I enjoy it and I don't even think about it any more unless I run into a roadblock, then I reverse the music to make sure I understand what went wrong.

Don't worry Tom, just keep doing it and gradually you'll get better at it, just as you did with reading the notation the standard way. The only answer is to persevere, I don't think there are any keys to it.


'Progress means simplifying, not complicating' : Bruno Munari

http://www.myspace.com/tairakubrianritchie

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#15 2011-01-13 18:27:29

janemukei
Member
From: New York
Registered: 2006-06-08
Posts: 23

Re: Reading Upside Down

Hi Tom,  Nyogetsu, my teacher, just said it all! I'm struggling mightily with this now...keep giving myself a deadline and extending it. At least you are young - I'm racing the clock!!  Jane

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#16 2011-01-13 18:46:46

No-sword
Member
From: Kanagawa
Registered: 2008-07-09
Posts: 115
Website

Re: Reading Upside Down

I talked to a Japanese dude about this. He said he eventually did it by training himself not to mentally flip the characters but to learn them as a whole NEW set of characters. Just shapes, not related to the right-way-up characters. No "translation" = fewer opportunities for confusion.

(My teacher just uses two sets of notation, but I can see the appeal of reading upside down for practical, traditional, and also just general being-a-badass reasons.)

Last edited by No-sword (2011-01-13 18:47:05)


Matt / no-sword.jp

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#17 2011-01-14 08:13:15

Thomas
Member
From: New York City
Registered: 2006-04-21
Posts: 81

Re: Reading Upside Down

Thanks to all who provided good advice and encouragement.

Tairaku 太楽 wrote:

Don't worry Tom, just keep doing it and gradually you'll get better at it, just as you did with reading the notation the standard way. The only answer is to persevere, I don't think there are any keys to it.

Yeah, I guess that is the bottom line;  just persevere with the challenges as I have for the past number of years.  It's a challenging instrument and art, but that's what makes it so fascinating. I try to look at the positive that it's good brain exercise for those of us racing the clock!   wink   

As Nyoraku often says to me, "Gambatte!"

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#18 2011-01-14 20:20:12

Jeff Cairns
teacher, performer,promoter of shakuhachi
From: Kumamoto, Japan
Registered: 2005-10-10
Posts: 517
Website

Re: Reading Upside Down

I think for every teacher, there is a different variation on this.  In my case, I don't teach at a table, but on the floor, and if I have the notation handy, I will use it.  If I don't, I'll read the student's upside down for which I have no problem doing.  There was no technique involved in gaining this ability other than thoroughly knowing the notation right side up.  Probably the ability to sight read right side up at speed would indicate that reading isn't a problem.  After that, turning the music upside down or any which way should also be easy barring other non-musical complications.
I once played on a stage sitting next to a female player probably in her early 70s at the time (a rarity in itself in Japan) who, though performing, had the music upside down.  She said that it was easier for her to read it that way because that was how she had done it for the past 40 years.


shakuhachi flute
I step out into the wind
with holes in my bones

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#19 2011-01-17 10:31:25

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

Re: Reading Upside Down

With scanners, printers, iphones ... readily available, why not have a second copy of the music?

Indeed, but pull out some rice paper ink and a brush and try to copy a score exactly with no corrections beginning to end, and you may see why this "tradition" started.  As a beginner, I can say that something definitely happens to your playing when you move into longer scores and ensemble pieces and really start to read and play simultaneously.  It is like a quantum leap.  I'd imagine that a similiar jump in ability may occur alongside learning to read upside down and play simultaneously as well, along with just "knowing" the music "front to back" so to speak.


"Turn like a wheel inside a wheel."

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