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#1 2008-07-15 15:17:11

Vevolis
Member
From: Toronto, ON
Registered: 2007-12-24
Posts: 175
Website

Question about formal training in Japan

I noticed that a number of people on the forum have reached Shihan (grandmaster) status to teach the Shakuhachi. I wonder how long and intensive is the lesson regime?

I'm starting my first lesson with a formal teacher tomorrow. It seems that most people take a lesson once a month. How does this differ from formal training in Japan?

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#2 2008-07-15 17:01:12

Lorka
Member
Registered: 2007-02-27
Posts: 303

Re: Question about formal training in Japan

good stuff, having a teacher helps out alot, as they are such a good source of good advice.

Who's the teacher?  Only one I know in Toronto is Debbie Danbrook, who I spoke to recently.

Some time soon I plan on writing a review of her Honkyoku CD.  It fuses honkyoku, occasional voice, and Cello.  Really amazing.  She plays with great emotional depth.  Being that you are in Toronto, you might want to introduce yourself and drop by her studio.  She is very friendly, and a good soul.

congrats on finding a teacher.  Just beware that they don't hit you with a zen stick like mine does :-)


Gravity is the root of grace

~ Lao Tzu~

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#3 2008-07-15 17:12:40

jdanza
Moderator
From: Vancouver, Canada
Registered: 2008-06-19
Posts: 85
Website

Re: Question about formal training in Japan

As a music teacher I find that once a month is not the best option. If my students have practiced something in a faulty way and gotten into some bad habits it's a lot harder to catch them and break them once they've gone on for a month... which means that the more you practice the worse off you are.
  I would say twice a month would be the minimum. Once a week ideal.
The Shakuhachi has a well earned reputation for being one of the most difficult instruments to play and master. You will need a lot of commitment and discipline... you might as well put your money "where your mouth is" (this time very literally :-)
  If your teacher is Debbie please give her a hug for me. She is a great player and a great human being.
And finally... Congratulations!. We need more female players for this wonderful instrument...

pepe danza
www.pepedanza.com

Last edited by jdanza (2008-07-15 17:13:46)

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#4 2008-07-15 17:13:42

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

Re: Question about formal training in Japan

http://shakuhachiforum.com/viewtopic.php?pid=3370

See above for a discussion about the ranks and titles.

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#5 2008-07-15 21:01:58

Justin
Shihan/Maker
From: Japan
Registered: 2006-08-12
Posts: 540
Website

Re: Question about formal training in Japan

Vevolis wrote:

I noticed that a number of people on the forum have reached Shihan (grandmaster) status to teach the Shakuhachi. I wonder how long and intensive is the lesson regime?

I'm starting my first lesson with a formal teacher tomorrow. It seems that most people take a lesson once a month. How does this differ from formal training in Japan?

Different teachers have different systems. Some teach their students once a month, some twice a month, and some once a week or more. The usual system that I hear about seems to be that the student pays a monthly fee and is welcome to come to 3 (or sometimes 4) of the lessons. Some may come only once a month, or whenever they have the chance since many people get overtime etc here in Japan.

When I first came to Japan I was studying 3 lessons per week, then reduced that to 2 per week.

Justin
http://senryushakuhachi.com/

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#6 2008-07-15 21:15:15

Tairaku 太楽
Administrator/Performer
From: Tasmania
Registered: 2005-10-07
Posts: 3226
Website

Re: Question about formal training in Japan

Dai Shihan is the expression which is translated as "Grandmaster". Which makes it look like we are playing chess!

There is no standardized system for defining exactly what Jun Shihan, Shihan, Dai Shihan etc. mean which extends across the various ryu, or sometimes even from teacher to teacher in the same ryu. If you're just starting study now you won't have to worry about any of them for some time! wink

Once a month is not enough to learn shakuhachi. Aim for once a week at least if possible.


'Progress means simplifying, not complicating' : Bruno Munari

http://www.myspace.com/tairakubrianritchie

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#7 2008-07-15 22:59:41

Vevolis
Member
From: Toronto, ON
Registered: 2007-12-24
Posts: 175
Website

Re: Question about formal training in Japan

Hmm... plenty to think about. It is in fact Debbie Danbrook. Jdanza, i'll send her your greetings!

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#8 2008-07-16 03:25:07

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

Re: Question about formal training in Japan

I took a regular lesson once a week for about twelve years before getting my shihan; one year I was taking lessons twice a week.  It was kind of a group lesson situation where everyone would hang around for a couple of hours and watch several other students play before getting their chance to play a piece sitting across a small table from the sensei.  We were lucky in that our teacher was a komuin (public employee) and couldn't officially have another source of income so he just charged us for the tea.  The lesson was 2000 yen a month; with four or more lessons it came out to about five dollars a lesson which was a pretty good deal; I wouldn't have been able to afford more expensive lessons.   My sensei's teacher in Tokyo charges about 10,000 yen a lesson; of course he is a professional and my sensei is an amateur player; the iemoto is living on his playing and teaching so he has to charge more just to survive...not to mention the cost of living in Tokyo.  In our style the sensei determined when you were ready to move on to the next piece; it wasn't unusual to spend several months learning one piece. Some extraordinarily talented players like John Kaizan Neptune took their junshihan or shihan in three years or so, practicing six hours a day.  As Tairaku said, there is no standardized system unless you look at Tozan, which does have a standardized test for all players in Japan; John Neptune took that test and from what I hear it is quite a difficult one.  With Kinko the rules are made by each branch of the ryu, and standards may be different according to individual teachers.  Our group requires 'mastery' of a certain repertoire of pieces; I know I haven't mastered them all yet.

Last edited by Daniel Ryudo (2008-07-16 03:35:06)

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#9 2008-07-16 08:36:38

Vevolis
Member
From: Toronto, ON
Registered: 2007-12-24
Posts: 175
Website

Re: Question about formal training in Japan

I suppose the question was less of "how much work and how long before (I, specifically) can become a ____" as there are many levels of proficiency according to Tairaku. I'm more interested in developing better breath techniques and the ability to putter away until I can play several pieces (ones to my liking) fairly well. I'm finding that doing it on my own is more difficult than I had imagined. I can't make "Mary Had a Little Lamb" sound very good.

The cost of lessons (across the board) seem relatively high, probably because the Shakuhachi is slightly less known than perhaps a guitar or a trumpet. I wondered how it may differ in Japan and that many people travel there to exclusively learn the instrument.

According to the ROM (Royal Ontario Museum) exhibit, the *dated* Japanese way of life is to achieve the most "elegant form of poverty", so I was wondering how it may differ than learning in North America and abroad. I know that a lot of martial arts dojoís take on students who help maintain the property in exchange for board and lessons.

Finally, Jdanza I think you may have mistaken me for a woman. (My avatar is myself with makeup probably; halloween with a menpo) It doesn't happen too often... although I've been told I have rather dainty fingers. tongue

Sc(arlet?)ott,

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#10 2008-07-16 08:51:25

Tairaku 太楽
Administrator/Performer
From: Tasmania
Registered: 2005-10-07
Posts: 3226
Website

Re: Question about formal training in Japan

Ask your teacher how long and how hard you have to study to get a license, which could be about 7 years assuming that you have a lot of talent. But that's probably not the main issue. If you want to learn shakuhachi you just go through the process without having a particular timeline or goal in mind.


'Progress means simplifying, not complicating' : Bruno Munari

http://www.myspace.com/tairakubrianritchie

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#11 2008-07-16 09:21:48

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

Re: Question about formal training in Japan

Scott, there is no real time line to achieving any particular level with the shakuhachi, nor should there be unless you are in some kind of hurry to become a teacher yourself.  To a good many people, it's more about the process than any kind of ultimate outcome.  Under the guidance of your teacher, you will overcome your difficulties, straighten out things that are crooked and shouldn't be or put nice kinks where they ought to be.  All of this will happen in many cases without you being immediately aware of it.
The non-Japanese student's tendency  is to be vocal and questioning in lessons, however the Japanese tendency is to be somewhat quiet and attempt to emulate the teacher's playing with few words passed between.  The teacher will sometimes give vocal coaching, but not always.
I imagine that Debbie will put you on a good course.  Invest well in the impressions and observations that you pick up with your eyes and ears.  Time will pass.  Accolades may happen.  So be it.
As for the cost of lessons: later on you won't think twice about it.  You are bartering some of the time you invest in your money making situation for your teacher's time.  It seems like a win/win situation.


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

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#12 2008-07-16 09:36:33

Vevolis
Member
From: Toronto, ON
Registered: 2007-12-24
Posts: 175
Website

Re: Question about formal training in Japan

I think Iíve put too much importance on time. I decided to learn the Shakuhachi and learn as much about Eastern esoteric practices as I could in an attempt to humble myself. Between worrying about bills and when Iíll have the next musical inspiration to record music due in September to making sure Iím spending enough time with my wife, Iíve overwhelmed myself... in turn, Iíve asked some pretty irrelevant questions. Sorry about that. You all speak very calm words. (Or type at least)

I think I should invest in a rattan staff; the humbling stick.

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#13 2008-07-16 11:29:40

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

Re: Question about formal training in Japan

It's possible to humble yourself without doing anything, in fact, it's probably faster that way...

eB


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

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#14 2008-07-16 11:47:06

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

Re: Question about formal training in Japan

Vevolis wrote:

I think Iíve put too much importance on time. I decided to learn the Shakuhachi and learn as much about Eastern esoteric practices as I could in an attempt to humble myself. Between worrying about bills and when Iíll have the next musical inspiration to record music due in September to making sure Iím spending enough time with my wife, Iíve overwhelmed myself... in turn, Iíve asked some pretty irrelevant questions. Sorry about that. You all speak very calm words. (Or type at least)

I think I should invest in a rattan staff; the humbling stick.

Ah! If you are seeking to humble yourself you are so on the right path! Shakuhachi is a fantastic anecdote for hubris.

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#15 2008-07-16 13:58:14

jdanza
Moderator
From: Vancouver, Canada
Registered: 2008-06-19
Posts: 85
Website

Re: Question about formal training in Japan

My apologies for the gender confusion Scott. Best wishes on your journey and I hope you find both the inspiration and humbleness you seek.
I find that Shakuhachi provides for both quite abundantly.

pepe danza
www.pepedanza.com

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#16 2008-07-16 20:05:15

Vevolis
Member
From: Toronto, ON
Registered: 2007-12-24
Posts: 175
Website

Re: Question about formal training in Japan

I just finished my lesson and learned quite a bit in terms of breathing techniques and over the course of the lesson, couldn't hit a single note. It was amazing (in a very positive way) once I let go of onset frustration and common misconceptions. I'll be practicing this for life!

(And much quieter smile

Last edited by Vevolis (2008-07-16 20:05:39)

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#17 2008-07-17 11:53:58

Yungflutes
Flutemaker/Performer
From: New York City
Registered: 2005-10-08
Posts: 1061
Website

Re: Question about formal training in Japan

Hey Scott. Great!

Vevolis wrote:

I just finished my lesson and learned quite a bit in terms of breathing techniques and over the course of the lesson, couldn't hit a single note. It was amazing (in a very positive way) once I let go of onset frustration and common misconceptions. I'll be practicing this for life!

(And much quieter smile

When I'm alone, I transport myself to heavenly places. When I'm at a lesson, I s@#k wink Once, during a lesson with Zenyoji Sensei in Japan, I expressed how I played the piece much better at home. Sensei had just performed a solo evening of shakuhachi at a huge venue, he said something like 'Last night, I played better in the dressing room than on stage".

All the best my friend, Perry


"A hot dog is not an animal." - Jet Yung

My Blog/Website on the art of shakuhachi...and parenting.
How to make an Urban Shakuhachi (PVC)

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#18 2008-07-17 12:30:22

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

Re: Question about formal training in Japan

Yoshizawa Sensei: "Day after performance I have such a big sound."


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

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