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#1 2009-04-07 17:34:24

Lance
Member
Registered: 2008-01-18
Posts: 74

How many of us don't take lessons, and why?

The 'what are you practicing these days' post prompted this topic.

One day I may take lessons, but for now I dislike the thought.

I've seen too many people who spend YEARS and YEARS taking lessons on an instrument only to become robots who can only repeat the songs they've learned or when supposedly 'improvising' simply cutting and pasteing phrases together they have memorized... I HATE that result of lessons. With that negative background I just have no passion in the prospect of spending hundreds/thousands of hours learning songs...

Anybody else feel like that, or what are your reasons for not taking lessons???

This isn't a post about why we should take lessons, but a teachers prospective on this topic might be useful.


“The firefly is a good lesson in light, and darkness”

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#2 2009-04-07 18:29:45

Larry
Member
From: Columbus, OH
Registered: 2005-10-10
Posts: 58

Re: How many of us don't take lessons, and why?

I took lessons as much as I could for the first 3-4 years I played, and I think this was a very positive thing.  To be shown the techniques, phrasing, mind set, breathing, posture, and so many other things gave me a great foundation to build on and since I had a sensei to guide me, I don't think I developed too many bad habits.  This was very important in the beginning and I highly recommend lessons for starting players.  Now I take lessons only occasionally, for several reasons.  One of the main reasons is that I have a lot to work on.  I've been pointed down the path, now it's up to me to walk a bit further before I ask to be shown more.  Plus it saves me money. smile  But I do still take lessons every once in a while to re-energize myself by seeing and being with a master player, and going over stuff I've been working on to make sure I'm doing it correctly and not forming nasty habits.

As far as becoming a robot, I don't feel that lots of lessons is the issue, at least in my experience.  I think I've been shown the core of the songs I've learned and guided to the areas that you can be more free with.  In some pieces, there is no room for improve.  You want to sound exactly a certain way.  Play it like it's written, nothing more.  Then there are other pieces that have a certain core form, but have areas available for free expression, and I think my sensei has done a good job of pointing these areas out.  A good example is shika no tone or tsuru no sugomori.

As far as improve goes, I think that it really depends on the person.  Some people are just way way better at expressing themselves through music than others, just as some people are better than others at self expression through drawing or painting or other arts.

Anyway, just my 2 cents...

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#3 2009-04-07 18:44:33

Yu-Jin
Member
From: San Diego
Registered: 2005-11-30
Posts: 108

Re: How many of us don't take lessons, and why?

Who ever told you that you HAVE TO take any lessons? Call your own style Lance-Ryu and be happy.
I started on my own, and then I started taking lessons because I did not feel like reinventing the wheel. Now I want to learn Honkyoku, so I keep taking lessons. I also improvise a lot and make some recordings in my own style which came out of listening to Riley Lee, Shanty, Karunesh, Kitaro and many others...

If you are not into particular style, play whatever you want to play.
This my humble pinion.

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#4 2009-04-07 20:14:57

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

Re: How many of us don't take lessons, and why?

Lance wrote:

One day I may take lessons, but for now I dislike the thought.

I've seen too many people who spend YEARS and YEARS taking lessons on an instrument only to become robots who can only repeat the songs they've learned or when supposedly 'improvising' simply cutting and pasteing phrases together they have memorized... I HATE that result of lessons. With that negative background I just have no passion in the prospect of spending hundreds/thousands of hours learning songs...

Methinks the man doth protest too much...

     "With that negative background..."

...especially since he apparently calls on NO personal experience of his own in the matter.


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

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#5 2009-04-07 20:34:18

Lance
Member
Registered: 2008-01-18
Posts: 74

Re: How many of us don't take lessons, and why?

Humm... I think observation is a valid experience.

Anyway, I was just wondering if others have little or no interest in lessons, and ENJOY the experience they get on their own (although I must say I am not totally on my own since I LISTEN to LOTS of various players playing Shakuhachi, and am trying to get better so that I can experience a wide variety of sounds the Shakuhachi can make, still, in listening to all these players I just don't have any interest in learning songs, that's all, and the point of this post).

Again, this topic is a search for those who have similar negative feelings about learning formal songs.. for those who want to estoll the virtues of classic study, that is probably a new topic.

P.S. I don't feel I HAVE TO take lessons, hence this topic...  but so many of you DO feel that way that another perspective would be interesting, to me.


“The firefly is a good lesson in light, and darkness”

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#6 2009-04-07 20:51:41

Moran from Planet X
Member
From: Here to There
Registered: 2005-10-11
Posts: 1524
Website

Re: How many of us don't take lessons, and why?

Hi Lance, I've been meaning to ask you this for a while, so it's a good time to ask:

Where does the quote “The firefly is a good lesson in light, and darkness” come from?


"I have come here to chew bubblegum and kick ass...and I am all out of bubblegum." —Rowdy Piper, They Live!

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#7 2009-04-07 20:58:16

Lodro
Member
From: Australia
Registered: 2009-04-02
Posts: 105

Re: How many of us don't take lessons, and why?

A GOOD teacher will look at the way YOU want to approach the instrument and music, and also at essential features that YOU personally need to work on so that YOU can become the player that YOU want to be. This process of working with a teacher and the teacher working with you can knock off years of fumbling around and often prevent 'bad habits' developing, along with presenting you with alternatives/methods/thinking/procedures etc that you might never have developed on your own.

I guess my way of approaching this whole 'teacher' thing comes from years of developing my own teaching methods (keyboards/oboe/saxophone/taiji/qigong) by observing what tends to be positive and what doesn't.

Teaching at the Aboriginal music school here in Adelaide for 10 years taught me a great many things. One of the essential things that I learned there is that a good teacher can not simply teach every student in the same way. There are a whole bunch of other factors that must come into the equation regarding the student - cultural and social background, intellectual development, emotional development, cognitive development, what the student wants to gain from being here, immediate factors governing any particular students needs at any particular time, etc. I'm sure the ethnomusicologists here (are there any?) could add another 100 pages or so to this list! The life of the student has to be taken into account.

The point I'm trying to make is that, in my opinion any old teacher is not good enough and you are way better off without any teacher rather than having a bad one. If you choose to have a teacher then it is crucial that you find a sensitive teacher, and one who is flexible in his/her approach. If you can find one I think then you would find this invaluable.

All of this depends on what you want to get out of your instrument and yourself. With or without a teacher you can gain something, it just depends on what you want to gain.


Each part of the body should be connected to every other part.

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#8 2009-04-07 20:59:25

Lance
Member
Registered: 2008-01-18
Posts: 74

Re: How many of us don't take lessons, and why?

Two friends prompted my desire to avoid formal study:

A girl I knew who studied piano for several years and could play NOTHING on the piano unless she had her music with her, or had memorized a song. She was a human player piano and I found that AWFUL.

The other, guitar player friend, years of lessons and a life time of practice and can't do much but play songs he's learned or 'improvise' (as I mentioned above) with bits and pieces of riffs he's learned.. again, he's a musical mime. Ick.

These are only two examples, I know, and I realize this doesn't represent a rule, just an example of two experiences... but still, I wouldn't want that to be the result of years of study of the Shakuhachi, and I'll never know if that would happen, since I won't do that.

There will be a group of people, however small, that never study formally, that love playing the Shakuhachi and love the positive effect on their life, I imagine it will boil down to:

1. Lessons are too expensive or they don't have a teacher nearby (they WANT lessons but can't get them)

2. Those who for some reason don't want to take lessons (some sort of 'Zen' experience, some previous experience forming a negative attitude about lessons, think they can learn from listening or books or on their own, don't care if they can play well and/or care only about 'their' experience while playing)

3. Have taken lessons and stopped (think they've learned enough, or have other priorities that keep them from taking lessons)

I imagine there are other possibilities, and I imagine among the Shakuhachi Forum hoards there are only a few who have a similar distaste for lessons (although mine is admittedly an imagined distaste)...

another thing, perhaps controversial, unlike other instruments where you really need to learn various cords and techniques in order to make any cohesive sounds... it seems to me, from my personal experience, that the five holes of the Shakuhachi make it an instrument that one might be able to make somewhat pleasing sounds on with a very short learning curve... 

I've been 'noddling around' on the Shakuhachi, for less than two years, and have had several strangers overhear the noodles and say "That's beautiful". I doubt that would be possible on the piano or guitar... 

What's pleasing to some is painful to others, I know.


“The firefly is a good lesson in light, and darkness”

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#9 2009-04-07 21:02:09

Lance
Member
Registered: 2008-01-18
Posts: 74

Re: How many of us don't take lessons, and why?

Lodro, I totally agree. The 'right' teacher could be a wonderful experience.

“The firefly is a good lesson in light, and darkness”  (I wrote that)


“The firefly is a good lesson in light, and darkness”

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#10 2009-04-07 21:02:34

jaybeemusic
Member
From: Moncton, New Brunswick, Canada
Registered: 2006-06-22
Posts: 145

Re: How many of us don't take lessons, and why?

I am/have been a professional music teacher for many years....

If the student becomes a robot....that is not the teachers fault....it is the students' fault.

Every tiny bit of info that i have EVER learned from a teacher i twisted/manipulated/expanded on because i had the desire to be creative.  Once the teacher has "passed on" the knowledge....it is just that...PASSED ON.  It is now YOUR responsibilty.   Not the teachers.

In the words of the immortal Calvin and Hobbes...

'You can present the information...but you cannot make me care"

Jacques

Last edited by jaybeemusic (2009-04-07 21:03:39)


It's better to keep your mouth closed and let people "think" that you're stupid, than to open it, and remove all doubt.

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#11 2009-04-07 21:17:12

Lodro
Member
From: Australia
Registered: 2009-04-02
Posts: 105

Re: How many of us don't take lessons, and why?

jaybeemusic wrote:

If the student becomes a robot....that is not the teachers fault....it is the students' fault.

Gotta disagree with that, I believe that people can be made to act in a certain way and their malleability is dependent upon 'who they are' as a person. For example - a person of a particular background or way of life that claims that to learn something is to repeat what the teacher does, because it is a tradition that has been handed down. One only needs to look at the way Traditional Australian Aboriginal music is handed down. There is nothing intrinsically wrong with this, it just exists. I just thinking the use of the word 'fault' is a bit strong.

Last edited by Lodro (2009-04-07 21:35:52)


Each part of the body should be connected to every other part.

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#12 2009-04-07 21:48:04

Zakarius
Member
From: Taichung, TAIWAN
Registered: 2006-04-12
Posts: 361

Re: How many of us don't take lessons, and why?

I hadn't even considered taking lessons for the first year I spent with the shakuhachi -- I bought a few scores and accompanying recordings and worked hard on those. After that year, however, I felt like I was at a plateau and through a detailed conversation here on the forum (Teacher / No Teacher : http://www.shakuhachiforum.com/viewtopic.php?id=1575), decided to give lessons a try. I was lucky to find an excellent teacher who was interested in helping me move in my own direction. Perhaps my goal is a bit different from yours, though, as I aspire to play moving music (be it traditional pieces or creations of my own). As a couple others have mentioned, having the technical proficiency on an instrument gives you the opportunity to be creative.

To put it into perspective, children are generally unrestricted by the rules of an art system (take painting for example). They have uninhibited creativity but they generally can't produce art in an aesthetic most people can admire or get something out of. Your two friends, on the other hand, are the opposite. I would tend to agree with jaybeemusic -- your friends need to spend time on their own, creating their own music.

Zak


塵も積もれば山となる -- "Chiri mo tsumoreba yama to naru." -- Piled-up specks of dust become a mountain.

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#13 2009-04-07 21:57:02

radi0gnome
Member
From: Kingston NY
Registered: 2006-12-29
Posts: 1030
Website

Re: How many of us don't take lessons, and why?

Lance wrote:

There will be a group of people, however small, that never study formally, that love playing the Shakuhachi and love the positive effect on their life, I imagine it will boil down to:

1. Lessons are too expensive or they don't have a teacher nearby (they WANT lessons but can't get them)

2. Those who for some reason don't want to take lessons (some sort of 'Zen' experience, some previous experience forming a negative attitude about lessons, think they can learn from listening or books or on their own, don't care if they can play well and/or care only about 'their' experience while playing)

I'm not sure if I fit into choice 2 or not. I feel that that I have enough experience playing flute (silver, baroque and Irish) that I can learn a decent amount on my own. While there are a multitude of good things I could learn from a teacher, most of them I won't be able to put to good use until I can get nice clear tones with several different kinds of attacks, decays, and dynamics each and every time I attempt to play them. That pretty much just takes practice (depending on an individual's experience) and I'm not there yet. There are also some pretty decent instructional materials out there for people who want to learn on their own, but I think I should add that it really helps getting through those having years of experience with European-classical flutes. Given this, shakuhachi lessons sit at a low priority for where my money goes right now. If money was not an issue for me though with internet lessons being available I'd be signing up for them immediately.


"Now birds record new harmonie, And trees do whistle melodies;
Now everything that nature breeds, Doth clad itself in pleasant weeds."
~ Thomas Watson - England's Helicon ca 1580

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#14 2009-04-07 22:09:48

radi0gnome
Member
From: Kingston NY
Registered: 2006-12-29
Posts: 1030
Website

Re: How many of us don't take lessons, and why?

jaybeemusic wrote:

If the student becomes a robot....that is not the teachers fault....it is the students' fault.

I have to disagree with that statement too. Shouldn't a teacher notice it and correct it? I had several silver flute teachers that tried to avoid the tendency for me to play mechanically by teaching and giving tips on how to be expressive. Of course, some students are going to learn easier than others, some teachers are going to be able to teach better than others, and there's always the necessity to practice.


"Now birds record new harmonie, And trees do whistle melodies;
Now everything that nature breeds, Doth clad itself in pleasant weeds."
~ Thomas Watson - England's Helicon ca 1580

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#15 2009-04-07 22:20:51

Kerry
Member
From: Nashville, TN
Registered: 2005-10-10
Posts: 183

Re: How many of us don't take lessons, and why?

Lance wrote:

I've been 'noddling around' on the Shakuhachi, for less than two years, and have had several strangers overhear the noodles and say "That's beautiful". I doubt that would be possible on the piano or guitar...

A grand teacher once told me, "You have to ask yourself, why do you blow?"
smile
It may take a while, but the true answer will appear.


The temple bell stops, but the sound keeps coming out of the flowers. -Basho

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#16 2009-04-07 22:22:03

ABRAXAS
Member
Registered: 2009-01-17
Posts: 353

Re: How many of us don't take lessons, and why?

My only "real" excuse for not taking formal lessons is lack of time and convenient access to formal instruction.

My only "neurotic" excuse would be, even if I had a local teacher, I have a deep-molecular resistance to appointments. If I know I have to do something on-schedule tomorrow, next week, next month, or six months from now, it hangs over me like a lead weight. I'll end up cancelling just to get rid of it. Its like some kind of impending doom or a noose around my neck. I've never subscribed to TV but I have NO comprehension how people have shows (or whatever) that they are tied to sitting in front of at the same time every week or whatever. There is a local film group that shows excellent films on certain nights in a local theater - in 20 years I have never gone, as much as I love movies, I can say "lets go see a movie tonight" If I'm in the mood, but saying "lets go see a movie next thurs. at 8pm" is something I absolutely cannot wrap my mind around. I have no appointments scheduled and don't even own a calendar. It is an alien concept to me. I have no reason to think scheduling regular shakuhachi lessons with an instructor would be much different for me. Maybe occasional "intensive" instruction would be the alternative.

The irony is that my day-to-day schedule is extremely routine in broad strokes, you could set your watch by certain patterns, albeit with completely randomness within that framework.


"Shakuhachi music stirs up both gods and demons." -- Ikkyu.

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#17 2009-04-07 22:22:24

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

Re: How many of us don't take lessons, and why?

I would like to pipe-in on this discussion.  Teacher or no teacher; this is a point that has been discussed and argued ad infinitum.  The answer to this is, of course, there is no one answer.  Everything depends on the desire and interest of the 'learner'.  If you find that formal lessons don't comply with your particular mind-set then you probably won't take lessons and you, along with the rest of the universe, will be none the worse for it.  Should you decide that lessons are the way, then the result will be the same.  The problem, however, comes up when someone decides that they want to play traditionally, but think that a teacher is unnecessary to do that.  Of course, the purpose of the teacher is to set the student on the road that will achieve that end, recognize when a particular hazard has been encountered and offer a strategy to overcome or bypass it.  In all likelihood, these manoeuvrings have been negotiated before by that teacher and that teacher's teacher and so on, thus making the correction seamless and simply part of the journey of both.
A teacher who says that their way is the only way and demands the student's adherence to it, is a fool.  However, a teacher who makes their way seem like it's the right way in the student's mind is working in concert with the student.  The prior situation will be wrought with misgivings and the latter will be fruitful.  Engaging a teacher doesn't necessarily mean that the prior experience is a given.  Some people stumble upon the latter experience right away.  Others go searching for it, but to completely abandon the notion of asking a more experienced, compassionate and trustworthy person to help you on your way is simply cutting off your nose to spite your face.  Better to ask yourself why entrusting another to guide you along your way is a thought wrought with fear or distaste.
Of course, if one has no interest in the depth of established technique and how to execute it, if one has no interest in the heart of meaning behind phrasing of composed pieces of music, if one has no interest in historic ideology, then let the powers, insights, experiences and idiosyncrasies that are inherent to the individual be the guiding light and create the meaning behind what you do.
In the end, will the non-teachered player and the teachered player be able to communicate with one another?  That has little to do with the issue of being tutored or not and has more to do with one's musicality: a trait that has a great deal to do with being at ease with and knowledgeable about oneself, the instrument and one's ability to be open to the muse, or indeed be the muse.  Peace.


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

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#18 2009-04-07 22:30:44

ABRAXAS
Member
Registered: 2009-01-17
Posts: 353

Re: How many of us don't take lessons, and why?

Also; Saturating myself with published instructional material, and intensive listening to players I like,  is something I would do regardless of whether I had a teacher or not, so I do that, if a teacher comes along then that is all good too.

But I have to say I don't get the point of catagorically rejecting the option of formal instruction because of some extremely abstract and probably erroneous principle.

Last edited by ABRAXAS (2009-04-07 22:34:07)


"Shakuhachi music stirs up both gods and demons." -- Ikkyu.

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#19 2009-04-07 22:44:46

Musgo da Pedra
Member
From: South of Brazil
Registered: 2007-12-02
Posts: 332
Website

Re: How many of us don't take lessons, and why?

I am musician in a small city, and I learned a lot by myself and a lot from teacher that I searched on other cities... 
 
I also learned a lot with friends, sitting next bonfires and playing for fun... 
 
There is an equilibrium between the lessons you want to have and the lessons that just came, into a bottle of wine... 
 
About the cutting and paste thing with musical phrases, forget that recent thing! Forget paste and copy... the thing is that if you learn some pieces, you also learn about the possibilities of the instrument, to use when you want to do what YOU want... 
 
 
When talking about shakuhachi, I started with my own made flute about 8 years ago, in which I learned to play, even when thinking that I should rest the flat side of utaguchi on the chin...  I am only using internet for about three years now...and because I was already in love with shakuhachi, the net open my mind and ears to new sonorities that I had never heard. Those made me try to find some things about the instrument...and I learned somethings... and those thing made me search for more... and then I find myself... I find myself already found, searching for some thing that was pputting me on a way, on a path where I was being conducted by lovely music by masters and by their teachings, without lost my music, without lost ME!  Now I am taking lessons...and I love the way my teacher conduct them... because after a lot of time playing alone, reinventing the wheel, I can feel that I will not lost my freedom under the masters supervision... the master want to see the disciple shinning, not glued unto a wall... the want you to be free!!!   
 
In resume, the shakuhachi opened my musical approach with lessons that I searched for and with "living with" lessons, more than made me a robot...and more! It also worked in my soul and when I am playing a piece which I need to folow, I learned to be receptive... I learned to be empty when is needed and to let the things go out of the full bottle, when is needed...and when I want to express myself, I feel better now, knowing how to express my heart... 
 
Everything has its time...there is time to follow and time to be followed...but you need to feel it and not do anything without peace...   
 
 
I love it all!!! 
 
Sorry for my big text in a bad english again ( I learned it by myself, and it's so hard to tell you my feelings using this)!   
 
 
Life bless you all!!! 
 
 
 
Henrique Elias

Last edited by Musgo da Pedra (2009-04-07 22:50:03)


Omnia mea mecum porto

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#20 2009-04-07 23:31:43

Tairaku 太楽
Administrator/Performer
From: Tasmania
Registered: 2005-10-07
Posts: 3223
Website

Re: How many of us don't take lessons, and why?

I've seen many people spend YEARS and YEARS learning how to read and write. And then they only use this ability to write idiotic things on internet forums. I am one of those people, so I have been trying to unlearn and become illiterate. Unfortunately I can't reverse the unfortunate fact that I know how to read, write and type. So my advice is, if you don't know how to do something, definitely avoid learning it, because knowledge can have unfortunate consequences. For example you might actually learn how to play shakuhachi well, and that would be even worse than playing it like a robot.


'Progress means simplifying, not complicating' : Bruno Munari

http://www.myspace.com/tairakubrianritchie

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#21 2009-04-08 00:55:15

Lance
Member
Registered: 2008-01-18
Posts: 74

Re: How many of us don't take lessons, and why?

Jeff Cairns wrote:

Of course, if one has no interest in the depth of established technique and how to execute it, if one has no interest in the heart of meaning behind phrasing of composed pieces of music, if one has no interest in historic ideology, then let the powers, insights, experiences and idiosyncrasies that are inherent to the individual be the guiding light and create the meaning behind what you do.

Exactly. Except that I do find much of the history, heart, and ideology very interesting, which is why I read much of what is posted here.

P.S. There is a "Teacher vs. no teacher" discussion on the site already.. This topic is a bit different I think, 'for those of us who don't take lessons, why'... that might be interesting to know.

I TOTALLY agree that one who wants to play formal Shakuhachi music probably needs lessons... 

I think the first 'why' as to why some of us don't take lessons will be that we have no desire to play formal Shakuachi music (ie. learn ancient songs) although I do love those songs.


“The firefly is a good lesson in light, and darkness”

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#22 2009-04-08 08:31:07

jaybeemusic
Member
From: Moncton, New Brunswick, Canada
Registered: 2006-06-22
Posts: 145

Re: How many of us don't take lessons, and why?

One of my favorite things I've ever heard about learning is this  (i'm paraphrasing here)

Learning an instrument should be like learning a language.  It doesn't matter what language you were born into...(english,japanese....etc...)  You didn't have much trouble.  And you're able to IMPROVISE with your words.  You don't just simply regurgitate every phrase you've ever heard.  You're not a robot.

Buuuuuuuuuuuttttt   Without a strong vocabulary base  (words/phrases)  all of the creativity in the world ain't gonna help one bit.

When we are young, and learning to talk.... we learn like this...

a.  We're surrounded by pros.  Every person that we hear is a "PRO" at speaking so we always hear things done the right way.

b.  We get to "Jam" a lot.  We're alway interacting with these pros and modifying what we do to match them.

c.  THEN we form our own thoughts and phrases by putting different things together.

 
    Yes it is possible to learn shakuhachi on your own.  Stan Richardson did it  (mostly on his own), and he's really good.  But HE took the initiative to go ahead and do it.....I learned 16 different instruments - on my own.   But,

Shakuhachi is the 1st and only instrument i've ever taken lessons with.   Why?  Because with all of my experience with other instruments, i realize that the shakuhachi is capable of doing sooooo many things in different ways that (to the UNTRAINED ear) sound exactly the same.

It's kinda like on a guitar, you can play the same note on many different strings.  The note is the same, but the SOUND (or Timbre) of the the note is very different.   I'm sure that a bass pro like Tairaku could verify that..  wink


I've had too many students who just floundered for 2-3 years because they didn't REALLY have the drive to practice/improve.  Then one day POOF!! it was like a lightbulb went off and they just went crazy and the speed of their improvement increased 10x.   I'm the same teacher....  it was a concious decision by the student to change their focus.


If the students REALLY WANTS to learn.......they will find a way, with or without a teacher.

Jacques


It's better to keep your mouth closed and let people "think" that you're stupid, than to open it, and remove all doubt.

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#23 2009-04-08 08:38:49

Tairaku 太楽
Administrator/Performer
From: Tasmania
Registered: 2005-10-07
Posts: 3223
Website

Re: How many of us don't take lessons, and why?

Good post Jacques,

Very astute.

I wish I could be back in New Brunswick. We spent some of our honeymoon there and it's a wonderful place.

Rock on.

BR


'Progress means simplifying, not complicating' : Bruno Munari

http://www.myspace.com/tairakubrianritchie

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#24 2009-04-08 09:23:45

jaybeemusic
Member
From: Moncton, New Brunswick, Canada
Registered: 2006-06-22
Posts: 145

Re: How many of us don't take lessons, and why?

Thanks Brian...

If you're ever here again, let me know, i'll give you a guided tour!!

smile


It's better to keep your mouth closed and let people "think" that you're stupid, than to open it, and remove all doubt.

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#25 2009-04-08 09:35:03

lowonthetotem
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From: Cape Coral, FL
Registered: 2008-04-05
Posts: 529
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Re: How many of us don't take lessons, and why?

from my personal experience, that the five holes of the Shakuhachi make it an instrument that one might be able to make somewhat pleasing sounds on with a very short learning curve...

I think that this illustrates a pretty rudamentary view of the flute itself.  I feel it is the simplicity of the instrument that makes its potential so vast and varied, and equally difficult to tame.  Surely we can get pleasant sounds from the instrument without much effort.  I was able to make sounds and pleasant tones with my first shakuhachi within an hour or so of getting it.  However, there are a multitude of sounds that I hear in "formal" pieces (pieces which as Larry said offer ample opportunity to improvise and express one's self) which I would have never understood without a teacher, sounds like screams, sobbing, calls, bubbling water, insect sounds, bird sounds, wind on hot coals, and of course bells (and this is just from two pieces that come to mind). I could have pottered around with them for months without ever coming close to making them consistently.  I do play them when they are called for in songs, but I don't feel like a robot, mostly because I fell in love with the way they sounded as soon as I heard them.  There seems to be a blurring of the line here between creativity and technique which I don't get.  If you are going to build a building, to use a recently used metaphor, you need someone to show you masonry techniques or carpentry techniques.  It would be rather unfortunate to become the owner of a house which was someone's "first stab" at building.  It would be just as unfortunate to have to live in your own "first stab."

I feel that that I have enough experience playing flute (silver, baroque and Irish) that I can learn a decent amount on my own. While there are a multitude of good things I could learn from a teacher, most of them I won't be able to put to good use until I can get nice clear tones with several different kinds of attacks, decays, and dynamics each and every time I attempt to play them. That pretty much just takes practice (depending on an individual's experience) and I'm not there yet.

It seems to me that this illustrates a similar misconception to Lance's, which is that teachers just teach songs.  I never fail to be impressed by how quickly I am able to acquire new skills and techniques through my teacher's instruction.  I played on my own for about 10 months when I first started, mostly to make sure that this was something that I wanted to stick with and wasn't just another of my flights of fancy into things Eastern.  After two days at a camp, I was surprised by how much my tone, both in quality and consistency, was imporved.  Another case in point was muraiki, which I have just been able to practice with some consistency over the last week.  I had struggled for months trying to get a real "bellows breath" sound, which I feel is a very distinct shakuhachi sound and could be incorporated into many pieces, even original ones with great effect.  My teacher brought it up near the end of a lesson we had last week and spent about ten or fifteen minutes describing the shape inside my mouth (which I had read about in other arenas but with less effect), listened to couple initial attempts, offered some further instruction based on what he heard, and then bam! I was blowing muraiki.  I can only speak from my personal experience, but it seems to me that when I try some thing and I can't get it, and keep trying, and can't get it, it almost seems like I am practicing not getting it.  I think a teacher is invaluable at cutting through this, but s/he has to be a competent teacher.  So, when we lack the background to make the determination about who is "good" and who is "not good," which all beginners lack as that is why they are beginners, it is best to rely on traditional ranking and classification.  It is rather arrogant to assume we would know better than a few centuries of shakuhachi tradition.  I think it is important to accept our limitations and beginner status and begin where we are, which is usually a place that requires some guidance to get past.  Of course, I was fortunate enough to have very nearly no musical background at all when I approached shakuhachi.  I count that as a blessing.  It has saved me alot of time in the long run.

2. Those who for some reason don't want to take lessons (some sort of 'Zen' experience, some previous experience forming a negative attitude about lessons, think they can learn from listening or books or on their own, don't care if they can play well and/or care only about 'their' experience while playing)

The student teacher relationship is tantamount in any understanding of Zen.  Of course in 'Zen,' most people just do what they want, which only leads them further into their own self encapsulation.

I know I have been thick with the Buddhist crud lately, but I think it has something to express in this venue.

A guy goes to the Buddha and asks if the Universe is everlasting or if it is finite.  He asks if time goes on forever or does it have a beginning and end.  He asks does life have meaning or is it just an exercise in futility.  He asks, is it true that if you want to be happy for the rest of your life you need to find and ugly woman to be your wife.  He asks who put the bam in the bam shalamalam (just trying to update it a little).

The Buddha let him go through all his questions without answering and at the end finally said, "You are like a man that is shot with an arrow who wants to know how long the arrow is, how many flights it has, what color it is, at what angle did it enter his body before you want to know who will pull it out of you."

Everyone has probably heard that before, but go ahead, pull it out, get a lesson or two just to start.  No need to go overboard and become someone's disciple or regergetating robot.  Just get to know a teacher and see what it does.  You will likely be glad for the experience.


"Turn like a wheel inside a wheel."

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