A blog about shakuhachi without music wouldn’t be complete. As I haven’t recorded any shakuhachi cd yet (I did record with other flutes in some cd for children though), the recordings I put on this blog/ website are my own amateur practice recordings, my apologies for the quality. You will find them in the Music section, or in the Repertoire. These are the same pages, only the classification differs: alphabetic order in Music, style order in Repertoire. I’ll be adding new music and updating these pages regularly in the coming months, but they are no posts. That means that the updates won’t appear on the blog page. So check them out regularly!
These recordings are made to:
- introduce the music I play and the repertoire of the Hijiri-ryu.
- be a teaching support for my students to learn the pieces I teach. The music for shakuhachi used to be an oral tradition and the notation came much later. The notation itself is only the skeleton of the music, you can’t do much with it if you haven’t learned the piece from a teacher and/or don’t have any recording of it in the same style as the notation.
- In addition, recording yourself is a very efficient way to improve your practice.
Why record your practice?
Recording yourself is not a demonstration of ultimate narcissism or sophisticated masochism. It’s a just a very useful practice tool I encourage you to start to use if you haven’t done it so far. You don’t need any expensive equipment, you can start with using your phone or computer.
Convince yourself to play the piece entirely as if you were performing for an audience. The microphone is your audience, you’re not allowed to stop or start again. If you don’t manage to do it in one go, note where it went wrong and try to figure out why. Practice the fragment(s) separately, slowly, until you can include it (them) in the whole piece. Honkyokus are often long pieces, so playing them in one go is also fundamental to practice your endurance. Do you feel tired or out of breath at the end of the piece? Do you feel tensions, pain even? Try it again with concentrating on when you get tensions, how you are breathing at this particular moment, how you are breathing through the piece… And see how far you go.
Most people don’t really like to listen to their voice, see photos of them, look at themselves… Listen back to your recording as if it was from somebody else, I mean in an open positive friendly critical attitude: what do you like in it, what would you like to improve or change? Be positive. What you don’t like can be improved or changed, and you are allowed to be nicely surprised by moments that sound pretty good. What would you like to work on to go further? What did you expect to sound different and how can you make it sound the way you imagine it? Are there some technical issues you could work on with your teacher?
- Recording again: start to experiment.
Play again some parts of the piece you would like to improve or play differently. Is it working? Be free and creative, try new things and listen how they sound. Listen to your breathing, tone quality, rhythm, interpretation… be fully aware of what you are doing at any moment and how the flute responds to you.
– Become more aware of what and how you are really playing: what are your strong and weak points.
– Accept what you are doing at the moment without disappointment or frustration.
– Find where and why it doesn’t go the way you want, and work on it.
– Experiment and enjoy your practice.
– Listen better to yourself.
– Become more gentle and positive about yourself.
– Aim for improvement without being obsessed by perfection.
– Listen back weeks or months later and see how far you have come.
Shakuhachi playing is a long long way, it is your personal journey, enjoy every little step you are making, every up and every down, they both make you progress.
There is no great difficult task that cannot be broken down into small easy tasks.