After a long Winter period, I was ready for Spring and couldn’t wait to get started. Next to the usual individual lessons, I had again some performances & workshops planed. They all didn’t resist the restrictions due to the Covid-19 pandemic, like everywhere in the world for many many many other freelance artists…
What does this pandemic tell us about ourselves? Since the last weeks, I see that it forces us to think different and be creative. I see so many nice initiatives popping up online and in real (playing at your window for or with your neighbours). And for myself, I see it as a new challenge.
And it reminds me every day how important health is, how important it is to live a healthy life and care for others.
Protect yourself, and also protect the others. In our very individualist modern societies, the Coronavirus shows us how strongly we are all interconnected and that we cannot ignore that.
“Man sacrifices is health in order to make money. Then he sacrifices his money to recuperate his health. And then he is so anxious about the future that he does not enjoy the present. As a result he does not live in the present or in the future. He lives as if he is never going to die and then dies having never really lived.”
His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama
So it is time to live in the present! To find new ways and enjoy being connected!
As well as my colleagues around the world, I will get more online the coming months. Starting with teaching. How does this work?
I have been teaching online for some years now. Until now, it was more of a default option, to reduce traveling time and expenses for the student and keep some regularity when there was no other option. Since we are in this pandemic situation, I reconsider online teaching as being also an incredible opportunity to reach out and work with people from the entire world. I am, by far, not the only one: last week, I attended a webinar about online teaching, we were more than 2600 musicians online from all over the world! I wonder if there was any shakuhachi teacher though…
From my experience so far, it has been quite surprising how well online teaching works. If the sound quality can be an issue, I notice that I pay a closer attention to how the students produce their sounds. Looking at their posture, embouchure, tensions, gives me a lot of information about how to help them improve their playing. I do have more difficulties to get the right idea concerning the volume, as most microphones have a compressor, but I will look into this more in detail.
Actually there is a lot that you can do and learn during online lessons and with a good and regular guidance, you will definitely make progress.
As a teacher as well!
Online teaching makes you a better teacher. (Tim Topham)
How does it work?
You just need a computer or a tablet, and to download a free software like Skype or Zoom, that’s it.
In the first lesson, we will need a bit of time to set things up (screen angle, camera, sound, microphone volume) but if you don’t want to loose too much of your lesson time with it, you can already try with a friend or a partner before the first lesson. If you already know how to use the platform (Skype or Zoom), it goes then pretty fast. It is less complicated for shakuhachi to get the right screen angle than for piano or guitar, for which online teachers use at least two screens!
My way of teaching
I have a shihan license to teach the Hijiri-kai repertoire, which is very diverse: old style Koten honkyoku, Kinko Ryū honkyoku, modern music, Fukuda Teruhisa’s compositions and my own compositions too. My main goal is to guide you on YOUR shakuhachi path and to help you out through the obstacles. I prioritise a personal and creative approach.
Very often, I ask myself what it means to be an artist. I have the feeling sometimes that the performance side of it is more valued than the teaching. But to me, teaching is also a fantastic way to be creative. All the great musicians I met during my career in classical music had something in common: at one point of their studies, they had crossed the path of a great teacher. Someone inspiring, listening, caring, helping, pushing the limits, opening new worlds, believing in them and making them believe in themselves. Sometimes a famous performer, but often, someone little known by the big audience as a performer, but highly respected as a teacher in the musical world.
Being a great performer and being a great teacher are two different things. Not many people have them both. Sometimes, a great “natural talent” (performer) has no idea why the others struggle and how to explain things. Being a good teacher asks other skills than being a good performer, and it does definitely ask specific (human) skills, not only mastering the instrument. One of them, to me, is empathy. And also sensitivity, generosity, patience, humility. When I think of Fukuda Teruhisa’s teaching, I see his generosity, his patience, and his deep support. I personally like to add a bit of humour (not derision), just to ease things, take some distance from us being sometimes too serious and too strong on ourselves, or too stressed about the result.
And on Social medias…
You can find me on YouTube, Soundcloud and Facebook. Please subscribe to my channels, it is free and gives me a lot of support.
If you want to do a little bit more – although I know it is a tough time for everybody at the moment – you can always hit my Gratitude button and make a little donation. Thank you!
May you be and stay healthy!