I wish you a healthy, peaceful, musical and happy New Year!
A new year has started, with new challenges and new resolutions. Last year, my good resolutions were to follow 12 zen rules and apply them to shakuhachi. I kept this in mind throughout the year, and started gradually a more consistent practice of meditation. This leads me to my good resolution of this year: be a better person. I believe that everyone can contribute to make this world better starting with oneself, and I’m trying to improve my share. I have been learning a lot since I’m meditating on a daily basis and it has been deepening my shakuhachi practice. Although I’m still a beginner, I’d like to share with you how meditation helps me to become a better shakuhachi player.
Continue reading Shakuhachi & Meditation
The Honkyoku pieces (solo traditional pieces written by monks) have no fixed rhythm. The rhythm is based on the length of the breath, the amount of notes you have to play in one breath and how you use your breath. The tradition transmitted from a master gives indications how to place the tones within a breath. It can vary from a player to the other, but also from one day to the next.
How about silence? Continue reading The Rhythm of Silence
In my post “Good resolutions“, I said I was applying some of these zen-rules to my shakuhachi practice. Here is how I (try to) do it.
Continue reading Zen rules applied to shakuhachi
“If you have only five minutes in your day to practice your shakuhachi, play RO” (Fukuda Teruhisa).
Otsu-no-RO is the lowest note on the shakuhachi, all holes are closed. Practicing RO is very good your for your breath and embouchure control, and also to concentrate on the way you hold your flute. It’s a good exercise to be aware of the tensions of your body and try to remove them, and find the just balance between relaxation and keeping the proper shape of the sound. It is recommended to blow RO at least 5 minutes, up to 10 minutes. Longer is of course possible, as long as you stay concentrated and don’t cramp. Blowing Kan-no-RO is also an interesting alternative I’ll develop later.
I found a few months ago on the website of Alcvin Ryuzen Ramos some very interesting variations to the practice of RO-buki. They give the possibility to train a large range of sounds while practicing only one tone… a shakuhachi achievement… Here are his tips, combining blowing and dynamics training: Continue reading Ro-buki
Meditation with shakuhachi is different than practicing or performing. There is no artistic goal. It is full concentration and full acceptation, without judgement. I have a few standard exercises to get started, and, depending on the days, I like to experiment and try new things. I generally put on a timer and decide how long I’m going to practice.
Continue reading Daily meditation with the shakuhachi
My good resolutions for 2016 were these 12 zen-rules I found somewhere on the web (my apologies to the author, I don’t know anymore where I read them).
Zen – 12 essential rules
- Do one thing at a time
- Do it slowly and deliberately
- Do it completely
- Do less
- Put space between things
- Develop rituals
- Designate time for certain things
- Devote time to sitting
- Smile and serve others
- Make cleaning and cooking become meditation
- Think about what is necessary
- Live simply
I had the feeling that they could help me to improve things in my life. One year later, reading them again, I can see what I already managed to improve and where I still need to work on.
I can apply some of them pretty well to the shakuhachi: Nr.1-2-3-5-6-8 are easily related to the way I use the shakuhachi to meditate (read here how).
Nr 5, “put space between things“, makes me think of the Japanese “ma“. In daily life, it also means for me “take a break regularly”.
But I still have a long way to go, so my good resolutions for 2017 remain these 12 rules, with emphasis on Nr.4 “do less” and Nr.11 “think about what is necessary“, with the help of Nr.5 again (“put space between things“) and Nr.7 “designate time for certain things“. Actually, they are all about making choices… apparently, that’s what I need for this new year.
For Nr.10, I think I manage pretty well with cooking as a meditation moment, but I still have to work hard on the cleaning!
To be continued…
A short video of my Shakuhachi Meditation concert at the Japanese Cultural Center of Amsterdam (NL). With city life background noise.