Ups and downs
That’s life, isn’t it?
My last weeks were quite hilly, in matter of ups and downs, and so was my shakuhachi practice as well.
Last Thursday, I was very excited because I did a big step forward. At least, it’s how it felt at the moment. Since last summer, I’m trying to broaden my range of tone colours and increase the resonance of my sound. I started this practice in the hills of the Plateau de Langres in France (which is not flat by the way), listening to the echo, and then everywhere, over and over again. And last Thursday, I found the right tone quality to make the radiator resonating. That was great (I had the feeling it was a matter of more harmonics in the sound, but I’m not quite sure). On Friday however, although the radiator was singing again on each Tsu I played (while still heating the room properly), I felt I was in a down day. My energy was low, my sound was not as good as the day before… you have those days… I asked myself what could have changed: I actually spent more physical energy before starting my shakuhachi practice on Friday than on Thursday. Could be an explanation.
Continue reading Ups and downs
A quick post in addition to my previous one, Music recordings.
I’ve been quite busy this week recording myself and listening back… and you? What I notice, and noticed already before, is that the more you record yourself, the less you have surprises when you listen back. Sounds logical. I like to see the shakuhachi as a mirror of yourself, of your inner self. How you are doing, feeling: stressed, tired, excited, quiet, happy… But also on an external aspect, listening back to yourself is like looking at your image in a mirror. If you are really concentrated and listening to yourself when you record, you shouldn’t be too much surprised of the outcome. How carefully are you listening to yourself when you play? How carefully are you listening to your breathing and your silences, which are also part of your music?
Learning is listening. Teaching is listening.
This is what I recorded yesterday. Just for sharing, I’m still working on this piece (Ifu-Saji). Recording myself (and learning by heart) helps me a great deal to go deeper in the piece. Feel free to give constructive feedback.
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!
Continue reading Music recordings
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 and it can be part of your daily meditation with shakuhachi practice.
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
5 good reasons to take lessons from a certified teacher
- You will play at the proper pitch and don’t sound half a tone lower, blaming it on the flute.
- You will learn the specific techniques which make it unique.
- You will learn the traditional repertoire which is exclusively transmitted from master to student.
- You will meet fellow students, share your experience and play together.
- You will make progress.
6 good reasons to learn shakuhachi
1. It is a very special instrument: its sounds is unique and will open a new world for you.
2. It is a deep breathing training: bringing your awareness to your breath is relaxing and a deep breathing training is very good for your health. It will help you find a quiet moment for yourself.
3. It is a challenging instrument:
- physically: to get a sound, to keep it, to get the proper pitch.
- mentally: to go on and don’t give up because it’s more difficult than what you thought. You can do it.
- energetically: it’s a mirror of your energy level, and it will help you to improve it.
- spiritually: you’ll have to let go of your self and accept what is given by the flute. Playing the old traditional music is a spiritual act.
4. It is a very old tradition, which reaches people deeply.
5. It will improve your concentration in your daily life.
6. It will bring peace in your life. And you’ll be able to share this peace with the people around you by playing shakuhachi for them.
When do you practice?
I usually practice in the morning. I feel fresh and it energises my day. I’m often very tempted to start other things first, but if I don’t, I never regret it, I’m more concentrated.
When I had a steady job with office hours, I used to practice before going to work or/and during the lunch break. In the evening, I had still to much to do and after that, I was too tired. I did it so because my job started quite late in the morning to late in the evening. If it had been the other way around, I should have done different.
There is no best time to practice, it depends on your daily schedule and obligations. As an amateur, you might have limited possibilities. As a professional, I try to practice when my energy is high and I can fully focus.
Playing music is quite physical, so you have to build up your condition like you’re sporting. It’s better to play for a short time regularly rather than once in while extensively.
Playing in the morning energises your day. Playing in the evening helps you to calm down, to let go of your day.
And you, when do you practice?