Beginner shakuhachi tips
I have guided many beginner shakuhachi players through their first lesson. The following are the main pieces of advice I try to pass on.
- 'Form is emptiness. Emptiness is form.' Enjoy and blow through the attempts that result in no tone.
- Focus on basic posture.
- Be aware of any tension in your body.
- Practice for only a few minutes each time.
- Focus on the process, not the goal. Did you still your mind and breath more deeply or just get stressed by not getting a good sound?
Beginner shakuhachi technique
- Try to blow a steady stream of air without the shakuhachi first.
- Spend more time with all fingers off during the first attempts at blowing.
- Keep the shakuhachi at 45 degrees to the body.
- Use a mirror to see if the shakuhachi is centered and placed comfortably on your chin.
- Keep the lips in the most natural position.
- Focus on the balancing role of the middle fingers and right-hand thumb.
Common errors to avoid:
- Doing retakes when a sound does not appear which interrupts the natural ebb and flow of the breath.
- Changing the position of the shakuhachi to the body or on the chin during playing to get a sound.
- Moving the jaw in and out to get a sound.
Most of the air exhaled while blowing is not used for sound production. The tiny percentage used is often only a few degrees out when no sound issues. The solution to getting a sound is therefore in changing the air pressure or trying to blow down more without changing your posture, holding angle or lip shape. Sometimes the best sound comes at the end of a note when we focus on the process.
The experience of not getting a clear sound should not be stressful but a stepping stone to a peaceful mind and body!