Thursday, January 27, 2011

Carving a Well Worn Path

Last night I started my shakuhachi lessons with Michael Chikuzen Gould.  For non-shakuhachi people who wouldn't know, that's pretty cool.

One of the nice things about the shakuhachi community, is that many of the best players are online.  This also means that there are many good teachers online.  Add in the magic of things like Skype, and I was able enjoy a lesson right in my basement with Chikuzen, who operates out of Cleveland (I think).

Although I had one lesson with Chikuzen in 2009 via Skype, it was a stand alone technical lesson.  This time I am taking a series of lessons that can build on each other, and hopefully continue well after the series of lessons I currently have booked.

I have been enjoying playing shakuhachi, up to this point, despite not having a teacher.  I have found resources on the internet and I also got hold of Taniguchi Sensei's introductory book.  However, there is something that really appeals to me about working with a teacher.

Like in Zen and the martial arts, the work you have to do in music is your own.  You have to sit your own sits, take your own naps, do your own breakfalls and blow your own Ro.  Having a teacher to touch in with creates a sense that you will not get lost at sea.  They act as the shore that the sailor can see on the horizon.  They provide bearings, as well as instruction.

In Aikido, I get to see many new people come in and go through those initial steps of taking instruction and working with the teacher.  Although anyone can tell you what to do, a good teacher does not just order you around.  A good teacher teaches from the perspective of having walked that road before and watched others navigate those same obstacles.

I look forward to this process, discovering the well worn path before me.

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