There is something happening in my shakuhachi playing and practice that feels very good lately. Playing and taking lessons with Chikuzen has, in one way, become very ordinary. I don't mean that I see nothing special in it, but rather that this instrument and this music is less and less soemthing new and exotic that I am doing. More and more it is a part of my life and the life of my family. There is a comfort and familiarity that allows for a natural focus on what I am doing.
Lessons of late have focussed on stability and range. Michael has been helping me tweek the position of the shakuhachi on my chin so that I get a fuller tone and so higher notes (and meri's) done get caught on the blowing edge. I am after drills and warm ups, I am focussing much of my playing on parts 1, 2, and 4 of Etenraku Celebration Melody.
I have also been spending some time on the porch in the early morning with my Shakuhachi Yuu, a tea and the birds. I sit quietly with birds and my tea for a time,a nd them I play call and answer with the different birds in my neighbourhood. I try to match them, or play off of them, responding to what they give me. It is a beautiful practice that has me jumping all over the place on the instrument as new birds come and go.
I highly recommend it.