1st generation Shakuhachi
I purchased my 1st Shakuhachi, not really my first but the first since being really on the Shakuhachi path. I came across a student model in the local recycle store. It is really not that good of a piece. If I was buying it as my main flute, I would have passed on it. The tone is not bad. The problem is the section fit is not tight. To me it does not seem to affect the tone. I will ask my Sensei. However it does not really matter because it serves the purpose I want, which is why I purchased it. It is my travel practice Shakuhachi. Something that I will not cry over if something happens to it. I have been carrying around my Kyudo Sempai’s Shakuhachi to work and on trips, that way I can get in a little practice in free moments, like during lunch. However I am always paranoid something will happen to it. Now I can leave his at home to practice and use for class, and this inexpensive one I can carry around.
I have been giving thought to purchasing a good Shakuhachi. As in just a “student level” from a master maker who is a friend of my Sensei. I was thinking the cost would be in the range of $600.00. I was shocked to find the cost range is starting at $1200.00!! Whoa! Pro models are in the $4,000 range. Dayammmm! Ok , I can see the pro model range, but a student model at $1200.00 och!
Well I have time. I still need a lot of practice before my basic skill is good enough for that kind of investment. I am not even ready to do a student recital yet. Which is something that I will be asked to do later, i was told by Sensei the other day. Ehhhh! Well anyway the Shakuhachi Sempai lent me, has a note flaw. Some kind of flaw is what Sensei was telling me to expect from any lower price model. Which is why the cost is warranted on a well made flute. Which is the same with any instrument, as I would know being a musician. Yeah, I get it. Same as with Kyudo equipment or Kung Fu weapons. The cheap stuff does not hold up,
So yeah, Sensei tells me I do not have to rush to make a purchase, I can wait, I was thinking of next year, (wife approved) Sensei says i can wait longer if I want. Even when making the purchase from a master it is not a simple process. Sensei says he, my wife and I will go to the master’s shop. There he will show me a couple or so instruments to choose from. I can try them, if they are not to my liking, I can come back in another few months to check out some others from a new batch.
So I am thinking wow, even from a master maker there is that much difference in the tone, feel of the instrument?! Or perhaps it is the “soul” of the Shakuhachi, finding one that matches my spirit. The Shakuhachi is more than just an instrument, unlike buying a western flute, the Bamboo has it own spirit, and like when a sword maker makes a sword, it has it’s own spirit. Same as with a Taki Yumi. That is part of the Coolness of my new Yumi, Don is a Zen Priest, perhaps a layman priest, so I am sure he imparted some of that “spirit” into his making of my Yumi along with the “sense” of Japanese imparting spirit into one’s craft thing.
So, the making of a Shakuhachi, from a master would have the same spirit thing. As does playing certain pieces of music with the Shakuhachi. Sensei was telling me the other day that there is a song, he played for me after my lecture part of class, that he does not often play in his concerts. The music itself is not that hard, it is an old zen piece, however the state of mind must be good. He says he will sit and meditate, burning incense, basically center himself before playing this piece.
I have to reach the stage of playing any meaningful pieces, I am still learning, exercise snippets and child songs. I am looking forward to learning a real piece. Slowly I am making progress , Sensei says my breathing is improved as is my tone. I am now working on the second octave notes. Small steps on the climb of the mountain.