Take a deep breath...
Yes, this comes a week late. Not because I forgot to blog, but because I delayed my lesson by a week.
Silly me decided to take a nap just over an hour before the lesson… and ended up sleeping for an hour, nearly missing the start.
Anyway, the first half was work on embouchure and attaining a better understanding of the appropriate position of my lower lip in relation to the opening of the flute.
In the second half, I did an echo of the Fukuda Rando piece Tsubaki Saku Mura. Apparently, the piece was composed in memory of a scene from Fukuda Rando’s youth, that of a white storehouse with camellias blooming in a village. The points that I would like to keep in mind:
Right. My next lesson will be on 10 March!
As it will be Michael’s birthday this Saturday, I started off with the happy birthday song that I arranged last year. Quite fun!
Anyway, Michael noticed in my playing of Fukuda Rando’s Komori Uta that I was simply too flat for ロ and other notes, though I was on pitch when I played them 大メリ.
Seeing that I have been playing for the past 14 months, he decided that it was time to re-work my embouchure. This means working on blowing for a faster air stream by blowing harder and being aware of my tongue position. Initially, this will lead to a breathy sound, but I can then seal off the excess air with my lower lip.
Part of my practice will involve just blowing without the shakuhachi: when Michael did that, the air flow was audible, whereas mine was silent.
Besides this, we discussed the idea of being flexible when playing, and hence being able to adapt to the styles of various schools in the future. Hearing him relate conversations with top master players was a heartwarming experience.
Lest I forget, my next lesson will be on 17 February.
Yet another funny chapter in the life of a shakuhachi student by Skype. Firstly, I had to postpone the lesson scheduled on 13 January as my computer caught fire. Literally. Minor damage, but I replaced the system. Then, Michael thought that I had not yet setup my computer by the proposed new date as I neglected a final reply to his confirmation email. In the end, the lesson was postponed again to Thursday.
For this lesson, I learnt Komori Uta (子守唄), which is a piece by Fukuda Rando, according to Michael. The initial problem I had was that the notation was written in an unfamiliar calligraphic style: the symbols were actually the same as the Kinko-derived notation that I am used to, but looked different. Oh, and レメリ was written as レチュメリ, and 三のハ was written in a more complicated form. Once I overcame that hurdle, it became mostly just a matter of practice.
One interesting thing about the structure of the piece is that it is divided into three sections. The second section is compressed in the score: we’re supposed to play the initial part of that section, then the part marked ‘1’, then the initial part of that section, then the part marked ‘2’.
My next lesson will be on 3 February!
Ah, a complete flute jam with both Audrey and Samantha. Audrey will be leaving for further studies overseas within a month, so this could be both the first and last complete flute jam this year.
As before, we had dinner followed by the jam session. Dinner was at the bak kut teh (pork ribs soup) restaurant near my place. Not too bad, though I have eaten better ones.
The jam itself was kind of random: Audrey played songs for NAsF that she was learning; Samantha did the warm up sets in the introductory book by Masayuki Koga; I practised Honshirabe.
Towards the end, I screened my DVD of ‘Rin’s Live Tour 2004 for entertainment with koto, shakuhachi, shamisen and biwa while we munched on snacks.
Ahhh… it has been awhile.
Frankly, I came to the lesson with no preparation other than warm up with Kojo no Tsuki. In the end, I settled on asking Michael for a refresher on Honshirabe, partly because I remembered that Plume Blanche from the ESS Shakuhachi Forum has been working on the piece, and partly because I am hoping to improve to the point where it makes sense for me to go for the European Shakuhachi Society’s Summer School in Radolfzell, Germany, from 19 to 22 June 2014.
Obviously, I was rusty. It took me several tries to get some phrases anywhere near how they were supposed to sound. One interesting thing that I did learn was to raise the bell of the flute more for ツメリ and ツ大メリ in order to get the correct pitch. This is part of what Michael recommends for experimentation to improve my sound, i.e., to exaggerate the movements.
Another thing that I need to work on is the breathy ロ. This happens at two places: briefly at the start of the second phrase in the fourth line, and then a long ロ at the end of the seventh line.
Oh yes, my next lesson will be next year: 13 January!
So, the lesson on 2 December did not happen: Michael had to cancel. Oh well, my next lesson will be on 30 December. Why so far away? I’ll be going on a holiday in Europe starting from today!