Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Heads Up!

I think that I have finally realized how important the movement of the head is in Shakuhachi. As I learn Level 1 of 4 from the basic Honkyoku book, notation by Kurahashi Yodo I,  I am being taught all of these new (to me that is) head movements. I think that meri/dai meri to kari have finally arrived within my repertoire. Down to meri will expose a poor embouchure in deed. As I move my head down I realize that I must keep my embouchure wide and flat but not forced. This allows meri to maintain sound even while playing dai meri notes. The difficulty for me after the embouchure was this habit of raising the flute versus dropping the head. I think that I have finally overcome that bad habit but I regress from time to time. My teacher, Phil Nyokai James, has taught me the importance of a loose neck. If the neck is relaxed it can fall forward by gravity and quick meri to kari, or dai meri to kari transitions, will be smoother and faster as the piece calls for it.

Two areas that I am still struggling with are furi and yuri but I know that time and practice is the key along with a "relaxed neck", don't forget! Anytime that I force something it seems to back fire on me. Right now I am working on furi and yuri and I must say that the relaxed neck works but I really have to concentrate on it. If my neck is stiff the furi does not sound that good at all, you can tell that it is forced. For yuri my head constantly wants to change direction on me. I thought that maybe I should try going to the left as it did not seem forced so I did that for awhile and realized that one time I was going to the right and the next time to the left. If I slow down and really concentrate it comes out okay. Also, I found that just rolling my head in a circle helps to loosen things up. Sometimes I do the head rolls with the Shakuhachi against me lips without blowing. Try it you may find that it helps.

By the way the Peonies are starting to bloom in New England, see for yourself.

FYI, I have completed the interview with Phil Nyokai James and have begun to transcribe it on paper, a long and tedious process. It will be coming soon in two or three parts. Spread the word. Thanks!