1. Basic Notes
  2. Breathing
  3. First Tune
  4. Meri/Kari
  5. Chin Meri Type

Other Info

Lesson 1

Song Types

The Shakuhachi was at the beginning, a tool of fighting and meditation for the monks of the Fuke sect. These same monks, used long tunes as identificaton, to say to others that he came from his particular temple. Those long, nice and difficult tunes are called Honkyoku.

With the popularity of the shakuhachi increasing, due to its sound, japanese people started to use it too. Two new song types were born: the Sankyoku, by noble hands (long ensembles of voice, shakuhachi, koto and shamisen) and the Minyo, by the people. Today there's also Shinkyoku, which is shakuhachi together with modern instruments.

The Minyo is the one we will play most at first. The songs are short and beautiful, and some times very difficult to sing (one of them is considered the most difficult song to sing in the world).

Basic Notes

Ok, the shakuhachi player need to do every day training on the first part of learning. Your goal should be to make good sound and know every note playable. The basic notes are as written here:

O: open hole
X: closed hole

Ro Tsu Re Chi Ri(Hi) I(Go no Hi)  
X X X X X O 5th hole (back hole)
X X X X O O 4th hole
X X X O O O 3rd hole
X X O O X X 2nd hole
X O O O X X 1st hole

Hi stands for the Ri sound in the higher octave (same for I and Go no Hi. Note: Go no Hi is a third octave note). There are a lot mote notes, but we'll see those in due time.


Right now, my friend, you should do the following drills:

The following is my personal interpretation of the drills:
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All of the points are natural corrections for errors done by everyone. These errors are absorbed in time, but they're something to pay attention to, so that they do not become wrong habits.

  • First, your blowing style is nice, but the breath is trembling a little. This makes you lose air and weakens the sound. Try your best to not tremble at all. To do this, when blowing, open your throat like when you're yawning and relax the back of the head and neck.
  • Second, your stance is a little stiff. Relax more, especially the shoulders, lower the shakuhachi, and the magic tip: try to maintain your elbows as close as possible to your body. This helps to relax and doesn't tire your arms and fingers.
  • Third, pay attention when changing octaves. To prevent any extra sounds from getting out whilst changing, hit the holes with some pressure to not let any air go out.
  • Last, the breathing method. It is difficult to get used to, but do not inhale using your chest. Use your lower belly to breathe in and out. This gives you more power to control and strengthen the sound.

The rest is formidable!! I'm impressed.

With those three drills, your skill will improve a lot! Hope is there for everyone who strives to learn! Worry not! Good luck.