Elizabeth Reian Bennett, Shakuhachi. Photo: Susan Wilson

Private Lessons

I teach the Reibokai style of shakuhachi, which I learned from Aoki Reibo Sensei over a period of thirty odd years. On the simplest level, this means that I ‘sound like’ Aoki Sensei in terms of timber and tone, which is a distinctive sound in Japan. Someone knowledgeable in the different styles of shakuhachi would be able to hear this and know who my teacher was. Once I had heard the quality of Aoki Sensei’s sound, I was on a search to discover how to reproduce it. So that is what I teach.

I am in the Boston area and welcome all students. Please contact me for further details.

Lectures and talks

are divided in a general way into two areas, traditional Japan, and the shakuhachi and new music

A typical lecture-demonstration

covers the history of the shakuhachi, how it is made and played, and how Japanese ideas about music differ from the West. Listeners will learn to hear the variations of pitch, texture, breath and silence which are integral to the instrument. Pieces are played from different regions, times and styles, and illuminate traditional Japanese customs, Buddhist ideas, themes from literature or from nature. I usually break for questions at the end. The focus of each presentation can be adapted as needed.

Fuse this! New music for the shakuhachi

begins with a performance of a traditional shakuhachi solo piece, followed first by a close look at its ornamentations, pitches, rhythm and interpretation, then by an overview of pitch and note clusters, their placement and repetition, and how their use makes a particular piece unique. The audience joins in hands-on exercises such as a simple lesson on how to read shakuhachi score or learning to ‘sing’ a short piece, with all the head and lip movements involved to produce each pitch and the various extemporizations. The shakuhachi contains a mine of ideas for creative composers, improvisers, ethnomusicologists and lovers of music, so the goal in giving this talk is to provide a key to how to hear what is going on, give a sense of the challenges of writing for the instrument, and an insight into how it can be approached and adapted.


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