A Beginner’s Guide to Shakuhachi


Alcvin Ryuzen Ramos

Filmed by Byron Copman

Directed by Milan Gelon


Intro/Overview Lesson: $75.00 Donation Appreciated!

Free Lesson: Kubi Furi (Neck Vibrato)Technique

Free Lesson: Meri-Kari Technique

My Approach

I focus mainly on helping the student find their own voice by transmitting hon-kyoku, the solo zen music of the shakuhachi. This, I believe is the heart and soul of shakuhachi. My fundamental lineages are: Kinko/Myoan/Watazumi-do hon-kyoku via Katsuya Yokoyama and Kaoru Kakizakai and Atsuya Okuda. I have also studied and take great inspiration from other teachers such as Yoshinobu Taniguchi, Akikazu Nakamura, Kurahashi Yodo II, Takashi Tokuyama and many others. I place an equal emphasis on playing the jinashi (hocchiku) as well as jiari shakuhachi. I have also studied folk music (minyou) with Iccho Muramatsu and teach many folk pieces as well. I also teach basic ensemble playing (with koto and shamisen) as well as playing improvisationally with any other instrument(s). Although I highly stress the musical side of the shakuhachi, with a special emphasis on creating the best sound from your instrument through intensive technical analysis of tone production and awareness of instrument acoustics, I equally emphasize the spiritual/metaphysical side; my ultimate aim being to enjoy the totality of shakuahchi on several dimensions, and that means being open to learning from every situation. This is why I encourage students to visit Japan to harvest bamboo with me in order to make their own shakuhachi, and to study the language, arts, spirituality, and culture of Japan. This will deepen one’s appreciation, fascination, and enjoyment of the shakuhachi in one’s life.

Private Lessons

In 2003 I opened my home on the beautiful Sunshine Coast, British Columbia, Canada to teach shakuhachi and called it the Bamboo-In Shakuhachi Retreat Centre. In the summer season, I accept weekend and week-long shakuhachi intensive retreats. In addition, I teach privately on selected days in downtown Vancouver and sometimes at Tozenji Buddhist Temple in Coquitlam. I also make occasional visits to beautiful Victoria to teach as well. Please inquire about my schedule for times and locations.

Lesson costs are:

$70 for a single lesson.

$120 for two lessons.

Three lesson and over (or for regular students) are $50 each.

Internet Lessons

For those too far to access a teacher, I also offers shakuhachi lessons over the internet. In order to proceed with online lessons you must have an internet-operational video camera and microphone. Most laptops and computers these days are equipped with both. Skype is an excellent platform to do lessons with. To consult with me about lesson time arrangement and payment, please email ryu.zen18@gmail.com.

Shakuhachi Circle

I gather once a month with fellow shakuhachi students on the Sunshine Coast and lead the group in how to enhance one’s playing and enjoyment of the shakuhachi. Learning songs and techniques is emphasized. Dates for our gatherings will be announced on the Bamboo-In Shakuhachi Circle Facebook page.  All levels are welcome!

Shinobue Lessons

I also give lessons on how to play shinobue, Japanese side-blown flute. The focus is on the basics for creating a good, solid tone, fingering techniques for clean articulation of notes, and proper Japanese musical phrasing. Japanese folk music will be studied as well as modern solo and ensemble repertoire. Please inquire about purchasing my hand-made shinobue flutes.