My first shakuhachi lesson

NYC, 2005, beginning of fall, I was to have my first shakuhachi lesson with Ron Nyogetsu in the West Village. I was living in Chinatown on Mott St. above Shin Dai Wong restaurant, so I hoofed it over to my lesson in under 30 minutes or so. My imagination pictured some kind of classroom with other shakuhachi students. Would they be nice? Would I get enough personal attention?

As I walked up to the Dojo doors of Ki Sui An, I took a deep breath, and knocked. Ron Nyogetsu answered, smiling ear to ear, the definition of impish, in sweatpants and a T-shirt. I walked into his tiny Japanese styled studio to find that it was just me and him in there. He poured me some humble Hojicha tea, or rather pumped and squirted it out of this Japanese tea machine I had never seen the likes of before.

We talked before our lesson and then got to it. I can't recall what we played, though it would've been a folk song. I remember that Ron was surprised that I had already familiarized my self with the common Kinko Ryu katakana notes. I think I left feeling good, but also staring down a stack of folk songs and wondering when I might get to learn a Honkyoku (not before first also completing a long list of Sankyoku ensemble pieces).

I find it reassuring how so many things in life often begin like this, very matter-of-factly, without drama, pomp, or fanfare, and with so many things outside of our illusion of control.

Still a green bamboo shoot, Josen