Bonsai

Chicago Botanic Garden Bonsai Exhibition —courtesy Dean DelBene.

Student Testimonials:

Below are comments Michael’s students regarding the webcam lessons.

I've been playing shakuhachi since 1993 when I started taking lessons from a player who is local to my area (he remains a very good teacher and a very good friend.) In 1998 I attended the World Shakuhachi Festival in Boulder Colorado where I first encountered Michael Gould. I was very impressed, not only by his musicianship but also by how well he explained techniques (he served as an interpreter for Yokoyama Katsuya in a master class.) The next year I attended the first Shakuhachi Camp of the Rockies where I was able to have a few one-on-one lessons with Michael. Again his technique and his ability to explain it were very impressive. At the point were I had my first lesson with Michael I was feeling a little overwhelmed with all that was going on at the Camp. Michael not only calmed me but also inspired me. Later I took lessons from Michael whenever I could (on his visits to my area and on trips that I took out to where he was living at the time.) Every time the lessons proved to be the same, very inspiring and helpful. I learned many new techniques from him and new approaches to the instrument. When Michael began giving lessons over the WEB (via Skype) I jumped on board. These lessons are conducted in a very relaxed atmosphere and are very convenient for me. I feel very honored to be able to pick the brain of such a master player. Again they are always inspirational. I feel that my association with Michael has improved my playing and my understanding of the shakuhachi.

— Michael A. Firman

I have been taking online lessons with Michael Gould and have found them to be amazingly helpful. At fist I had no idea how well this might work, but found out very quickly that this method of learning is more than just functional. It’s very convenient, along with being very comfortable and relaxing. The picture quality is good enough to notice that Michael was doing something different with his finger placement, that suddenly made my flute more comfortable. Even though I don’t have the highest quality speakers, the sound comes out crystal clear. Michael offers more than just Shakuhachi lessons, through conversation I have learned more about the flute and its history. In the past I have had to travel great distances for lessons, if someone can’t see Michael in person, I could not recommend this method of learning enough.

— Jeff Jones

How was your lesson tonight? A question my wife asked me the other night. I answered "Great!" What made my lesson great? I started the lesson as many of you may have started a lesson a million times. I started off slightly frustrated with difficulties some of the pieces I have been working on were giving me and not necessarily feeling up to a lesson. As I have talked about on here many times my teacher is Michael "Chikuzen" Gould.

When I started my lesson I think Chikuzen could tell where my head was and did a great job of helping me work out the issues and break down my current piece in a way that was extremely helpful. Before I knew it I was being drawn excitedly into the piece I was working on and the frustration disolved into motivation. I think this is why it is critical to have a great teacher. I have worked with teachers in the past who seemed to be unaware of these things and only cultivated more frustration to the point where I was so discouraged that I no longer would work on a piece. Having had those kind of experiences in the past makes me even more appreciative of a great teacher like Chikuzen. He has helped me over "bumps" in my playing many times and after almost a year of near weekly lessons with him I cannot express how happy I am with the progress I have acheived. I am making this post to not only express how important I feel a great teacher is but to help those lost in the shakuhachi darkness to find the light so to speak.

If you are looking for a way to learn and don't live near a teacher or you are feeling frustrated with your current teacher you may want to contact Chikuzen for a skype lesson or an in person lesson if you are lucky enough to live close to him. I have been taking skype lesson with him from where I live in Florida and I have taken lessons with him in person at Ro camps and I can honestly say that the skype lessons are as good as the live lessons and just as beneficial. If you don't believe me you should try it. You won't be disappointed.

Sorry if this seems like a blatant "plug" but when you appreciate someone as much as I appreciate Chikuzen you want to let others know so they can benefit also.

— Brian Purdy