Chikuzen studios offers shakuhachi students the opportunity to work toward the rank of Shihan, or “Master’s” teaching license and Dai Shihan or Grand Masters License.

Awarding rank based on the student’s level of playing is as common in shakuhachi as in Aikido, Judo, Kendo, Go, and many more fields. The criteria is subject to vary from teacher to teacher. Usually there are certain songs one must be able to play, as well as a few other tests such as listening, recognition of signature riffs, transposing and answering questions about songs.

Of course, it is not everyone’s destiny to become a shakuhachi teacher, and that is usually not the reason one starts shakuhachi. Even so, it is useful for all students to know the level at which they are training, regardless of whether or not they are goal oriented. Chikuzen provides a list of songs to his students so that they can get a relative view of where they came from and what they will be doing in the near future. Holding the rank of Emeritus Dai Shihan gives Chikuzen the authority to bestow licenses up to the rank of Dai Shihan.

The levels and associated fees are as follows:

  1. Shoden (Beginning level) $100:
  2. Chuden (Intermediate Level) $200
  3. Okuden (Advanced Level) $300
  4. Jun Shihan (Associate Teacher’s Certificate) $500
  5. Shihan* (Fully Licensed Teacher) $1,000
  6. Dai Shihan** $2,000

*A Shihan is a Teaching Certificate. Someone somewhere translated this as “Master of…”

**Dai Shihan is an honorific title given to someone who has worked for the shakuhachi community for a number of years through teaching, performing, lecturing and publishing. Since dai means, “big”,“great”, “grand”, etc., this was translated as Grand Master.

The list of songs and testing materials used by Michael Chikuzen Gould are available to his students upon request. If you have any questions concerning the ranking aspects of shakuhachi, feel free to contact Chikuzen.

Student Testimonials

I feel very honored to be able to pick the brain of such a master player. The lessons 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 spent many hours practicing and taking lessons with Michael, under whose masterful tutelage I have been lucky enough to learn. In playing I hope to convey some of the joy and the wonder that I feel everytime I pick up the shakuhachi and think back on how it is that I got to be where I am.

-Brian Furner