Below are some reviews Michael Chikuzen Gould has received over the years.
I wanted to recommend Michael Chikuzen Gould and Sebastien Gishin Cyr’s new release “Monshogodo” to you. It is one of the most beautiful CDs I’ve heard in a long time. The blend of chant and shakuhachi works wonderfully, Chikuzen’s playing is superb, and the album is beautifully recorded.
Michael Gould is an exceptional lecturer on the place of the shakuhachi 尺八 in Japanese culture, religion, and society. His presentation style is clear, effective, and hands-on; Michael not only demonstrates how to play the instrument but persuades members of the class to give the shakuhachi a try. Some students are more capable than others, but this technique immediately establishes a rapport between instructor and students. The shakuhachi—initially a Chinese flute-became a popular instrument among Buddhists in Japan: Michael’s expertise and presentation is primarily on its use in meditation practice by Zen adepts. Many Zen practitioners in Japan endeavor to remain mindful in all activities, including eating, walking, and playing musical instruments. Michael expertly introduces students to this comprehensive aspect of Zen training through the shakuhachi. Having Michael as a guest lecturer provides an opportunity for students in the United States to appreciate the striking material side of Japanese religion.
George A. Keyworth
Department of Religious Studies
University of Colorado at Boulder
I am delighted to have an opportunity to say a word about Michael Gould’s expertise with the Japanese bamboo flute. Not only is Michael a brilliant performer on the shakuhachi, he is a superb teacher. One of the few Americans ever to become a shakuhachi grand master (daishihan) in Japan, he knows and loves the instrument with a passion that is inspiring. Listening to him play is to be transported to a world of spiritual vibrance and beauty.
At least as important is his ability to explain the world that surrounds the shakuhachi. I have had him in my own classrooms on a number of occasions, and each time my students have become wholly engaged in what he has to say. He is good at explaining the nature of the instrument and the techniques of performance, but he is equally skilled at explaining the culture form which it comes: its historical development, the Buddhist philosophies (especially Zen) that surround it, the goals and interactions of its masters. I have rarely seen anyone who loves an instrument more; nor have I seen many who can communicate that love so effectively with students.
I urge anyone who wants to learn about Zen and the world of shakuhachi—or anyone who simply wants to hear a marvelous performance of traditional Japanese music—to invite Michael.
James L. Huffman
H. Orth Hirt Professor of History
I am writing in support of Michael Gould as a performer and educator in the art of Japanese shakuhachi.
Michael has twice spoken to and played for my Music 103 (World Music) class at Hiram College, supplementing our study of the music and culture of Japan. This is a class of 20-25 general students (non-music majors), taking the course as an arts requirement—not always an easy audience. Michael is one of our favorite guests. He has an easy rapport with the students and immediately engages them in the world of shakuhachi, explaining the context of the music and then transporting them with the delicacy and beauty of his playing. One of my class members (an international student from Africa) said afterwards that he learned more about Zen Buddhism from Michael’s one-hour presentation than in an entire course he took on the subject. Others were excited to have the chance to touch and produce a sound on such an unfamiliar instrument. In their course evaluations, several students mentioned Michael’s visit as a highlight of the semester.
I highly recommend Michael as teacher and player to anyone with an interest in shakuhachi.
Dr. Tina S. Dreisbach
You have made a difference in the lives of my students. Over the years I have had many guests visit the classroom, but the message you gave them impressed on a level I have rarely seen. Besides enjoying the beautiful playing, the students really appreciate why the music is different from their own. Every day as the students walk into the classroom, they play your CD, so you are always on their minds.
Bexley High School
Read on for reviews from some of his students.