Shakuhachi Lessons

Chikuzen Studios offers individual shakuhachi lessons and occasionally sponsors workshops and retreats. Beginners as well as experienced players are welcome.

Learn to play the Shakuhachi with personal instruction from a Grand Master of Shakuhachi.

Michael offers private lessons in his home studio, Chikuzen Dojo, and online via webcam. All levels from beginner to professional are welcome. You will learn correct posture, how hold the flute to facilitate technique and limit injury, and how to read Japanese shakuhachi scores. You will experiment with the variety of breathing techniques used to produce the many rich sounds of shakuhachi. You will also learn about the history of shakuhachi and Japanese culture, especially the Zen culture that exerted such a great influence on shakuhachi.

Chikuzen Dojo offers training in:

  • The complete Dokyoku repertoire in the style of Yokoyama Katsuya
  • Japanese folk tunes and lullabies
  • Select pieces from the Kinko and Meian sects
  • Sankyoku ensemble pieces to play with koto and shamisen
  • Modern ensemble pieces for shakuhachi and koto
  • Modern solos and duets

Home Studio Lessons

Michael offers private lessons in his home studio, Chikuzen Dojo. The Dojo operates from 9:00am to 10:00pm six days a week.

Online Shakuhachi Lessons

I have been teaching using web cameras for 15+ years now. The first question always asked is how do webcam lessons compare to ‘live’ in-person lessons. Taking lessons in person is the best situation, of course, but not everyone has access to a teacher, or to the teacher that offers the style and music that they want to learn. I can honestly say that I have seen great strides made by people who have never had a lesson in person. To make a long story short, the benefits are considerable and much better than the alternatives! You can still study just like you can in person except that you can’t see as much at once and the sound may be a bit different coming through microphones. It is rather difficult to play at the same time but this gives rise to various teaching/studying techniques that wouldn’t be employed if the lesson was in person. I provide the scores and mp3 for the songs you are learning. These can be sent via email or straight through Skype while we are online together. We also have the leisure to schedule lessons at times that are convenient for you with no hassle of driving through snow and rain while spending a lot of money on gas!

Personal Lesson Pricing & Details

Lessons are 75 minutes each and are priced as follows:

  • 1 lesson: $60 US.
  • 2 lessons per month: $105 US.
  • Buy a chunk of 5 or more lessons to use at your discretion: $50 US per lesson. For example, 10 lessons equals $500 US.

Lesson Time – Contact Chikuzen Studios to arrange lesson times and details.

Payment – Open a free Paypal account so that you can easily send a payment to Chikuzen Studios for one or more shakuhachi lessons. Otherwise, send a check or money order to pay for your lessons.

If you are taking the Online lessons, you will need:

  1. Skype – Download Skype free of charge and set up your screen name and account. It is very simple. You will be able to talk and have a live video conference with anyone, free of charge, anywhere in the world.
  2. Webcam – If you do not already have one, you will need to purchase a webcam. There are various qualities, but you can purchase a decent one for about $50 US. You may want to consider purchasing a webcam with a built-in microphone. Set up the webcam with your computer and this will allow you to have a quality two-way video shakuhachi lesson with Michael.
  3. Microphone – You will need a microphone to sit on your desk if your webcam or computer does not already have one built in. Or you can use a headset with a built-in microphone, so your hands are free to play your shakuhachi during your video lesson.

Workshops & Retreats


Held seasonally 4 times a year.

The objective of camp is to create the situation which affords an opportunity for everyone to totally immerse themselves in shakuhachi for 2 full days away from the distractions of everyday life. Therefore, these camps are held at venues throughout Ohio and Michigan which are chosen because of their natural beauty and isolation away from cities. We value the social aspect of camp where you will meet and spend time with other like minded people learning, playing, experiencing shakuhachi together and also cooking and eating together. Everyone there comes because of their love of shakuhachi and their energies are focused in a like minded manner. The end result is that you will be able to go places that you cannot go at home where you depend on the energy of one person, yourself. And although we literally eat, sleep and drink shakuhachi there is time built into the schedule for one to wander off on his own, maybe taking a nice walk thru the farm down to the pond to clear your head or take a nap to rejuvenate mind and soul.

Most camps start on Friday evenings and end at 4:00 pm on Sunday afternoons. This allows time to drive or fly in from another state on Friday, meet the other participants, eat dinner, set up tents, relax and start playing shakuhachi. On Sunday, the camp stops around 4pm to allow time to get back home and be ready for the work week on Monday mornings. Transportation can usually be arranged from nearby airports to the facilities. Recently, we have been using the Stratford Ecological Center outside of Delaware, Ohio. Stratford has roughly 350 acres of pristine land set aside for farming and ecological preservation. We have full use of the facilities which include a large main meeting hall, kitchen and bathrooms and shower. We do all our own cooking and every participant helps out in the kitchen in some manner. It creates a very healthy environment of cooperation, admiration and respect when working together in the kitchen. I must also say that most shakuhachi players are pretty good cooks too. The cuisine is always vegetarian and the menus quite varied. The staff at Stratford has always been so respectful in allowing us freedom to run our camps in privacy and we in turn respect their facilities and follow the few simple rules that exist. You can get a better picture by going to the Stratford Ecological Center website.

The June camp each year is held outside Marion, Ohio at the home of Craig Ciola. Craig has a large amount of land in the countryside where he and his wife open up their home to us and host camp. The setting that Craig has created is perfect for shakuhachi camps: there is a winding “philosophers path” with intermixed carp ponds and bamboo groves. We began to offer an Extended Camp through monday and tuesday for those who wish to have a longer period of study during the June camp.

There are 6 main study sessions at camp:

Friday evening, 8:00~10:00
Saturday AM, 9:00~12:00
Saturday PM, 2:00~5:00
Saturday evening, 7:00~10:00
Saturday AM, 9:00~12:00
Sunday PM, 1:00~3:00

You can expect to play around 16~18 hours if you want to! Many enthusiastic participants are up till 1:00 or 2:00 AM Saturday nights.

Study consists of a variety of folk tunes and lullabies, one main honkyoku song, one modern song and duets. Saturday night is duet night. The participants are divided into a beginner’s group and an intermediate group. Careful consideration is given to chose songs appropriate for each level and scores and CDs are mailed out early upon receipt of notice of registration.

There is much time in which all the camp participants will do activities together. When separated into groups, Michael will teach one group for 30 minutes, then go to the other group. This allows each group time to digest the teachings and immediately practice and start to make the teachings a part of you.

B&B Shakuhachi Home Intensive Study

Come to my house for the weekend and you’ll have my undivided attention for shakuhachi instruction. We’ll cover any aspect of shakuhachi you need help with, from sharpening your reading skills to understanding and playing honkyoku. You’ll have a private guest room and we’ll have healthy, home-cooked vegetarian meals here at the house. If you are flying in, I can pick you up at the airport. Whether you come for one day, two days, or even stay for a whole week, anything can be arranged if we plan ahead. You’ll be totally immersed in shakuhachi while learning at a pace that is catered to your needs.

One or two Home Intensives a year is like six months worth of lessons! Of course, we won’t be playing 12 hours a day for two or three days or we’d both fall over. However, we will be eating, sleeping and drinking shakuhachi. When we’re not playing, we’ll be talking about various aspects of shakuhachi (e.g., history, songs and composers, flutes and makers, and the Buddhist influences on shakuhachi) as well as about Japanese culture and my experiences in Japan. If you become saturated you can lie on the couch and just listen to shakuhachi.

Home Intensive Study offers benefits similar to those of my retreats, but learning is tenfold with private instruction. Hearing and playing along with your teacher raises your own level of playing. In an immersion setting, this higher level of focus and playing becomes part of you and stays with you; when you return home and play in your usual conditions, you’ll immediately notice the difference.

Home Intensive Study is also a great way to work on your certification qualifications. You may come to test out at a specific level and make plans for the next.

Prices for these “Bed and Breakfast Home Intensives” are amazingly affordable when you think about the amount of time and private attention you are receiving. The cost per day is $350, which includes room, board and about 14 hours of shakuhachi! Send me an email if you’re are interested and/or have questions about these intensives.

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