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Monday, October 8, 2012

Sanshin Lesson One

Happy Columbus Day!

Today, I would like to talk about my Sanshin lessons:

I really am enjoying playing the Sanshin.
One of my favorite Okinawan traditional folk song writers is Mr. Fukuhara.
He wrote Basho Fu and many other folk songs.

The Four Sisters, the first sister group to become superstar in the late 1960 in Okinawa, sang songs written by Mr. Fukuhara. I like the songs performed by the Four Sisters, which include Hatachi Miyarabi, Chinnuku Jyushi, Yacchi, etc. Currently, I am trying to practice Hatachi Miyarabi, one of the Four Sisters' hit songs. I love the vocals on this song very much. The problem for me is that I can't find Kun-Kun-shi (sheet music) for many old songs (including this one) that I would like to practice, since they have not been published . Most of the songs performed by the Four Sisters and Deigo Musume (another folk group of four real sisters who started out in 1970s) aren't publicly available in Kun-Kun-shi form.

There have been many folk song groups of actual sisters over the years, but only the Four Sisters and Deigo Musume have lasted to the present day.

The group NeNezu (which means older sisters in the Okinawan language) has been popular since the 1980s, even though they are not actually sisters, but professional singers (and their membership has changed over the years).

I grew up listening to the Four Sisters and Deigo Musume, and still enjoy their music. I find myself growing nostalgic when I hear many of their songs. I also have five sisters, and so identify quite strongly with those groups; I used to hang around with older girls in our neighborhood, calling them "ne-ne" and imitating the songs of those great Four Sisters group. Our group of friends (four members) would visit nursing homes and sing for them as volunteers, when I was in elementary school. That's why I know many of the songs of the Four Sisters.

Nowadays, many Shimauta songs' Kun-Kun-Shi have been published, including Shima Uta, and the songs of the group Begin. I like Shimauta and Begin's songs too, but I have more passion for the old folk songs which became big hits during the late 60's and early '70s in Okinawa.

Usually, when I practice the Sanshin, I will play more than 10 songs in one session.
For example: today I am playing Shima Meguri, Chidori (Kanako Hatoma), Chura Shima Uchina, Satokibi Batake, Umukaji, Uruwashi No Ryukyu, Himeyuri No Uta,  Hanagasa Bushi, Shirahama Bushi, etc., songs ranging from old folk songs to new kinds of  Shimauta songs.

My Sanshin learning style is to practice many songs during each session. From slow tempo songs to fast tempo songs, I mix it up in every lesson, so I can train my finger movements. I do not recommend this method to beginners; I recommend beginners practice one song until they have mastered it, before moving on to other songs. Most importantly, you must learn to tell the story of the song in your performance.

Still, there are many ways to practice Sanshin, so it is OK to modify your practice in ways that work best for you.

Mastering the Sanshin and learning to sing all of these songs could take me the rest of my life. It is challenging to play Sanshin, yet it is so much fun.

If you are interested in playing Sanshin and singing the songs I love with me, please feel free to contact me.

I look forward to seeing you at my live performances!

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Today, we went out for lunch for my birthday, and the restaurant took a photo of us. 


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幼い頃フォーシスターズに憧れて
家の裏庭で太鼓かかえて物真似で謡った沖縄民謡の数々
今は、ニューヨークで
サンシン抱えて歌っています。


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