“[Duke] Ellington never let you forget that music was his profession. On the other hand, the popular vision of Coltrane is that he seemed to ask you, repeatedly, to alter your life.”
Ben Ratliff

Coltrane: The Story of a Sound

Sound & Silence

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As a Yoga practitioner I have experienced being both student & teacher. As a student I have learned that it takes years of persistent practice to assimilate, realize & appreciate teachings. I have heard my teachers repeat ideas over and over, many times over the years, and I am still in awe every time my experience catches up with their teachings. Ideas can float in my mind indefinitely with very little substance – and then, after years of practice, there is some crystallization and the ideas gain body.

As a teacher I am blessed to be in situations where I resonate in the presence of a student and then make a choice and offer a teaching. It is humbling to realize that what I offer as a teaching in the present will take years of patience and movement to manifest. I am reminded again and again that teaching is sowing seeds. It is then in the hands of the student to nurture those seeds and create the conditions for them to grow and bloom.

As a Shakuhachi player I am again a student. Yet, due to the nature of the Shakuhachi and it’s place in my life, it is not just an instrument I am learning to play, but also a spiritual practice. So, musically I am a complete beginner – I meet myself every time I try to get & hold a note in Kan (the second register on the Shakuhachi). But “myself” that I meet already has some experience as a spiritual practitioner. I am less prone to confusion, frustration and over-exertion.

I know that my Shakuhachi teacher has sown seeds within me. I still have expectations to enjoy the fruits of my practice every time I play, but when those expectations are not met – I do not experience disappointment. I step back from the practice, create a new empty space and then step back in to practice some more… again and again… day after day. A part of me is looking forward to experiencing fruition of my Shakuhachi training – both for the sounds and the silence.

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