Wednesday, February 23, 2011

The Sanshin (NaBloPoMo #23)

Circa 2000 as I was finishing my studies with Masaya Yamauchi-sensei at the Okinawa Prefectural University of Arts. Same last name, no relation!

I've been playing sanshin for about 12 years now. The sanshin is a three-stringed instrument of Okinawa, the island of my birthplace. I started to learn under George Asato-sensei in Montebello in 1999 before I went to Okinawa on an arts scholarship to study Ryukyu classical dance. At that time, I continued my sanshin studies as well and took classes at the arts university as well as privately with Choichi Terukina-sensei.

With three other Kempi arts scholarship recipients - my sempai (mentors) who also studied with Terukina-sensei. This is at the 2008 New Year's Party for the Okinawa Association of America
I was in Okinawa for six years. During that time, I took better part of a year off, but I managed to return for one last run before I came back to Los Angeles. During that time, I was lucky to continue to play with other students who had learned under Terukina-sensei in Okinawa, too.

To play the sanshin is something that I could write and write and write about.... (But I will have to leave that for another time.... sigh.) The short gist of its that the music is a part of my soul. I play with my grandfather's sanshin. He had already passed away by the time I went to study in Okinawa in 1999. My uncle refurbished one of grandpa's sanshin and gave it to me to practice with. This is the same sanshin that I am playing to this day and the one I am holding in the photo above. To play with my grandfather's sanshin from Okinawa fills me with love, pride and a deep feeling of connection to my roots and enriching my self-identity.

I came back in 2006 and continued to play. There were twists and turns along the way, but fast forward to today, 2011, and our small group of sanshin players are on the verge of putting on our first recital and Terukina-sensei will be with us, too. I will write about the recital in a future blog, but our little group is working hard to get the logistics down as well as mad practicing.

It is a labor of love. Although we may not have felt ready to put on a show, our sensei asked us to consider it and we decided to honor his wish as best we could. We are getting ready, but are hoping our friends and family will be able to join us on March 19 for the show. 

2008 in Los Angeles with Terukina-sensei in the middle and LA and Hawaii folks for a performance at the Redondo Beach Performing Arts Center

Tickets are available, stay tuned.....!

No comments:

Post a Comment