Renowned shinobue (Japanese bamboo flute) player Yasukazu Kano was in town lately, and founder Lili was privileged to have a short one-on-one session with him as he demonstrated the basics of playing a shinobue. Here, Kano beautifully explains the benefits of picking up a musical instrument.
We are constantly amazed by the different types of people we meet in our lives, some more than others. For me, I get particularly awestruck when I meet great musicians. To be able to watch one in his or her element is a privilege; there’s something about the reverent manner in which musicians immerse themselves in their craft that deeply moves me, whether they are singing or playing an instrument.
Recently, I met a shinobue (Japanese bamboo flute) player who goes above and beyond performing. Having performed around 3,000 shows in 50 countries – he’s performed at New York City’s Carnegie Hall and Paris’ Theatre de la Ville – Yasukazu Kano is a name that needs no introduction in his field. Wholly dedicated to his love of music, Kano also conducts workshops, lectures and demonstrations worldwide, hoping to impart his musical knowledge and skills to the next generation and people from around the world. Besides the shinobue, Kano also plays the drums – in fact, he used to be part of the internationally acclaimed Taiko drumming group KODO in Sado Island, Japan.
Below, he explains the benefits of music. Even though learning a musical instrument is not on everyone’s bucket list, Kano’s passion for music – palpable through his answers – can be applied to any dream you wish to pursue.
Music is universal
“I can express myself better through my instrument than with words. With the latter, I have to give them a lot of consideration before they leave my mouth. It can be hard to keep a good conversation going because of so many barriers – geographical, cultural, language, religious, etc. Words can be misconstrued in so many ways; not everyone can understand or agree with the same string of words. But music … music is different. It transcends all kinds of barriers; it is a universal language.”
Music gives back
“Yes, I may not be doing something incredibly noble, but if I can make people happy with my music, it is proof that I’m living in the here and now. In the same vein, when I travel, I enjoy making new friends, learning and exchanging musical cultures, creating new music together, making one another happy.”
“It’s almost like therapy for your soul. When I play, all my stress and worries disappear. It may be a form of escapism to some people, but it’s so much more than that for me because music is my life. I don’t see it as an escape; music makes me whole.”
Music connects you to the present
“While reading music is one of the first things you have to learn, I personally don’t like to do so. As a performer, it is a must because I need to first understand the construction of the musical piece, but once I’ve memorised and understood that, I discard the sheet music. When I perform, I want to see my audience – I don’t want to see musical notes. It’s about being in the moment, connecting with the audience and the atmosphere, and playing what I feel.”
Music is for everyone
“Like how your nationality, race and religion don’t matter in the world of music, your age is but a number. You’re never too young or too old to pick up a musical instrument. I believe if you’d like to make progress, you will. Of course, maintaining your health is key. With good health, your body will follow your intention – I’ve had students in their 70s and even 80s who come to me with the intention of learning to play the shinobue!”
On July 20, there will be a Hibiki IV concert at the NUSS theatre. The concert features renowned Japanese musicians like Hiro Hayashida, a famed Taiko drummer, and Super Taiko Junior, a Taiko drumming group. For more information on the concert and other workshops, visit their Facebook page here.
About The Author: A founder of Material World, Tan Lili has previously worked in magazines The Singapore Women’s Weekly and Cosmopolitan Singapore, as well as herworld.com (now herworldplus.com, the online counterpart of Her World). She is now a freelance writer who works on this website full-time. Lili hopes to travel the world, work with wild animals, and discover more awesome Twilight fan-fiction. Follow her on Twitter @TanLiliTweets.