Copy of Today, I gave my First Degree out: Shoden


I told myself for the longest time that I did not want to teach shakuhachi. I had multiple reasons. A few being,

1. I do not think I will be a good enough teacher for my students.

2. I want to focus on my own practicing and take lessons with other teachers as well.

3. When I taught violin and viola is made me not want to practice at all.

However my student Robin has taught me so much these past seven months.

How and where I met Robin

I met Robin at a performance I was giving in Minneapolis, Minnesota. After the show, he approached me and wanted to talk about my flutes. He mentioned that he was a hobbyist but always wanted to take lessons. After our discussion he invited me to his home for whiskey (which I absolutely love) and some flute playing. So, I went over to give him a lesson. At the end of the lesson, he asked if I would take him as a student. I felt his sincerity for the flute and his love for the music and decided that I would take him as my first official student of Shakuhachi.

I asked Robin awhile ago about his lessons and my teaching and how he was liking or not liking them. This is what he had to say.


“Shawn is a dedicated musician and instructor He has a great ear, and can hear right away what I'm doing so our lessons always feel engaged and personal. He keeps it challenging so I'm always motivated to excel and since I can easily review the recorded lessons, the Skype lesson format is very effective. As a result not only have I improved more quickly than I thought possible I'm playing music I really love. I definitely recommend taking lessons from Shawn.”

So he completely destroyed my first point. I was so happy to hear that I was on the right track for my students and he was developing his skills. As for my second and third point (which are sort of one in the same), I was also completely wrong.

After teaching him, I started noticing interesting things in the music which made me want to go back and relearn them and perform them. The lessons were encouraging me to practice and work on things with a different viewpoint.

After his lessons this morning, Robin completed the full list of works needed to obtain a Shoden level license. (See below the list of pieces he learned). I asked him how he is managing to learn things so quickly. He had this to say with a smile that ripped his face ear to ear.

Well, I have been playing Shakuhachi on and off for 10 years with no guidance. I was worried about skype lessons but so glad I finally started with you and I knew I needed a teacher. But what is interesting is, I finally found an instrument that I want to play every day... This instrument doesn’t feel like work even though its really hard.

There is a love and drive in Robin and all of my students for shakuhachi which is inspiring. This has been one of the best moves I have made so far in my short career as a professional shakuhachi player. So I am proud to announce and give Robin Bohumil a “Shoden” license for shakuhachi. Congratulations! You earned it.

Pieces Robin has learned so far…

Children’s Songs

Kutsu ga Naru


Hietsuki Bushi


Ouma no Oyako

Yuyake Koyake


Tsuki no Sabaku


Haru ga kita

Fuji no Yama



Takeda Lullaby

Azatoya Yunta

Chugoku Chiho Lullaby

Folk Songs

Kojo no Tsuki

Kuroda Bushi

Tanko Bushi







Sanson no Yugure (Mt. Village at Dusk)



Komori Uta

Etenraku Celebration Melody

Eternal Peace P

Mt Echo

Fukuda Rando/Contemporary Music

Tsubaki Saku Mura

Yugure Genso Kyoku

Sankyoku Ensemble

Sandan no Shirabe

Sandan no Shirabe