Barry and his silver flute

Mid-Life Crisis

In my youth, I was trained in the hard sciences of mathematics, physics, and engineering. I received my BS degree fromMichigan State University, and my MS degree in engineering fromWayne State University . My whole career has been in the field of Military vehicle design at TACOM. Maybe after all these years, I was getting bored with all this left-brained activity. In addition to my Tai Chi, I needed more balance to my nature; exploring the right-brained artistic, creative, and soft parts of my makeup. Thus in April of 1993, I began taking formal music lessons at Flute World; not knowing a thing about music or how to read it. Never shying away from the difficult, my instrument of choice was one of the most difficult; The Silver Flute! The flute demands a lot of practice to master, and I am the first to say that I will never be that good of a player; simply because I have not made that commitment to the demanding practice. But I still take lessons, and the flute sounds still provides a holistic calming of my inner spirit, and cultivates the mind and breath. This in itself is a meditation. Besides, music is excellent wellness therapy.

Barry as Komuso Priest

Bamboo Connection

Back in the 1970's, I wanted to study the Japanese Bamboo Flute (Shakuhachi). Maybe it was because it was a fad of the hippie culture, but it was 20 years later that I re-discovered the Shakuhachi Flute. This flute has a history as interesting as its sound. After the end of feudal Japan, during the Edo Period (1603 - 1867), un-employed Samurai warriors went undercover as Komuso Priests, playing the Shakuhachi, and spying for the Shogun. The Komuso wore baskets over their heads to symbolize their detachment from the world.
Teachers of this end-blown bamboo flute are scarce in the mid-west. Most of the teachers of any merit are located on the West Coast in California, and Vancouver, BC But, I was persistant in my search for a good teacher, and I was lucky to find Michael Gould in Ann Arbor, Michigan. A Grand Master of the Shakuhachi, with the title of Dai-Shihan, he is one of the few non-native Japanese to receive this title. Master Gould is also fluent in the Japanese language. As I said before, I have never let the difficult scare me away. In order to learn to read Shakuhachi music, you have to learn some Japanese; as most of the written music is written in Japanese. Here I go again, as there is very little similarity between the silver flute and the shakuhachi. Thinking in Japanese would help, but I have not got there yet; but I'm working on it!

The Nihon-Ma

In today's society, our minds can be cluttered with too much worldly stuff. Man is a spiritual being, and living a cluttered existance leads to a "vexation of the spirit", as Solomon preached in Ecclesiates Book of The Bible. So it is only fitting that at least one room in a home be clutter-free. This is the essence of the Nihon-ma or Japan Room. However, the Nihon-ma is representative of "Old Japan"; Japan Room with Shoji Sliding Door. not the Japan of today that has just as much clutter as today's western society. My intrepetation of the Nihon-ma is mainly symbolic of a time long ago; a simpler time. In this room, time is meaningless. The area is perfect for mediatation, A Japan Room relaxation, and Bible Study. It also makes a nice guest room. The alcove area is the Tokonomo, and on the right is the long tree log that represents the Tokobashira. This arrangement dates back to the Muromachi Periods (1336-1573 AD), and has not changed in concept in 500 years. The Nihon-ma is also known as a Tatami Room. The Shoji Door was obtained from Cherry Tree. The alcove post was rescued from a dead tree, and was given a new life, versus the tree shredder. Player of Japanese 3-string shamisen

The Jazz Thing

Listening to jazz music in my youth was a favorite pastime. Many great musicans and artists got their roots in my neighborhood in Detroit, Michigan. Even my roommate in college at MSU made a piece of change, playing flugelhorn at weekend gigs. So in the circle of life, I thought jazz would be a cool thing to try with my Yamaha 581H silver flute. In my quest, I discovered that jazz is quite difficult to quantify, compared to the strict regiment of classical music. But like most things I tend to get into, its the hunt and the challenge that is so interesting and fulfilling. This page will be expanded as jazz flute evolves. Currently, I am hanging out with a group of guys (currently known as, "The Adult Jazz Band") that share the quest to play jazz. We have been grooving at the Ann Arbor Music Center in a Jazz class taught by Dave Sharp .

Adult Jazz Band, Oz's Music Center, Ann Arbor, MI, July 2004.

Some Cool Flute Links

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