Christine Ahn : Shamisen Lessons

For my CIP, I chose to learn the Shamisen under Iwasaki sensei. Since previous students from KCJS had already taken lessons from her, it was easy to start (although contacting her was a bit of a struggle since she was always out when we called). On the first day, I was nervous but going with another KCJS student, Alexis, made it less stressful. The first day, we were welcomed in during the middle of a lesson, which felt more like a rehearsal. Like previous posts already made, the lessons aren’t really like lessons and more of practicing together. By playing with the other students, I found myself slowly improving while having fun. The other students were all old, but they were energetic and treated us kindly. They even sent us back home with chocolates on the first day. 

I knew that I wanted to push myself to talk more so I would also ask a few questions here and there whether it be about trying to understand the sheet music (which is very different from western sheet music) or asking how long they’ve been playing. It was hard for me to start or continue a conversation but luckily, the other students, and Alexis who came with me, were pretty talkative.  During lessons, everyone mainly focuses on playing the piece so there isn’t much opportunity to talk then. It may be different depending on when you set your lesson time since each time we came in, the students there were already rehearsing a piece so there was no chance to talk before a lesson. After each lesson, however, they offered to treat us out to dinner providing an optimal time to chat with them and the teacher. It was interesting to me that even though they were much, much older than us, they told us to call them by their nicknames and gave us nicknames too. They told us some stories about themselves and in exchange, we also gave some of our own. I also saw that even quieter students became so talkative after they started drinking.

Since our program in Japan ended abruptly, I couldn’t properly say bye to them but was able to eat with Iwasaki sensei one last time before leaving. I was able to talk a lot then and before we left, she showed us around an antique cafe she liked (The interior was really cool. I highly recommend asking her about it so you can go too). I really enjoyed how kind the other students and teacher were, even though it was awkward at times. If I could go more times, I think instead of relying on the other students to talk, I would’ve definitely pushed myself to talk even more and try to practice keigo more with the teacher. They understand we’re learning Japanese and have fun hearing us talk so I recommend just saying anything, even if it sounds dumb, off, or random, and to try to treat them as friends (with respect though). Overall, the experience was really enjoyable. However, my goal was to be in a CIP with a lot of people to talk with so this fulfills that but if you want to make friends with younger people, I would suggest finding an active club.

5 thoughts on “Christine Ahn : Shamisen Lessons

  1. さすがクリちゃん!三味線って難しくはなかった?

    • みっちゃん!コメントありがとう~

  2. The Shamisen lesson sounds like an amazing experience! It’s great that you got to meet and interact with people of different ages and with those who aren’t university students. Did you play any instruments before you started taking Shamisen lessons? It seems like you’ve had some experience with music. I completely agree with what you said about pushing ourselves to talk in Japanese regardless of our language ability. Making mistakes is part of the learning curve.

    • Hey Rin! I’ve only had experience with the flute and piano so learning the Shamisen was a pretty new experience ^^;;
      But yea, I’m glad I pushed myself to speak despite making lots of mistakes along the way. ^^;;;;;

  3. This sounds so cool! Did you find the shamisen harder to learn than Western instruments? I actually used to play the piano and flute too and am curious how the shamisen compares. Do you know how long the other students had been playing?