Noilly Prattle: Madama Butterfly in Concert

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Madama Butterfly in Concert


Little Girl playing the Koto and Singing

Little Boy playing the Koto and Singing

Traditional Koto and Shakuhachi Composition

Traditional and Modern Instrument Combo

Chanting (story telling)

     Back in 2011 I posted a blog about a koto concert I had to pleasure to see and hear. In Japan many people have what are known as shumi ( 趣味), a word that can be loosely translated as a hobby. But when I think of hobby, I think of something like making model airplanes or building birdhouses. One's shumi can be one of those things, but more likely to be an interest in one of the many traditional arts such as ikebana, tea ceremony, calligraphy, traditional sports and music.

Butterfly and me
     A former English student of mine for many years (who I affectionately call Madama Butterfly) is an accomplished musician and sensei [先生] (teacher) in the koto and shamisen, once the purview of the tea houses and their geisha. In modern times this musical instrument genre is a typical shumi of traditional music carried on and financed by local associations (clubs). These performing arts clubs usually put on a presentation at least once a year. I received an invitation and tickets in the mail recently and decided to attend.

     The show ranged from very young children's solos, to groups of traditional instruments including the bamboo flute known as shakuhachi (尺八) and even some experimental mixing of traditional and modern instruments like piano, cello and drums and story telling through dance.

     I've included a few videos and some photos to give an ideal of what this traditional art looks and sounds like. 

the sensei and her two youngest students

young girl in traditional
colorful unmarried woman's kimono
called a furisode - note the long sleeves -
playing the shamisen

koto, shakuhachi and shamisen 

story telling in dance

traditional and modern instrument combo


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Noilly Prattle said...

Thank you for your comment. I'm glad you enjoyed the blog and hope you will continue reading and commenting. You seem to be involved in Education with SnartKidz Pre-schools. I was interested to read that your schools follow Waldorf and Montessori Methods. I once studied at the Steiner College in the Sacramento area of California and later applied some of their methods in my own teaching style.