Hello all, absolute newb to the world of traditional Japanese instruments here! I’ve played piano for about 7 years, but I would love to learn shamisen! Does anyone know of any teachers or groups in Northeast Ohio that play shamisen? What price range should I be looking for when trying to buy one? How long would it take, with consistent practice, to get fairly good at it?
Welcome to Bachido, Sam! That’s awesome you’re ready to start learning shamisen! You know, I think there is a teacher in Ohio (or at least, that general area) who teaches but I can’t for the life of me remember what her name is. I do think she’s in the Bachido FB group (https://www.facebook.com/groups/bachido), so if you happen to use the Bookface, feel free to join up and ask there and she might reply back personally (assuming my memory is correct )
It depends if you’re looking for a brand new shamisen or used. You can get some great deals on Ebay sometimes. Otherwise, the shamisen at Bachido tend to be the best value for brand new shamisen (highest quality for lowest price, since we set a very low profit margin). I’m also currently building a new batch of ShamiBuddy (https://bachido.com/store/shamibuddy) which is a superb deal, as you get the full shamisen experience with all accessories for $420. But that’s just me hocking my own wares.
I’ll back up the big A on every count here.
It’s hard to say how quickly you’ll acclimate to the instrument and what fairly good constitutes. The instrument is very simple at its core, so the skill floor is super low. Even non-musically inclined people can learn a song in 30 minutes to an hour with some doing!
But going beyond that? Impossible to say. For as low as the floor is, the ceiling is quite high. What constitutes “good” on that range depends heavily on your goals.
Thanks for pointing me in the direction of the FB group, joined yesteday and I’m already learning a lot! I think I might wait for when the next batch of ShamiBuddy is released, since I’m in the middle of figuring out a move and a new job situation and everything. I guess my only question would be what type of shamisen style should a beginner like me look for? There seems to be a lot of types, should I focus towards any specific one?
Happy to see you in the group and learning!
That’s a terrific question. As a beginner (or any level really), it really doesn’t matter. The most important thing is pursuing the style which attracts you. Every style has a simple-enough song that will allow beginners to enter. And if you don’t have a particular style in mind, that’s totally fine too. Like picking up guitar, a style isn’t required to play shamisen.
That being said, the minyo (folk songs) in the Bachido Schoolhouse is always a good starting place because it’s easy to find a melody that clicks with you, and learning those songs in the step-by-step approach is a great way to get comfortable with shamisen and build confidence. As you get experience, you might find yourself naturally gravitate towards a specific style. (Or not, and that’s okay too!)