Tsugaru Shamisen Lessons in Los Angeles?


I’m about to take to take the plunge and buy my first shamisen. In addition to splashing out a biggish chunk of cash on the instrument itself, I’m trying to figure out what I will need to spend long-term on learning to play the thing! In addition to Bachido (I definitely will buy some lessons here), I was wondering a few things:

  1. What might I expect to pay for some private (or semi-private, or group) lessons? Is there such thing as a “going rate”?
  2. Does anyone know of any place to take lessons in LA? Again, I’m open to all settings (private, semi-private, or group)?
  3. Do I even really need to worry about private lessons right now? Can I learn enough online to get a decent start and worry about formal lessons later?



It’s a folk instrument, pick it up and start twanging. Have fun, get a couple of Bachido lessons under your belt before you start worrying about that. Shamisen is fun to play so just relax and have fun for awhile before you get all fancy.


Hi Chris,
Glad to hear you are ready to take the plunge! :slight_smile:
I agree with Phil. The most important thing in the beginning is to just enjoy the tone and explore. The online lessons/notation can give you a lot to start with. Just start twanging and getting comfortable with that giant plectrum. :slight_smile:

As you get experience, you’ll also probably build a nice pile of technique-based questions. This would be a time when lessons would be a bit more practical, moreso than when starting from square one.

My friend Mike Penny is a shamisen teacher/performer in Hollywood. He is a super kind, patient and knowledgeable feller, and is one of my most favorite homies in the world. I think he charges somewhere around $40 to $50 per hour. He would definitely be the one to talk to for lessons, and he could also connect you with his students, so you can all play together as a group (playing alone is fun 'n all, but it’s even better in a group! :slight_smile: )

Bachi on!


Funnily enough, I’ve been talking to a guy about a used shamisen, and it turns out he’s a former student of Mike’s. He had great things to say about him, too. I was hoping he was still teaching. Who wouldn’t want to learn from someone who is a great teacher and player, plus created an epic version of The Bed Intruder Song on the shamisen (the latter of which is qualification enough in my book)?


Small world! Oh yeah, Mike is really one of a kind, both as an exceptional and distinct player as well as a gracious human being. While not discounting the importance of self-study, being fortunate enough to live in his vicinity, it would be a shame not to pick up some tips from Mr. MPO! :slight_smile:


Continuing the discussion from Tsugaru Shamisen Lessons in Los Angeles?:

I just took the plunge and Im waiting for mine…Im here in Fullerton and I got linked up with instructor Mike Penny - He’s in LA… Im waiting to actually receive mine (soon) and will start lessons… I must add, as someone who has always loved the instrument and who has zero musical background -he made me feel comfortable as a newbie and that I just may be able to learn it…LOL… so yeah, went and bought a beginners from this site…Maybe one day Ill buy a tsugaru-but for now I need to learn how to play and this will do fine for me… BTW he’s a rad player and cool guy …to link up with him for lessons