"Phil is wonderful combination of Western and Eastern traditions. He is a skilled teacher in the Western tradition, providing historical context, personalized instruction, and helpful advice. His rich experience with the culture of the shakuhachi enables him to pass on the spiritual and meditative qualities of the instrument in the Eastern tradition of the sensei."
John D. Halamka MD
CIO, Harvard Medical School
"I was referred to Phil James by other teachers and flute makers. The experience has been amazing because he is able to structure his teaching based on who you are and how you learn. I learn quickly and need to be challenged. I am completely stimulated by Phil's teaching. He has a deep mastery of this instrument and his musicianship is unsurpassed. He is open and very approachable as a teacher and has a comfortable, easy going teaching style."
"The shakuhachi is one of the most challenging instruments to learn but with Phil's patience and extensive knowledge of the instrument it has been fun and rewarding. By the way Phil is also a great performer on both the traditional and improvisational shakuhachi."
I teach both in-person and via the Internet. In both types of lessons I emphasize the traditional Japanese Zen music (honkyoku), but I also teach the sankyoku ensemble pieces as well as modern compositions, improvisation, and meditative approaches to making music.
No previous musical experience is required, and the concentration on posture, meditative breathing, and general musicianship makes this a valuable study even for those who don't aspire to become technical masters of the instrument.
For those who don't already own a shakuhachi, I can help you find an appropriate instrument.
I am available to teach at my home studio in Portland, Maine, and I also teach Saturdays (every other week) in Boston, MA.
I offer private online lessons via Skype video software. This is an effective way to learn shakuhachi if you don't live near a qualified teacher.
All you need is a reasonably fast internet connection and a webcam. Most recent laptops have a webcam built in. The Skype software is free, setup is easy for both PCs and Macs, and it works from all over the world.
Here are the setup details:
For more in-depth setup information, please go to the Shakuhachi playing tips area of this website and click the tip called Webcams for online lessons.
Rates for lessons:
$55/hr if I teach at my home studio (Portland, Maine) and a month or more is paid for in advance;
$60/hr in Boston, when a semester is paid for in advance.
Single-time lessons (not paid in advance) are available for $60 in Portland and $65 in Boston.
Internet (Skype) lessons are $55 per hour payable in advance via Paypal, or $250 for a pre-paid set of five lessons.