Kunisada 19thC Woodblock Print

 

 

Endorsements
of
Tai Hei Shakuhachi
from
Students & Customers


"The shakuhachi arrived today. What a joy! What a beautiful flute! I´m missing the words to say how great it looks and plays. The photos your sent gave me somewhat of an impression, but, now holding it in my hands, it is far more than I ever imagined. This shakuhachi is an absolute masterpiece—a work of art embodying the essence of the Zen aesthetic ofwabi sabi.

"I´m absolutly ecatatic about this flute. Immediately with the first sound, the space inside opens up. The tone is bright, full and clear, even in the smallest shades. Each tone is absolutely brilliant— both strong and present 'til the softest breath.With that said, there are no right words to express what it means to hold this shakuhachi in my hands, take it to my lips and breath.

"While the jiari you made for me is a true master level instrument, I´m also looking for a jinash-style shakhachi as welli. Please don´t think "What a bad guy; he gets such a brilliant flute and directly new wishes are coming". It is only an idea, because now I have this 1.8 as well as a 2.4 from you. I love the deeper tones, so a 2.8 of that same quality could be something for the future. Maybe you will find such a beautiful bamboo like the 1.8. If so, please remember me!

"Monty, thank you very much for your great work!"

Dan Hepperle
Shakuhachi player. Germany

See photos of Dan's 1.8' at http://www.shakuhachi.com/AP-18-540.html


"Monty, I would have written sooner, but I wanted to get to "know" my 2.4 that you made for me. I've had it for about 3 weeks now.

"First, I want to tell you how impressed I was with the whole process: you kept me advised as to how things were going, you responded promptly to my emails, you didn't even cash my check until you had sent my flute. Your business practices are those of a true, honest, dedicated craftsman. Thank you!

"I LOVE the flute. It is beautiful looking. It has a sweet, full, rich, complex sound, and blows easily.  I have long fingers so, it fits my hands beautifully. Thank you very much for your beautiful work, and dedication to the art."

Ron Winfield
Shakuhachi player. USA


"Several years ago when I first began to play shakuhachi I purchased a root end 1.8 from you. It has been my principle instrument ever since. I recently returned from a shakuhachi "pilgrimage" to Japan, and I took the 1.8' along. On this journey, we visited several players and makers. I tried many flutes, and did buy a couple from noted makers, but they do not play as well as the one you made for me. After weeks of working with these other instruments, I am back to your 1.8. It is an exceptional instrument having great strength and a spirit that encourages me to learn with it. It is my loyal and faithful friend, and has not been replaced.

"Now a confession. I have never been able to adequately play the 2.0 you sent me, as determined as I was. I even considered selling it at one point, and it has been in its bag most of the time. When I resolved the problem I was having blowing the 1.8, I pulled out the Ni Shaku and it plays wonderfully! I would say that I was not ready for it until now. Last June I showed it to Riley Lee and Kaoru Kakizakai and they agreed that it was an excellent and beautiful flute. I really does sound gorgeous, with fine resonance and clarity. Now I can work on making it even better.

"As I have told you, my life is now devoted to the shakuhachi, and with the combination of my teacher and Tokuyama's scores, life is very, very good.

"My compliments and gratitude, Monty."

Richard Conway
Shakuhachi player. USA


"The 2.4' arrived and is incredible handsome. I am thrilled by its appearance. I couldn't have asked for more. I've been playing the shakuhachi off and on through out the day looking for what I call the "sweet-spot" (which to me is a combination of shakuhachi and player). The sound was there, but I couldn't find the "sweet-spot" until about 9:30 PM, when suddenly, as I was blowing a note, it arrived. It was so perfect that at first it startled me. I didn't even know what note I was playing (seriously), that's how startled I was. (Turns out it was Chi.) When I gathered myself up and played up and down the scale, I became utterly lost in the shakuhachi.

"There have been a few moments in my life that come close to this, but I have to admit this was perhaps the most incredible moment that I can remember. WOW!!!! I realize now what I have, and my deepest respect and appreciation goes out to you Monty. In a sense you have changed my life. 3 Bows."

Jim Danielson
Shakuhachi player. USA

See photos of Jim's 2.4'at http://www.shakuhachi.com/AP-24-74.html


"I received the shakuhachi yesterday and have been playing it ever since. It is a joy to play and I love the sound it produces. It is beyond my expectations. The shakuhachi not only sounds good, it also is a beautiful looking instrument. The whole process of buying the flute was very easy, and it arrived in Sydney less than a week after you sent it. Thank you so much!"

Vicki Crozier
Shakuhachi player. Australia


"Thank you! The flute you made for me is incredible. I did not believe, for the last 20 years, that I could ever play such beautiful, evocative tones. Last night taught me otherwise. I played simple pieces and was entranced by the subtle beauty of the sounds from your Tai Hei Shakuhachi. It plays all by itself without my conscious effort. I did not realize that my struggle all these years was based on playing the wrong flute. Notes and nuances that I used to fight to achieve simply leaped from the flute. No kidding. I am looking forward to years of enjoyment and enlightenment. Again, thanks so much."

Joseph A. Laronge
Shakuhachi player. USA


"I am very grateful because it has been five months since I received my shakuhachi from you. Since that time I have enjoyed playing on it and am amazed at the sound it produces. For years now I have been trying to achieve a true tone on the shakuhachi. I have been told that this goal would take a long, long time to reach. I tried so many different ways of playing and could just not understand what I was doing wrong. Since receiving your shakuhachi, my feelings for the flute have changed very much. I do not feel so tired after playing, my mouth is more relaxed, my fingers can feel the shakuhachi vibrate. I can really appreciate this instrument for its sound and Buddhistic influence. Thank you again, Monty, for all you have given me."

Greg Matsuura
Shakuhachi player. USA


"I have been playing the flute you sent to me over the summer (I bought the advanced student model.). The quality of the instrument is outstanding. I am sure you get outlandish praise all the time, judging by the quality of the flute I have now, but I am really stricken by the sounds that come out of the thing. I have never played a more responsive instrument in all my woodwind days. The tone and resonance in their infinite variations are mindblowing. Thank you so much, it is an endless joy to play."

James Joyce
Woodwind player. USA


"It took some time but now that I finally have my own computer it became possible for me to thank you for my beautiful instrument by sending this mail. It's been three years now since I got my 2.4 pro.rootend model and I must say it's all that I hoped for: perfect pitch, good soundbalance between notes, ability to easily play a whole variety of great colors, good soundprojection together with great looks (I have to thank mother nature for that though you've chosen this piece of bamboo). As a professional percussionist I've been using the shakuhachi whenever there was space for it, so I took the instrument to different theaters in the Netherlands and Germany; we even played a tune at the North Sea Jazz Festival( the largest indoor jazz festival in the world) this year!. Apart from the professional side it's a perfect tool for meditation and breathing exercise and since spiritual growth is my main drive in this life, the shakuhachi became an beloved companion along the way. Suffice to say that I'm very grateful for my bamboo flute and I hope that people around the world will keep on finding peace and inspiration in playing on and listening to the beautiful bamboo flutes that you make.

Ignas te Wiel
Professional musician. Switzerland



"Well it's really quite amazing. The 1.8' arrived yesterday in the evening and I played it for two hours. What an experience. Such a beautiful instrument. The range is enormous—from the so soft and velvety hushed tones of stillness to a full throated cry, a whirlwind of energy with a mind of its own! Over and over, I lost myself in the sound, in the playing only to suddenly be stopped short by what was happening, particularly the wonderful vocal quality of the sound. I love the softness of just breathing into the flute but also get totally absorbed from playing loudly and juggling with those amazing effects and surges of vibrations at higher volume. Chaos never sounded so good. It really does feel and sound alive. How do you do it? I suspect that you are some sort of magician."I am more familiar with the size of the 1.8' and am taking a while to get used to the bigger 2.4'. But when I picked up the 2.4' after playing the 1.8', the same fluency and confidence started to emerge—and the deeper tones and resonances are lovely. The Kan register on both flutes is so easy to play softly and to shade, but also has its own characteristic energy at higher volumes. And I can play the first three notes of the third octave as well on both flutes—very sweet. I'm just amazed and a bit dazed by the experience."Thank you so much. I feel so pleased that I decided to buy these flutes. They are remarkable and already teaching me so much. For example, I found myself playing wonderful muraiki when all my attempts in the past just didn't happen. What an incredible sound! As Masayuki Koga says in his book, you need to play from the heart. With your instruments this is so easy as it feels as if there is a direct channel from my heart centre to the flute. At times, whatever I was feeling was coming out through the flute—a truly uncanny and beautiful experience where boundaries dissolve."So, thanks for everything. I really appreciate your wonderful art and the magical qualities of your flutes. Thank you!

Ken Tyler
Shakuhachi player. United Kingdom


"Yesterday evening the shakuhachi arrived safe and sound. What an instrument! I am amazed and delighted.The photos didn't do it
justice. It far exceeded my wildest expectations. I like everything, the colour, the beautiful inlaid bindings, and especially the shape. It is incredibly responsive and a pleasure to play. The low "Ro" is superb, pianissimo or fortissimo with equal ease and clarity. Now the onus is on me to do justice to such a wonderful instrument. You can be sure that it will receive the care and respect deserving of a shakuhachi with the spirit of Masuda Shuho, and the heart of it's creator, artist/craftsman extraordinaire, Monty Levenson.
The two-part shakuhachi bag is equally well-made and beautiful, a perfect match for my new shakuhachi."I am grateful beyond words. A million thanks for everything."

Chris Rose
Shakuhachi player. Bangkok Thailand

"Well it has been two weeks or so since I received the shakuhachi you made for me and I can't put it down! At the ripe old age of fourty seven, and having been around the world a few times, it takes a lot to truly impress me. I must say the the shakuhachi you made me has gotten my attention. From the moment I received my well wrapped Fedx box until now long after I have opened it, I have been impressed.

"I love the hard caring case, the cloth storage bag and of course, the instrument; your attention to the entire process from wrapping, shipping and craftsmanship is over the top and you should be congratulated. Some friends were in my home and saw just the black cloth storage bag you made, one thing lead to another, after seeing and hearing the shakuhachi they couldn't belive that it was hand made here in the United States, in
the old world tradition, I think they have been bitten by the shakuhachi bug!I am looking forward to a very long friendship with you, your workshop and another shakuhachi! Thank you again, so very much for your attention to detail and the piece of art work! Gasso!

Jack Detjen-Creson
Shakuhachi player. Mill Valley, California


"I have just received a root end 2.8 from Monty. It is a truely wonderful instrument with a rich tone that seems almost infinitely mallable from a breathy, hollow sound to a reedy buzz and and with a great dynamic range... I don't want to put it down!

Jolyon Pyne
Shakuhachi player. Bedford, England

On-Line videos of Jolyon Pyne playing this 2.8'


"Upon playing my first professional-level Tai Hei shakuhachi, I realized that it is much better than I had imagined it might be. I decided to purchase a professional model Tai Hei shakuhahchi because of the excellent reponse I received from the student model I had. The flute fed me as much information as I was giving it, allowing me to navigate its bore very easily, a reciprocal arrangment.   This new flute is even more communicative. It plays and feels great- a quick, full, and even response throughout all registers.  I feel humbled by it, to be honest.  The pictures on the website really did not do the instrument justice—it is so beautiful.  Thank you for making such a wonderful piece. I hope to do it justice over the coming years."

Michael Andrew Doherty
Shakuhachi player. Durango, CO


"I received my stunningly beautiful 1.5' yesterday and, to what extent I am able, put it through its paces. What a joy for a rank beginner to be able to pretty much play two octaves without hassle, right out of the box. It is sweet with just the right amount of sadness. My wife says my playing is pretty sad any way :) Thank you for the time and energy and care you put in to creating this gorgeous work of art. I love it, and I know that everyone who will see it and hear it, will feel the same. It was worth the wait. Everything, right down to the utaguchi cover, is subtle and elegant. And I have to say, I really like the small size. It feels very comfortable to me — it's the perfect fit for me. BTW, I printed out the information from the web site about this 35+ year old madaké bamboo. It's such a great story to go with the flute. It really has a great feel. I love holding it. Anyway, I'm thrilled. Thanks, Monty!"

Scott Jones
Shakuhachi player. Valley Village, CA


"I thought I would write you a quick email and let you know how happy I am with your shakuhachi. I now know why people buy your cast bore Pro models and why I should have bought one years ago. This shakuhachi is easy to play, responds easily between registers, has great volume and tone, and plays softly as well."I first started taking shakuhachi lessons 11 years ago after meeting Riley Lee at a small concert in Bangalow, New South Wales, Australia. Well, I was hooked, but was not getting the sound I really wanted and found second octaves frustrating. Anyway, I persisted for perhaps five years and then got frustrated and went back to playing saxophones. But the interest remained, so I bought several long Shakuhachi (2.3 to 2.8) and played Ro and Long Tones as part of my morning meditation. Then a few years ago I decided to start again in earnest, but the earlier problems still remained. I bought a few more old shakuhachi which had great sound (sometimes) but still exhibited problems.

"To date I must have purchased about 20 or so shakuhachi from various makers, most of which have either been given away or sold. Why had I not saved myself a lot of money, time, effort and frustration, and purchased one of your cast bore instruments? I was fascinated by the whole process and mystique of shakuhachi making by the old masters, and mistakenly I thought that a cast bore shakuhachi was a plastic shakuhachi in bamboo clothing. Well, I have now been enlightened and I thank you for making such fine well-rounded shakuhachi."

John Webb
Queensland, Australia


"The 2.1' arrived a little after noon Friday. Wow! It is beautiful. And amazingly expressive. I was concerned that it might be harder to play than my vintage 1.8', but it is easier in all ways. It is easier for me to play quietly (important for me when I accompany spoken haiku or tanka) and to sound the highest notes. It can be played boldly and with great resonance. It responds well to windy or explosive attacks. And it is actually easier to hold because of the ergonomic hole placement. I am so glad that I decided to get one of your 2.1's. I am tremendously pleased with the instrument and really mean these things."

Rick Wilson
Flute Scholar, Historian, Collector of Vintage Instruments & Performer
OldFlutes.com


"I received the shakuhachi yesterday and I am astounded by it. I should have purchased one of these from you long ago. I just played Takiochi and hit the meri notes with an ease that I could not with other flutes. This shakuhachi plays easier and sounds better than my flute from Japan that was 5 times the price. I greatly appreciate it. To say I am happy with this flute is a gross understatement."

James Pitts
Shakuhachi Player


"I received the 1.8 shakuhachi today and I can certainly say that your website pics really didn't do it justice. What an instrument! The lacquered bindings turned out a reddish brown, which I love, and seem to blend with the flute perfectly. It's an easy player with nice solid feel that really sounds great. I'm happy to report that it's everything I'd hoped for. Far beyond any that I've had the chance to play. My only regret is that I didn't purchase it sooner. Thanks so much for your fine work on this shakuhachi."

Karl Svoboda
Shakuhachi player. USA



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