There’s something about the first note I play each day. How I take a breath, how the in-breath pauses, then changes to an out-breath; how the breath creates friction on the utagutchi, then resonates in the shakuhachi; how I can feel the vibrations in the bamboo; and how my breath becomes music.
That first note tells me a lot about how I feel: is the note stable from beginning to end? Do I have enough breath to play it as long as I want? Can I feel the connection between the breath and the music? Can I end the note with grace?
I open my beginner’s mind each day when I play the first note on my shakuhachi, and try to retain that beginner’s mind as I continue.