Workshops and Classes

Junko Ueda is presenting workshops for both Shomyo as well as Biwa singing. Click a button below to read more.
Enter the name for this tabbed section: Shomyo

Shomyo Workshop


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This workshop introduces the Japanese Buddhist chant Shomyo, which is originated from the 9th century. Under the guidance of Junko Ueda, the participants will practice how to sing Shomyo. Besides, breathing and body exercises are introduced. Anyone can join this workshop as no musical knowledge is required. Read more about Shomyo here.

The aim of the workshop:
  • To train consciousness and control of the breathing.
  • To train overall concentration.
  • To learn about the energy centre called ‘Hara’ (Seika-Tanden) and to release the stress-level.
  • To enjoy the group singing, allowing and embracing differences of each one’s voice qualities.
  • To enjoy simple body exercises.
  • To experience the 1200-year-old Japanese ancient music and to explore its concept.
  • To stimulate an inner creativity.
  • To develop vocalization and body control (certainly useful for wind instrument players and vocalists).
somyo score
somyo score
Because of its style of slow melismatic Shomyo chanting, the participants will be stimulated to concentrate on their breathing in a quiet manner. While enjoying singing basic Shomyo melodies and meeting this ancient tradition, we will aim to discover the wisdom and the power of the breath, and its essence for humanity.

Since 1995, Junko Ueda has been presenting Shomyo workshop. Through promoting these ancient and universal melodies, she supports a global sustainability with thinking about good air as a primary importance to enjoy the breathing.

Shomyo Workshop sound samples

1. Sange
00:00
2. Vocales
00:00
3. Canon
00:00

Contents of the Workshop

  • Warming up: Breath and body exercises, aiming to the consciousness to the breath and the energy centre called ‘Hara’ (Seika-Tanden).
  • Introduction of Shomyo: First we learn various Shomyo melody patterns and later we sing musical variations using these melody patterns.
  • Singing traditional Shomyo pieces: Practice 'Sange' and 'Taiyo'.

Practical aspects

  • The workshop can be held once, like a single event, or as a series of 2 or more workshops.
  • Proposed duration for a one-time workshop: 3 hours
  • Proposed duration for a series of 2 or more workshops: 2 hours for each workshop
  • Amount of participants: minimum 5, maximum 20
  • It is recommended for the participants to wear any style of casual clothes (better avoid high heels and neck-ties).
  • A workshop can be held in any quiet place with sufficient space to put chairs for the participants in a half circle. A white-board is needed.
  • Language: English and Japanese, Spanish and Dutch.

Feedback

  • “Very organic music. I feel very confortable and relaxing to sing together.” (from enquête of a Shomyo workshop)
  • “It is amazing that so many different voice qualities can be together and make a music. There is no competition and no stress. You can just produce your voice as you feel like.” (from enquête of a Shomyo workshop)
  • "An experience that whole my body is vibrating and healthily activated." (from enquête of a Shomyo workshop)
  • "Standing next to the music with text and musical instructions, she played long ritual only with her voice. For fifty minutes the audience was holding their breath..." (from Shomyo concert, De Volkskrant, Holland)

Shomyo Workshops in the Past…

  • Aula de Musicas, music school (Madrid, Spain)
  • Conservatorio profesional de musica de Getafe (Getafe, Spain)
  • Carmen de San Onofre (Granada, Spain)
  • Private lesson at Studio E (Amsterdam, Holland)
  • World Music Festival Rotterdam (Rotterdam, Holland)
  • Athens National Concervatory (Athens, Greece)
  • De Singel, Conservatorium Antwerpen (Belgium)
  • Hochschule für Musik Würzburg (Germany)
  • Conservatoire National Supérieur de Musique de Lyon (France)
  • Vooruit, Gent (Belgium) - at IETM conference 'OneOnOne'
  • Arkas Concert Hall, Sasebo (Japan)
  • Enmeiji Temple, Aoto (Tokyo, Japan)
  • Drama Institute, at Shinjuku Olympic Centre (Tokyo, Japan)
  • Flagey, Brussels (Belgium)
  • Dôgo Community Centre (Ehime, Japan)
  • Daishô-an (Yamagata, Japan)
  • Trunk Theatre (Tokyo, Japan)
  • Ateliers d'Ethnomusicologie (Geneva, Switzerland)
  • University of Montreal (Canada)
  • Western Front (Vancouver, Canada)
  • Mántica Theatre Festival (Cesena, Italy)
  • SOAS, University of London (London, UK)
  • Conservatorio Superior de Granada (Granada, Spain)

PDF Download

Click a button below to download the leaflet of the Shomyo Workshop PDF in the language of your preference.
   For more information feel free to send a message here.
Enter the name for this tabbed section: Biwa Vocal

Gion-Shôja Biwa Vocal Workshop(祇園精舎)


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Gion-Shôja is the famous poem which appears in the prologue of Heike-Monogatari (the Story of Heike), a most well-known thirteenth century's Japanese epic. This epic describes the rise and prosperity of the Heike-clan (from Kyoto), from the beginning of the twelfth century until their ruin in 1185, when they lost their war with the Genji-clan from Kamakura (south of Tokyo).

Heike-Monogatari is based on the Buddhist idea of cause and effect and human life's impermanence. This philosophy is expressed in the poem 'Gion-Shôja'. Through the centuries, this ancient poem has been habitually recited and nowadays still it is widely appreciated by Japanese public and part of the traditional biwa repertoire.

In the Gion-Shôja singing workshop, we will study this poem and enjoy singing together with the accompaniment of the satsuma-biwa.

The Poem of 'Gion-Shôja'

Here below is the text of Gion-Shoja, both the original Japanese text as well as an English translation:
"Gion-shôja no kane no koe,
Shogyô-mujô no hibiki ari.

Shara-sôju no hana no Iro,
Jôsha-hissui no kotowari o arawasu.

Ogoreru-mono hisashikarazu,
Tada haru no yo no,
Yume-maboroshi no gotokunari."
"At Gion-Shôja Temple,
the sound of the bell,
reflecting the resonance,
of the impermanency of all life.

The color of the sara-sôju flower,
tells us about the inescapable decline,
of the human life.

Pride is followed by a fall,
during a spring night,
just like a dream."

Contents of the Workshop

  • Warming up: breath and body exercises, aiming to the consciousness to the breath and a low gravity point so-called 'Hara' in Japanese.
  • Singing Gion-Shôja: by listening to the demonstration of the melodies and repeating them with the accompaniment of the satusma-biwa, we will study the song together.

Practicalities

  • Proposed duration for a one-time workshop: 2 hours.
  • Amount of participants: minimum 5, maximum 20.
  • It is not necessary for the participants to have any kind of musical knowledge. Anyone can join.
  • It is recommended for the participants to wear any style of casual clothes (better avoid high heels and neck-ties).
  • A workshop can be held in any quiet place with sufficient space to put chairs for the participants in a circle (no tables or so needed).
  • Language: English and Japanese (and basic Spanish and Dutch).
   For more information feel free to send a message here.