Shamisen

What students say

"I have been interested in traditional Japanese culture for some time and after attending a wonderful outdoor performance of koto music in Japan, I dreamed of learning to play such a beautiful and intriguing instrument. I am delighted to say that my dream has come true thanks to my koto teacher, Linda Caplan.

Linda’s teaching and performing credentials are impeccable. As a teacher, her knowledge, attention to detail, and patience have allowed me to progress through the beginning koto repertoire at a steady but comfortable pace. I am especially pleased to report that as a student with no previous musical training of any kind, I am well on my way to earning my first koto certificate.

Linda is also an accomplished performer. The high calibre of her koto playing is an inspiration to me and indeed, to all her students. I believe that Linda’s performing adds a significant dimension to her teaching as well. By watching Linda play in public, I have learned valuable lessons about good stage presence, the importance of proper playing techniques, and Japanese musical aesthetics.

I would like to conclude by saying that Linda is a generous and caring teacher. She is always willing to answer my questions about Japanese and western music. She is happy to share her knowledge of the Japanese tea ceremony, kimono, and food. I continue to benefit from her help with my Japanese language studies. Linda Caplan is an excellent teacher and I would recommend her highly to anyone interested in learning to play the koto."
Jane Clarke, Toronto


"I have been playing instruments almost my entire life, and as my knowledge and interest in music grew, so did my long list of instruments to learn. Both the koto and shamisen were on that list; however I never had the time or resources to pursue either instrument. At York University, I took the opportunity to join the Japanese Ensemble instructed by Linda.

Even within a single and rather short class of several different playing levels, Linda has always made the time to teach everyone. She is stern on proper technique but extremely patient. Linda always makes sure that her students are well prepared, whether it be for tests, juries or performances, and strives for them to perform to the best of their abilities. I enjoy learning about and how to play both the koto and shamisen from Linda."
Debora Hong, York University, Toronto


"I enrolled in the Japanese Ensemble at York University for two reasons: the first was because I like challenges and the second was to fulfill the requirements for my BA in East Asian Studies (or maybe the order is reversed).

I'm a mature student and I did do some music when I was in high school; the challenge for me, then, was double, because I had learned music as do-re-mi instead of the "alphabetical" way, and I might not be tone deaf but perhaps tune deaf. Surprise, surprise - Japanese music is a play-by-number system! So it is more about proper positions than about scales.

Linda accepted the challenge of having me in her class; some days she used patience, and some days she just pushed me to the edge and made me produce a little sound here and there. At the beginning it wasn't easy for me to get into the class' mood, but after about two months, I was able to practise, get frustrated, go to class, practise..., and make a cycle of that. Linda showed me some really nice moments that gave me pride, and that made me feel comfortable enough to keep going.

I talked to Linda about being able to take the second year Japanese Ensemble course, and she accepted!! We are now making an adventure of playing music and reinforcing personal statements. Anything is possible if you put your mind to it!"
Patricia Muñoz, York University, Toronto


"Growing up in Hong Kong, one of the busiest cities in the Far East, I always wanted to play the koto. Although Hong Kong and Japan are only a 4-hour flight apart, finding a koto teacher was impossible back then. Only when I immigrated to Toronto 12 years ago, did I have an opportunity to learn how to play the koto with Linda as my teacher.

I started my first koto lesson with trepidation as I had limited musical training in Hong Kong. Linda assured me that this would never be an issue and patiently started my basic training. Over the years, I have benefited from Linda's teaching, her insights into Japanese classical music, as well as her passion for koto. Linda has also transformed me from a novice who knew little Japanese music to a proficient koto player capable of performing in public.

Koto music brings me tremendous joy, whether I'm learning a lovely folk song in just two lessons or studying a classical piece over a couple of months. Whether playing on a bright summer day or a cold winter evening, this music always warms my heart and touches my soul. Words cannot describe the feelings that the music evokes in me; only when you play, will you know what beauty is all about."
Estelle Ma, Toronto