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Adult Music Camps: You’re Never Too Old to Learn Something New!

Kristi-playing-shamisen-japanese-instrumentMany people travel all over the world to visit family and for business. How about sandwiching business and family visits with a short class or private lessons on a topic that interests you? Music lessons anyone?

I love music, but I had never seriously started learning to play an instrument until this year. My instrument of choice is the shamisen, a three-stringed Japanese banjo of sorts. Shamisen teachers are a sort of rare breed, so I turned to the local Japanese-American community in San Jose’s Japantown and the Internet to connect with an online community called Bachido. At Bachido I can purchase streaming video courses, arrange Skype lessons with a teacher based somewhere far from me, find others locally to play with, and once a year attend a week-long camp that is held in Japan or the USA.

ShamiCamp 2015 just finished in Tokyo, Japan. The reviews have been quite positive. Next year could ShamiCamp 2016 be held in San Jose, California? The details haven’t been released yet, but if you or your family members are going to visit the USA, and they want a completely different experience and learn something new or stay busy while you are at work, try looking up a class like ShamiCamp that would interest them.

Learning to play an instrument in the Bay Area

Think you can’t learn an instrument? You can start learning to play be ear right now for free through the ToneWay Project.

Where to find music instruction in the Bay Area

You can find all kinds of music instruction schools for adults in cities throughout the Bay Area. To name a few:

Music lessons without a commute

No transportation or driver’s license? No problem. Another way to get to play an instrument with others is to hire a reputable music teacher who travels to your home to give instruction, such as Lynda MacNeil, who teaches piano, voice, and Celtic harp in the South Bay Area.

Traveling with an instrument

Some instruments are easier to travel with than others. If you want to learn the piano, for example, it might be a better option to rent or borrow one when you arrive at your destination or school. If the airline charges for carrying a particular instrument are comparable to the cost of renting a student grade instrument, you might want to rent one at your destination. Likewise, if you are unsure of your commitment to a particular instrument, renting at the destination would be a better option.

Advice for traveling with a shamisen

If you do decide to travel with a shamisen, check with the airlines about extra carry-on charges (if any). Kyle Abbott, founder of Bachido, offers us some helpful advice on how he packs his shamisen when he travels (which is often). If you are more of a paranoid traveler (like me), klutzy (also like me), or must for some reason check your musical instrument, use a durable travel case.


Kyle says to take the shamisen in the cabin with you as a carry-on item and “if you don’t have a shamisen case, you can take it apart, wrap it in towels and just fit it all in a backpack; and it’ll be just fine.”

In the case of a shamisen, the pieces are held together with tension in the strings, so if pressed for space, I technically could take it apart (with difficulty), box it carefully, and assemble it when I get to my destination. I would also have to take extra strings and accessories in case of breakage or loss. A shamisen (and many other instruments) have fragile parts, such as the skins on either side, like a drum. If the skin breaks, then I can’t fix it or play at all. If you decide to travel with any musical instrument, consider how you will protect it; and if something does happen to the instrument, have a backup plan.

Travel companions and musical instruments

If you are seeking to travel with others interested in music, consider adding instruments that you play on your travel or companion profile. It’s fun to travel with others who share the same interests! You can add your interest in music to your companion or traveler profile on TripCompanion. If you are bringing an instrument with you, let your companion know ahead of time so you can both not only get the best seats together but the best storage for your musical instrument.

Fly Confident!