Page of Eternal Gratitude

We never accomplish anything alone. Saying “thank you” and the small acts of gratitude are is sometimes overlooked in our busy, internet, alone-at-the-computer-until-all-hours world. Lives are made rich through people and the links of gratitude we share (FYI I have a great research project emerging around this. . . stay tuned!) This “wall of gratitude” is not comprehensive. If your name does not appear here, just wait! Thank you for helping make this life a rich one. It takes a village to build any life, mine has taken at least two countries, seven cities, a big Chinese family, a big Chinese-Jamaican family, thousands of students, artists, teachers, mentors, and friends (and two parents). This list doesn’t even come close to being complete. But, it is a beginning. Deep thanks to all of you.

Dr. Andrea Brown (spouse) and the kids — Iris Mei (15) and Isabel Lu (13), Thanks for making me smile everyday! Also for tolerating my musical and work obsessions. Also for feeding me. And for not rolling your eyes when I talk about the shakuhachi. I’m ok with the eye rolls now. They seem to happen all the time. That new instrument you heard the other night? It’s just a bigger shakuhachi. That’s not entirely true there’s now a contrabass native American flute and a seven-foot long Slovakian fujara flute. Ok, you can roll your eyes now. I love you anyway. . . bravo on the ukulele Izzy! May you all eye-roll with gratitude!

Wally and Dorothy Yun (The Parents)Thanks for all the things I remember (meals, funny dancing, the champagne you dumped on my head when I was being annoying) and all the many things that I have probably forgotten. Teaching has shown me how important good parents are for everyone. Being a parent has shown me just how difficult (impossible) it is to be a good one. As of 2019 both Wally and Dorothy are in a senior’s home in San Francisco, California. I wish you a life empty of loneliness and full of wonder and inspiration (also, rice. . .that place needs more rice).

The Yun-siblings — Tim & Linda, Andy & Cathy, Anna & Rick, Jean, Joe & Sue, Wendy, and Tracy & John. Looks like a village to me. Thanks for raising me.

Weston Noble (deceased) — When I asked your advice on so many things in music you almost always talked to me about “being vulnerable.” I am only beginning to understand this lessonYours was the first session at the first choral director’s conference I attended as a teenager. Vocal placement was like magic to me then and you made me teach it to your own students decades later. What I didn’t know was that underneath all that polished technique and artistry was a musical mystic. Your path and mine are the same and for that I am eternally grateful. You are probably at this moment “choral placing” various angels so things sound better up there. You are deeply missed here.

Dr. Lee WillinghamLeeThank you first for that crazy road trip to Washington, DC when I first immigrated to Canada. That was the start of an amazing professional collaboration and friendship that has led us through many choral concerts, the choral improvisations and the conferences in Newfoundland, the social justice work of 12 years of Sing Fires of Justice, and finally to the creation of the first Community Music university program in N America. This has been an amazing partnership. As of 2018 I feel like we are just getting started. I guess it’s sort of like cycling. It’s ok to slow down or even coast for a bit, but we just keep spinning and moving. May there be many more courses and students to teach, papers, articles, and books to write, and a plethora of adventures in music to live. I wish you great health and that you continue to inspire all of us with your relentless engaging of community, intellect, and the great power of our music to connect us in ways we are only beginning to understand. 

Dr. Debbie Lou Ludolph — Thank you for transmitting music and spirituality as a single, open, and joyful whole. There is no one else I know who better embodies the intersection. You have taken Inshallah (and me with it) to places I never dreamt possible. Your gift is not a single vision, but a way to allow many complimentary visions to co-exist and to benefit everyone. I am humbled by your authenticity and insight. But, more than anything I am touched by your sense of kindness in all you do. A deep bow of peace. 

Gary DigginsMaster of the Silence. Gary, for a quiet and constant mentoring that goes beyond words. We share a love of contemplation, wonderful instruments, and a belief in people and music. Sometimes I’ve described you as being just like me but really good at things. You’ve shown me how to share mindfulness through music and how to open up space for people to breathe. Mindfulness and Self-compassion practices are now fully part of what my students train with, largely thanks to your inspiration, I have taken them “off the cushion” and “out of the dark” so that they can benefit everyone. 

Dawud Wharnsby Thank you for opening up the world of Islam to me in an amazing musical way. You stand on the most contentious of boundaries in our world singing songs of peace, making people listen, giving us all space to breathe and envision a better way. Thank you for myself and all of the students whose  lives you have touched. I love your stories about hanging out with Cat Stevens too (you didn’t really hang out in a cave did you? Did you?.) Thank you for those stories and so much more. Your life inspires the art and humility in all who hear you. 

Dr. Leonard Enns You were the first person to meet with me about moving to Canada and contributing in the music scene. Thanks for believing in my work and being a phenomenal colleague. I love collaborating with you. Thank you for premiering my compositions and involving your university and professional singers in my crazy music making. 

Dr. Lynn Whitten (deceased) — Lynn! Thanks for years of listening to graduate student whining while still managing to make me a more curious and skilled researcher and scholar. I hate that I could never return the favour of those many lunches and inspiring conversations. Your presence is missed but still deeply appreciated. I did not quite follow the path you set out for me — Director of Choral Studies at a big university. I achieved it and then followed family to Canada. I hope I can still make you proud. I think John Thompson (also in Canada) and I can still do a pretty good imitation of you. You are missed. 

Dr. Glen CarruthersThank you for restoring my faith in the administration in higher education. You bring humanity and humility to your job. And somehow you make it look easy and often, fun. How do you do that? Thank you especially for holding the welfare of our students so close. As you approach the end of your dean’s role I wonder how else you will help open up doors for those who are vulnerable and have been marginalized. A job well-done. 

Dr. Laura GrayFor your openness and humaness in your teaching and chairing of the music department at Conrad Grebel University College. A special thanks for your constant attention to kindness no matter how sticky, contentious, or annoying a situation might be. I hope you’re keeping it fun! I am updating this in 2019 and as far as I know, you are still having fun. (Although, at the time of this update I now hear you are in Finland. You go girl!)

Melissa IrelandFor helping me to keep alive the relationships you’ve helped me to forge with First Nation facilitators, teachers, and practitioners. I will keep learning if you will keep bringing the teachings my way. Thank you for being patient and open. Chi Miigwitch!

Kelly Laurela — For allowing me to collaborate often with Mino Ode Kwewak N’gamowak in concerts, events, healing circles, festivals, conferences, and more. You have become colleague, teacher, mentor, and inspiration. Someday, when the Ph.D. is finally finished, we will have a long rest and perhaps a very long song together. May your teachings continue beyond the seven generations. Much love and blessings. Chi Miigwitch.

Elder Jean BeckerDear Sensei. I know when you read this you will just laugh at me. You always laugh. 🙂  I am deeply grateful for the wisdom, support, and yes,  laughter. Thank you for letting me know when I am being utterly ridiculous and taking myself far too seriously. Life is strange and complex without my making it worse. Thank you for helping me to make our world a better place. I have taken your lesson/value of being present to heart and am now transmitting this through my own teachings. So much of what we accomplish is not in the “doing” but in the “being.” Thank you for this most profound of lessons. 

Dr. Ken HullThank you for the inspiration in your music making and collegial humour. I’m sure you don’t know that you’ve help to make some very dark days brighter.

Dr. Carol Ann WeaverThank you for Sound in the Land 2014, your vision, and for bringing Cecelia Kim and company to Waterloo. So much inspiration in one place. So many lives tied to yours. A brilliant sharing of a rich life.

Dr. Kathryn LadanoThank you for the inspiration of your perseverance, your willingness to improvise bass clarinet with shakuhachi (the what?) and for being a huge part of East-West! I put “Dr.” as your title. . . you’re Dr. Ladano now, right? YES!!!!

Richard BurrowsInspiration, inspiration, inspiration. You make me tired when I try to keep up with all you do. Me. . . tired? Me? In 2017 I changed your name from “Rich” on this site, to “Richard”.  Does this mean we are maturing? Thank you for years of inspiring, rocking performances. I’m updating this and it’s 2018. . . you are running KW’s Open Ears Festival and you’re doing an amazing job. Thank you for inspiring me yet again. 

My Students at Wilfrid Laurier UniversityThank you for filling my days with your wild ideas. You are all more talented than I could ever hope to be. Now please graduate and use your talents to make the world a better, more empathetic, safer, kinder, more interesting, and inspiring place to live. Ok, just focus on graduating. That will do for now.

Past and present members of the University of Waterloo ChoirThere has not been one late Tuesday night rehearsal that you did not manage to inspire me and cheer me with your enthusiasm, intelligence, and superior humour. I have no idea if we sound better than other choirs “like us” but of all the choirs “like us” you are my favourite. I have no idea what that means. But “thank you”! As of 2018, with some reluctance, I resigned from our wonderful choir. Thank you for many years of incredible music making joy. Your cards, letters, gifts. . . I am overwhelmed and deeply humbled. I bow to each of you for enriching this life. 

Larry Spieler (Chris ti Coom)The Native American flute still plays a huge part in my life largely because of you, the lore you shared, the craft, the beauty. . . to me you are always the flute master. As I update this page it is 2018 and I just met with a university research office with plans to dive once again into the now huge world of native american flute circles. Thank you for bringing the beauty of this music into my world. I am forever grateful. 

Riley LeeSometime in 1984 you introduced me to shakuhachi honkyoku (original songs).  I sat mesmerized watching you in concert. Then, I bought two cassette tapes of your solo playing. After weeks of playing them constantly they finally wore out. Somehow, before the internet existed, you helped me to find my instrument, you managed to teach me somehow . . . I am remembering some VHS tapes.  VHS! Your dedication and musicianship continues to inspire. When I think of you and shakuhachi, I realize that nothing is impossible. Please accept my deep bow of gratitude to you for allowing me to see into a bigger world. 

Michael Chikuzen GouldThank you for continuing to teach me even though I seem to never have time. You keep shakuhachi an ongoing adventure for me. I know by this writing I should have completed my Jun Shihan (shakuhachi master teacher) degree. I often wonder what Japanese performance name you will grant me, perhaps something that means “he took a very long time.” At this juncture in 2019, we are currently working together towards the Jun Shihan. Thank you, thank you. Arigato!

Yoshio Kurahashi (Yodo Kurahashi II)Thank you for making the shakuhachi something magical and inspiring for me. There is no one who has transmitted the soul of the instrument and tradition better than you. Thank you for transmitting much of meian practice to me. I will hold it well. 

My Shakuhachi Students Past and Present: Cameron, Josh, Diana, Kyle, Rebecca, Erin, Amy, Jeff, Mitch, Andrew, Shaahin, Lucian, Chris, Ian, Rinor, Isaac P., Isaac M., Tamara, Molly, Daniel, Zach, Ryan, Lucas, Rebecca, Windsor, etc. For keeping my shakuhachi standards high and for bringing your patience, musicianship, and considerable musical intelligence to the shakuhachi table. Thank you for not throwing the shakuhachi across the room in my direction during the past several years. Keep practicing, keep meditating, keep blowing that thing. You bring a sense of peace, patience, and contemplation to our world of anxiety and pressing deadlines. The work you are doing with shakuhachi is more important than you may know. Thank you for making the world a better place. 

THE YUVA TEAM: Tamara, Olivia, Lisette, Sarah, Giorgia and the other Community Music students involved in our YUVA project. You inspire me everyday with your energies, musical abilities, and the actions you take for our world. I am deeply grateful for the honour of having students like you in my life (and in classes too). There is nothing you cannot accomplish together. I am in awe of your brilliance. Deep thanks to you all. At this time, we did it! YUVA worked and we are onto stage 2. Could we please get you all graduated so we can start the NGO?

Nii Addico, drum masterWe came to Waterloo at the same time over a decade ago, you as the region’s first Ghanian drum master and African carving artist, and I as a conductor and shakuhachi player. It took me a few years to find you and find my drumming once again but for that I am deeply grateful. There is no one else who drums so full of joy. I am deeply grateful for the times we’ve had the many more to come. . the drum making, the drum heads exploding, yeah, all of that . . . thank you for introducing me to the beautiful kpanlogo. Peace Bro!


To all those who know I am deeply grateful to you, but for one reason or another you don’t appear on this page. Be well and I wish you much gratitude.  . . Gerard Yun – Sept. 2019


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