April 2011

Dear Friends,

I have returned from a sorrowful but also uplifting trip to Japan. The atmosphere is very subdued, Japan has never been this quiet. The airports were almost empty and with dimmed lights in the long corridors it was very surreal.

My friends are all well and it was very emotional meeting with them. I am so grateful to have been able to see them all and they were very grateful I had come to visit them.

I went to my temple three times and I am sending you a photo of one of my favourite statues there. I always stand in front of his outstretched hand, so beautiful, so healing. Just before I took this photo he was given a polishing by one of the monks and he just glowed with healing energy.

The Healing Music Benefit Concert in Nagoya went very well. Everyone was so appreciative that Steve and I had travelled there to offer our healing music. The concert also included a Japanese dancer who had choreographed a traditional dance depicting the earthquake and tsunami and a wonderful Shamisen player (Japanese three stringed instrument, very ancient and powerful).

I had offered a benefit music/yoga event here in Toronto with my friend Joanne Lowe. Also, friends have been sending donations and we were able to donate over $2,000. One of my friends in Japan, Masato Shibuya, is a doctor and the head of a hospital. He is in the disaster area right now helping to supervise the volunteers from his hospital.

I will be continuing to fundraise for Japan and will be sending the money to Dr. Shibuya and if you would like to help please e-mail me and I will send more details, thank you (info@heaingmusic.com).

Visit our Japan Fundraising page

Please join me in sending healing energy to all the people, animals, land and water of Japan, thank you.

Lots of Love,


Dear Friends,

This is Hozanji, my temple in Japan. I will be going to Japan in 7 days to offer my Healing Music at this sacred temple. I will also be playing a Benefit Concert in Nagoya. Please join me in sending light through your heart to this temple, to the land of Japan, to all who are suffering.

I am also offering a Healing Music/Yoga benefit event today, March 23 here in Toronto. Please go to www.bigstretchyoga.com for reservations.

I will be taking donated funds this trip and also in the future to my friend in Japan who is a doctor and runs a hospital in Nagoya. He will be sending donations directly to a hospital in Sendai to support the relief effort. Please contact: info@healingmusic.com for information about the donations.

Next trip will be the spring of 2011

"Debbie Danbrook captures the spirit of breath, harmony, and beauty in her eloquent Shakuhachi albums. This music is perfect for bringing calm to heart, mind, and body either day or night. Breathe in the perfection of this ancient flute."
Don Campbell, author 'The Mozart Effect'

"Debbie is a profound and evocative musician - an artisan of the soul in sound." 
Jean Houston, author and visionary

"Debbie Danbrook uses her unique talents as a Shakuhachi flutist to heal the soul and enrich the spirit. Her music resonates within our minds and bodies, as a powerful antidote to the stresses of life."
Pam Peeke MD, MPH Medical Advisor, International Spa Association
Assistant Professor of Medicine, University of Maryland

"Debbie Danbrook - The Pied Piper of the wellness crowd"
Elm Street Magazine - Paula Todd, journalist

"Our audience said they loved how soothing the music is, what a calming effect it has, a comforting feeling, like an oasis of calm."
Judy Brake, Senior Producer of Arts at 'Studio 2' for TVOntario

"Soothing flute melodies encourage relaxation and help stressed out listeners doze off."
The Toronto Star - Janice Mawhinney, journalist

Debbie Danbrook is a Master of the Shakuhachi, 
a traditional Japanese flute, once reserved for men only

Janice Mawhinney - Life Writer

So what was a nice Port Credit girl like Debbie Danbrook doing in Osaka learning to play a sacred bamboo flute re served for the exclusive use of Japanese Zen monks?
"That’s quite a story", acknowledges the 42-year-old musician/composer who now lives and works in Toronto where she performs, records and teaches meditative and healing music.

“It’s been such an amazing journey,” she states simply.

Danbrook is a Master of the Shakuhachi, a traditional Japanese flute used by monks in a spiritual practice called suizen, or blowing Zen. It was historically also played by the samurai class of Japanese aristocracy, but always strictly re served for the use of men. Women were not considered strong enough to master this difficult instrument.

Each Shakuhachi, handmade of bamboo, is unique in its sound. Each costs about $3,000. The flute produces a rich, resonant woodwind sound at the lips of an expert who is relaxed and confident. It won’t produce sound at all when blown by someone who is nervous or un practiced.
Danbrook took piano lessons as a child in Port Credit, and learned to play the silver flute in high school music classes in northern Ontario. After school she traveled the world for 10 years, supporting herself by playing music for dance performances.

At one such performance in Vancouver she heard the sound of a Shakuhachi for the first time. It was a life-changing moment.

“After one note, I knew,” she recalls. “I was so drawn to this instrument it was as if a door was opening for me. I knew I had to go to Japan and learn to play it.”

One day soon afterward, when she was working in Montreal, Danbrook got a phone call from a friend in Japan. An Osaka apartment was coming available in a week but if Danbrook wanted it, she would have to accept within 24 hours.

She sat up all night agonizing over whether to go But a week later, she arrived in Osaka armed with just one word of Japanese, domo, which means thank you.  Her priority was finding a Shakuhachi teacher. This proved to be more complicated than looking under “Shakuhachi” in the Yellow Pages.

“Everyone was so polite and kind and considerate in every way except helping me to find a teacher,” she remembers. “In fact, they were all too polite to tell me that women couldn’t play the Shakuhachi.”

She finally wrote to a Vancouver friend of Japanese ancestry. Her friend wrote to someone in northern Japan; she, in turn, enclosed the letters in a note to someone in Tokyo; that person sent the whole package to an acquaintance in Osaka. Then all the letters were sent back to Danbrook’s friend in Vancouver. She mailed them back to Japan addressed to Danbrook.

“That’s how I got the names of two Shakuhachi teachers,” Danbrook says.

One teacher who spoke English and lived conveniently in Osaka, had lunch with the Canadian woman, but he taught the special bamboo flute only as a hobby so he didn’t measure up to Danbrook’s requirements.

“It wasn’t his passion,” she says. “I wanted someone who lived and breathed for the Shakuhachi".

A few months after her les sons began, she was invited to attend the recital at which all of those who had been students of her teacher for a year or more were to play. She learned a lot from watching.

“The 40 students playing were all men,” she says. “Suddenly it all came clear to me that the Shakuhachi was for men and I'd had such trouble finding a teacher because l was a woman.”

She also saw how critically important it is to feel centered and calm and grounded while playing the instrument, as player after player got up and couldn’t produce a sound. They were too nervous.

“As I watched, I realized that the next year I would have to play in that recital and not only was I a foreigner, I was a woman,” she recalls. “Such exhilaration and terror hit me at the thought.”

The following year, when it was time for the concert, the teacher arranged for her to begin her piece offstage and to walk on as she played. This allowed her audience to take in her mastery of the instrument before the shock of learning she was a woman and a foreigner.  There was still whispering, but it died out as she played.

“I played the best I had ever played in my life,” she says. “I was in my element. I found that balanced, grounded place I needed to play from. It was a real turning point.”

Danbrook returned to Canada 10 years ago. A shoulder injury kept her from playing the Shakuhachi for a year, and in that time she developed her singing voice, which bears a close resemblance to the sound of the Shakuhachi.

She has just released her 11th CD with producer Steve Raiman.  Seven make up a meditation series, with each aimed at a different energy centre in the human body.  They were recorded while Danbrook was going through a tough inner struggle that affected her physically and emotionally.

“For a year I never slept more than two hours at a time,” she remembers. “It was a transformational period for me. Whenever I was recording I got a sense of wellness and euphoria, then little by little I would slip back into restless ness and sleeplessness.  I was doing my healing that year.”

She recorded improvisational music, then recorded layers of voice and more instrumental work over that.   “There is a healing quality to music. We all know that intuitively,” Danbrook says. "Music touches us. It’s been scientifically proved that it can lower our heart rate and slow our brain waves and respiration.  Music is a tool for healing. When we listen in a quiet and mindful way, it can bring us back to balance and rest in our hectic lives. The music is healing for the player and for the listener"

Her CDs come in various col ours: red deals with feelings of being grounded, orange with sexuality, prosperity and abundance; yellow with the ego and intellect; green with love relationships and joy; blue with one’s voice and intent in the world; purple with compassion, intuition and spirituality; and the white CD links them all by including some music from each.

“For years I was healing myself when I played, and now I’m strong enough to play out to help heal others,” explains Danbrook.  “The Shakuhachi has led me on a healing path, and the journey into healing is so wonderful.”