In this paper the role of spirituality in learning music for North American adult students is explored by examining the case of shakuhachi music. One distinctive character of engaging in music through the shakuhachi is that it facilitates the attainment of an ‘optimal relationship’ between the practitioners’ musical pursuit and self-cultivation through a ‘simple’ media, such as a single tone. The findings indicate that spirituality could be experienced regardless of one's musical skills or the level of outward expression. A second characteristic is that both experienced players and beginners could experience what the spirituality of music means through certain forms of music practice, including the shakuhachi practice, which followed the principle of ‘less is more’. Copyright © 2012 Cambridge University Press.