Odaiko New England

A Drum With a Past

I came home from Taiko Conference energized and wanting to practice all the time.  Husband Matt and I both decided to follow along with 30 Days to Better Shime: Round 3, which would mean that we’d need appropriate equipment.  We either needed to continue borrowing shime from the Odaiko New England drum closet, or get a practice pad…  but I was fantasizing about owning my own shime.

During two of my workshops at Taiko Conference I’d had the opportunity to play on a Remo shime.  Although they don’t  quite have the same sound as the genuine hide drums, I thought they seemed pretty decent.  I guessed that they are less expensive than a lot of natural skin shimes.  Also, as a vegetarian, I’m always wishing that there weren’t animal parts involved in my music-making.  So, I started fantasizing about getting my own Remo shime, but when I found out the price ($625) from Remo’s website,  I figured it would be a while before I got one…

…but what the heck, I’ll see what’s being sold on eBay…

Just what I wanted!

Just what I wanted!

There she was, a used Remo shime, and I won the auction at a price I could afford!

When she finally arrived, I opened the box with glee, but…

“Ew!  It smells like an ashtray!”

Before cleaning, the smoke residue came off on my bachi tips.

Before cleaning, the smoke residue came off on my bachi tips.

How did she end up smelling so bad?  Taiko is such an athletic activity, I don’t think many taiko players smoke.  Maybe she used to hang out in smoke filled bars and nightclubs.  She’s a hard working showgirl.  I think I’ll call her Smokey.

Whatever her past, she’s moved in with us now, and I’ve promised to give her a new and healthy life.  Fortunately, after consulting with the helpful customer service at Remo, I found out that I could clean her heads with Windex and body with furniture polish.  Then with Joy’s help, I changed the rope.  She’s gone from stinky white synthetic to elegant wine-colored hemp.

Cleaned Up and Retied

Cleaned Up and Retied

And thanks to Smokey, I finished 30 days to better shime on schedule!

3 comments to A Drum With a Past

  • Congratulations on your new shime! Our teacher always told us, “if you want to be good, master shime.” You know, though, I was actually quite surprised at the number of taiko players in Japan who smoked, especially because, like you said, taiko is such an athletic activity. It was most prevalent among the Kaga Taiko players I played with. In fact, they even claimed that you would never be a good Kaga Taiko player until you learned to smoke. I didn’t give in, though 🙂

  • Thanks, Brian!

    I am certainly finding that my playing overall improves with more shime practice, and I’m so glad I always have a shime available all the time.

    That’s interesting that so many taiko players in Japan smoke. Glad to hear you didn’t give in… I certainly agree with your skepticism as to the importance of smoking to develop your skills!

  • joy

    I’m glad that I was able to contribute to the continuing history of Smokey.

    I have to admit, though, that when I lived in Japan, I was tempted to start smoking because of the cultural prevalence, but I just couldn’t deal with my hands smelling like tobacco all day. Instead, I developed a habit for drinking a lot of green tea – a lot more healthy in the long run!