It’s been seven years since I first played a taiko at one of Odaiko New England’s three-hour weekend workshops. Here are some of the words I wrote that day about my new experience:
I went a little early so that I was sure to be on time. I was pleased to see that we would be using real drums (though they had a few packing-taped tires just in case). One of the people there who was also early gave me some ear plugs, which made me so happy. I was also happy to learn we would be in our bare feet, if we choose.
I practiced some kanji while I waited for the class to start. Everyone arrived on time. We introduced ourselves and most people there had some musical background. One woman had even done a lot of taiko while growing up in Japan. (She was a treat to watch; she looked so amazing doing it.) Then we started with warm-ups. I surprised myself by doing 25 real push-ups.
My sit-ups were oh so more pathetic.
We finished warming up and stretching. Then they played the simple piece that they would, in the three hours, teach us to play. I was a bit skeptical, but hey, aim high.
They set us up and taught us basic stuff. I got the tall standing drum to start, which was a bit hard to apply the basic techniques to. The class had a tendency to speed up while playing. I tried to keep visual beat with the person in the middle. I could never get the form down, but I did surprise myself with the rhythms. However, when things did speed up, I lost it. I was much worse than two-thirds of the class.
We rotated on the drums so we could try all the different types. The breaks were beautifully timed, the exercises did a good job of establishing that we could do it and usually also pushed us beyond our limits. Once we’d gotten some basic hits down (light hits, medium hits, large hits, horse rhythm, rim hits, vocalizations) they taught us and had us memorize (quite well to my surprise) the two fairly complex pieces. They had the whole class play both together and then split us into groups and had us play the interlocking pieces to form the main piece. Half the class would watch, the other half would preform. Since most people were pretty good it sounded reasonable at the end. Most of the people picked it up really well.
And then the instructors finished off the class with a performance of their own which was a lot of fun to watch.
It was fun, it was hard and I’m going to be sore tomorrow. All in all it was a great three hours and they did a really good job of teaching a lot to us in a very short amount of time.
I’m so happy that day happened. Odaiko New England, taiko and the people I’ve met there are an amazing and wonderful part of my life. It was so much fun that day and it still is.