Jigen - New Taiko Group

In several older posts (here too), I mentioned being encouraged to join a newly forming taiko group, sponsored by Asano Taiko. I was to be a group made up of young, energetic people, with taiko experience, who have a serious desire to learn taiko. Both my wife and I were able to get on the roster for this group and finally, yesterday, we were able to have our first practice. After our first practice, I am very excited about this group. Yet I am disappointed, because as a result of various other events and holidays, we are not scheduled to practice again until May 17.

The group will be taught by Yamada Mizue san of Hono Taiko (also instructing the other groups we're in) and there are nine of us in the group right now. I believe they do not want more than 20, but I think 9 or 10 is a good number anyhow. We are all "young", although some of us would probably be considered as borderline. There are three teenage girls, three members in their 20s and three members in their 30s. It is actually a nice balance, I think.

Although I enjoy the other groups I play in, the members of them come from a wide range of backgrounds and have different goals for playing taiko. Everyone works hard, but you can't challenge people in the same way you can challenge a small, focused group of people, who have their sights set on a high level of performance.

We started practice with some activities I have often wanted to do in my other groups. One of those is metronome practice, the other is working on basic rhythms. For example, two measures of quarter notes, two measures of eighth notes, two measures of sixteenth notes and two measures of don doko don doko rhythm, and then following that same pattern in reverse. First we did it starting with our right hand, and then starting with our left hand. I think we must have done this type of practice for about 30 minutes. Since I have a professional drummer as a brother, I am aware that this type of practice is extremely important, and have wished it were more often a part of practices. I'm looking forward to developing my internal metronome and increasing my left arm/left hand strength.

Following this we looked at the beginning of the song we will learn. Apparently, our debut will be at the Asano recital in the fall, September or October, I believe. She gave us the music for the first half yesterday. The rhythms are harder than what I've been learning so far, but I didn't see any extremely difficult rhythms. Yamada san said the challenging aspect of the piece is that it is quite fast and physically demanding. It has three parts, Odaiko, Nagado and Shime taiko. There will be two Odaiko players (I am tentatively one of them), two Shime taiko players, who have not yet been chosen, and the remaining five will play Nagado taiko.

I am looking forward to practicing with this group of people, who all want to be challenged and improve their taiko playing.

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