A Practice Space

Because of the noise, practicing taiko in your home is always a challenge, especially in Japan. In fact, other than patting out rhythms on your knees with your hands, there is not much you can do, without bothering the neighbors. It has, therefore, been a challenge for us to find a time and place to practice our own music. We do go to Asano three times a week, but we cannot practice our own music then. My wife's parents have a studio in the basement of their company, but it is all concrete (which makes it quite loud), and there is a juku (cram school) right next door. We practice at the studio occasionally, but we always have to be careful about how long and how loud we practice.

Several months ago, I learned about another option. I asked a friend, who used to have a band, where bands in Japan practiced (or at least bands in Ishikawa) because you certainly could set up in your garage or basement here, since most houses don't have a basement, and garages are either too small, or merely a carport. She told me about a place here called Kanazawa Citizens Art Village, where they have several studios available to rent. I had been to the Art Village many times, but I didn't realize you could rent studios there. (When I say "studio", I actually mean large practice room) And it turns out that one of the studios even has four taiko to use. Here it is:

What's more, the price cannot be any better. For a two hour reservation, you only pay 315 yen. That's only about $3!

Since we learned of this option, we have been trying to line up our schedule so that we could go and see what it was like to practice there. Yesterday, about four months after we first learned of this option, we finally got everything to click just right, and were able to get in a good two hour practice from 7 - 9 in the morning. It was the first time we had a real chance to work through our first original piece, Raijin, which I wrote back in December. Before that, we hadn't really known what it would sound like on drums. (It sounds pretty good, by the way, and we are supposed to actually perform it for a small group of friends in a couple weeks)

This actually wasn't the first time we tried to practice at the studio at the art village. Last week we had a bit of free-time in the evening and the studio happened to be open, so we went to try it out. There was no one to watch our children, however, so we decided to take them with us and see if they could play quietly while we practiced for an hour or so. We packed up our drums (we brought our new shime taiko along) and brought some legos with us so they could play while we practiced. For the first 10 minutes or so, they were interested in playing the drums with us, then for about 5 minutes, they played with the legos, and after that it was constant whining, "I'm bored, I want to play outside, Can we go outside? I want to go home". Now a five year old (my daughter) is able to understand things like, "Mama and papa need to practice a little bit, can you just play by yourself for awhile?" But it is pointless to try and reason like that with a two year old (my son) who eventually just sat down and cried. In the end, I took the kids to play outside, while my wife practiced on her own for a half-hour or so. Needless to say, it was not a very productive practice, and we have decided that unless we can find a babysitter, there is not much point in trying to practice there.

But it is still a great discovery. We can practice there for minimal cost, without worrying about making too much noise, and I'm sure that we will be back in the near future... assuming we can find a babysitter.

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