Wadaiko Yamato - New Year Concert 2009 - Part 2

Before I get into the Yamato concert, I'd just like to announce that we have totally re-worked our website and the new Great Lakes Taiko Center Website is up and running. Don't get too excited, my web design skills are pretty limited, but it is certainly an improvement over what was up before. Please stop by and visit: http://www.michigantaiko.com

Now back to Yamato. I have now been studying taiko at Asano for 1 year and about 5 months. After nearly a year and a half of high quality instruction from Ms. Yamada, I am certain that I understand a great deal more about taiko, on a much deeper level than I did back in the summer of 2007. As they say, however, "Ignorance is Bliss" and my increased knowledge of taiko has the side effect of an awareness that some of the taiko groups I used to be impressed with are not quite as impressive as I once thought. I'm not going to put down any names here, but I will say that, after watching some old videos, I would include myself in that statement.

Anyway, Yamato is definitely not on that list. In fact, my deeper understanding of taiko has only made me more impressed with what Yamato does. For example, since October, I have been dedicating a lot of time to practicing shime taiko, since I will be playing it for two pieces in March. I have written in the past about how difficult it is to play these small, high-pitched drums, and how any little mistake you make on them is magnified. (I also posted an exercise to help improve shime taiko playing and will post another one soon.) So, shime taiko is not easy to play, but Yamato performs their highly technical shime piece, "Kizashi" flawlessly, in perfect unison. My own knowledge and experience of practicing and playing shime taiko makes me all the more impressed with the way Yamato can play this piece.

Performing in unison is another aspect of Yamato's program which impressed me on a new level this year. One of the groups I play in (Yume Mitai) has between 16 and 20 members. Last year we had the honor of playing at a fairly major concert and worked very hard to really polish up our performance. At that time, I began to realize how hard it can be to get 16 people to all play, and move in perfect unison. Again, at the Yamato concert, for two or three songs, Yamato will put 15 or 20 people on the stage and their playing, their movement, the music, everything is so precise and tight. Being able to perform in such a precise manner with that many people is very impressive.

Oops, I've run out of time for today, but I still have more to say about the Yamato concert. I'll write more soon.

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