Advice From Our Teacher

This past Friday evening (Feb. 13), taiko fans in Michigan were likely attending Kodo's performance at Hill Auditorium in Ann Arbor. If you missed it, I believe you have one more chance to see them, in East Lansing at the Wharton Center at MSU (assuming that the performance is not sold out).

Unfortunately we could not attend the concert, since we are in Japan. Still, we had an enjoyable Friday evening. We had invited our teacher, Mizue Yamada (Hono Taiko) and our daughter's taiko teacher, Kazusa Okazaki (Hikari) over for dinner to talk about our plans for taiko in Michigan, get some advice and ask them a lot of questions.

We were very pleased to receive their votes of confidence and full support in our endeavour. We hope that at some point in the future, we will be able to invite both Hono Taiko and Hikari to visit Michigan, perform and hold workshops.

Yamada sensei had lots of advice for us, but I'll just share a couple things with you. As I expected, she told us to practice shime taiko really hard so that we can become really good at shime taiko. She said that, in general, if you are a team that is good at shime taiko, then you are likely a team that is good all around. (That is why I have been practicing shime taiko so hard these past several months. Want some suggestions on practicing shime taiko? shime taiko exercise 1, shime taiko exercise 2)

Another piece of advice she gave us was to practice so that you can keep a tempo, without speeding up or slowing down. My brother (the drummer) has also told me this many times and he says the best way to learn this is with daily metronome practice. (daily is the key here) You really have to internalize the tempos so that you can be consistent like a metronome even when the metronome is not there. Yamada sensei added to this advice, saying that while metronome practice is important, when you are playing with a group, it is more important to play together with each other. Of course, you don't want your tempo to speed up or slow down too much (unless it is part of the music) but were the group to speed up, and only one person notices it, and that one person stubbornly decides to keep the tempo, the group will not be together and the music will slowly just turn indiscriminate banging on drums. So, in a group, listening to one another and staying together is more important than stubbornly keeping a tempo. Hopeful, though, if you have been doing enough metronome practice, everyone in the group will be able to keep the tempo.

Well, just realized we ran out of milk for breakfast, so I must run out and get some before the kids wake up.

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