How to Practice Shime Taiko - Part 2 - Accents

I think practicing shime taiko every day with a metronome can really help you improve quickly. And not only with shime taiko or taiko playing, but with music in general. In December I pulled out my violin to begin practicing for a Christmas performance at school and I could even see improvements in my violin playing, thanks to the extra shime practice I had been doing.

The last time I posted an entry about practicing shime taiko I had a positive response from several readers, so I thought I would introduce another exercise I use nearly every day to practice shime taiko. This one comes to you thanks to my brother, the drummer for Chicago's Detholz. This exercise was actually taken from a book he showed me called, "The Rudimentary Cookbook", and I believe it is intended for snare drumming, but many of the exercises are easily transferable to shime practice.

Here is a link to a PDF file of the page: Shime Taiko Accent Exercise The exercise I refer to in this post is "EXERCISE NO. 2"

This exercise focuses on accents. If you can't play shime taiko with clean and decisive accents, your shime playing will probably not be all that interesting. This is a good exercise to work on developing accents.

Before giving my own recommendations and comments, here is what the book says about this exercise:

"The purpose of No. 2 is to enable the performer to place accents when and where desired while playing a rhythmically consistent pattern. Care should be taken to be sure that unaccented notes are kept low and even while accented notes are played fairly high. Keep in mind that accent height should always be relative to the overall dynamic level of the exercise."

My personal recommendation is to practice it starting with your non-dominant hand (left in my case), use a metronome and practice it slowly. I usually set the metronome on 16th notes at around 65 or 70. If you are not used to this type of exercise, you will probably not be able to keep up the tempo at a higher speed.

What I also found when I first started doing this exercise, was that I had trouble keeping the notes even in measures 9, 10 and 11. So I had to slow down the tempo to a rate where I was able to play them evenly. Now that I am more comfortable with the exercise, I will occasionally bump up the tempo to 80 or 90 (there are weaknesses that faster tempos can bring out also), but most of the time I am still practicing at 65 or 70.

The other big thing to keep in mind with practicing accents like this is to keep the non-accented notes as quiet as possible and the accents as clear as possible. This can be a challenge, especially playing at a faster tempo, but if you are able to do it well, it can make your shime playing 10 times more interesting. I think it is better to focus on keeping the unaccented notes quieter, than to focus on making the accents louder. Otherwise you may fall into the trap of putting too much arm movement into the accented notes. Accents and volume do not come from strength, but rather from the quickness of the stroke. So be careful not to put too much arm into it.

Hope this is helpful to all the taiko players out there.

Photo Credit: Flickr


Ciaran said...

Great blog you've got there with lots of resources for us beginners. Pity that I can't seem to open the shime taiko accent exercise pdf though.

Raion Taiko said...

Whoops, sorry about that. We just switched to a new website and the file didn't get moved. I'll try to fix that in the next couple days.

Raion Taiko said...

There, it should work now.