June 26, 2011
Yesterday was my first chance to play with Azuma:s taiko in 4 years. We were all in one row. How did I prepare since there was no practice scheduled until Wednesday. I studied by watching a homemade video. It is the first time I can remember that I could relax and smile a lot during a performance. I think part of my ability to relax was that on the video I did not hear and see perfection. I even saw a mom picking up her son while a song was being played. It was a nice feeling to just try to remember the songs. My teacher got me to play the MC and song calling. I stuttered through the Japanese, but it was fun. Even my former OL and some students came to support me. We played 22 songs in an hour and a half. I received 5 blisters.
June 27, 2011
I found 3 more blisters. I can hear the wadaiko rhythms everywhere. I always remember Gregory Hines tap dancing to the sound of the dripping of water from the faucet.
June 29, 2011
Today we had taiko practice. Later in July the teacher wants me to play a song with him. I learned a couple key taiko points:
1) In order to play fast 16th note patterns, hold the stick with just the thumb and pointy finger loosely.
2) Dynamics matter. When soft, play soft, and build.
3) Hand movements have specific points where they look cool.
I even had the chance to play the big drum again during one of the songs. Also, I was given the sheet music to a new song. He did not want me to look at it during practice. That was for individual practice.
July 1, 2011
Today I heard more taiko. My homestay’s family’s son played taiko rhythm patterns on his couch and on the playground. I also found a NHK book that featured an English article on wadaiko. Only 4 pages though.
Tomorrow I will have a day of practice to remember the songs that I have to play. Maybe if I am lucky some of the members will have time outside of practice to study the songs together.
I went to a Tanabata Festival for my homestay’s family’s children. They sang songs and played games. It was very nice.
Tonight I sang at my friend’s brother’s live concert. I hope someone recorded the concert so I can take a copy home to watch again and again. The entire concert was a reminder that the Japanese spirit is still strong. In daily interaction I hear people commenting about the weather. It reminds me of conversations in a Yasujiro Ozu film. It is a good thing to see some things do not change.