Have you ever been so happy and proud of someone that you could cry?
I have often felt this way as a mother, watching my kids grow up. Something as simple as a sweet smile, seeing them discover something for the first time, skipping off to the first day of school, their first music recitals. For the first time, I felt a similar experience, watching my taiko students perform at the Globalfest Fireworks festival in August.
I kept repeating to myself: Less. Than. One. Year. These people have had less than one year of taiko training. 8 week classes, or maybe 2 sets of 8 classes. Participation in this event was completely voluntary, and with very little group rehearsal everyone came together to put on a great show. They were all just enthusiastic and passionate about taiko. Kind of like me, I guess.
The youngest performer had recently turned 4 years old, and played in the kids classes and also Hiryu Sandan Gaeshi. We played songs that were taught at MRU during regular classes, during the Fall semester with North Point School for Boys, and Artio choir members who studied taiko with me for their production called Sound of the Hollow. The Consulate General of Japan in Calgary loaned us a set of happi to wear for costumes, and it really brought the group together visually as well.
Taiko awesomeness aside, I think the highlight for me was observing and realizing the creation of a Taiko Community. Students I haven't seen since the end of Winter classes (May) demonstrated that they kept up their skills by practicing at home and came to the group rehearsal very well-prepared, which made rehearsals run so efficiently. I could see their dedication, musicianship and determination, but combined with a sense of humour, interacting with others during the performance, and having so much fun while playing. To me, this is what taiko is all about. The Taiko Kids had a great time getting to know the older members, playing and rolling around in the grass having tickle fights and piggy-back rides. People brought chairs, blankets, and food to share. Families, kids, partners of members got to meet and get to know each other.
We had the opportunity to perform two sets, on two different nights of the festival. After our last stage performance, we sat together as a group by the lake, ate food, talked, and experience the Fireworks Finale (which was pretty spectacular). I could only think: All of this has been created in only been one year. Who knows where this will build in the near future?
I'm excited to find out.
Photos to come.
Video clips linked below: