Since I began playing taiko, I quietly observed how taiko is often approached using a very repertoire-directed teaching style. I found it a little bit surprising, it was very different than the music and dance world that I was used to, where scales, studies, and barre exercises were mastered in order to excel in performance. When I began playing taiko, there was very little time spent on mastering basic skills or technique.
A number of years ago, after learning all of my taiko group's repertoire, I hit a wall. Now what? The focus and expectations of my group had been to learn songs and perform with the group and now I had achieved that. I loved taiko, but there had to be more to taiko than this.
Enter: the North American Taiko Community. The doors opened. I began to learn from other international artists, meet taiko players from all over the world, and gain insight into how they learn taiko and how their groups teach and learn. Suddenly my own taiko skills began to develop and change, and it sort of felt like a volcanic explosion. I found a missing piece of the puzzle: proper technique.
This was the inspiration behind the concept of Taiko Skills Day. There are certain skills that I think every taiko player can benefit from extra attention, no matter how experienced they are. When I discussed the concept of Taiko Skills Day at MRU, I selected three skills that I felt would be beneficial for everyone to work on together in a safe environment, and invited two other instructors to join me in teaching.
Movement in Taiko. Soloing and Composition. Percussion Skills and How They Relate to Taiko.
I opened the workshop up to taiko players from all the other taiko groups in Alberta, and we welcomed twelve taiko players from Calgary and Lethbridge to MRU for the day. It was a long, but very fun day of taiko. Participants started with a fun and movement-filled monkey-drill class, followed by some instruction on how to build a taiko solo and approach to composition. The afternoon was filled with percussion techniques and we wrapped up the day by playing songs for each other, just for fun Feedback was quite positive and I'm looking forward to hosting similar events in the future!
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