It was a very proud moment to stand onstage last Thursday at the Nickle Theatre at Mount Royal University, with all of my taiko students posing for a group photo. Running through my head: "A year ago, this didn't exist. These people didn't know how to play taiko. There was nowhere in Calgary for kids to take taiko lessons. Adult Taiko was limited to a few weeks of workshops given by Midnight Taiko, once a year. And look at where we are now. Look at what we've done, what we've accomplished" It was a very humbling, awe-inspiring moment.
Even though we were missing several people who were not able to make it to the recital, the night was filled with energetic taiko performances! The only objective was to show family and friends what we have been working on during our classes together.
The MRU Kids Taiko class began the recital by singing the Aisatsu, and accompanied by Jett (MRU Youth Taiko) and Lisa (MRU Adult Taiko). They were, as we all expected, incredibly cute, and immediately won the hearts of the audience. The Pineapple Song, and Mochi Mochi songs were up next, and the kids were able to play most of Mochi Mochi by themselves! For the last piece, I worked with the kids during class to come up with their favourite pose for the end. It turned out to be a bachi unicorn horn and tail, which resulted in the song being titled "Unicorn Song". Click here for video footage.
I am super proud of these guys. The MRU Youth Taiko was probably the quietest and most conscientious group of young people I have taught so far. They quickly mastered Hiryu Sandan Gaeshi, and we learned as much of Omiyage as we could. I would have liked to work with them for a longer time period to work more on Omiyage, but unfortunately that will have to be another time! Click here for video footage.
The MRU Taiko Technique class was intended as a Beginner class for people who had no prior taiko experience, students who wanted more practice with mastering taiko technique, or people who wanted to improve their technique to further their taiko education. Using coloured paper cups, we focused on a series of sticking drills and basic techniques before learning Renshu and moved onto a simple version of Matsuri. Probably the most diverse group of adults I have worked with, and very rewarding. CLick here for video footage.
Before the winter term began, I decided to challenge the new MRU Taiko Ensemble with a new song. In November, I learned a new song called Dokokara from the composer Yuta Kato. It's not an easy song, but it's a very exciting song and I felt that the members would be up for the challenge. I think after watching the piece on YouTube, they thought "I'll never be able to play that in a million years!" However, they worked hard and after some coaching from Yuta himself, they nailed it! Joanne and Kaede Cultural Society graciously loaned a set of bright happi coats for the ensemble to wear during the recital, and I think it made the group look pretty sharp! Click for video footage.
There are still a few taiko projects on the go at MRU, but the bulk of lesson planning and teaching for me is now complete. I have already started to plan and look ahead to next year and I hope to see everyone back next year (and some new faces as well!). Thank you all for sharing this incredible first year of taiko at MRU Conservatory.