acrobat webEveryone who teaches should try to learn a completely new skill every few years. It keeps you humble. It keeps you patient and kind to both yourself and to your students.

I heard our local Taiko group play at a wedding reception a few months back. I was entranced by the sound and the dance of it. I was also inspired since I was getting started on a group of songs from Asia for Piano Accents.

I recorded a rehearsal and also met with the Sensei of Odaiko Sonora Dojo, Rome Hamner to find out more about Taiko culture. She played some traditional flute tunes on her Fue. Before you know it, I was taking a 2 hour class every Saturday afternoon.

I found myself in a Japanese style educational environment (a blend of martial and creative arts) with social rules completely alien to my experience. I couldn’t count or say hello or goodbye without being taught how to do so. I was also the newest person so I had to sweep the floor when we were through.

I am getting much better and more comfortable but I still don’t have anything resembling the beauty of form of the more experienced players. I find learning everything completely by rote to be a monumental challenge and a bit of a pain.

I’m a person who absolutely hates video tutorials. I don’t like sitting through the stuff that doesn’t apply to my question when I can find what I want so much faster by skimming through a written article until I find the section that applies to my specific need.

Having to wait and be given only the information the teacher wants me to have is frustrating. Don’t get me wrong. The sensei are great. They give us guidance in many ways so that all types of learners can succeed. There is a very helpful website resource page. But, my job there is learner and I am so very used to being the one helping others—the one in charge.

Aarghhh! Why won’t those bachi arrive on the drum head simultaneously? Why do I always get to a certain point in Ogi Matsuri and completely forget what comes next? I find myself so lost with only rhythm and no harmonies to use as guideposts along the way.

Before I started, I thought “I should be good at this and able to pick it right up.” And, intellectually I can. But physically, I mostly feel awkward. It’s hard for me run around the drum or to yell “Hai! spontaneously and without inhibition. Could it be that I hide behind the formality that is inherent in my classical training?

I think the feelings I am experiencing are pretty darn close to those students in my beginning piano class have. They are in an alien environment on the edge of a musical culture they may not be very familiar with. They each learn differently yet they all seek beauty and want to connect within an art form. They are also all really good at something else (medicine, knitting, web design, accounting, cooking) and expect to be good learners.

Saki ni shitsu rei shi mas.


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