Category 'Blog'

You may have heard me talking about Obon festivals during some of our classes.  Obon is a celebration of the ancestors, and a traditional time for homecomings.  In the United States, it's frequently associated with a cultural fair and taiko. There's a great online calendar of many Obon / cultural festivals occurring throughout the country.  Hopefully many of you will make the Cherry Blossom Festival this weekend in Denver -- it's a great opportunity to take in a bit more Japanese-American culture, and see a few local taiko groups perform.  There are many events on Saturday, including a performance by Denver Taiko, so you don't event have to miss practice to go! If any of you happen to find yourself in California in a couple weeks, I'll be at the Monterey Peninsula Obon Festival; come and say hi!

Jim and I spent just spent a weekend in Las Vegas, taking in the North American Taiko Conference (NATC).  The event was held at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, with 3 days of performances, workshops, presentations, and networking with fellow taiko players from all over the country continent world. I've actually had a hard time deciding what to say about going to NATC.  It's a whirlwind, completely immersive event.  It's a chance to eat, sleep, and breathe taiko for an entire weekend.  So how to put it into words? A great taste of what happened is in Taiko Community Alliance's photo gallery of the event.  Be warned, there are A LOT of pictures.  The shows, the workshops, the get-togethers, it's all there.  They did a great job sending volunteer photographers to just about everything that happened during the entire weekend, and the pictures are pretty impressive.  There's at least a couple with me and Jim in them, but I'll let you search through and find those if you so choose. ;-) There's also some video popping up on Youtube, and a bit more in Facebook's Taiko Community group.  Possibly video highlights to come in a later post. For me the biggest takeaway was the "genki," the energy everyone seemed to have.  Talking to people, it was clear just how excited everyone was to be there, to be with so many other taiko players, to be sharing an experience like this.  And just about everyone, from those who had been playing for just a few months to the taiko professionals and instructors leading the workshops, was incredibly open and accessible throughout the conference.  Despite coming from different groups, different backgrounds, it felt like one big taiko family.  Upon leaving, I felt (and still feel) a renewed motivation to keep practicing, and dive even deeper into the world of taiko. I know I made many new friends who I hope to see again at the next conference.  And I hope to see you there too! Also, this happened: https://youtu.be/abjXZXG-w3E

A couple topics to drop off, and some experiments with blog formatting. Beware the formatting! During our main class, there was some discussion of the traditional haka dance (from the Maori people of New Zealand; thanks Wikipedia!), and how it might be applied to taiko. Well, last summer at the World Taiko Gathering a group from New Zealand performed just such a combination at a lunchtime session. IPC Kodama is a student group at International Pacific College, and they put on an amazing show in spite of the constant rotation of members. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2_z1_SAnocw In performers, we started playing with tai chi partner exercises.  This is the video that got me started along this path; it's a really great introduction to some of the fundamentals of push hands, and really accessible to anyone. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_dYjb61C69U   Lastly, and hoping for timely posting, World Tai Chi and Qigong day is this coming Saturday.  In Colorado Springs, there's apparently a big event going on at America the Beautiful Park from 10am to noon for people of any and all skill level, including no experience whatsoever!  For (not a lot) more information, there's some contact info for the Tai Chi Association of Colorado Springs, who are putting on the event.  I'll likely be attending, and hopefully will see you there!

A few links from today's conversations. These are to help me remember as much as you. :-) Performers class has started working on odaiko, and playing solos on the big drum. We've talked a bit about how odaiko solos can be arranged, and how watching video from some of the Japanese odaiko competitions can be a great help. Well, turns out said videos are a little harder to find than you might expect. I found a few from past odaiko competitons. Most of what I could find is odaiko solos, like this one from Isaku Kageyama. And there's the less traditional take by TAIKOPROJECT. Taiko 1 is working its way through an open source piece, Korekara. A great resource for this piece can me found at TaikoSource. The korekara page includes a link to the sheet music for the piece (kuchshoga and western), videos of each section, and a selection of custom arrangements by many different taiko groups. For those starting to learn this piece in our Taiko 1 class, there may be some great help here. For those who learned the piece before and can't remember the sticking arrangement, there's no help here (lots of variations, lots of flair, someone does every variation we discussed...). TaikoSource is also the home of many taiko resources, from a list of commonly played songs, to information about the instruments themselves, to research papers on the history and traditions of taiko. Also a highlight is the taiko group map. There's been an ongoing effort since the 2011 North American Taiko Conference to record where taiko groups exist around the world. This map is the current state of that project, allowing you to explore different regions and see just how much taiko there is. Each pin marks a group, and clicking the pins will give you the name of the group and a link to their website. Very cool. And for what should be the final plug, North American Taiko Conference workshop registration is now open to all. This should be a wonderful event for any taiko enthusiasts, and a great way to meet fellow taiko players. I hope to see you there!

Little bit of random taiko nerding as we wrap up the second week of February: Nisei week, 1992: If, like me, you grew up on PBS in California, you may remember Huell Howser and his ongoing quest to find California's Gold. This time he made it to Little Tokyo for Nisei Week, with lots of features on the cultural events going on. Also very cool to see how much I could recognize from visiting last summer for the World Taiko Gathering. Completely lifted from the Facebook Taiko Community. Taiko Valentines: Because somebody had to. Thanks TCA! Taiko Society: In case you wanted to know what we were all about when we first started. More classic pictures and text as I find them. :-)

NATC 2015: The North American Taiko Conference (NATC) is an event run every other year to bring together taiko drummers from all over North America, with some from around the world. This year's event will be in Las Vegas, Nevada, June 11-14. The event features workshops from some of the best taiko instructors out there, with performances from many different groups, each with their own style. The schedule is, as always, packed. Having attended a few NATC events previously, and last year's similar but different World Taiko Gathering, my opinion is these events are fantastic. The workshop sessions give you a chance to learn different styles of drumming, or new pieces, or how to play instruments you've never tried before. The concerts give you a taste of what taiko is across the country, and how different groups approach it. And the whole event allows you to meet and connect with many of the wonderful people who call themselves taiko drummers. Plus you get to be part of a group like this! Registration is currently open, and a workshop list is already available (though sign-ups haven't started yet). I'm all registered, and I hope to see you there!

24
Jun

Obon festivals

Blog, Donovan | Comments Off

You may have heard me talking about Obon festivals during some of our classes.  Obon is a celebration of the ancestors, and a traditional time for homecomings.  In the United States, it’s frequently associated with a cultural fair and taiko. There’s a great online calendar of many Obon / cultural festivals occurring throughout the country.  Hopefully […]

24
Jun

NATC 2015 Recap

Donovan | Comments Off

Jim and I spent just spent a weekend in Las Vegas, taking in the North American Taiko Conference (NATC).  The event was held at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, with 3 days of performances, workshops, presentations, and networking with fellow taiko players from all over the country continent world. I’ve actually had a hard time deciding what to […]

20
Apr

TLD: Class Notes, 4/19/2015

Blog, Donovan | Comments Off

A couple topics to drop off, and some experiments with blog formatting. Beware the formatting! During our main class, there was some discussion of the traditional haka dance (from the Maori people of New Zealand; thanks Wikipedia!), and how it might be applied to taiko. Well, last summer at the World Taiko Gathering a group […]

9
Mar

Taiko Link Dump — 3/8 post-class roundup

Blog, Donovan | Comments Off

A few links from today’s conversations. These are to help me remember as much as you. Performers class has started working on odaiko, and playing solos on the big drum. We’ve talked a bit about how odaiko solos can be arranged, and how watching video from some of the Japanese odaiko competitions can be a […]

7
Mar

Taiko Link Dump — Hello, February?

Donovan | Comments Off

Little bit of random taiko nerding as we wrap up the second week of February: Nisei week, 1992: If, like me, you grew up on PBS in California, you may remember Huell Howser and his ongoing quest to find California’s Gold. This time he made it to Little Tokyo for Nisei Week, with lots of […]

4
Feb

Taiko Link Dump — NATC 2015 Edition

Donovan | Comments Off

NATC 2015: The North American Taiko Conference (NATC) is an event run every other year to bring together taiko drummers from all over North America, with some from around the world. This year’s event will be in Las Vegas, Nevada, June 11-14. The event features workshops from some of the best taiko instructors out there, […]