Friday, December 5, 2008

TGIF, Part 12 (taiko drills)

Happy December!

My personal lessons recently all seem to focus on my left arm/shoulder (katsugi and chan chiki), so I've been spending my time at home keeping my sense of balance. So, that's where today's drill is coming from.

Focus: Balance, Timing
Watch for:
1. Pay attention to your timing with this drill. If the tempo you're working with is too fast, be sure to back up a bit until you're ready to increase speed.
2. Don't mistake imbalance in volume for a timing issue. When one hand is hitting at a weaker volume than the other, you may suspect the timing to be off. Both of these points are important, so take the time to understand what's going on.

The pattern is a slow 8-beat line that we'll divide 3 ways:

Line 1: Play on each down beat. (quarter notes)
Line 2: Play on the upbeat and downbeat. (eighth notes)
Line 3: Play 4 hits for each down beat (16th notes)

Let's think of Line 1 as the base beat. Ideally, for anything you're playing, you should be able to say the rhythms while playing the base beat and vice versa. As discussed in Part 2, the base beat and the song you're playing should fit together in a way that they become one.

So, when you play Line 2 and Line 3 be sure to hear the base beat in your head (or even say it out loud at first). Being persistent with this will help you to find a steady sense of pace that with improve your overall timing.

If you're having trouble with keeping your timing steady, you can start out by emphasizing the base beat. Eventually, you should practice with no emphasized hits.

Cycle these 3 lines 15 minutes daily!


You can extend this drill in a variety of ways. One I'll suggest here is to alter the number of beats to each quarter note. Try 3 beats to each quarter note (triples). If that comes naturally, then try numbers like 5 or even 6!

In addition, try choosing Line 2 or Line 3 as your mental base beat.

I will be unavailable to post a drill on December 26. So, take a holiday break that week!

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