Friday, January 2, 2009

TGIF, Part 15 (taiko drills)

Happy New Year!

It's been the season for cleaning here in Japan. Homes, offices, practice spaces have been swept and wiped clean, and parties have been had to celebrate the previous year and start the new year afresh.

But, now the celebrations are over and done with and it's time to get back to business!

Focus: Balance
Watch for:
1. Pay attention to the height your hands come up from the drum. If your two hands are making a hit equal in volume, they should come off the drum at the same height.
2. When it comes to volume, if you're having trouble getting your weak hand up to speed, focus on just that--speed! Take your hand up and down in a swift motion. Increasing the speed will make your hit stronger. (Keep in mind that both hands should strike with equal speed.)

Hopefully you've been playing "don tsu ku" on tables, your legs, the floor, whatever's close, whenever you can. We're going to move forward with the previous drill by adding a new, basic taiko pattern: do don tsu ku.

With do don tsu ku the first two hits are emphasized and the last two are not. Simple enough. Continue to focus on making those small hits intentional, engaging the 3 fingers on the underside of your bachi.

Okay, here's the pattern:

1 2 3 4
tsu ku
do don
tsu ku
tsu ku

Colors indicate which hand and bold means emphasize.

Just like the previous pattern, the last line leads you into repeating the same drill, starting with the opposite hand. It doesn't really matter which hand you start with... just keep it going! 15 mins a day.


If you're comfortable with this drill, feel free to improvise the rhythms. For example, you might play "do don tsu ku" twice and "don tsu ku" once... or you could play 3 do don tsu kus...

Keep in mind which rhythm and which hand needs more practice. (This could mean you're behind the mentronome, balance is off, or you just don't feel comfortable yet.) Be sure to practice that the most.

Are you practicing with another person? This is a great way to have meditative taiko! Get a group together and play for 15-30 minutes. By improvising which rhythm you play when, your mind and body are able to fully connect with the rhythms through expression, your body and mind react to other sounds heard, and you connect with other rhythms and the people around you simultaneously. Don't talk, stop (even if you're tired), or react; just hit drums!

Enjoy yourself and I'll see in you in a quick 7 days! Questions? I'm here! Drop a comment.

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