I missed my personal practice today because my father is in town. While I appreciate the chance to spend time with him and share my life in Japan with him, it also teaches me something: My practice time is valuable.
By stepping away from my busy life in the US and coming to Japan to focus on taiko, I've realized that practice really does make a difference. I know, it seems obvious... but, when I choose a focus and really hone in on it with one specific drill, improvements are noticeable quite quickly.
So, that said, I'd like to add on a bit to the drill from last week. Let's focus on timing!
1. Even though the two hands are playing different patterns, make sure your form in consistent. Is the bachi height equal for each hand? Is the striking speed the same? (no emphasized hits this week!)
2. Stay on beat with your metronome! I mentioned Metronome Online previously, but I occasionally like to use Web Metronome because the down beat is a different tone than the other beats, which I find helpful for drills similar to today's.
The right hand will loop Line 1 from last week, 4 times as the base beat:
A slow "don" R R R R
The left hand will simultaneously play through Lines 1, 2, 3, and 4:
1 hit per beat L L L L
2 hits per beat LL LL LL LL
3 hits per beat LLL LLL LLL LLL
4 hits per beat LLLL LLLL LLLL LLLL
Each bold "L" above is played at the same time as the Right hand's base beat. There is equal space between each beat. Be sure that when your two hands hit on the down beat that there is only one sound. Return to last week's drill to hear an audio example of each line.
Try this drill at a different pace every day--playing it quickly or slowly can both be difficult. Don't change the tempo within one practice because it will take longer to make improvements if your mind and body are deprived of the focus required to do so.
This drill does not require much endurance, so try to loop it for 10 minutes with the right hand as the base and 10 minutes with the left hand as base. If one hand has more trouble with a particular part, adjust your times on the following days to allow more practice for that hand.
After doing this drill 2 or 3 days, it might seem your body can play it without thinking. If not, then stick with it a while longer. If so, then try to alternate the base beat between Line 1 and Line 2.
I'll do my best to post an audio version of what this can sound like for those of you who might try it mid-week!
Enjoy and gambatte!
UPDATE: Audio for this lesson can be found here.