STI is set up in a great way this year. Each of On Ensemble's members gives instruction on specific skills and technique, and then we learn parts of a brand new composition in smaller, break-out groups. Simply put, we are taught a skill and are then given a very immediate and practical way to apply it.
Yesterday, Kelvin Underwood talked about ghost notes as an essential way to keep timing. Ghost notes make up the steady beat the audience doesn't hear while you're playing, but you should always hear it in your head. There's one thing that Kelvin said that I really liked and I'll try my best to recapture here.
We each have our own individual pulse. These pulses do not keep steady time and often fluctuate--perhaps your heart beats faster for a few beats and then slows down. When a group of people play taiko, a steady, shared pulse is created. The goal, then, is to keep that shared pulse to carry you together, through a song.
Last night, a group gathered in the lobby of the Miyako hotel to practice the song we've been learning with a metronome. Using 1 wasn't quite loud enough, so we tried to start 2, simultanously. Suzee, a fellow STI participant, mentioned the idea that if you play metronomes together they will eventually sync on their own. We didn't experiment with this last night, but I think it's a great way to tie together what Kelvin taught us yesterday:
If you put taiko players in a room, and everyone is counting the same ghost beats and feeling it become their own inner pulse: Sync Happens.
Here's a little clip from our lobby practice!