Workshop with James Barrow

James demonstrating the main rhythm of Eclipse, his open source piece.

5 of us went up to  Glangrwyney for a whole day of Taiko tuition with James Barrow. The day was organised by Ursula Frank from TMD. People came from as far as Oxford and Birmingham. James taught us his piece ‘Eclipse’. After his first demonstration it sounded so complex, but he broke it down to very short phrases and we had it in the first 2 hours. It is a great piece, with accents on left and right hands, on the on and off beats, a real brain teaser. We started out on upright stands but had a chance, throughout the day, to try playing the magnificent Odaiko,  give katsugi okedo a go, and also some Yatai style. And another very useful tool – play the same piece with different musical intention. So we started out with thinking of a happy, floating moment and played Eclipse light heartedly. We then descended into a chaotic and creative few minutes where

Odaiko at the back, yatai in the middle, James on the shime, leading.

everyone just made all kinds of rhythms and sounds. Out of that darkness we were pulled out by a sombre mitsu-uchi on the Odaiko, and played it again with a more grounded, powerful feel.

And as always with Taiko – we all were supporting each other with shouts, smiles, eye contact and body language that conveyed our utter happiness to be there at that moment in time, playing together.

James made ‘Eclipse’ open source and we will definitely use it to improve so many skills – left right coordination and dexterity, musicality and creativity.

Drumming for Rainbow runners in support of Ty-Hafan

For the second year now we brought our drums to Swansea bay – to the beach near the 360 café.  We drummed  in support of the rainbow runners as they completed a 5 km run on the sand. Not only do they get covered in sand, they pass through several paint stations where they get sprayed with paint. They end up tired and very colourful!

 

The event is done to raise funds for Ty-Hafan, the Welsh children’s Hospice. We couldn’t think of a better cause to help!

Our drumming motivated the runners in the final lap of the trail and we were really inspired by the big effort the runners made to arrive at the finish line.

We played until the last runners arrived at the finish line, a total of 2 hours. We were quite tired but happy at the end of the day. Playing on the beach with the sea and the Mumbles in front of us is one of our favourite things to do!

Hiryu San Dan Gaeshi with Ting-Chi Li

We started learning the piece ‘Hiryu San Dan Gaeshi’ originally written by Grandmaster Daihachi Oguchi in the first beginner’s course that we ran. I learnt it from several online videos such as the Hiryu Project and taught the group. However, the subtlety of any song is hard to realise from a video and so I seeked some guidance from Ting-Chi Li.

I knew that Ting-Chi had played this song while at the San Franscisco Taiko Dojo, under Tanaka sensei. And after a few email exchanges we decided it’s so much better if Ting-Chi came over and taught us herself. And so, on the 11th March, we had a full day of detailed study of the SFTD version of Hiryu and Isami Goma combined. We learnt from Ting-Chi not only the rhythms, but also the movements and most importantly, the meaning of the song and the spirit in which to play it. Ting-Chi is a fabulous teacher – she is clear, energetic and very supportive. She got us playing at the top of our ability with the most energy and happiness we could master. She helped us improve our kata (form) and our musicality. Her energy and love for this song was very catchy! And we got a little taste of how it is to play in the SFTD. She came with her long time friend and Taiko collaborator – Xun Dong, who helped during the day and took some beautiful photos that really captured the essence of the day we had.

Busking for the Great Daffodil Appeal

One sunny Saturday we headed down to Swansea city centre to help fundraise for the Marie Curie Nurses organisation.

It was another opportunity to share our love of Taiko and  improve our performance skills:

Aber Taiko supporting Marie Curie's Swansea collection

Our volunteers, including the Lord Mayor and Mayoress of Dinas a Sir Abertawe – City and County of Swansea had a great time collecting for our Great Daffodil Appeal in Swansea city centre at the weekend. We were also joined by the Aber Taiko Japanese Drumming group, who performed in aid of Marie Curie and drew quite a crowd! Thank you for your support.This weekend, Carmarthen collectors will be out in force as part of the Daffodils and Dragons festival – which will be followed with a special event on Wednesday, March 1 at St. Catherine's Walk / Rhodfa Santes Catrin.Can you help the Great Daffodil Appeal? Sign up here: https://www.mariecurie.org.uk/daffodil

Posted by Marie Curie – Wales on Friday, 24 February 2017

Taiko workshop Saturday 11th March 2017

We held a public Taiko workshop on the 11th March, just before our own day-long workshop with Ting-Chi Li.

It was open to everyone aged 9 and up. We had a full house! a few children, a few parents and people who saw us at one of our gigs and wanted to have a go.

We taught the lovely piece called Raku, written by the artistic director of the Japanese group Shidara.

Everyone did extremely well, as could be guessed by seeing the smiles on their faces when we played the song several times from beginning to end, accompanied by the melody on the recorder.

In Aber Taiko we love that piece and always play it at our busks and gigs, usually accompanied by a young and accomplished recorder player, Yarden.

We were asked to open another beginner’s course and we are now considering how and when we can do it. Watch this space!