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.
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!
Liz Walters is one of the UK’s leading taiko artists and performers. Her day of workshops will be the last in our project ‘Swansea Year of Taiko’ kindly funded by the Arts Council of Wales.
The focus of this day will be on the drumming style originating from Hokuriku, which is very lively and powerful and lends itself to self expression within the group.
Now SOLD OUT! If you wish to be added to a waiting list, please contact us.
Continue reading “Swansea Year of Taiko Workshops with Liz Walters 26th November 2016”
A very inspiring day was had with Jonathan, founder of Kagemusha Taiko and Lucy also from Kagemusha, who supported him on the day. We learnt some of Jonathan’s philosophy – that we should take taiko and create with it what is authentic for us here. We are not Japanese and we come from a different background, but that doesn’t mean we are not allowed to enjoy taiko as we see fit!
We then had a session of basic technique – stance, arm movements and group playing.This is always good for even experienced players. But as we had a few complete beginners, this was even more important.
After lunch we had our children’s session. It was end of half term and only 3 children signed up this time. And they had a go at a short version of ‘Shimabayashi‘ – a song written by Jonathan.
When the children left after giving us a little concert, we continued with some more complicated arm movements – here we are, trying to figure out how to put together a diagonal movement in one arm and a circular in the other…
We also learnt how to move around the drums – a very liberating concept for us, being used to being very grounded behind a drum.
This was all just what we needed as a group – an injection of new choreography and movement. Jonathan and Lucy made sure we understood everything and were very encouraging of us to take all that we had learnt and incorporate it into our repertoire and drills. We have already managed to practice some of the new moves with our beginner’s class and we definitely feel more confident in our body while playing.Thanks Jonathan and Lucy!:-)
And thanks to the Arts council of Wales for funding our project. There was one person who told us he was looking for a way to play taiko for a few years and couldn’t find anything. We are so happy that we succeeded in reaching him. Just goes to show how important advertising can be.
Join us for our next Swansea Year of Taiko workshop at St Paul’s Parish Centre, Sketty, on Saturday 29th October with Johnathan Kirby.
Jonathan is based at Kagemusha Taiko near Exeter where he has built a thriving taiko community.
He will teach the three workshops around the theme of ‘freeing yourself from the drum’. While of course there will be plenty of actually hitting the drum, he will also introduce arm movements and moving around the drum which is a feature of many forms of popular Taiko.
Continue reading “Taiko Workshops with Johnathan Kirby for kids and adults”