Every year at the beginning of June there is a lovely event organised by Tsunagari Taiko centre in Paris. Taiko groups from around the world are invited to strike 3 times, strongly, on their drums. And while doing this, spread a vision of connectedness, wake people up , move people to change their lives for the better. Here are our three beats for a better world, together with TMD and other participants in James Barrow’s workshop day. Many groups and individuals participated – from Paris, Tokyo, Germany, Hungary, Australia, Spain… so nice to be part of a global community of beautiful people. You can find their diverse 3 beats here !
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
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.
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.