It has been a long time in the making – but we have now arrived at the point of being mature enough to start learning to play the drums in the Naname style.
Sam made us 4 stands for our Nagados. But of course, the Okedos can also be slanted on the various other stands we have: an x-Miyake stand would do, and the classical okedo stand can also work. And for Hiras there is always a chair that can be tied up.
We asked Ting-Chi Li to teach us. She has been playing with San Francisco Taiko Dojo for many years and has much experience playing Naname. And she has been teaching us before and performed with us in our concert at the Taliesin.
We practiced the basic stance and grip, worked on various drills and finally played the matsuri rhythm together. It was a holistic mind and body day of exercising and learning.
Months and months of preparation from all of us: practice, design and sewing of new costumes, planning the song order, drum formations and drum movements, creating a PR video, posting on social media, practicing, creating projections for the different songs, designing and building bespoke banners, planning of lights, designing posters and flyers, practicing, singing, skipping, learning new styles, coordinating people’s activities on the days before and on the day itself, dreaming, being excited, new t-shirts, new logo, being terrified, a bit of stress, more practice, pulling together… and finally playing on stage and enjoying every minute!
And maybe most of all – the strong connections which we have re-forged with Ting-Chi Li, Xun Dong, Yumi Célia and Alison Roe.
Ting-Chi Li and Xun Dong, a.k.a. SFTD· 共鳴 (San Francisco Taiko Dojo – Resonance) style is strong, powerful, thoughtful and elegant – with every piece they played they gave every ounce of energy they had. Their collaborative spirit showed as they were perfectly in tune and in sync even though most of the time could not actually see each other.
Yumi Célia and Alison Roe, a.k.a 2taiko style is quite different – soft and flowy movements, sometimes very fast and sometimes slow, with lots of bachi twirls. This softness of movement does not take from the powerful strikes of the drum, which are almost unexpected!
Ting-chi and Xun came to teach us once more. What a pleasure! we improved leaps and bounds. We got Hiryuu up to a very high energetic level and could hear the dragon flapping its wings as we flew in the air to meet it.
Our own repertoire got a shiny gloss – every song needs some maintenance from time to time, doesn’t it? we cracked a few problematic phrases and found the beauty in them. Can’t wait to get practicing and perform at our spring concert. See you there?
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.