Learning New Taiko Music (Part 2)

taiko drum player
--Photo by VisualAge

So you've got some drums, some sticks and some people. What now?

The toughest thing after getting the drums themselves, is to learn what to do with them. What style do we want to play? What songs do we learn? Here's a suggestion.

1 Get some videos.

If you don't have an experienced drummer who can directly teach you these things, video is the simplest and best way to go. Purchase some DVDs, or better yet, Youtube some videos of groups like Kodo and Ondekoza.

2 Watch the videos.

Choose the songs you like, and learn them. Simple as that. Like I mentioned in Part 1, learn the songs by mouth- it's best to be able to 'sing' them. Writing it down always helps, but in the end it's most convenient to be able to 'sing' it. And yes, you're going to have to watch the videos over and over and over...but it's worth it.

3 Move like the pros.

Sound is only half of taiko drumming, the other half is visual. Once you've figured out the beats, next you want to mimic the movements. To do this, it's essential that you take videos of yourself practicing. Compare your video with the pro's and study the differences.

4 Add your style.

There's no need to copy beat for beat. Add your style and make the song your own. Change the beats, add some movements, and include some solo sections. You can even change the playing style altogether by changing the types of drums and method of hitting them.

5 The Big P.

You hear it all the time- but practice, practice, practice. And do it with friends. Practice needs to be enjoyable too, and the best way to make it enjoyable is to know that each time you practice, you're getting a little bit better. Keep it up and eventually things will come into shape.

Note: Now if you're planning on performing for money, there may be some copyright issues. Legally, you're not really allowed to make money by copying and performing a piece composed by someone else. If you want to avoid this, I'd recommend learning some 'traditional' pieces. Some notable ones are 'Yatai-bayashi' and 'Miyake'. Plenty of clips on Youtube..! Good luck!

Also see: 
Learning New Taiko Music (Part 1)

Kodo - One Earth Tour Special (Bonus CD)Portland Taiko: Taiko KinesisOedo Sukeroku Taiko Live: The Drums Of Tokyo 

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