Friday, June 12, 2009

Trouble in Taiko Land

So I joined Zamami's taiko drumming group in January. My goal was to play a couple songs and do at least one performance. But I knew that I would be extremely slow in learning, like I was with eisa last year. Music is not something that makes sense to me. Have you ever seen Steve Martin's 'The Jerk'? There is a scene near the beginning where he is trying to find his rhythm to some blues music, but instead it looks like he's got a bad twitch. That's me.

At this week's practice I was caught off guard when the leader told me I have to choose between taiko and eisa for the performance in August. He said the reason was because I have to give 100% concentration to whichever activity I choose. I asked why this was necessary, since I already know all of the eisa songs and the eisa practices don't overlap. But it didn't get through translation very well. He (they) was being a bit ridiculous, since most members of the group participate in at least one other weekly activity (baseball, the band, etc.), but I realized that this was probably a dislike on the leaders part towards me or the eisa group. I had heard whisperings of the latter before. So I didn't push it and I just told them I am definitely doing eisa and if that means I can't do taiko then so be it.

I was in a pretty sour mood the rest of practice because I paid 5000 yen (about $50) a couple months back to join and I was just told I can keep coming to practices but I don't have priority on the drums nor will time be spent teaching me.

But there's more: I have an insider. And the insider informed me the next day that the guy who gave me the ultimatum doesn't like me. A month ago we had a practice that coincided with the return of the marlin fishing boat. I kept checking out the window at the breaks and when the boat came in the harbor I left at the next break for 5 minutes to see how they did. While I was gone I guess this guy (the leader) told the group that if there are not enough drums for the performance, he didn't want me to perform (because I wasn't concentrating that day). (We currently have more people than drums, but we borrow drums from Geruma on performance day so that shouldn't be an issue.)

So now my insider has appealed to another 'elder' in the group about the practice of making members choose - and they might have a meeting about it. But I told the insider to back off because I am no longer interested in participating this season. I joined because I wanted to learn taiko and have fun. Neither of those are happening for me anymore so I don't want to hold the group back or, worse, cause resentment.


Anonymous said...

Hello, Dave-san,

You should keep practicing a taiko class. I think if you practice taiko four times a week for three months, you'll be ok.

Years ago, my father retired and started to take a minyo dance with my mother. The beginning of the time, he didn't know how to take a rhythm with steps/movement. So, he was behind in the dance class.

Well, he started take a practice four times a week. He was ok one year later. What he told me was, "if you don't know what to do, you just need to take an extra practice."

Pease don't give up easy! Your president said, "yes, we can." I think you can do it. You just need more guts!! Good luck!

Dave said...

Hello, Anonymous-san,
I think you are right, if I practice taiko a lot more I will get better at it. But I don't think I want to practice a lot more. I am already pretty busy with eisa, baseball, and fishing at night.
I would rather learn slowly, I think. Maybe I just have too many activities right now?
(Thanks for your encouragement!)

Anonymous said...

Hm... the trouble really takes the fun out of learning huh?