Okay, so much for my originally-planned weekly updates ….. 😉
One taiko semester has come and gone … and another one just started … and with this new semester, I’m committing myself to kick-starting this blog.
You see, I’ve been promoted, in a way.
Our taiko group is divvied up into a bunch of different classes, split based on relative skill. There’s the advanced class (the true performers), which I heard you have to audition for if you want to join it. There’s the intermediate class, which used to be the advanced class until all of the advanced kids moved into the performing class. And then there’s a bunch of other classes for the lower-end folks, from beginner up to intermediate.
After sticking with this for as long as I have, I considered myself an intermediate-level taikoist. But several semesters ago, our intermediate class was disbanded. The kids and two other guys moved to the new intermediate class, taikoing for an hour and a half each week instead of an hour. I was shuffled into a catch-all class, still just an hour a week, alongside a few people who were desperately trying to improve themselves and a few others who sometimes seemed to have no sense of rhythm or proper form. And, to rub it in further, my son was one of the kids who moved into the new intermediate class.
And then it dawned on me … if I wasn’t the best taikoist in this catch-all class, I was at least one of the best … so that became my new goal. Instead of being pissed that I was left behind in a dead-end class with people who sometimes barely know what to do with their bachi, I channeled this energy into becoming the best taiko player I could possibly be.
It took a few semesters, but taiko-sensei finally noticed. Towards the end of last semester, she pulled me aside, saying she needed to talk to me for a moment. She explained that there are some things she can do with the kids for certain gigs that she can’t do with the adults … and likewise there are some things she can do with the adults for certain gigs that she can’t do with the kids … so … she decided to start up another intermediate level group, move those two guys back into it, and fill the rest of it out with a few other people … including me!
So now I get to do two hours of taiko every week instead of one, which is something I’ve been wanting for a very long time. I get to learn the cool songs that I’ve been watching my son learn. I get to be pushed and challenged further beyond my comfort zone instead of sitting in a comfortable spot near the top of the heap.
Last weekend was the first class of the new semester. I’m still aching from it, but in very good ways.
Shinobue-sensei has a bunch of things going on in her life right now, so we haven’t been meeting as regularly as either one of us wants to. I’ve assigned myself a few songs as homework in the meantime. They look relatively challenging, they sound pretty neat, and one of them is a nice duet that she and I can play together once I clean my end of it up. Hopefully we’ll be back to regular sessions soon.
Shamisen-sensei has been holding off on classes because he wants me to restart that when another fellow (one of the two guys who bounced into the intermediate kids class, then the intermediate adults class) restarted lessons. Looks like we’ll be picking that up again next Saturday, so I need to practice a bit between now and then.
And Temple? Well … that’s a whole other issue … I can’t make either of the Sunday zazen services because of my son’s taiko class, and I can’t make the Wednesday night zazen service because of my wife’s physical therapy. I know that her PT will end at some point, because either it will help heal her shoulder or it won’t (which would lead to surgery and, ironically, more PT), but I’m starting to get impatient about getting back to Temple. Which in turn tells me it’s long past time for me to start sitting in zazen again on my own.
Finally, I need to renew my street performer permit before Friday. Maybe I’ll do that tomorrow.