Last weekend I had the amazing experience of participating in the Taiko Baka Odaiko Gasshuku and Shinobue Intensive in Sacramento. It was an extended training session on Odaiko (large drum) with Tiffany Tamaribuchi and Shinobue (bamboo flute) with Megan Chao Smith. I had taken workshops with both instructors previously and really enjoyed them and learned an immense amount in a short time so when I heard that there was going to be a whole weekend with them my first thought was “I HAVE to go to that!” Fortunately it fit in my schedule to be able to attend.
My second thought was, “Odaiko and Shinobue? That’s kind of an odd combination…” But it turned out they went really well together and for the weekend it was a good balance of the different type of physical demands the two instruments have. And in terms of the expressive melodic potential and tending to be more focal point solo instruments they actually have a lot in common.
Something that I was not particularly expecting and found rather surprising was that most of the participants were from out of state or out of the country even. Besides me there were two other Californians and then some members of the host group, Sacramento Taiko Dan, took part in some of the workshops. Everyone else was from somewhere else – Nevada, Utah, New Mexico, Arizona, Minnesota, New York and Canada! Some of the folks I’d met before at other taiko events, so it was great to reconnect, and to meet new people and hear about their groups and experiences.
Many of us stayed at the dojo and slept amongst the drums. We’d get up, eat, start on workshop sessions and it wouldn’t be until afternoon that I’d realize, “hey I haven’t been outside yet today…” What a glorious time space warp to be able to immerse myself in playing drum and flute. Part of me still hasn’t come down or back or whatever from it. And there’s things that probably need some time to incubate and percolate. Some of that I may chew over here at some point.
As one of the other attendees who is also in a leadership/teaching position in her group mentioned, it was great to be a student and just play for the weekend. It was also really inspiring to be learning from such amazing teachers and I hope that I can bring some of their spark to my teaching. I love to watch and hear Tiffany and Megan play, they both walk the walk. They are super talented and knowledgeable and amazingly generous with that knowledge, very accessible and just cool nice people. That was another neat thing about the weekend is that besides the workshop sessions we had time for individual one on one work and feedback and for just hanging out. I am so glad that I was able to attend.