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Clearing my head October 21, 2015

Posted by Lyserg (Fallen-angel) in a chapter in life.
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When was the last time that I used this blog? I believe my last post was on October 2011. Many things has happened since then. It was a roller coaster ride where I experienced a few ups and downs. However I would like to talk about one particular item, or in this case a hobby.

As an individual, I came across a lot of hobbies yet I remained faithful to a handful of them. It is hard to stick a particular hobby yet when you do find one, it is something you do not want to let go. Yes, I finally found that passion to stick with for the rest of my life. It goes something like ” Don Dokko Don”…

What is that? What is some important about it? Why was it necessary to mention it? That particular sound comes from a drum. A taiko drum. The sound made from a taiko drum is beautiful. But its true beauty can be seen from its culture.

The taiko group that I learned from plays as an ensemble. An ensemble is a group of at least 3 individuals that plays a taiko piece on any particular drum. Here is a list of those drums, from smallest to biggest: Shime-daiko, Chu-daiko, O-Daiko. With these three drum sizes (Edit: there are various other drum sizes) and other instruments like the cannon, fue, gong,etc, can be used to play existing and potential taiko pieces.

However, there are different styles of taiko and I was fortunate to learn the Suwa-style from non-other than Hiro Kurashima, founder and leader of Taiko Masala and member of the New York Suwa Taiko Association. Kurashima-sensei teaches all the NYSTA groups and every summer, he opens up his dojo offering a months worth of classes to any individual who wants to learn and perform taiko at the Mitsuwa Natsu Matsuri Festival (Edit: these past two years ’14-’15, classes were not available).

To my understanding, he has offered these free courses for probably more than 3 summers in a row. I can recall a certain Mitsuwa 2011 flyer that had these free taiko classes ad. I was more than willing to learn something new and related to Japanese culture. I also wanted to learn playing the drums. Though there were a few factors that prevented me from participating: being a coward, my LA trip for AX’12, and my summer job.

So I decided to wait until next year to see if another opportunity would pop up. Little did I know, the June pamphlet posted an ad for free taiko classes.  I thought to myself “I must take these classes now” I submit my email and waited for a response. A few days later I got the response I was looking forward to. My love for taiko just started.

Fast forward to August, the performance was done, the festival was over, but I was not satisfied. I craved to learn more about taiko playing. After Hiro-sensei’s final performance, he handed out flyers to audience with the notion of recruiting more students for his saturday open classes. I thought to myself ” I can continue to learn and play taiko by saving up my money!” Surely, I went ahead and save as much as I could for taiko classes.

I managed to attend classes after my part-time job but I knew that money would become an issue if I did not find employment after the seasonal job. I managed to get work through my father’s restaurant and managed to continue with clases. Unfortunately it came to an end when I had to work on Saturday afternoons.

Though with work and other spending priorities got in the way, it got to the point where I waited for the restaurant to close down one Saturday so I can attend a class. That day came finally arrived where there was very little work for brunch. During the brunch shift, my manager was overlooking the guest numbers for the night shift. There were less than average for a Saturday dinner and I saw a glimmer of hope. I hoped the manager would tell me to pack up for the afternoon. I was prepared to run back home, get my bachi sticks and go down to brooklyn and play some drums. However the restaurant received more reservations and I was stuck at work.

I had no possibility of changing my schedule. But something miraculous happen and I had the opportunity to quit my part-time (felt like full-time) job in order to pursue a consultant gig. It was one of the happiest moment in my life. I could drum with everyone again.

Let’s fast forward a bit to June 2013. I learned some new songs and I was ready to play with my colleagues at the NYSTA open house. On the day of the open house, I had the pleasure of meeting one of the leaders, and probably co-founder, of New York Taiko Kai. On our way to Sensei’s dojo, we got to know each other and become good acquaintances.

Simply put, 2k13 was a good year for me and I got to play with incredible individuals. I stopped playing in January 2014 as I moved down here to Florida. Where I am currently located, there are no local taiko groups. The nearest group is in Orlando, a 2 hour trip. I made the trip twice and it was a great experience. However it was too time consuming and it placed a deep dent on my pockets. Should I ever have the pleasure to move again, I will head to a city/town that has an open taiko group and resume with this passion. I love taiko so much that I do not want to give up on it.