My life as a taiko player began when I was 5 or 6 years old. Every Sunday for one hour, Yukari and Mikio would patiently teach the basics of taiko to Kazekko, the kid’s group. Drills, technique and basic pieces would be the focus of these classes.
Twelve years later, I am still part of these early Sunday morning Kazekko classes, but now as one of the instructors alongside Yukari, Mikio and Marie-Noël. Although I don’t lead the classes, I’m there to assist the other instructors. I correct the kids’ stance, position, form and general technique as best as I can. I also often play the basic rhythms of their pieces.
Because I’m playing in front of the kids, I put pressure on myself to play “perfectly”. Since they often look at me to follow me when playing, if I make a mistake, I can ruin the whole sequence. It’s very good practice for me to stay focused on my own playing when I’m also analyzing how the kids play.
Teaching taiko to the kids really helps to develop my own skills. I have realized that when you teach, it makes you very conscious of your own technique. When I see that something is not right with a kid’s technique, I ask myself: Why is there a problem? How can it be corrected? Do I also have that same problem? Spotting the mistakes isn’t very difficult, but finding a way to correct them is sometimes challenging.
Even if it is sometimes hard for me to get up early on Sunday mornings, I love being there, sharing what I know and seeing the happy faces of the kids. Hopefully, I will inspire some kids to join me one day in Inazuma as a Kazekko “graduate”.
I wish to send my gratitude to Yukari and Mikio for all of their effort throughout the years to make Kazekko possible. Without it, I probably would never have discovered the exciting world of taiko.