Friday, April 30, 2010

Times Square - (hungry * traffic) = oy!

A small group of us detoured from this morning's trip to New Jersey to drop off PJ in New York. It was "45 minutes without traffic", so that meant a three-hour round trip with traffic. The three of us who drove through NY were getting really hungry (breakfast was around 8 and it was 4 before we got lunch)! But since I had never been to NY before, and we drove straight through Times Square, at least now I have the memory of have being right where all the hoopla takes place!

Anyways, we're at a really nice hotel and have nothing until we load into the theater tomorrow morning at 9. We'll be there through the concert then pack up, and that'll be the end of Spring Tour 2010 (aside from the flight back).

I plan to bring it and bring it hard tomorrow night; leave it all on stage and limp back home. Is that a macho attitude? I'm ok with that in this case. :)

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Can't win 'em all...

Busy day today, school show in the morning for a full house of kids then a concert for over 400.

The kids were great, if a bit eerily well-behaved. Before our school shows, the lights in the house will go dim to out, then the stage follows suit. The kids almost always get rowdy and noisy as this happens, as kids are wont to do. Today, the kids fell silent before the lights dimmed, and all of us backstage got a little weirded out. Apparently one of the teachers waved their hand and the other teachers did the same, resulting in the kids steady silence. Freaky, but awesome!

As for the concert, it just wasn't one of our better nights. Group brain farts abounded, the audience was more on the reserved side (and made "shhh" noises for about a minute as the second half started), and there were a total of three broken bachi during the show. Yikes! We didn't do badly, we just have had better shows. We'll have to bring it hard for the last show on Saturday, in Morristown, NJ.

People were saying, "let it slide" and "no big deal" to help people feel better about one concert on a pretty good run. But I'm actually letting myself get mad at this because I know we can do a better show - I can do a better show! I talked about this sort of thing in my blog post here. And I will end this tour on a strong note by helping the group end this tour on a strong note. Bam!

Tomorrow, a 4-5 hour drive to NJ, and that's it for the day. Drive, eat, rest. I can use that sort of day!

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Another day, another collision...

Alright, down to business! We got out on the road by 10am, we drove a couple of hours (plus lunch), then started teching into the theater in Castleton, VT, at 1pm.

Around this point in a tour, the load-in is quick as it can be. We're immediately opening cases and building stands, tying up drums and laying down spikes. It leaves us a lot of down time, which is very welcome!

On the way to the theater, the Budget truck was "lovetapped" by a compact car who didn't notice the LARGE BUDGET TRUCK in the lane next to it. Luckily there was no damage to either party, but it could have been seriously worse. Yeep!

Tomorrow is another school show morning/concert evening combo. Should go smoothly! Famous last words, I know...

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Schenectady, you were great!

It's 1am and I'm fading fast, so let's get this post written!

We had a school show for over 700 kids this morning, no surprises, no problems. After that was a good five hours for lunch and whatever before a 5pm theater call. We found a nifty modern Italian restaurant that let us call in our dinner orders at 9pm so we could have a hot dinner after the show whilst discussing how things went.

As for the show, I had a blast! We're not sure of the final count, but it was probably 700-800; very respectable. I avoided errors and felt stronger at this show than any other on this tour so far! The kulingtang held no terrors for me tonight and a few of my solos were even more creative than I've allowed myself to be in the past. During one of our more physically intense songs, there was a "drum incident" that I had to play off so the audience wouldn't notice a thing. Wasn't easy, but when taken as a fun challenge rather than a horrible happenstance, it became something to overcome instead of something to freak out about.

I do have to mention the awesome set up of the hotel and theater; it had an effect on our comfort and morale. The Parker Inn is connected to an arcade (think mall, not video games) which is connected to Proctor's, the 2400-seat theater we played at. Once we figured out they were connected, it was only a five-minute walk from hotel room to stage, which meant never having to go out in the rain and no panic should you forget a piece of costume. Little things like that go a long way in making the performers comfortable, but are pretty rare indeed!

By the way, that last picture is the tape ball the theater's been collecting from shows over the past 8 years. Shows use tape to mark where to stand, where to go to, scenery, etc. It's about 250 pounds and seriously dense. Soccer, anyone?

Monday, April 26, 2010

12 hours of driving after a concert? Sign me up.

And we're back! Well, I'm back anyways and there's only one of me...

So two nights ago was our fourth of seven concerts and it started off pretty "luxurious" as tours get. Some of us got up early to head to the local Farmer's Market, a not-too-small place where we got breakfast and dinner for later. Since the hotel and theater were in a business district, there were hardly any places to eat after 6pm on the weekdays, and this was the weekEND.

In the afternoon, a couple of us went to go see a movie before having lunch, then into the theater we went at 5pm. Most of us worked on individual practice up until the house opened its doors.

As for the show itself, the first half went pretty well. The second half got a little...not clean is a good way to put it. Realize that my perceptions of the show are going to differ greatly from the audience's point of view. What I/we see goes mostly unnoticed from the viewers.

I finally flubbed the ending of the kulintang piece, which was inevitable sooner or later. I'm not being self-defeatist, it's just one of those endings that even the composer "oopses" on the ending from time to time. I'll have to figure out a way to mentally prep myself to avoid it in the future. We also had a hard time listening to each other on stage for a few of the songs in the second half. It was the difference of milliseconds; multiple people not hitting all at the same time. Again, noticeable on the stage rather than off of it.

Still, we brought it back strong by the end and the crowd of over 600 was very appreciative of the show. They warmed up by the second song and we could feel that on stage! We even had a family of three drive up from Dayton (along with the husband of our Cleveland host - a 4-hour drive) to see us. When I saw them in the lobby after the show, it was obvious they really enjoyed themselves. :)

Then came yesterday, a 12~ hour drive Eastward to Schenectady, NY. I do not recommend doing this drive after a two-hour concert the night before. But it did go without incident, although one of our members has caught a cold of some sort and it's all about preventive medicine for the rest of us.

Today should be uneventful as we tech, eat, tech, then eat. Tomorrow brings a single school show in the morning and a concert at night; my goal is to "overcome the flub" and bring it harder throughout the entire show. Game on!

Friday, April 23, 2010

Two school shows and a...something

It's not unusual to have one or two school shows in the morning, but it is uncommon to have a workshop right after (usually with kids who were at the last show). Today was a rarity as we did a post-school show workshop across the street, outdoors, for about 100+ kids.

It was only for an hour, but it was just an unusual event. We had passers-by, worry of rain, and me coated in sunscreen (yes, I have to coat up even in overcast weather.) Still, no casualties and the kids had a good time.

After that, well, free time! Yurika and I diverged from the main group and found a really good hole-in-the-wall cajun-style place with a spicy chicken that was the perfect heat. Might go back again tomorrow! I also managed to return to the workout room for some inclined treadmill before a enjoying a seafood dinner with the gang.

Tomorrow is open until 5pm for theater call. Some of us (myself included are going to the Farmer's Market then catch a movie before lunch. Ah, the touring life. :)

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Nothing but tech

Today we did our load-in and tech at the Victoria Theater, a very nice 1100-seat theater that we'll be at for three days. It was a pretty standard tech: unloading the Budget truck, unpacking all the cases, building all the stands, tying the roped drums, then getting the lighting up. After that, we did a cue-to-cue through the concert, and also one for the school show (of which we do two tomorrow).

The picture is from our school show, where we talk about SJT's four principles. I think we play for about 2000 kids total tomorrow, plus some sort of outdoor workshop where it might rain on us...

Had some time after dinner at a pricey (but rather nice) Thai restaurant. Needing to work out some, I went to the fitness center once we returned to the hotel and learned that I'm too tall for the eliptical (?) machine. Felt like I was running hunched over. Enjoyed the weights and some shadow-sparring until I was spent.

Lots of free time tomorrow after the workshop; wonder what we'll wind up doing?

Wednesday, April 21, 2010


Today we started off with a hole-in-the-wall El Salvadorian restaurant recommended by our host. Cheap, tasty, filling! Then off on a four-hour drive with our host in tow to Dayton, OH, where we lost no time getting off to dinner with the entire crew at a German restaurant where most of us gorged on wurst and brat and kraut, hoo boy.

Annnnnd that was the excitement that was today. Tomorrow into the theater whose name escapes me at the moment, where we'll be doing tech all day but no performances until Friday. Our picture is front-page of one of the local arts & entertainment papers, so that should give us a great ticket boost for Saturday's concert!

Oh, the picture? That's a ball python owned by our hosts in Cleveland. I have a picture of PJ here with it from last year, and now Snake (yes, that's it's name - and no, they don't know what sex it is) has a new friend, Yurika!

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Wait, who's the workshop for again?

So today was pretty calm until later in the evening, when we were treated to a potluck-style dinner at our host's church before giving a 2-hour ki workshop in the gym.

We had about 65 participants, some more willing than others. And although tonight was a SJT workshop focusing on energy generation, it was also a chance for PJ to develop her own style in giving a workshop of this type.

We planned the workshop over lunch, down to the minute, and on paper it was just fine! Now, during workshops, we're usually pretty flexible and watching PJ for cues on what's coming next. PJ threw us a curveball tonight, having the group split into five smaller groups and each member of SJT taking a group for what we call a "ki circle". It was rather...chaotic, that's probably the best way to describe it. A "learning experience"!

Tomorrow, off to Dayton, OH. Between tomorrow and Friday, we have three school shows, one workshop, and one concert. It might seem like a lot, but with three days, it's actually a lot of downtime for us! More excitement to come...

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Small crowds still get a big show!

Tonight in Milwaukee, WI, we had concert number three of seven. A big change from the last venue, we had a pretty small crowd (no, smaller than what you're probably thinking), but we had a heads-up on that so it wasn't a surprise.

On the bright side, the presenter was very enthusiastic having us there, being a drummer himself and really enjoying our last visit to the area some...five years ago? On top of that, one of our ex-members, Mike (or "Mister Mike" as we call him) was there with his wife Chandra, also a good friend of the group. They took a two-hour trip from Madison to come see us, and it was a definite boost to morale having them in the audience and backstage.

As for the show, it was my best yet of the three so far, and as for the group overall, I think we were pretty strong. I made sure to get in some kulintang practice before the show to make sure the mental gremlins were exorcised, and later when I felt the most tired I made sure to "yell" at myself that "this is nothing; you aren't even close to tired!" It's a bit of a macho attitude, but it works every time.

Tomorrow five of us (including myself) leave for Ohio, for two nights of homestay and one workshop in there somewhere. Three others fly back and we'll meet their replacements in three days. The schedule from that point on becomes a lot more strenuous; drive unload play load-up repeat.

If anyone reading is curious about what goes on backstage before/during/after a show, I'd be happy to write about it. Otherwise, I'll keep on posting what I'm posting!

Friday, April 16, 2010

Never let them see you...sweat?

Long, good day. Started with a school show this morning, easily over 1,000. Pretty well-behaved, too - sometimes they get rowdy, but we can always out-volume them. :)

Before the concert started, Kaji Daiko, the collegiate group at the University of Northern Iowa (where we were playing), put on a 30-minute performance. I'm hearing some of them came backstage after the show; but I didn't see/meet anyone so I could be wrong.

The concert was very popular, with over 1400 pre-sold tickets! As for how it went, well...there were some lighting issues, mostly noticeable by us. I'm not exactly sure what was behind it all, even now that it's over!

I had brain-farts-o'plenty, again, hardly noticeable by the audience, but compounding on each previous one. Almost lost it on the ending of the kulintang song but held it together well enough. Again, the difference between an A- and a B+, and mostly frustrating just to me! Still, I had two options as things felt worse and worse: let it show, or put out even more ki. I chose the latter, so even when the mental flatulence hit, I made sure all the audience saw was a performer giving even more energy out there. Mind you, lots of sweat and volume can't hide a major mistake, but none of those came my way. :)

Tomorrow, off to Milwaukee for a concert on Sunday night. I may not blog tomorrow night if there's nothing to talk about, but you never know...can't hurt to check back, right?

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Still in Iowa, still makin' music!

Sorry for no post yesterday; really nothing of note to blog about. We loaded into the theater at 10pm and were out by 11:30. During the day, the most exciting things were lunch, followed by dinner! Yurika and I went to a nearby Chinese restaurant; a few others went to "New Chinese Buffet International Cuisine". The words used to describe their dining experience were quite foul, indeed...

As for today, we did two school shows with little to no hitches - our first "regular" school shows of the tour. After lunch, we did our usual pre-concert focus, getting all the lights ready, followed by the cue-to-cue to make sure everything was ready. Because of that, tomorrow is going to be a lot easier - one school show in the morning; one concert at 7:00pm. We'll be able to come back to the hotel in between to rest up (and do laundry, lol).

This is definitely the easier leg of the tour; the 2nd half will be travelling to a venue one day, loading in the next morning, and performing that night (and often the next morning before driving to the next venue). Can't say I'm looking forward to it, but it's not anything new as far as tours go!

So that's it for now; I'll try to blog after the concert if there's time!

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Off to Cedar Falls!

Today started out with most of us pretty tired, but having the afternoon and evening off really helped out.

We held a 90-minute hands-on workshop for 45 kids grades 4-8 in the morning, which went really well! The kids were pretty quick to pick things up and rather well-behaved.

The guy who brought us into the school took us to a rather nice cafe located in a nearby art gallery. We spent some time enjoying paintings, sculptures, and assorted art done by people I can't recall...

After a short 2.5-hour drive to Cedar Falls, IA, we had the rest of the day to ourselves. Yurika and I decided to hang out on our own, while the rest of the crew took advantage of a $2 movie deal.

Tomorrow is free until 10pm, when we tech into the next venue. Why 10pm? Stay tuned!

Monday, April 12, 2010

4000 kids? Yeah, we can do that...

So today's school shows/mini-concerts had a combined audience of about 4000 kids, from the little 'uns to high schoolers. We had a long lunch (long for us) in between, which definitely helped!

In one of our songs, Gathering, there's a couple of sections where we clap on the downbeat. Simple and steady. Sometimes the audience will clap along with us. Today, in both school shows/concerts, the kids clapped, alright. Thing is, even if you had 2000 people who were all music majors, a theater that size is BOOMY. Also figure that yeah, most of those kids weren't exactly keeping tempo, turned into a listening drill for us, sort of a watching-each-other's-hands-to-keep-tempo thing. Eep!

We loaded out our equipment afterwards, went back the hotel, and reviewed the tape from the first show. Like I've talked about before, watching yourself on tape - both as an individual and as a group - is very very telling. Nothing horrible on the tape, just us noticing if a transition took too long or timing is off.

One thing we realized is that one's perception of time changes greatly on stage. When one of our members lost grip on their bachi during a solo, only to have it slowly spin in the air above them before they adeptly (and luckily) caught it, it seemed like three or four seconds at the time. On tape? About one second. Odd stuff, that.

Dinner was at the Meat Factory or something like that. Pretty much a ton of meat everywhere. Good molasses bread, though. Needed all that protein after the last couple of days, but I'll be fine after I catch up on sleep tonight.

Tomorrow is pretty light; a 90-minute workshop with about 45 kids, then a 2.5-hour drive to Cedar Falls, IA.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

First concert of the tour; no one died!

Well, we have one concert of seven behind us!

The good news is that it was an "early" evening - the show started at 6:30, not at 8:00 like most concerts do. Got a lot of cobwebs out (hopefully) but anything we had an issue with was really stuff that only affected us - the audience got a really good show with a lot of energy. And they were a very warm crowd; by the 2nd song they were enjoying themselves and wound up clapping after solos in other songs (always a bonus)!

My debut playing the kulintang in front of an audience went well. No mistakes or mis-hits, and although we were going at a pretty decent tempo, I nailed the tricky ending perfectly. In fact, I literally told myself right before the ending came up, that "you are NOT going to mess this up, you are going to nail this!" I'm glad I listened to myself. :)

I was watching some episodes of Fight Quest today during down time, a show about two American fighters who travel to train in different styles around the world and get pummeled quite a bit. It's been giving me inspiration on stage and ideas for future blog posts when I return.

As for tomorrow, we're going back to the theater to do two school shows, but we found out the presenters were billing it as a concert-type being the flexible group we are, we're going to modify the first half of our concert and play that for the kids. Should work out just fine. After that, we pack up and load out! It'll be an easy and slow couple of days after the shows, which will suit us juuuuust fine.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Three flights in and we're off!

It was a pretty smooth journey for the first day of tour. Three flights total, time for lunch in between, and the only thing of note was the young kid behind me who yarfed on himself just after we touched down from flight #2. Fun.

We finished with a good dinner at a nearby brewery, with Franco showing us his...interesting billiards technique. And the hotel rooms are rather posh, at least compared to what we're used to.

Tomorrow sees us in the theater all day, from 8am to about 11pm (concert @ 8pm). More to come!

Friday, April 9, 2010

100th Post!

I'm making this a bit of an unusual post for the 100th. For one, it's not on the usual M/Th posting schedule, and two, it's going to be about me. Ego aside, I know there are people who are curious about my experiences, habits, and passions (or I could be totally wrong), and I think it would prove interesting to talk about it.

People generally ask me one of four things:

- What's your background (in the arts)?
- How did you get started with taiko?
- Why do you keep playing?
- Do you have any advice?

  • What's your background (in the arts?)
I've been studying Shotokan karate for about 10 years total now (I took a 10-year break to focus more on taiko.) It's given me a lot of stamina and lower body strength, as well as a great sense of body awareness.

I studied Tae Kwon Do and Capoeira each for a year, both of which helped me keep light on my feet. Capoeira also gave me fluidity, which I rather lacked. Without Capoeira, I don't think I could have made it into SJT.

Musically, I developed my interests *after* starting taiko. I took several years of Music Theory but only one year of percussion. I had very few hands-on lessons with percussion, but spent that year in the Percussion Ensemble playing the "easier" spots (although some of the "easy" spots were so very not easy.) It was humbling, but I learned a lot because of it.
  • How did you get started with taiko?
This question is interesting - when asked by taiko players, they tend to want to know how I developed into a performer and what I had to overcome. For non-taiko players, it's more a question of "how did a tall White guy start playing with a bunch of short Asian people?"

I first discovered taiko by accident, at a local Cherry Blossom festival. I came for the karate demo but later that afternoon, I heard something booming that drew me back to the stage area. The crowd filled the plaza but I was tall enough to see over people (yay!) It turned out that the group was San Francisco Taiko Dojo and I was so amazed at what I saw that I went back early the next day to see their performance from the front row. From them I heard about San Jose Taiko, found SJT in the phone book (pre-Google, can you believe it?), and signed up for one of their workshops.

I failed the first time I auditioned for SJT! However, I was lucky because the process was determined to need a radical change, and those of us who were in that last incarnation were offered another chance through.

As for why I wanted to start *doing* taiko, it seemed the perfect blend of movement and music. It was dynamic and expressive, with the strength of an ensemble behind it. I don't recall actually getting to play taiko in my first workshop, but I know it felt right.
  • Why do you keep playing?
It's been 17 years and I'm still learning things. Some might consider me an "expert", yet I don't consider that of myself. I learned a foundation of movement through both taiko and martial arts, but remaining so long with Shotokan and SJT has given me a solid base to experiment on top of.

I know how to move my body in optimal ways for both of my arts, but I still want to learn to be better. How do I get more efficient? How do I use less effort without losing intention? What else can other arts teach me that I can bring to the table?

I have rhythms, ideas, patterns, and music in my head that will never completely get to come out, but I have to try! Every time I learn something new about rhythm, 10 more ideas come forth. It's both maddening and inspiring, and I want to bring that fire to others through performing and teaching.

  • Do you have any advice?
Sure, it's one of the reasons I do this blog! But instead of rambling on and on about everything I could think of, I'll just list a few of the things I would give priority to:

- Don't let fear shape you as an artist. You will fail, and when you do, you must learn from it and move on.
- The longer you expect answers to be given to you, the more you rely on others for your own growth. It becomes a crutch.
- If you give yourself to your group until there's nothing left, then it benefits neither you nor your group.
- Don't take anything for granted! Bachi length, things you've been doing for years, why things are named a certain way, all of it! When you stop learning, you might as well stop doing.
- As much as it is important that you find what's inspiring to you, you must also keep an open mind to other ideas, ways, and means.

And then there's another category, the random stuff I remember doing/being involved with over the years:
  • Memories & Miscellany
- I fell off an outdoor stage once while playing and tore the large paper banner hanging off of it. At least I landed on my feet.
- I've brought two left tabi (cloth shoes) to a gig and suffered through playing a 45-minute set.
- Ask me about the "knife and fork" in person.
- I've broken more shime bachi (smaller drumsticks) during practices and performances than I can count (or care to).
- I had to test for my 1st-degree black belt by myself in front of 6 instructors for over an hour. No audience I'll ever be in front of will be as nerve-wracking.
- Even though my favorite group to watch is Kodo, the best show I've ever seen was Kenny Endo and Keith Terry in Berkeley at a small venue of about 40 people. It was less than two hours of almost pure improvisation and amazing to no end!
- I'm 25% Irish, 25% Russian, 25% German, 25% Scottish. Technically, I'm more "mixed" than anyone in my group. How's that for a mind-bender? (And a lot of white!)
- I have double-jointed shoulders but haven't figured out a way to use that in a performance without freaking people out.
- I started playing taiko at 17. Even I forget I was a teen when I started!

I'm sure there are several other things I'll wish I had remembered to post here, but that just means I'll have to save it for another time. For those who made it this far, I hope you found it at least entertaining!

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Spring Tour 2010

I'll be leaving this Saturday for a 3-week tour of...well, various states to the East.

We'll be performing in:
  • Des Moines, IA (4/11)
  • Cedar Falls, IA (4/16)
  • Shorewood, WI (4/18)
  • Dayton, OH (4/24)
  • Schenectady, NY (4/27)
  • Castleton, VT (4/29)
  • Morristown, NJ (5/1)
It'll be a busy tour; there are 14 school shows in addition to those 7 concerts. Thankfully, there don't seem to be any grueling days on the schedule except for one 10-hour drive to NY. Still, I plan to blog daily, about whatever might happen!

This tour has a lot of new variables. We have a new program, with "new" songs that we haven't toured with before, new members who have never toured before, and more people switching in and out than ever before. Should prove to be...interesting!

As for me, I'm playing the Filipino kulintang in one song that I've learned from scratch, but everything else is familiar. The one thing I find amusing is that I'm playing more instruments than I've ever played in one show! I'll be playing josuke, chudaiko, shimedaiko, odaiko, two types of okedo, kulintang, uchiwa, kane, sumo, bells, and cowbell! Gotta have cowbell! It's trivial, but after 17 years, you have to find your own amusements. :)

Anyways, stay tuned and if you check back tomorrow, you might find a surprise...

Monday, April 5, 2010

Another pep talk

Today, a new quarter begins at De Anza College, where I assist the karate class. Last quarter I gave a little talk that warned people of budget cuts and a shorter class leading to more responsibility on them. It sort of worked - people were motivated, but it only lasted for two weeks...

I'll be giving another talk tonight, and the concepts I'm bringing up can relate to a lot of other things, not just karate or martial arts:
  • When an instructor gives you a comment, take it to heart. Too many people are getting the same comments over and over and yet not really working on fixing things. Those issues don't magically go away, and when you fail a belt test because of them, you only have yourself to blame.
  • Push your cardio more in class. This one is a bit more class-specific, because we've lost 1/3 of our class time. However, when people test, the adrenaline and stress of having a panel of black belts watching makes them push a lot harder. That leads to getting tired a lot quicker! Since you're doing what you'll be tested on during practices, why not push yourself during those practices? Beats sucking wind 15 minutes into a 60-75 minute test (or performance).
  • Every technique should be better than the last one. More than anything, this is a mindset. To not think in this way leads to "going through the motions"; holding yourself back. Too many people are so worried how their technique looks that they've forgotten how it should feel. Yes, technique is often the most important thing, but technique without speed and intention behind it is empty motion.
  • Train to inspire those around you. Like it or not, unless you're the new person/people in the group, you're a role model for at least someone (if not several others). It's not just the instructors watching you, it's people junior to you as well. They look at you to show them how they should train and what they should expect. Do you want to leave a legacy of holding back and being lax? Or a legacy that achieving something is not only meaningful, but takes effort?
I want people to know clearly that I'm not there to tell them "you suck, here's why." That's not my style, in fact, quite the opposite. There's a lot of untapped potential in students! I always hope people want to get better, but it's important to know that wanting to get better isn't enough - you have to MAKE it happen.

As an instructor, all I can do is give you information. I can give you a map, circle the destination, and show you the best route. You still have to get in the car and drive there! The more you wait for someone else to get you there, the longer you postpone your own progress.

Make it happen.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Critical mouth

It's good to observe with a critical eye, for the purpose of honing your perception and figuring out what might be helpful to the observing party. Sometimes you get the chance to tell that person/people what you think, sometimes you don't.

The hard part isn't in seeing what you want to comment on, or even what to tell someone. It's in figuring out how to say it to actually HELP them. It's too easy to tell someone "you're doing that wrong" or "you shouldn't do that", but does that really help them? Or does it just make you feel superior?

I know this feeling because I've been guilty of it myself, more so in karate than taiko. But I really try not to let it happen and have been pretty good lately. It's not easy to use my critical eye, figure out what I want someone to change or try, and tell them in a way that will actually make them want to listen to what I said. It's easier to just say it in a way that is convenient for me, but learning how to be a good teacher is more than just being smart, it's in communicating smartly.

Would you rather inspire someone to try harder or shame them into it? How you comment reflects more on you than it does on your audience.