Thursday, March 1, 2012


I suck.

When I play odaiko, I feel like I can't get my body to push my hara into the drum enough; I'm moving side to side too much. My hits aren't equal in strength because of my left hand not being as strong as the right.

When I play naname style, I feel like this big lumbering thing that dwarfs the drum. When I solo on the slant drum, I can't seem to stop my motions and wind up just flailing around all the time.

Even when I'm playing a fast straight beat, just a simple R L R L, I can feel the unevenness and see how my bachi are sloppy, not staying in the same part of the drum.

I see groups like Kodo and Tao with members better than me, who do the things I wish I could do so effortlessly.

In other words, I suck.

Did I shock you? With the exception of the very first and very last line, everything I just said above are things I've felt. These are some of the things I struggle with. But here's the reason why I'm posting all this.


When I just look at where a skill is now, it's easy to think of how inadequate it is. After that I can easily compare myself so someone who's "better" than me. From there, all the doubts and negative thoughts can come rushing in. In this way, I'm no different than the rest of us. So if I suck, then we all suck. Do we all suck? No way!

However, when I look how far I've gone, that's when things get better. I used to be unable to figure out how to use my hara on the odaiko in any effective way, let alone even last more than 3-4 minutes on it. I used to stand way too close in naname and use bachi that were way too short for me, often overhitting to compensate. I used to be stiff and my motions came from awkward, disjointed places. I used to have trouble playing any pattern at great speed, even one as "simple" as a straight beat.

See a pattern here? "Used to." Things I do well now weren't necessarily things I was good at before. It's really easy to find reasons to tell yourself that you're not very good. But why? Why do that to yourself? Why not instead focus on the things you've gotten better at and what potential you have left to achieve?

Some of you may think I'm talented when it comes to taiko. I'm honored if you do - humble enough to dissuade it, but honest enough to admit it's flattering. But I never passed through a magic portal that suddenly made my doubts and concerns go away! Sure, some things that were hard for me are now easy, but for wherever level I'm at now, I have a new set of difficulties to deal with. Also, I'm looking at my skills through a much more demanding critical eye. My straight beat might sound near-perfect to the audience, but *I* still feel every tiny mis-hit or the tiny inequalities in tone.

It's called growth! Struggle, overcome, move forward, repeat. It's rarely that easy, but that's still the process. Even those you think are really good probably have similar issues that you do - maybe not about the same things, but I bet it's closer than you might think.

Dwelling on your deficiencies only anchors you to where you are now. Step back, look at where you've gone and never discount your own potential! Then get back to practicing. :)


  1. Never discount your own potential... that's the hardest part, is't it? "I'm making a lot of progress, but I'll never be good enough." This has been my train of thought lately, and it's not conductive to growth. It was easier in my first year of playing taiko - when you're a beginner, you have an excuse for doing things wrong, nobody expects you to know anything and you're learning in leaps and bounds. Now I should know *some* things and learning is harder - as is staying positive about the whole process. But you keep me thinking with your blog, that's good, thank you!

  2. Awesome post Adam. You're the man!