Tuesday, May 8, 2012

20 Years.

Exactly 20 years ago on this day, I struck a taiko for the first time.

Just one day before that, I had no idea what taiko was, let alone what San Jose Taiko was.  I didn't know about any taiko community, how many groups were out there, or how long taiko had been around.  I just knew that I had to play.

I signed up for a public workshop with SJT after seeing San Francisco Taiko Dojo play a festival set one month earlier.  I wonder how it felt to strike for the very first time?  Or how it felt to work through simple patterns I'd never heard before?  I can't remember those details.

Sometimes I wonder what would have happened if I never tried taiko, or if I didn't make it into San Jose Taiko?  Hard to say, really.  All I know is what taiko has given me in two decades.  I've played taiko in several countries and most of the states in the U.S.  I've written songs, taught workshops, even started this blog.  Taiko led me to the woman I love.  The career I'm pursuing now came about because of my connection to taiko, specifically SJT.  And of course, taiko has given me a good share of bruises and several embarrassing moments, but also confidence and growth as well.

There are several people who have been playing taiko for longer than I have, but most of them are pioneers and/or group founders.  I'm just a performer.  When the Taiko Conference has people on stage who've played for more than 20 years, I won't feel comfortable up there with the likes of Seiichi Tanaka, Kenny Endo, Tiffany Tamaribuchi, or PJ and Roy.  I'll have to find my own place in the community, but I'm not dreading that.  It should prove...interesting.

It's weird to think that I've been playing taiko longer than most groups in North America have existed.  Crazy, really.  It's also uncommon to have so much experience with just one group as I do, as most people who play taiko for this long have trained with other groups, even if just briefly.

I don't know what the future will hold for me or if I'll have any lasting impact within our community.  I just hope I can keep developing as an artist, as a teacher, and as a performer.

To end this post, I want to mention a note written on the bottom of my questionnaire.  Apparently people used to take notes on those taking the workshops, and I had two words near the bottom of mine.  It's in Roy's handwriting: "shows potential".  Thanks Roy...even though I've not always been the easiest student to deal with, I'll keep trying to do you proud.

Here's to another 20 years!

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