Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Drill: Peer Observation

This weekend was San Jose Obon, a big deal for not only San Jose Taiko but also for San Jose  Japantown.  SJT invited four collegiate taiko groups to perform, but we had representatives from at least twice that.  During a formal discussion session Sunday morning, we had break-out sessions with different groups to address specific questions.

One of the things we talked about was how to be more efficient during practice, as well as how to improve skills/fundamentals.  Although mirrors are incredibly useful, they can also be deceptively limiting, as I described in my post here.  Another powerful tool is to record yourself (or having others record you).  The suggestion that I brought up in the discussion was to have other members of your group watch you during a song, song section, or drill.

Having two to four members of your own group watching you makes you much more aware of your form, musicality, and ki.  Just one isn't enough, and more than four leads to too many comments.  It doesn’t matter if the members are new or not – if they’re new, you should be showing them good examples of what things should look like.  If they’re experienced, you’ll be trying to show them that you don’t have a lot that needs to be fixed  Either way, if you know people are trying to notice what’s wrong, you’re more likely to fix it before it happens.  The initial goal is to take the comments and work on them, but the main goal is to fix things like that without a peer group watching.  It takes awareness of body, of sound, of the group, of everything – and it also takes diligence to impart that as a habit.  Easy?  No.  Worth it?  Tremendously.

When you’re on the other side, as the observer, you have two jobs. 

·    -     First, your role, as indicated by the title, is to observe.  Maybe you see things that need work, maybe you see things that are done well.  Those things are what you point out.  Your job is not to “beat down” the other person.   If you’re thinking you need to tell them how and why they suck, that’s a negative attitude that can come out in your words and how you present them.

·    -     Second, once you’ve noticed something, ask yourself if you do that thing or not.  Is that bad habit you just noticed a habit of yours as well?  Is that good thing something you should be doing?  The observing is giving you a lot of data, so why not use it proactively and make those mental checks at the time?

Yes, doing this takes some practice time, but it helps everyone involved become sharper regardless of whether they’re playing or observing.  I do it with SJT, I do it with karate, and I always find something to both comment on as well as to learn.

Is it daunting to be observed?  Hell yes, sometimes.  But what a way to be accountable, what a way to gain awareness!

No comments:

Post a Comment