Thursday, August 23, 2012

What do you do to become better?

Most of us belong to a group and attend practices, but aside from what you’re required to do, what steps do you personally take to improve?

A lot of people practice outside of rehearsals; that's pretty common.  Whether it's getting out a drum pad or thwacking on an old tire, we can all find ways to practice.  There’s the more physical route of working out more, whether it’s just doing pushups or running, to full-body development.  There’s also the more cerebral route of reviewing videos or trying to understand technique better.

Mind you, just doing pushups or watching videos will only carry you so far; you have to APPLY the results to your practices.   That’s a topic for another post, though!

The key here is in asking what you do, not what you do in your group or during rehearsals.  It’s easy to do what you’re told to do, but there’s a danger there.  I see it a LOT – not just in taiko – where people either become so reliant on needing feedback to improve or so lazy that they don’t bother to fix things until told to.

If you only improve what you’re told to improve, are you neglecting the rest?  Of course, you might be really good at the rest, but ALL of the rest?  Instructors that point out EVERYTHING you need to improve on have way too much free time on their hands.  Odds are, there’s high-priority stuff to address and once you fix that, they can go to what’s next.  Even better if you fix it before they address it, yeah?  Now, if you’re not improving things until you’re told to, well, that’s just a poor attitude.  I don’t mean not improving things you don’t realize you need to work on, I mean fixing things that you’re aware need improvement but waiting for someone else to tell you to do it.

Personally, I apply a lot of my karate training - mentally and physically - to taiko.  I compose and analyze rhythms mathematically.  I watch taiko on YouTube or DVDs and look at differences in form and technique.  I go to the studio early to work on solo or song ideas.  And I pull out the drum pads and jam with the metronome for a multitude of reasons.  These are just a few of the possibilities out there.

In the absence of a teacher, even in the short term, what steps you take to become a better taiko player will have an immense impact on how you develop.  In this way, it’s less about outcome and more about effort.

Be a good role model...for yourself!

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