Thursday, May 29, 2014

Collegiate Invitationals 2014

So last weekend, I attended the 20th Annual Collegiate Invitationals down in Southern California, held at California State Northridge and hosted by Jishin Daiko.

I had a lot of fun as part of SJT's workshop team - we performed amongst the other workshop leaders which showed the kids who everyone was, we did three workshops throughout both days, and there was a lot of socializing both with the kids and the other leaders.  I'm not going to write a review of the weekend, but instead talk about the differences between Collegiate Invitationals (CI) and the North American Taiko Conference (NATC).

The first difference I noticed is in the energy from the participants.  You have a younger crowd which lends itself to a different energy from NATC, because the latter has a huge range of ages but a lot less people in the younger spectrum.  With NATC I feel like people are really excited to be there; to learn from leaders they are really excited by.  With CI, the energy is more about hanging out with people you haven't seen in a while and meeting new friends.  It's like the participant focus at CI is more inward towards self and friends and at NATC it's more outwards towards participants and leaders.  Both events have a mix of both energies however, and neither one is better or worse; just the general feel I got. 

NATC is also a much bigger production, with more resources, a little over twice the number of participants, thrice the number of workshop leaders, and a TON more support staff to handle it all.  That makes CI a little more intimate in a way as things tend to happen in a smaller space and you see the same people over and over.

Both events are chaotic, but I feel like CI has more chaos for the size compared to NATC which has more chaos in total just because there's more stuff happening.  To NATC's benefit, there's an institutional memory of what worked and what didn't that gets passed to the next Conference.

With CI, participants don't get to pick which workshops they get, which means it's a mixed bag, but I feel like most workshops are pretty beneficial since the kids haven't had much exposure to a lot of other taiko.  With NATC, you may sign up for workshops you really want and only get some of them, which is a yay-boo situation.

I have to admit it was fun during the workshops to show the kids some tricks they'd never seen before.  It's also fun knowing I've been playing taiko longer than many of them have been alive, ha!  I'd love to go back and help teach another series of workshops, but it may not happen for a couple of years depending on SJT's schedule and where I'm needed at the time.  Looking forward to the next one!

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