Monday, June 30, 2014

The Next Taiko Star

Somewhere in my blog I think I wrote about the reality show "The Next Food Network Star".   The more I watch this show, the more I think it parallels what it's like to audition for SJT and what we look for in our members.

The competitors have to make food that looks good (kata), tastes good (musical technique), have a genuine and pleasant personality on camera (ki), and adapt to their coaches and judges telling them how to improve (attitude).  Granted, they're all competing against each other for ONE spot, so there's a lot of extra pressure.

The more I watch the show, the more I see how certain challenges would be hard for most taiko players (including myself) if they were adapted to taiko instead of food.  Try giving a 90-second tour of your practice space, however you want to do it, while including a useful taiko tip and making sure your personality comes through (and you only get one shot!)  Or how about working in a group with two other people to do a skit loosely based on taiko, that shows comedic timing and a clever premise?  Then there's doing a demonstration on camera that's been purposely sabotaged, where something like one of your bachi has been taken or the lights go off during the middle of it, etc.

Some of these scenarios just sound like fun to me, but if I knew my future in taiko depended on the outcome, holy crap!

There was an episode where teams of three had to do something comedic (like I mentioned above).  One of the competitors got this comment: "If you weren't in it, would it have mattered?"  In other words, their performance was so lackluster and their presence was so minimal in the skit that it wouldn't have made a difference if they weren't in it at all.

Now I know most of my readers play kumidaiko, or ensemble drumming - you're one drum amongst many.  And the case could be made that if you take away a drum here, a player there, you'd still have a decent song.  In this case, it's more about your presence, your ki.  Are you entertaining to watch without being distracting?  Are you adding to the performance even if you're in a supplemental role?  Would people notice your absence?

I also know that some people don't really care if they're "seen" or not.  They play for other reasons, and that's totally fine.  It's also nerve-racking for some to think of being evaluated on so many aspects while they're trying to have fun.  Still, if you want to improve, if you want to grow as an artist, maybe think of yourself as a contestant on a show that does judge you on different aspects.  A little internalized competition can be an excellent motivator!

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