Thursday, October 30, 2014

Five minutes with Eitetsu Hayashi

Last night we were fortunate to have a workshop with Eitetsu Hayashi and his group Fu-un no Kai.

If you don't know who Eitetsu is, please do yourself a favor and look him up.  He's credited with coming up with the style of odaiko playing most of us are familiar with: facing away from the audience while in a deep stance.

They're performing Saturday and many of us are going up to see, but it was a nice treat to have his perspective and instruction for a few hours tonight.

At the end, after giving us the fundamentals of his particular style of odaiko with some practice, he had each of us go up and do a short solo while he watched.  This was followed by critique, which was much more than just a few sentences!

I was lucky enough to go 3rd, so I got a sense of what he might comment on and had a chance to prepare myself to NOT do those things, haha.  The whole night I was dealing with having to get in a massively low stance according to his standards (being flexible was a lifesaver here), so he took the drums not being high enough for me into consideration.

Oddly enough, I didn't feel nervous playing in front of Eitetsu, I was if anything more aware that some of our auditioning class was watching!  Anyways, I played whatever came to mind while trying to remember the notes from the previous two volunteers, but afterwards he still had notes for me.  Go figure!

There were two notes, one specifically about his style of stance and one about how much I move up and down when I'm soloing.  He didn't say that motion was bad, more that I should temper it with being more solid on my front leg at times to add emphasis and highlight the motion I choose to do.  He did say that if I develop my personal style using that motion, it could be quite interesting, which was very cool to hear.

It made me realize how much I do move, because when I watch myself I'm more focused on general kata, striking technique, even projection going rearwards.  So it was nice to hear something new and valid - even though it might not be as valid outside of the style it was framed in.

Now I don't want to make this a post just about my experience tonight; I want to turn it around and make it relevant to my readers!

Many of us only play in one group, one style, one "way".  But sometimes the best way to know what you're doing is to learn fundamentals from another "way".  Doesn't matter if you use it or agree with it; it gives you perspective.  And if you're lucky, you can add what you've learned to what you're doing and come out a better player for it!

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