Monday, November 17, 2014

Finding value

SJT was very fortunate to have Kyosuke Suzuki do some workshops with our Staff before we left on tour.  Suzuki-sensei teaches, among other things, shishimai.  Shishimai is often refered to as "Japanese Lion Dance", but that's not really the best way to describe it.  There's a taiko part, a kane part, a fue part, and of course, the dance itself.  There's a short bio on him on the North American Taiko Conference website here.

Currently we're in the middle of about 4-5 sessions now where those Staff members are teaching what they learned to the rest of the group.  We're learning the kane parts and the patterns played on a pod of two taiko.

The taiko patterns are often difficult for different reasons - syncopation, too similar to each other, etc. - but it's all made more difficult by having to sit in seiza (kneeling) for as long as possible.  Staff had to do it for hours; we're *encouraged* to do it for as long as we can, ha.

Anyways, I've been thinking a lot about the value of learning these patterns.  We're not going to be performing it, and it's not something we're going to be practicing all that much I don't think.  While there are a few challenging patterns, I'm not struggling all that much.

It would be easy for me to just go through the motions, play the patterns, and bide my time until we stop doing this stuff.  But if I'm going to be there anyways, I should be trying to find value in what I'm doing.  I usually wind up observing what helps me learn the patterns easier, and that's valuable information.

Sometimes I just need to close my eyes and let myself miss a few notes if it helps me nail that ONE note I keep messing up so in the next round, I can catch it.  Sometimes I have to watch the person teaching us like a hawk and sometimes I have to not focus on anything and just let my hands play what they want.  Another aspect to the value is that while I don't think I'm necessarily getting an immediate benefit from these patterns, who knows what's sinking into my brain or my hands!

My point here is that if I only see value in the obvious things, what am I missing out on?  Am I really that aware of my synaptic processes to where I can tell what will add to my skill set?  Is anyone that good?  What if doing some things that aren't immediately dazzling makes me a better player or artist?  If I'm going to be doing it anyways, why not use the time to find value in something even if it's not something that excites me?

One mindset leads to frustration and stagnation.  The other leads to growth and awareness.  Which one would you choose for yourself?

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