Monday, November 23, 2015


Most of my readers - most of you - play taiko.  We tend to feel very attached, very passionate towards our art, regardless of why we play.  I've noticed that a lot of taiko players tend to feel that taiko is precious, that it's special, even that it's unique.  But is it?  Yes!  And no.

Some people approach taiko as a way to connect with Japan and Japanese culture.  For them, seeing taiko put in a music video and used in a perfunctory way may very well be upsetting on a personal level.  This takes something that is precious to them and - in their minds - belittles it.

Some people approach taiko as a way to explore or express their identity.  For them, seeing taiko used on an award show out of context or as just another drum may very well make them feel minimized.  It's something precious to them that has just been - in their minds - devalued.

Seeing a pattern here?

Now, some people see taiko as a drumming form to be enjoyed with friends.  Being told they're disrespecting other taiko players by not doing X or Y correctly may be frustrating to them.  Things precious to other people are being imposed on them.

Some people see taiko as an art form that has so much potential to grow and expand.  They want to make taiko more precious in their lives  and being told that they're "what you're doing is not taiko" is baffling.

Seeing another pattern here?

Essentially, this is a situation where everyone is wrong - or right, if you prefer.

I also see this sometimes when people discuss the issues in their taiko group or the taiko community as if their/our problems are unique to taiko.  Issues with identity, growing pains, recruitment, funding, social dynamics, authenticity questions, etc., all of those are very much like the issues discussed in other musical, dance, and artistic forms.  Most of us don't know about those similar issues unless we're somehow involved in other arts.

Considering that people in another art form are just as passionate about theirs as we are about ours, we shouldn't think that ours is "more precious" or more important.  It is "more precious" to you/to us, but those other people would make the same argument about theirs, right?  If anything, we can learn from what other art forms have gone through or are dealing with, because they are "us", just in a different art form.

It's important to acknowledge what is precious and why it is precious to you, but you can't discount anyone else's reason because these are personal and subjective for each of us.  You also can't impose your reasons on anyone else.  It's great to have discussions on this sort of thing, but discussions have to come with perspective!

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