Thursday, January 26, 2017

My first pair of bachi

image credit:

When I first started practicing with SJT, they gave me a pair of bachi, or drumsticks.  I think they lasted for quite some time, but when they splintered or got too worn, I could buy another pair from the group's stock.

Problem is, those bachi were way too short for me.  I didn't realize it for somewhere near a decade into my training, but once I got a pair about two inches longer, everything changed for the better.  I didn't feel cramped.  I looked and felt balanced.  I could reach the drums and be far enough away to have proper extension and posture.  The fulcrum of my strike was finally balanced and if anything I had to make sure I didn't over-hit, because generating power was tremendously easier.  I can't go back.  I won't!

But as I constantly strive to do, I question everything.  And I reflected back on those days of playing with equipment that wasn't optimal for me.  It's no one's fault; that's the size everyone was using (and I had to fit into tabi that were too small for my gigantic feet, too!)  But was it a waste of potential growth?  Yes.  And no.

On one hand, I can only imagine how much better my striking and form might be had I a longer pair.  But on the other hand, I can grab a pair of our volunteer bachi (that we give people for workshops) and while they're super-short for me, I can play well with them.  It won't sound worse, it won't look bad to just won't look as good or feel as good to me.

Essentially, I learned how to play with a handicap, then was able to break free of it later.  I gained a skill I might not have learned if I never went through that - the ability to utilize strong fundamentals through something less-than-optimal.

Imagine only getting to use pencils that are only 1-inch long for years.  And then one day, you discover full-length pencils.  You can sit upright now, you can sharpen them dozens of times, you can even wiggle them between your fingers.  But in that time spent with the short "nubs", if you will, what did you learn?  You might have learned to be more concise, you might have had to learn to relax your hands more since you couldn't rest the side of the pencil against the webbing of your hand.  And those skills definitely transfer to a full-length pencil.

What's the lesson here?  Adversity builds character, but sometimes it builds more than that.  Maybe you have to play a performance in a space that's too short for comfort.  But rather than just gripe about it, use it as an opportunity to find how technique is universal, not just in optimal places.  Maybe the MC or announcer for your group said something really awkward or frustrating.  But instead of playing in an foul mood, use it as an opportunity to put yourself in the performance and joy of the moment.

Looking back at when you had less and finding the lessons you learned from it is something you shouldn't ever overlook!

No comments:

Post a Comment