Thursday, May 18, 2017


Exaggerating something that you do can be a really good idea to explore.  Through this idea, you may find out where you can and should give more.

I don't know how many taiko players consider themselves "performers," but taiko is often a performance.  Staging, arranging drums, movements, playing together, projecting energy, expressing yourself/yourselves, all of that is part of performance.

And with performance comes the output: what the audience sees, hears, and feels.  I've learned through my own experiences that while I feel like I'm really enjoying myself, it may not translate through my expression.  Here I thought I was really projecting and what I see instead on the video is a light smile.  So I have to exaggerate these expressions, to push myself past what I'm comfortable doing, to make it look how I feel.  It takes diligence and is something I'm still working on.

Do you see yourself when you watch a video and feel the same way?  It can prove interesting to really push yourself and focus on making yourself explode with feeling, even when it feels comical.  Do it enough times, watch the results, and dial things back if you need to, but trying to up your expression by degrees is really, really difficult.  Sometimes you have to make a large leap!

And then there's exaggeration of physical attributes, like in a stance or making shapes with your arms.  For example, I'm tall.  Shocking, yes, I know.  For taiko, I'm almost too tall.  However, it's really easy for me to reach multiple drums without having to try, and I can stand really close to a naname drum and have an easy time playing.  But when I look at myself on video, again, it doesn't look very good.  I had to learn to exaggerate - which meant working harder, sure - to get lower, get further away, to make it look "right".

And when it comes to holding the arms up, pulling the arms back, making circles, etc., even when it means more effort (gasp), the effect is really diminished when things aren't extended fully, joints are bent, motions are short-cut, etc.  Having the intention to practice things in an exaggerated way (without hurting yourself or messing up the music) can lead to some impressive visuals, even if it feels to you like you're being a showboat or feeling silly.  You have to try it and see what it looks like!

But wait, as with most things, going too far the other way can be a bad thing, too.

When you exaggerate to the point where you lose the intention of movement (getting flail-y, over-hitting, etc.) or rely on exaggerated expression to the point where you can't tone it down, well that's not good either.  There's rarely good to be found on either extreme of any spectrum.  However, I feel like most people (including myself) would find benefit in using exaggeration - or at least exploring it - in practice and performance.

If you ever thought "my stance is low enough," or, "I'm probably smiling enough,", then those are places you probably should look into.  It doesn't mean you should play taiko as if YOU WERE USING ALL CAPS, but using exaggeration as a tool can lead to some really worthwhile improvements!

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