Learning Taiko, General Notes:
It is our desire that people new to Taiko will make understanding the history and traditions that form the basis of Taiko as we express it today part of their Taiko journey. The Taiko History and Bibliography at TaikoForum.com, as well as the Taiko resource links at Rolling Thunderhttp://www.taiko.com, are great places to start. Potential practitioners and students new to Taiko are encouraged to seek-out Taiko mentorship and/or training through established groups, workshops, and at a Taiko Conference near them. In North America: http://www.taikoconference.org/
Many established groups welcome the opportunity to nurture Taiko interest outside of their area, and are happy to travel to work with interested groups. Give them a call! You can find established groups on the TaikoForum.com Group Map.
Notable traveling workshop leaders and mentors have included:
(If you are an established Taiko-practitioner and are doing out-of-town/state/country workshops, PLEASE add your URL to the list above!)
Additionally, many touring Taiko groups performing in your area are often happy to do public workshops for those interested in learning more about Taiko. Contact their booking agents in advance of their arrival.
While the following resources are handy to get started, or to help refine at-home practice for established students, it is strongly recommended that you seek-out professional Taiko instruction whenever possible.
Rolling Thunder’s “Learning Taiko” pages offer an overview of Taiko basics.
— Notation with backstory
Original pages: http://www.taiko.com/taiko_resource/learn.html
— Audio files: http://www.taiko.com/taiko_resource/sheet_music.html
See Song Database entry for learning Jiuchi (Ji-Basic).
Simple Songs & Drills
Drills / On Song Database
Jiuchi (Ji-Basic) / On Song Database
Kaoru Watanabe: Beginner’s Piece / On Song Database
Matsuri Phrases / On Song Database
PAS Rudiments / On Song Database
Tips by Drum Type
From stance to how one holds the Bachi, each Taiko has a different way of playing it to get the best ranges of sound, with the least impact on your body. This is where lack of formal instruction becomes the most notable. When possible, seek-out professional Taiko instruction.
Basic Katsugi form by Ryo Shimamoto from allthingstaiko (click the ALL Videos link to access the video series).
Making Practice Taiko
Tire Taiko: http://users.lmi.net/taikousa/files/tire_taiko.pdf
Sensei Walter on the Tire Taiko: http://vimeo.com/17500827
Sensei Walter > Making a Cheap Practice Drum, Step-by-Step:
Tire-Chu Naname Stand: A metal folding chair offers a good approximation for Chu-Naname height and angle. Hold the Tire-Chu in place with a hook bungee attached at the back.
Tire-Chu Beta Stand: A low-height waiter’s folding serving stand, or tall folding luggage stand, offer a good approximation for Chu-Beta height and angle. Hold the Tire-Chu in place with a hook bungee attached at the back.
Tire-Chu and Tire-Odaiko: Dedicated folding stand plans coming soon…
Practice Katsugi-Okedo: (Scroll to bottom of page) http://jedlicka.com/taikojinsei/KatsugiOkedoStrapTjin.html
Tying Okedo: http://web.archive.org/web/20081002134717/http://members.cox.net/drum2/okedo05.htm
Making Practice Bachi
Common Wood-types: Use dowels from a local hardware store. Oak (or other hardwood) gives a crisp sound, and though they are quite durable, they are heavier than the softer woods. Poplar is light and comfortable to play with, the sound is a bit softer than hardwood, and will wear out more quickly.
Bachi-type / Length (cm) / Diameter (cm) / Dowels commonly available in the U.S.
Shime and Katsugi-Okedo / 36 / 1.5 [5/8″] / Poplar
Shime (Seiza set-up length) / 32 / 1.5 [5/8″] / Poplar
Chu / 42 / 2.5 [1″] / Oak
Odaiko / 51 / 3.4 or 3.8 [1 3/8″ or 1 1/2″] / Poplar, Pine
Using dowels available at your local hardware store…
— “Sight down” the dowel to find a nice straight one.
— If you’re going to make a few bachi, tap the dowel end-wise on the floor to select dowels of the same density/tone.
— Look at the dowel end. Look for grain that is compact (lines close to each other). Denser grain = longer bachi life.
— Have the hardware store cut these for you to size if you don’t have a fine handsaw of your own.
— If you don’t own a course wood-file, you can quickly rough-in the playing edge of the bachi by rubbing it on a cement sidewalk (the inner part of cement steps works great!). Then use 100-grit sandpaper to finish the bachi for handling comfort and a clean sound.
— NEVER play with unfinished bachi. A sharp edge will wear-out your Taiko head super fast.
Making Practice Percussion
Using practice hand-percussion is much, much, easier on the ears as you learn these instruments. Additionally for Atarigane (Kane), a simple practice version will minimize hard impact time, extending the life of your Shumoku (mallet).
Practice Atarigane (Kane)
Plant Saucer: 4″ plant saucer (the short pan that goes under a flower pot). Look for one with a depth of 3/4 to 1.” Heavy plastic is preferred if you can find it. Stick on folded duct tape “tabs” on either side to approximate the feel and function of the mimi (“ears”) on a real Atarigane.
Food Storage Container: Low round plastic food storage container 500mL size (2.1 cups).
Deli-Tub: 8oz. low, flat, to-go or deli tub. This is a bit on the small side, but it still works.
Dowel Cutoffs: 1″ Oak or other hardwood dowel, cut into two 8″ lengths. Finish as per Practice Bachi above. If you made practice Chu-bachi, you may have enough leftover to make a pair of Clave. If not, look in the scrap bin at your local hardware store, or buy hardwood dowel and have the store cut it for you to size. It should be noted, real Clave aren’t expensive, but they are loud. So depending on where you practice, this quieter practice version might be handy.
5″ Cymbals (or Kid’s Cymbals): These are available at most music stores, but also online. For a more authentic look and feel, replace the wood handles with “small, ring drawer pulls.” Be sure to get the kind where the ring is attached in the center. Add the word “Asian” to your drawer-pull search for some really nice looking options. Cut-off extra bolt to fit (the cymbals must slide cleanly across each other), or, replace bolt joint with a leather-strip joint tied off on the inner side.
Rolling Thunder Resource “Learning Taiko”: http://www.taiko.com/taiko_resource/learn.html
Kaoru Watanabe’s Downloads Page: http://www.taikonyc.com/downloads