5 Ways to Get Better at Taiko

playing yatai bayashi

This may very well apply for most kinds of drumming, as well as other instruments, and maybe even some martial arts. I do know for sure it works for taiko though.

1. Run!

The benefits of running are as much mental as they are physical in regards to taiko. Run as often as you can, and as far as you can when you do. Don't stop running when your body aches. You've got second, third, fourth and fifth winds (and maybe more!) that'll numb the pain and let you continue running. Learning to overcome that pain and keeping your pace will directly translate to taiko. When your hitting those grueling beats and your body thinks it can't take anymore, you'll know how to remind itself that it can.

2. Stretch!

You can't look good playing taiko if your movements are stiff. Taiko is as visual an art as it is musical, so you've got to learn to let your body flow. To do that, you need to be flexible. Stretch everyday, stretching farther and farther each time. Once you've learned how to relax when you are playing, your flexibility will enhance the flowing nature of your hits. This will help you look better, sound better, and play longer.

3. Practice the beat everywhere, all the time

The benefit of percussion instruments is that you can practice virtually anywhere without having you instrument at hand. All you need is your hands, and a surface to whack. Take advantage of the fact. A tabletop, or better yet, your lap is a great for practicing your songs. Do this often and eventually you'll be able to do it unconsciously, which is of course, the goal. Soon enough, playing out a beat while watching TV, reading an article, even talking to somebody should become no problem at all.

4. Listen to your sound, don't just play it

Once you've learned a song, it's easy to get on a drum and knock it out. If you're placing all the beats at the right time and tempo with the correct sticking, you've got it right? Almost. Not quite. Learn to hear what you're playing. It's easy to get caught up in the playing, and the fatigue and muscle aches that ensue, but remember that the sounds you create with your sticks are sensitive to minute changes in the way you hit. What you think you're playing may sound entirely different to an audience. Direct your focus on the sound and a whole new world will open up to you. Adding accents and tonal changes to your hits will bring a whole new quality to your playing.

5. Strike with your body, not your arms

The once mistake noticed most about taiko novices is that they focus all their attention on their arms and forget about the rest of their body. Taiko is a whole-body experience, don't let it go to waste just on your arms. Your sound and movement will improve exponentially if you use your entire body, starting from your core. Your core, the area in your pelvic area in your lower abdomen, is where your power comes from. All movements, including those of your arms and legs, should start from your core. Start your swing from there, let it travel up your torso, through your arms, and eventually to the end of your stick. You'll be a drummer re-born once you've figured that out.


  The Way of Taiko  Taiko Drums: Music of Japan  Japanese Taiko

4 comments:

  1. Very nice! My group of friends have been kind of 'stuck' as to where we can go next in our practices. Number 4 hit the spot! I'm so happy to have found this blog :)

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  2. Great to hear! Hope you can find other things on this blog that are useful for your group. Good luck and have fun!

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  3. I was beating on my lap while reading number 3. Felt funny.

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  4. Anonymous2:44 AM

    If there's a Taiko no Tatsujin machine in your local arcade, that's a great way to practice as well

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