During Yuta’s set of courses offered in the Winter, I was able to take the Omiyage Chu Part class. Throughout the 12 week course, I learned how to play the piece’s chu section from beginning to end. I encourage any intermediate to advanced taiko player to take the class, for it really improved my taiko playing in many ways.
1. Playing with a Purpose
One of the most important concepts I learned from Yuta through this course was developing meaning behind my playing. Yuta’s belief is that Omiyage is about struggle and how one addresses or deals with their own struggle(s). At first, this concept was difficult to grasp, but as Yuta taught the piece movement by movement, I was able to find chances to (try and) express a struggle. I learned how to not only perform a piece, but a story and emotion conveyed through a piece.
2. Body Movement, Strength, and Fluidity
When we first started class, Yuta taught us simple drills utilizing the Omiyage chu-daiko strikes and movements. I learned how to use my core differently and move the lower half of my body to create strength in my hits. Then as we progressed into the piece and learned the bachi twirls, I found the relationship between hitting the drum, body movements, and drills to create continuity and fluidity in my hits.
3. A Chance to Perform and Share
On the last week of class, or PEAC Week, we held a short performance for friends and family. The four students performed Omiyage first with Yuta playing ji, then with Kris’s Shime/Okedo Omiyage class. It was great having a goal to work towards and way to share all the hard work we put into the class. Yuta also encouraged us to take the tools and concepts learned to our respective groups. Just last week my classmates and I taught our taiko group the drill we learned during the first week to practice basic hits and core movements.
Yuta’s Omiyage Chu Part class was a great learning experience! Here is also a video of my class and their performance during PEAC week.