Dear Students of LATI,
A couple of weeks ago I decided to stop teaching at LATI. It was a really hard but important decision for me to make. I’m definitely going to miss the taiko but more than that I’m going to miss all of you weirdos.
I wanted to reminisce and share a few stories from my time at LATI, talk a little about my decision to quit, and share some advice for all of you (since I won’t be around to tell you what to do anymore).
I started teaching when LATI and Asano Taiko US first opened their doors in 2013. To be honest I was a little nervous. I had no idea if I could actually teach all of this stuff and if you guys would get better at taiko. It turns out that I had nothing to fear because all of you have been amazing students and have accomplished amazing things during the time we shared together.
Sharon remember how much you improved your matsuri solo? Andrew, I couldn’t believe you actually pulled off sniper during the matsuri battle. Susie, I loved how you jumped into Miyake Kai even though you were still just learning how to play taiko. Stacey you are simply the worst and you will never get any of my pizza. It was fun nerding out with you, Kaz. Miyake-Kai folks (Joe, Charles, Yoko, Juri, Patrick, Blaine, Stacey, Susie, Arthur) we never actually did get around to stretching on our own, did we? Sharon, hope you are playing your heart out in Hawaii and unleashing a monstrous yodel solo. Sherri you never succeeded in getting me to drink more of your soju. Desmond I always admired the energy you brought when you played. I felt like we really got a great groove going in the Tally Ho class (Ernie, Kerry, Nadine, Andrew). I’ll never forget our Omiyage class huddle and seeing you guys play so freely (Eric, Stacey, Yumi, Jack, Airi, Hiromi, Sherri, Tomoko, Susie). Tailer, Ann, Wendy, Linda, Jeff, Kay, Donna, Steve, Debbie, and Diane: remember how you guys were so nervous about performing for PEAK week, but it turned out great? Arigataiko (Alex, Carol, Hidemi, Hiromi, Joy, Sharon, and Shino) you guys put up with my Odaiko drills and never complained about them (okay actually no you complained every time we did them). Tomoko, Christopher Fong, Lea, Geoff how fun was that playing to music? I could have done that all day with you guys. Kaitlyn, I hope your composition turned out great! Kaz, Adrienne, Geoff, Jomya, Raymond, Nadine, and Ritsuko our brains were basically done after the Sugagaki class. Oh, and shout out to Asano Youth. You guys made Yuta and my life much more stressful and difficult (jk we love you).
I think in a lot of ways you guys inspired me to become a better taiko player. I wanted to be a taiko performer that you could be proud to call your teacher. It pushed me to get better and better and keep seeking out new challenges.
When I came back from Japan and Thailand I hit a rut and I couldn’t find anything new that inspired me to continue to play. After further inspection I realized it came from my desire to pursue other things at the moment.
Taiko will always be a part of me but I think I needed to change my relationship with it from profession to hobby. Something that I could geek out on and devote countless hours of practice towards but also could quit when I needed to focus on other things. So I’d like to think that I’m not going anywhere. I still need to win that Odaiko Competition and beat David, Kris, and Yuta at taiko.
Now, a little advice. When we all started at LATI we wanted to create a place where people could get better at taiko. They could study at a world-class facility with excellent instructors and follow their personal taiko interests. I think the hardest thing is not taking classes or practicing, it’s figuring out what will drive you to do those things. I think if you figure that out first, the rest will naturally fall into place.
Also, always be grateful towards Katsuji and Julia for making all of this possible.
I’m going to miss all of you. Arigatougozaimashita!