30 Days to Better Shime

Welcome to the 30 Days to Better Shime program!  This free program provides one month of daily exercises for small drum practice.  You simply download the workbook and companion CD, get out your practice pad and batchi, and follow the daily instructions!

Originally created for the 2008 Collegiate Taiko Invitational, over 600 taiko players in 14 different countries have now used the program.

Download the workbook and audio files

All the materials necessary for participating in the program are below, released under the Free Art License 1.3.   You are free to make copies and share the program with others.  Read more about the license here.

Step 1) Download the 30 Days to Better Shime workbook

Step 2) Download the 30 Days to Better Shime MP3 or OGG audio files (the .zip files contain all 46 tracks of the program, and are large files. Downloading may take a while. You can also download the individual files below.)

Step 3) Unzip the audio files (on most computers you can simply double-click the icon)

Step 4) Burn the audio files to CD (if you don’t have CD-burning software on Windows, try the Free Software program, Infra Recorder)

Step 5) Start practicing!

How to order a printed set

To order a printed set (workbook, CD, Bubble Calendar, and support), contact Kris at kris (at) OnEnsemble (dot) org or 310-350-8825. Sets are $30 and checks are made payable to “Kristofer Bergstrom”. Please send checks to the following address.

Kristofer Bergstrom
2000 W 162nd St Apt 100
Torrance CA 90504

Individual audio files

MP3 format:


OGG format:


Source files

The PDF workbook was generated by the LaTeX typesetting system, with graphics created using the Inkscape vector graphics program. The source files for the 30 Days to Better Shime workbook are provided below so that you can change the program to improve it and to suit your needs. All modifications must be made under the terms of the Free Art License 1.3. More information about sharing and modifying is available here.

Workbook in LaTeX format

Illustrations in Inkscape (SVG) format

Program testimonials and stories

OMG, this program is the sh33t!  Seriously though, there’s nothing else like this anywhere!  Thank you!
Hi Kris,
Thank you so so very much for your shime program.  Going through your program made me realize how little I practice during the week.  There were some days I just didn’t feel like picking up the bachi.  I have to admit that I didn’t practice every day.  Before, it was once a week or every two weeks.  But because you made it accessible, I was practicing at least 4 times a week.  The drills worked particularly well for me as I needed improvements in areas such as timing, hand coordination, speed and working with the metronome–I have always been afraid of the metronome, thinking that I won’t be able to keep up with it or be in the pocket.  It’s not too bad now but I could use more practice with the metronome.  I found the pacing of your program very manageable but the difficulty for me was sitting in front of the computer for an extended amount of time listening to the audio.  I am
not a computer savvy person but maybe it’s already built in.  Is it possible for me to put the audio onto a cd so that I can listen to it in the car, exercising or walking or actually practicing the audio on a drum.
Thank you again for making it possible for me to improve and progress.

Hi Kristofer,
I wanted to say “thank you” for creating the shime drills and practices for us.  I wasn’t able to complete all 30 of them, but saved all your emails so that I can go back to it and work on it.  I have taken shime lessons with Kenny Endo Sensei in the past and your drills will definitely help me to refine my techniques and skills.
Thank you again for a wonderful month!  I enjoyed it a lot!
Sincerely, Laureen

Hi, Kris
I have absolutely no criticism.  The lessons were well thought out and very helpful.  They were not overly difficult but challenging.
I think I religiously completed each assignment through Day 13 or so, but I looked at your assignments every day after that and did the exercises to the 30th day.  I stopped doing the call and answer even earlier because I didn’t find it that challenging.
But I absolutely love the exercises.  I’ve always done the basic 1234 exercises and knew some of the variations from taking some of your previous workshops, but you gave me even more examples of how to improvise and change them.
The diminishing click exercise is excellent.
I use the 1234 exercises when teaching, so now I have more variations I can use in classes.
Thanks again, Kris.  You never cease to amaze me.
Hi Kris,
Thank you so much for doing this! I only made it about 10 days and then my other drumming practices and life got sooo busy… but I plan to download/print everything to continue using until I finish the course…and after that too, as they are valuable drills for ongoing…I’ll put my feedback below; bummed i couldn’t keep up with it but so glad to have the resource to keep on using, thank you thank you.
i think if i could have figured out better/earlier the appropriate tempos to maximize learning for where i’m at and therefore figured out how to do the daily drills in a shorter time it might have helped… working at the slow tempos and then gradually speeding up for each drill ended up with the days practice being about 45 min to an hour..which i would love to do daily but when i got busy that didn’t happen, and since in my mind that’s what it would take i didn’t do it at all instead of figuring out how to just shorten it to get some practice in. i know the test at the beginning was supposed to help figure that out but the numbers didn’t match my actual abilities once we were in the drills, most i could do much faster than the test indicated (at least the first ten days) so i never really knew where to start on the metronome and spent alot of time  building up.. i think knowing where to start and then finding the edge more quickly would help me ( i still need to figure that out to keep working with the drills)
have always liked to do left hand practice but your system of starting all drills with the left hand was great; i feel like it somehow really helped to initiate everything left then right instead of vice verse. I really liked all the drills so far, 16s, hand coord, iceskater et al…the listening and repeating drills were really good too for me as i am weak in the listening and catching it quickly area and even in the first 10 days i could see i was getting better
thanks Kris!! for your devotion and generosity.

Right and left hands starting test

Hey Kris,
Just thought I’d relate an interesting experience (mostly) about the 30 Days program that I noticed after today’s diagnostic.  As I was doing the tests, I admit that I was a little bit disappointed with the speed numbers, just because they’re slightly lower than I expected them to be.  I guess in terms of pure hand speed, I’ve regressed slightly since the first 30 Days program (when I was playing more taiko overall), but…as you say, that leaves plenty of room for improvement, so I’m excited about that part!  The cool part, though, is when I looked at the numbers, they were surprisingly even.  L and R lead SSRs were both at 160, and LH TTK was at 144, while RH TTK was at 176, which averages to…160.  =)
It’s for sure that since the first 30 Days program, I realized the importance of balancing (or even over-emphasizing) the left hand in my drills, so I’ve been striving since then to create drills for myself that have those characteristics, or to at least make sure that I do drills leading with both hands if they don’t take care of the problem for me.  So between the actual 30 Days program itself and one of the main things I took away from it, it seems that my hands ARE beginning to bridge the gap in coordination.  Cool, huh?
Anyway, I was excited to get — or at least to realize — such positive results on the first day of the program.  Looking forward to the rest!
Cheers, David

Thanks for the message, David!  I had a similar experience!  My scores this time around are:
Single stroke rolls – 168 across the board
TTS right hand – 176, 176;  TTS left hand – 168, 168 :)
I’ve been doing all my small-drum drills left handed for the last two years or so and it finally seems to be paying off.  I’ll be interested to see if our numbers improve in the 30 days.  It feels like at these slightly faster tempos the jumps between the metronome speeds are perhaps too big.  Although I’ll improve, I’m not sure I’ll improve a full 8 clicks, so the improvement might not show up in the final test… we’ll see.  When creating the test, I had to
strike a balance between making the recording short and making the metronome jumps fine-grained.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q – I am little afraid that I can’t keep up with the schedule… should I start now or later, when I’m less busy?
A – Definitely start now!  It’s no big deal if you take longer than 30 days to complete the program.  But get day 1 out of the way today!

Q – What is the CD player for?
A – The program includes listening and call and response drills.

Q – Can I use my iPod?
A – Yes!  Although I can’t provide iPod-specific support, the iPod should work very well for the course.  You can download the MP3 audio files above and load them onto the iPod (through the iTunes application, I assume).  If you have the audio files on CD, you should be able to import them to iTunes similarly, and from there, transfer them to the iPod.

Q – What is OGG and why do you offer it in addition to MP3?
A – I want users of the 30 Days to Better Shime program to be able to participate with entirely Free Software.  The mp3 format is not technically free.  Please see my blog post about ogg for more information.

Q – I downloaded the ogg files but they don’t work.  What do I do?
A – Thank you for trying to use the ogg format.  I have written a howto to help users enable ogg support.  If after reading that you still are not able to use the ogg files, you might want to stick to the mp3 files for now.  I can help others using the gnu/linux operating system but I’m not much help with Windows or MacOS.

Q – Where do I sign up?
A – To join the upcoming Group Practice Session (Jan 1, 2011), visit this page to sign up!  Note, however that you do not have to sign up to do the program at your own pace.  Simply download the workbook and audio files, and begin!  You can also purchase the printed workbook/CD set, or contact me directly (kris at OnEnesmble dot org).

Q – You really should charge money for this.  Why is it free?
A – Please feel free to make a donation to me or another cause of your choosing.  I make the program free because I do not want finances to be a barrier to participation.  There are taiko players in countries whose currency is far, far weaker than the US dollar.  And even for the rest of us, it’s hard enough to practice already without having to worry about paying for it!

Q – My track numbers don’t match the workbook numbers
A – In v2 of the program, I removed track 3.  If you have the original versions of the tracks, track 4 is now track 3, track 5 is track 4, etc.  I made minor changes to track 3 and all of the call and answer tracks, so it might be worthwhile to download the new versions above.

Q – Do you sell shime batchi?
A – I have a number of extra pairs that I brought back from Japan for my personal use.  I will be happy to sell you a pair if you promise to put them to use.  Contact me at kris at OnEnsemble dot org.

Q – Can you explain the words, “ten”, “tekke”, “ka”, “tsu”, and “ku”?
A – Japanese music is generally taught orally and uses words for each of the sounds that the instruments make, a system we call kuchishouka.  For the shime-daiko, “ten” represents a strong hit to the center of the drum, “ka” is a hit to the rim, and “tsu” is a quiet hit.  When we combine multiple hits of the same type, we often change the pronunciation slightly to make it easier to say; so “ten, ten” might be “tekke” or “tere”, “ka, ka” might be “kara”, “tsu, tsu” becomes “tsuku”.

Q – I did about half of version 1 of the program.  Should I continue with version 1 or download version 3?
A – The meat of the drills and listening challenges is essentially the same in versions 1, 2, and 3 – so if you’ve already printed the workbook and burned the CD, stick with that.  In version 3, the information is presented more clearly and many of the drills have been polished. The PDF format should also be much easier to print, so if you haven’t printed yet, get the newest version.

Q – Is there a ‘way’ to be listening to the patterns in order to retain them?  For instance, I have listened to the ka’s in the whole pattern to try and retain the pattern,  then I’ve listened to the ten or tsuku (dons)……but I still struggle ( I know there’s a few of us over 50, hence the memory issue – haha).  I’ve also just listened to the pattern as a whole and tried to just relax with it and replicate it…… Is there a concept or strategy that would help with that section of the lessons?

A – To be honest, I don’t know the answer.  I don’t remember any conceptual breakthroughs I had along the way, but for what it’s worth, when I hear a rhythm and am able to remember it now, it’s because I’m able to translate the rhythm into to the sense of actually playing it (splitting it between right and left hands where it makes sense) while I’m listening to it.  To a large degree, I think the ability to remember a rhythm you’ve just heard comes with familiarity with that rhythm’s basic parts.  As I understand it, the brain is able to remember a certain number of “chunks” of information (perhaps 7 chunks at a time?)  If we’re comfortable with “don kara ka ka”, for example, that becomes one chunk, as opposed to 5 or more chunks in the brain of someone new to the rhythm.
If you happen to find a “way” that helps you, I’ll be very interested in trying it!  Until then, I think one’s ability to remember a rhythm is determined mainly by their comfort level with a wide variety of patterns.  My hope with the call and answer exercises is to expose participants to a wide range of rhythms so that by the end of the course, there is noticeable improvement.

Q – What should I practice on if I don’t have (or can’t use) an actual shime?

A – I’d definitely get or make a practice pad.  You need something bouncy.  You can buy a practice pad at a music shop or on eBay for very little money.  Or you can make one yourself.  If you have a bit of rubber (perhaps from an old mouse pad or something), you can glue that to a plywood or solid wood base of some sort and you’re done.  Drum pad makers will try and convince you that they have some sort of magic, proprietary substance “that perfectly mimics the feel of a real drum!”, but it’s bogus.  Any firm, rubbery material glued to a solid base works great!

Q – How do I hold my batchi?  Do you have any pointers on the basic strike?

A – I use a “German” or “matched” grip for most of my shime playing.  My goal when practicing is to be relaxed, in control, and to be training my hands to know where the sticks are at all times.  I try to maintain a loose grip with all my fingers touching the whole time, without letting the batchi slide around.  I try to train my wrists and fingers to move properly so that my grip can be relaxed and light.  Basic technique is best explained in person so if you’re ever in the LA/Torrance area, please come over for a lesson or joint practice session!  kris at OnEnsemble dot org


18 Responses to “30 Days to Better Shime”

  1. Byron says:

    I highly recommend 30 Days to Better Shime. On Ensemble are amazing for offering this for free. If you can, purchase the Book/CD. Think about it: only $1/day for an invaluable training program that will make your shime playing the most awe-inspiring in the world. Thanks Kris.

  2. […] On Ensemble offers the workbook and audio files for free on their website. You can also order the comprehensive guide and CD for $30. That’s only $1/day to become the […]

  3. Steve says:

    Thanks for doing this, Kris! I tried it last summer and made it to day 10. I want to try again. Even the 10 days made me much better. Great course!

  4. Wendy says:

    Hey Kris — you wanted blog fodder and I am here to oblige.

    1) For those of you finding it hard to get practice in due to equipment issues: I’m totally in love with a pair of rubber tipped western drumsticks. pro-mark XB1 drumsticks feel a bit like a shime bachi, and have a generous rubber tip that doesn’t seem to mar anything I hit it on. The net point, no practice pad required, and suuuper portable. I’m on the road right now in fact, and still (pretty much) keeping up with the program.

    2) Question, so what’s the deal with the metronome speeds you selected? Do they have specific meanings? Forgive my lack of musical knowledge, I’m a visual artist by day.

  5. Hiya Wendy! Thanks for the input and the question. The XB1 drumsticks look fun! I’ll try and pick up a pair and let you know my thoughts.

    As for the metronome speeds, I tried to suggest tempos that fit the goals of particular exercises. When warming up, for example, I want to make sure players are going slowly. In the hand coordination exercises, I felt 90bpm was moderately challenging, and suited to the player who’s had some taiko experience but is relatively new to small drum stuff. I chose the metronome speeds by trial and error, trying the drills on myself and on some of my students.

    All of the tempos are loose suggestions, and players should feel free to adjust the them to suit their own level.

  6. Wendy says:

    K- As for the metronome speeds, I tried to suggest tempos that fit the goals of particular exercises.

    W- So it’s not a special “music notation” thing, just feel, and I’m reading too much into the number “meaning”?

  7. kris says:

    This is a rare instance where I’m not using numbers to embed a secret code in the music. No literal composition happening here. :)

  8. Margaret says:

    Hi Kris – Finished Day 30 in the wee hours of Dec 31…terrific course, thanks much! Tons of great learning moments, and measurable improvement in several areas, although I haven’t quite got the hang of doubles yet. Looking forward to repeating the course in a while and maybe trying faster tempi as the month goes along; warm-up time estimates for the later sessions seem a tad optimistic. (Definition of eternity: 16’s drill at slow tempo :) – my metronome always nodded off partway.) Loved the Rhythm Maker (nostalgia trip) but couldn’t remember/figure out how to make it work. Also loved the “uncertain soloist” exercise. So – two thumbs up for the course overall, and happy new year to you and yours!

  9. Cathie says:

    Hi Kris ~
    I did it! I stuck with the program and finished. I find it easy to practive daily if someone is telling me what to practice. Being a novice musician I found the program informational on several different levels. I have never used a metronome before so this was challenging to get the hang of hitting everyother metronome beat etc. I’m not sure I have become a better shime player but I deffinetly have a better understanding of the music side. Several light bulds went off during the program. Thanks for all you work and sharing of your talents. I plan to repeat the program starting and finishing with version 2. You ROCK!!!

  10. Colin says:

    Hey Kris,

    I finished 30 days a week ago. My hands came a good ways and I am really happy about that. Especially for my left hand. I haven’t played with a match grip in so long all I can play is using traditional. The bachi felt like a stranger in my left hand. But, 30 days started making the bachi feel more comfortable in my hand in match grip. So, definitely I showed real progress each day but what I have found to be most beneficial is that it kind of reenergized me. It pointed out so many areas where I have regressed since my drumline days and it has just inspired me to practice more. You did an excellent job of mixing so many different aspects of small drum in I was never bored. I’m a big fan of ice skater, I’ve played versions of it before. It is really fun with flams. Anyway, thanks for all the hard work and help along the way. You really have winner with this program and I am so thankful to have been able to experience it. Keep up the good work. I’ll talk to you soon.

  11. kris says:

    Yo Margaret, Cathie, and Colin! Thank you so much for the feedback! It means a lot to me to hear the program was useful and helped you all too. Great work!!!

  12. Bruna says:

    The guide is great! Could I give a suggestion? How about make some videos with each day (besides audio tracks)? At least for me, I prefer seeing to understand better. Thanks!

  13. Kris says:

    Hello Bruna! Thank you for the suggestion! I totally agree and am hoping to start chipping away at videos during this coming session of the program. I’ve ordered a video camera and everything. More soon!

  14. […] Saturday morning’s class was shime technique with Kris Bergstrom. A nicer guy you could not hope to meet and I aim to pass on what I learned about improving dexterity to as mas group members as I can and encourage them all to join his “30 Days to Better Shime” program starting August 15th. http://OnEnsemble.org/2008/12/30-days-to-better-shime/ […]

  15. Margaret says:

    I noticed that some folks find the call & response drills pretty frustrating. The first time I did the 30 Days program I was able to pause & repeat a particular pattern over & over until I got it, and after about 8-9 days of focusing on any that gave me trouble, they all seemed to get easier. This time through, the call & response drills didn’t seem so difficult: As I would listen to an 8-beat pattern, I would try to picture it as two 4-beat patterns back-to-back. Since there’s no 4-beat pattern that’s NOT in the 1234 drill, it was fairly easy to key into the two patterns used. But….when it came to the final call & response drill where Kris throws in some jazzier rhythms, I was clumsier in playback than the first time through the program. And my rhythmic dexterity score didn’t improve much this time. I guess listening just for 4-beat patterns makes the brain lazy. I’ll go back to drilling whole 8-beat patterns next time….:)

  16. […] 30 Days to Better Shime – On EnsembleDec 16, 2008… to equipment issues: I’m totally in love with a pair of rubber tipped western drumsticks. pro-mark XB1 drumsticks feel a bit like a shime bachi, … […]

  17. […] is the jiuchi that I developed when I was doing the 30 Days to Better Shime program. The exercise is presented on Day 25. On the previous day, the exercises included […]

  18. […] jiuchi is my do-over of the Creativity section from Days 23 through 26 of 30 Days to Better Shime. When I was following the program, I was simultaneously inspired and intimidated by the examples of […]

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