Survey: Taiko Conference Workshops

This August the North American Taiko Conference returns to Los Angeles!  Every two years the taiko community rallies together to create the Taiko Conference, an amazing weekend of taiko workshops and performances, with players, teachers, and taiko enthusiasts from around the world.  The JACCC will be hosting the Conference again, and a number of us are volunteering to help with the planning and preparations.

One of the first challenges is to determine what workshops and taiko topics we’d like facilitators to offer during the Conference.  Toward this end, we are asking past participants to give us feedback.

In the comments below, let us know!  Thank you for your input!

In past Taiko Conferences, what workshops were particularly good?


22 Responses to “Survey: Taiko Conference Workshops”

  1. Mark says:

    Shime tightening! Seriously, not just cause it’s you asking, Kris. Your shime workshop was the bomb.

  2. Jacob says:

    Re: 2009 NATC workshops, I second what Mark says. Another workshop on shime tightening would be great. Additionally, okedo workshops for beginners and intermediates; soloing; movement; stage presence; timing; developing new material and, of course, any skills and drills on shime, nagadou or odaiko. (And shinobue, chappa, chanchiki, hiyoshigi…)

  3. Rob, Sharon and the Zoo Too! says:

    Timing, Odaiko, any drum-how to develop a solo, fun drills that challenge, fancy moves that impress (for that showmanship portion of taiko). I really enjoyed being around all the great names in taiko the last time it was in town, I am sure it will be better even better this time!

  4. Marcin says:

    I would particularly like to see NATC do a workshop on composing taiko music. I don’t recall there ever being one at the NATC, though, of course, I could be wrong. An excellent workshop on the subject that I took once (outside NATC) was given by Ryan Baker of LA. I believe Ryan has background both in taiko and in music composition and is an excellent teacher. Perhaps you could consider inviting him. Alternatively, someone else who has the relevant experience and skills. Here’s brian’s link:

  5. Mark N. says:

    improvisation, energy projection, and a no-twirl workshop. That’s right solid visual movements that do not need twirls.

  6. Nozomi says:

    soloing, movement, improvisation!

    and all of the above!

  7. Chris says:

    Having just taken your 30 Days to Better Shime workshop, I’d highly recommend it to the Taiko Conference! How about 30 Days to Better fue?

  8. Yo Kris,

    I think a shime tightening workshop would be amazing, especially for the collegiate groups since we tend to like our shimes “clam-shelled” and never actually untie them =P (except for Yukai, I swear :D )

    Your intro to 30 days to better shime would also be a good one. I think it was a great was to advertise and introduce an amazing program =]

  9. Atarigane and chappa as instruments would be super. Those instruments are amazing in their scope and are an untapped source for most groups. Boyd was definitely great with Chappa as are many in the Kodo group (and other groups).

    Chappa solos are definitely cool, but when we put chappa in as narimono, they usually get relegated to just a banging. Maybe we can learn more to do with them?

    Also when we use atarigane, unless we really work at it (only one person in a group will usually be the proficient one) it also gets relegated to a basic bass beat.

    Workshops on Chappa and Atarigane usually spend about 20 minutes or less on each and move on to Shime for the rest of the 2 or so hours that is the set time for a workshop, so no one really learns anything.

  10. Joy says:

    The shime and timing workshops that you taught to Odaiko New England were awesome. I loved getting down to the nitty-gritty of rhythm and practice techniques.

    I like the idea of How to Develop a Solo – how to develop a solo that’s appropriate for your instrument and for the piece that you’re soloing in, how to build a solo around a theme/motif, how to learn and practice a solo, how to develop a solo that you’ll practice and play pretty much the same each time vs how to pull a solo out of your hat at a moment’s notice, how to build a grab-bag of themes to make solo-building easier on the fly, how to balance technical difficulty with engaging with the audience, etc, etc, etc. It’s a topic with so many facets.

    I’d also be really interested in a workshop on movement, maybe including the basics of dance (of whatever form) for those of us without a dance background.

    oh, and a worshop on incorporating non-traditional rhythms into taiko, such as using latin rhythms, and an intro to the basics of those rhythms.

  11. MJ says:

    I have new beginner students that would like to work on form, energy and slant stand.
    Also, beginning okedo drumming, 2-3 drumming also.
    Percussion class using the kane, chappa, cymbals etc.
    How about a class for new instructors…what are other groups doing, etc?
    Non-profit vs profit groups??


  12. Yuta Kato says:

    Someone with knowledge of HUMAN KINETICS and TAIKO, doing a workshop on what movements should be avoided, how the body works, and how it can safely be applied to playing taiko.
    I think there are too many people hurting themselves in the name of discipline, spirituality, and what is “correct”.
    Maybe a fresh look through the eyes of science might be helpful.

    Also, some kind of community building lecturer who can help some taiko groups in the aspect of leadership, and the possible importance of the group within their community.
    What great things can be done, what we may have to be responsible for, the affect that we can have, and how to be conscious of such things.

    Haha, my workshop requests sound a bit boring?
    Thank you for doing this! I look forward to and trust what the committee decides on!

  13. June Washikita O'Neill says:

    Yes, agree with Yuta, “what movements should be avoided.” In our group we are all novices, and we’ve already had one person drop out because of an injury.

    Also, I’d be interested in the following:

    choreography – how to make a piece visually interesting
    dance/movement – how to incorporate significant movement into a piece
    new drills – definitely

    Thanks for doing this!

  14. Marinda says:

    Feedback for past workshops I’ve taken that I like:

    ‘Advanced Skills and Drills’ by Kristy Oshiro ‘Fun and challenging’
    ‘An Introduction to Itsuka’ by Michelle Fujii ‘unique choreography’
    ‘Doubling Up!’ by Bryan Yamami ‘ ‘Fun hip hop inspired rhythms, unmasking the seemingly complex rhythms playing on 2 drums’
    ‘Improvisation and Spontaneous Creativity’ by Russell Baba and Jeanne Mercer
    ‘Understanding Rhythmic Relationships’ by Kevin Higa ‘simple patterns overlaying with each other to create complex rhythm’
    ‘Master Class’ by Seiichi Tanaka ‘shall I say more? It’s Tanaka sensei!’
    ‘Nanchu Soran Bushi’ by Toru Watanabe ‘Toru is such a great dancer and teacher!’
    ‘Odaiko Kihon’ by Kenny Endo ‘It’s Kenny Endo!”
    ‘Omiyage (chu-daiko)’ by Yuta Kato ‘fun and challenging piece to play’
    ‘Solid Shime Daiko Playing’ by Kenny Endo
    ‘Visual Phrasing: Taiko in Motion’ by Michelle Fujii ‘I love her folk dance inspired choreography’
    ‘Odaiko II’ by Tiffany Tamaribuchi ‘Very detail explanation of how to use power more effectively’
    ‘Japanese folk dance Jangara’ by Michelle Fujii ‘This is a STI 2007 workshop. Beautiful solemn funeral dance piece.’

    Workshops I wish I have taken:

    ‘Katsugi Okedo’ by Shidara or Ringtaro Tateishi
    ‘How to Create & Recognize a Good Taiko Sound’ by Etuo Hongo
    ‘Injury Prevention for the Taiko Drummer’ by JoJo Salami
    ‘Interlocking Rhythms: Building Complexity from Simple Ideas’ by Shoji Kameda
    ‘Learning to Hear and Play in Time’ by Shoji Kameda
    ‘Ondeko — Demo Drummers of Sado Island’ by Kasuga Onigumi
    ‘Rhythm Management’ by Adam Weiner
    ‘Shime Playing: Control, Speed, and Melody’ by Kris Bergstrom
    ‘Taiko Timing, An Introduction (or, How ot to Rush)’ by Kris Bergstrom
    ‘Wrists!’ by Adam Weiner

    New workshops recommendation:

    ‘How to make a good taiko sound’
    ‘intricate rhythm made simple’

  15. Matt says:


    I think a lot of groups overlook the visual aspect of taiko. I know our group needs a lot of work in that area. Me personally, I think I plan on taking a shime, odaiko, and fue class this year.

    Also, it may not be popular, but Shoji’s how to stand at the drum is a workshop that everyone should just about be forced to go through.

  16. kris says:

    Thank you for the *fantastic* input everyone! I will compile the comments and present them to the Advisory Board. Your feedback will help them choose what workshops are offered. Thank you, thank you!!!

    For those of you who would like to propose a workshop of your own, submissions are now be accepted at the Taiko Conference website.

    I’ve personally proposed the following:

    Movement and Flow — Develop a rocking Matsuri solo
    Learn new moves, new rhythms, and new techniques for creating an engaging Matsuri Daiko solo! Most Matsuri Daiko solos are “flat” and monotonous. This workshop guides participants through using movement, flow, and the basic structure of Matsuri Daiko (don kara ka ka) to make solos that are individualized, musical, and exciting!

    Making Group Practice Effective, Making Individual Practice Fun
    During group practice, how do we keep everyone engaged and benefitting from drills? How do we motivate others and ourselves to practice on our own? In this unique workshop, participants learn a suite of useful drills designed to challenge players at all levels, and how to help individual players make time for, and feel motivated to, practice.

    TIASOU Method: Fast, Safe, and Effective Shime Tightening
    It’s possible! Shime tightening can be fast, effective, and (dare I say it) fun! Learn how to get that wonderfully high shime tone, avoid the dreaded clam-shell, and do it all without sore hands! Learn the full TIASOU Method, a one-person process for shime daiko tightening developed by the facilitator. The TIASOU Method emphasizes technique over strength and seeks to make shime-tightening a formalized and enjoyable practice. Participants receive printed, take-home materials on the process.

    Intro to Timing, or How Not to Rush!
    Many taiko players lament, “I have a bad sense of rhythm.” This isn’t true! Gain a fundamental understanding of the logic of rhythm, along with the skills necessary to practice and improve timing.

    Composition Tips and Tricks
    Want to write a taiko piece? Learn straight-forward concepts for creating expressive, interesting taiko music, along with the powerful “literal composition” technique for overcoming writer’s block. This workshop debuts the first installment of the “Compose by Numbers” program, a printed guide to writing taiko music.

    30 Days to Better Shime
    This one-of-a-kind workshop is an in-depth exploration of shime-daiko basics, followed by 30 days of guided practice. Workshop participants learn how to hold the batchi, the basic strike, and practical drills for improving speed and control. From there, individuals can take on the full 30 Days to Better Shime program, a free, month-long guided series of daily exercises already enjoyed by hundreds of taiko players around the world!

  17. Hi Kris! This comment might be too late, but I agree with Masaye Nakagawa. An in-depth chappa workshop would be great!

  18. kris says:

    Thank you, Chad! I’ll add the recommendation to the list. I was hoping to get the great Patrick Graham to Taiko Conference to teach chappa, but unfortunately he is already busy in August. We’ll keep looking!

  19. Hi Kris,

    I just wanted to mention that I would love to see a workshop for exploring multiple drums and varying/layering tones. And, ditto what Chad and Masaye say! In-depth, but starting with the basics, chappa workshop would be wonderful. Thanks for considering!

  20. Stan says:

    RE: Chappa — Ringtaro Tateishi (former Ondekoza, now in Florida) came to Seattle and taught a chappa workshop. He says he is basically self-taught, but does some amazing things with two metal discs.

  21. Grace says:

    Sorry for the late feedback, I also would be interested in workshops learning other percussion instruments, (chappa, kane, etc. as you can understand my situation) Also, I’d like to learn about incorporating “singing”/the use of voice in pieces and story telling with taiko.

  22. karen young says:

    Hi Kris!
    Hope you are well — it’s way too late in the game, I’m sure — but I’m psyched about learning stage production, lighting, tour management. Chappa and katsugi okedo are high on my list — helpful things to know when performing in a parade. Also discussion groups on internal organization and sustainability. Take care! Karen

Leave a Reply

On Ensemble is proudly powered by WordPress
Entries (RSS) and Comments (RSS).