Archive for February, 2009

Yogyakarta Part 6

Sunday, February 8th, 2009

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Wow I had the most amazing day.  We woke up at 4am in order to get to Borobudur in time for the sunrise.  It was one of the most beautiful breathtaking moments I’ve ever experienced.  The five of us just stood in silence awestruck by the beauty of this place.  I couldn’t help but be filled with hope for the future as the sun slowly crept above the horizon.  The silent Buddhas each incased in a seperate stupa were powerful reminders of the inward journey one must take for self realization.  As I was pondering this and recommiting myself to my own search for self knowledge the silence was broken by an obnoxious tourist.  She was yelling at this poor guy because he was sitting peacefully on the level below but was in the photo she was trying to take.  It was a perfect moment where the nature of humanity revealed itsself in all of its beauty and ugliness.  It’s as if the gods were saying “don’t get too carried away kid, remember you’re still just human.”

Yogyakarta Part 5

Saturday, February 7th, 2009

kendangThough it has been a packed teaching schedule we’ve managed to take some music and dance lessons.  Last week we had an introductory Javanese dance lesson with Pak Lantip who is an amazing dancer.  Keali’i, Viji and I learned a few of the basic dance positions and tried to walk in the Javanese dance style.  Quite challenging but a whole lot of fun.

Today Craig and I took a Kendang lesson from Pak Sukoco.  There are so many rich drumming styles in Java and it was great getting an introduction to the Kendang.  I fell in love with the sound of the Kendang when I first heard Jaipongan music.  The rhythms were so melodic and and the way the drum patterns fit with the gongs and vocals was so interesting I’ve been looking for an opportunity to study Kendang ever since.

chinese_new_yearAfter the lesson we went to downtown Yogyakarta to catch the Chinese New Year parade.  I ran into some of my workshop students from the performing arts high school who we’re helping out a Chinese lion dance troupe.  Tomorrow morning we’re waking up early to go to Borobudur.  I’ll be posting more soon!

Yogyakarta Part 4

Friday, February 6th, 2009

prambanamThis weekend we took a little time off of our teaching and workshop schedule to visit Prambanam the largest Hindu temple in central Java.  The architecture and size of the stone temple is awe inspiring.  Though Indonesia is the world’s largest predominately Muslim country Hinduism and Buddhism are both important influences.  A lot of the theater, music and art of southeast asia is based on the Ramayana, the great hindu epic.  I read the Ramayana after my APPEX experience in 1996 and it was a complete revelation. A whole lot of art from this part of the world started to make a lot more sense, plus what could possibly be cooler than white monkey warriors?

I’ve been taking in as many performances as our teaching schedule allows. Over the weekend we went to the Sultan’s palace for a dance performance and to the museum for a Wayan Kulit performance. Tonight we went back to Prambanam to watch the Ramayana production that is put on twice a week at the temple grounds.  Though it was a show geared toward tourist, with lots of battle scenes and an abbreviated story line we all enjoyed it immensely, mostly because we are tourist.  Last night Tony and Arip took me to see Untung Basuki and Sabu, a kind of Javanese 70’s folk rock group.  My recent favorite was a Budoya rehearsal we were privileged enough to be invited to.  The dance was so refined and the dancers so beautiful that even though it was just a rehearsal I was transported to another time and place.

On Monday we had a lecture demonstration the performing arts high school and have been teaching workshops there in the mornings.  Every afternoon I head to Imogiri and my middle school students there continue to make tremendous progress.  They are so eager to learn and it’s been a real joy teaching them.  There are a couple of kids in my class that were just born to play taiko.

Anyways it’s been an amazing stay thus far and I’m leaving out just to keep this post to a reasonable length…  I mean I haven’t even mentioned the crazy shopping or my new favorite drink: Jus Sirsak which recently overtook Soda Gimbira.

Survey: Taiko Conference Discussion Sessions

Tuesday, February 3rd, 2009

What do you think are some of the key issues to be discussed at Taiko Conference this coming August?

Past topics include:

“What you should know but we don’t talk about”, a discussion of taiko etiquitte,

“You’re a taiko player?!”, what it means to play a Japanese drum when you’re not Japanese,

and near and dear to my heart,

“Why taiko music should be free, and how Copyleft can help us”, about why I believe all music should be freely shared.

What do you think?  What are key questions for us taiko players to discuss?  Please share your thoughts below!

Thank you everyone again for some great feedback on our last Taiko Conference Survey regarding workshops for this year!

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