Spending 17 days in Hawaii was a great way to start my 2017. The trip began on Maui with the main event: a weekend taiko camp with the incomparable youth group Zenshin Daiko. The beautiful and remote location was idyllic, and I was equally impressed with how smoothly it all went - moving equipment, meals prepared by parents, workshops and presentations scheduled, along with fun activities like sham battle, basketball tournament, marshmallow roasting, and a talent show.
Following the camp I spent a week on Oahu conducting workshops for Taiko Center of the Pacific and Nakama Taiko. My most memorable day of the week was having the opportunity to work with the TCP Youth Group for six hours, delving into their repertoire pieces to offer ideas for playing tighter and boosting musicianship. There was a break between the morning and afternoon sessions so we all walked to Jimbo's (delicious house-made udon) for lunch and then played pool nearby before heading back for more rehearsing. Having so much workshop time with one group is a rare treat because it allows me to introduce exercises and concepts more thoroughly, as well as to spend extra time working with individual players.
I also taught several private lessons on shinobue during this trip. I'm always excited to see people interested in playing fue, as learning a melodic instrument helps us become better drummers and accompanists. The fue is a natural partner to taiko and this is well demonstrated by the countless festival and other traditional music forms found all over Japan. See my shinobue article and Ranjo blog entry for more detailed information.
I had one day off on Oahu and was fortunate to attend an outdoor Balinese dance performance in the leeward town of Waianae at Mouna Farm Arts & Cultural Village. The setting was fantastic and the entire staff at the farm couldn't have shown better hospitality. The dancers performed to recorded music and it was a very nice show, although having live gamelan would have truly completed the entire experience. A delicious meal was served afterward and then a bonfire was started as the sun disappeared into the red horizon.
My trip concluded with three more days of workshops with Zenshin Daiko where we explored different ways to approach composition. There was even time between workshops to get some incredible shave ice (Haleakala with haupia ice cream) at the famous Ululani's.
Many friends helped to make this trip possible by offering places to stay and cars to borrow, providing so many meals as well as gifts to take home, booking my workshops and lessons, and supporting me in multiple other ways. A giant thank you to Tony & Val, Kenny & Chizuko, Dee & Keith, Brock, Terri, Kirstin, and everyone else involved in planning my trip. I look forward to going back soon!