My teaching road trip to northern California went really well. It helped that gas prices were low and that my Prius gets about 45 miles per gallon, plus I was fortunate with good weather during the 11 hour drive each way. Thank you to the taiko groups for booking my workshops and to the individuals who took private lessons with me. And thank you very much to the kind friends for hosting me as a home-stay guest.
On this trip I worked with Sakura Taiko Kai of Berkeley, a wonderful group of taiko players who told me that their age range is 60s to 80s. It's very inspiring to feel their energy and dedication toward learning about taiko. I also noticed that, of all the groups I have worked with, Sakura Taiko Kai was one of the most consistent in collectively keeping a steady tempo. The saying goes that wisdom comes with age, and perhaps good timekeeping goes along with that.
Another group I was invited to work with for the second time was Sonoma County Taiko based in Santa Rosa. This is beautiful wine country and my hosts treated me to a fantastic dinner at Francis Ford Coppola Winery as well as lunch at Bear Republic Brewing Company. Sitting outside by the bonfire under the stunningly bright stars listening to a chorus of frogs while drinking local red wine long into the night is about as good as it gets.
After years of talking about it, I was finally able to work with Stanford Taiko on this trip. They requested a shinobue workshop and a ji playing workshop. I was most impressed by these students' organizational skills and willingness to completely commit to any exercise or concept I proposed. I'm confident that the twenty members whom I met all have bright futures, and that the group will continue to be a leading voice in the collegiate taiko scene.
I was also happy to be invited back to work with the Mountain View Buddhist Temple adult class. We covered small drum technique and had a lot of laughs while exploring exercises designed to help with tempo control, dynamics, sticking patterns, and playing along to recordings of Santana, Michael Jackson, Steely Dan, and Norah Jones. After the workshop, we went out for ramen and talked about food and cooking, and a little bit about taiko.
I also had a blast hanging out with shamisen player Kyle Abbott in Santa Cruz, but I already wrote about that on my previous entry so check that out if you haven't yet. Kyle is a home coffee roaster like me and he made me a fantastic cup of coffee right after I arrived.
My next trip to northern California will be in late May and I look forward to seeing friends and meeting new people in the community. I will have a couple of performances during that trip so you can sign up for email updates and check back on my events calendar for more information. Anyone interested in workshops or private lessons can contact me directly through email.