Had my ass kicked (figuratively) by Kodama sensei who is the taiko master of our group. We had a practice on a Thursday, I had been attending extra practice because Saito Matsuri (summer festival) was approaching and frankly I needed to put in more effort. Kodama sensei turned up and because I was one of only 3 people there he could hear every mistake I made, and apparently I was making quite a few.
My main problem was that I couldn’t link the uma (horse) beat to another more elaborate beat and then back again. I don’t think that Kodama sensei could understand that I could do the uma beat alone, but not with another beat following it and not with him breathing down my neck and shouting at me. It was a hard lesson.
My next ass kicking was my first performance in months at a primary school in Saito. I lost my nerve and then I lost my concentration and I lost my way through a song. It was terrible and disheartening because I knew I knew the song better than that.
My next asswhooping was from a certain JET who does taiko too and likes to tell people what to do. She told me that she thought I should quit, and then told me that I shouldn’t perform at least, and then told me that I shouldn’t play at weddings. At first she was giving me this ‘advice’ off of her own back, then when I refused it the advice was due to something she had overheard, and when that wasn’t enough the advice was because someone asked her to say something.
So I asked, or at least someone asked on my behalf, and the answer from a senior member was that everyone starts off poorly, it was the effort I was making that was important… and I was really making an effort.
Not only did I have my nerves to contend with, beats that seemed impossible, and songs that were long and hard to remember; now I had this person who wanted me out of the taiko group as well, all the time Saito Matsuri was looming too.
Something had to change; my problem was confidence, it was lack of confidence that gave this person the idea that they could dictate and bully me out of playing taiko, it was lack of confidence that led to me making mistakes in performances and lack of confidence that held me back from learning.
Now? Now, I feel that I know maybe 80% of each song well, bar the most complicated one, and I feel that I’m close to learning the other 20%. It won’t happen immediately, but it will happen, and it would certainly not happen if I just give up.
And once I nail it, once I kick it’s ass, it will feel that much better for the beatings I’ve taken along the way.