C. Workshops and Selection

The Selection/Assignment Process

We managed to procure enough space to offer almost every single workshop listed. This means that there will be approximately 12 workshops going on during every workshop slot, and that the teacher:student ratio may be as narrow as 1:10, and certainly not wider than 1:15.

We have assigned the workshops to rooms and slots, and will be sending out (and linking here) a form where you can select your preferences for each workshop slot. Workshops will be assigned the same way as the 2011 NATC. If one participant gets their first pick for the first slot, then the next participant will get their first pick for the second slot and so forth. We will have a “satisfaction index” to try and keep things even across the board as far as preferences go.

B – Basics/Beginners workshop. No experience required.

O – Open. Some may be basics workshops in more unusual instruments (e.g. katsugi okedo, chappa)

A – Advanced. Requires previous knowledge in that workshop’s subject.


Click here for Workshop Venues

Slot 1: Saturday 31 March 10.00 am – 12.30 pm

Slant-nanigans! – Kristofer Bergstrom (A)

An introduction to slant basics, named phrases, and taiko battles.

How To Play An Unaccompanied Solo With Minimal Equipment – Isaku Kageyama (O)

Workshop participants can expect to learn how to play a 1-2 minute, unaccompanied solo on the chudaiko or shimedaiko.  Being able to do this will add a lot of flexibility to a performance such as playing a solo stage side during a set change.

Naname Uchi – Stuart Paton (B)

Techniques for drumming with Sukeroku/diagonal stand.

Covering stances, grips (pinkey pivot to first finger-pivot), use/non-use of Koshi/hips, to torque or not to torque (the spine), flight-paths of arm joints, palm orientation, relaxation and power,  use of gravity & elasticity to add velocity, directing Chi, drills…

Introduction to Katsugi (Sling) Okedo – Taikoproject (O)

Katsugi Okedo opens up a whole new world of portable taiko performance, expanding the possibilities for choreography, formations, and visual imagery.  In this workshop, participants will learn the basics of Katsugi Okedo playing and choreography. (Shime bachi recommended)

Bachi Tricks Workshop – Mark H. Rooney (O)

Learn how to spin, throw and catch your bachi as a way to spice up your solo, performance or composition. Basic and advanced tricks will be taught as well as exercises for how to practice them. Mark H will also reveal the secrets to making simple tricks appear more impressive and the deeper universal philosophies behind these (seemingly) superfluous skills.

Fue – Masato Baba (O)

Learn basic technique and scales for fue.  Participants must have a #6 or #8 fue.

Taiko Basic Hitting Techniques – Kaoru Watanabe (B)

There are as many styles and techniques to hitting the drum as there are taiko players.  In this workshop, Kaoru will be showing some of the fundamental approaches to playing taiko that are used among Kodo players.  Players will develop a heightened awareness of balance, posture, relaxation and explore the mysteries of “magaranai ude” or the “unbendable arm”.

Alternate Sounds on the Odaiko  – Kenny Endo (A)

Playing the odaiko with a wide range of sounds and dynamics makes for an interesting and balanced performance.  Creating a total solo piece without accompaniment will be the goal of this workshop.  Traditional Kabuki patterns on the odaiko will also be introduced.  Beyond basic fundamentals, alternative bachi,  improvisation, base beat patterns, and becoming more comfortable and dynamic at performing the odaiko will be covered.

Basics to Composition, Basics to Improvising – Roy Hirabayashi (O)

Writing a new song or improvising a solo follows the same basic fundamental concepts.
The basic dos and don’ts of composing are covered in this workshop format through a
descriptive process with volunteers from the workshop to participate in various activities
to help demonstrate the key points. No prior composing experience is necessary.

Ei Ja Nai Ka? – PJ Hirabayashi (O)

Ei Ja Nai Ka (EJNK) is a public domain piece that has become a popular North
American taiko folk dance. A sequence of exhilarating activities prepares participants to
embody rhythms in movement, dance, voice, and taiko. In recent years, EJNK is being
danced at many local obons. Share EJNK in the spirit of unifying people to play and
dance with open heart and abandonment. Bring bachi.


Slot 2: Saturday 31 March 2.00 pm – 4.30 pm

Solid Shime Daiko Playing – Kenny Endo (O)

Good shime daiko technique will improve your technique on all sized taiko. This class
will concentrate on the intricate shime daiko techniques and patterns found in the lively
festival music of Edo Bayashi (Tokyo festival music). Emphasis will be on timing,
playing with precision, grip, sound, nori (groove), and relaxing.

Taiko Composition – Mark H. Rooney (O)

Everyone gets ideas for a taiko song but how do you nurture that random concept into a full-fledged composition?  This workshop focuses on using different sources of inspiration and strategies for development in order to put ideas into a format and give structure to the creativity.

Tottemo Yoi! – PJ Hirabayashi (O)

Learn a movement exercise on/around betta drum, kakegoe/chant, interplay of 3-basic
ji, soloing.

Stage presence and playing as a group – Roy Hirabayashi (O)

Performing in public requires more than just the basics of playing the taiko. Stage
presence, working as a group and group dynamics are all part of what can make an ok
performance into a great performance.

Katsugi-Daiko & Lateral Drumming Workshop – Patrick Graham (O)

Katsugi-daiko refers to portable taiko that are worn on a strap and struck laterally. Drums of many diverse origins are played in this manner, and it is a common thread through the traditions of numerous countries: Greece, Bulgaria, Turkey, Iran, India, China, Korea, and Japan. Whether the drum is carried on a strap or placed on the floor, this versatile playing style can be applied to many different musical situations. Workshop participants will learn proper posture, bachi grips, striking techniques, and sound production, as well as the care and tuning of the drum. Emphasis will be placed on learning several rhythms, ranging from traditional Japanese patterns to traditional Korean and Turkish patterns, and how to consolidate these into a fluid, lateral technique.

The Beauty of the Basic Strike – Kristofer Bergstrom (B)

Participants learn the role of the elbow and wrist in the basic taiko strike, with visual feedback from custom-made lighted batchi and video tools.

Hip Hop Taiko (Expanding) – Taikoproject (O)

Since its inception, TAIKOPROJECT has striven to blend hip hop rhythms with taiko drumming to create a truly American art form.  In this workshop, participants will learn how to play various hip hop rhythms on chudaiko and two-drum taiko sets, TP’s unique kata/form, and movement. (Shime bachi and Chu bachi recommended)

Sukeroku style/Yodan Uchi – Masato Baba (O)

Yodan Uchi is a song that many groups practice and perform.  Learn basic skills to build off this dynamic piece.

Yatai Bayashi – Kaoru Watanabe (A)

Not to be confused with Chichibu Yatai Bayashi, Kaoru will focus on improving on and fine tuning the form used in Kodo’s Yatai Bayashi. We will briefly touch upon the history of the piece, the differences between the traditional festival versions and Kodo’s souped-up version as well, but the majority of time will be spent on learning how to develop this piece. In order to best utilize the time, participants should try to learn a version of Yatai Bayashi prior to the workshop.

Odaiko Form, and Technique – Stuart Paton (O)

Covering stances, grips (pinkey pivot to first finger-pivot), use/non-use of Koshi/hips, to torque or not to torque (the spine), flight-paths of arm joints, palm orientation, relaxation and power, use of gravity & elasticity to add velocity, directing Chi, some drills…

Drum Building/Reskinning – Miles Endo (O)

The cost of new, professionally made Chudaiko can be a major inhibiting factor of a group’s growth. Many groups will build cheaper wine barrel taiko from domestically sourced materials. These are great practice drums and can be made to last long with the right methods. Also, Taiko need to be re-pulled or re-skinned from time to time in their lifetime.  Shipping taiko back to their maker is the best option for professionally made instruments. However, for re-skinning practice drums, doing things locally makes sense.
There are many resources online of how to build Chudaiko online. I will walk my workshop through my drum building process that I have used to build drums for my group, as well as demonstrate the skinning process I use.
I have built several Taiko in my spare time, combining my experience playing and re-skinning taiko and applying knowledge from my material-based curriculum in Industrial Design studies.

Bon Daiko – Isaku Kageyama (A)

Participants will learn a few Bon Odori standards, study the lyrics, and play along to the songs in context of the melody.


Slot 3: Sunday 1 April 8.30 am – 10.00 am

Open Source Song: Shin-en – Mark H. Rooney (O)

This simple yet dynamic song involves a number of skills as a taiko performer and drummer. It has been played by numerous groups in both the States and Japan and can be easily adapted to fit any taiko groups style or repertoire.

Slant Choreography Primer – Kristofer Bergstrom (O)

Tips and techniques for creating and refining taiko movements

Odaiko – Isaku Kageyama (B)

Workshop will focus on getting a solid sound from the Odaiko.  Content includes fundamentals such as grip, stance, stroke, and form, as well as pointers for both ensemble and solo performance situations.

Hira dai Basics – Stuart Paton (B)

Covering stances, grips (pinkey pivot to first finger-pivot), use/non-use of Koshi/hips, to torque or not to torque (the spine), flight-paths of arm joints, palm orientation, relaxation and power, use of gravity & elasticity to add velocity, directing Chi, Matsuri Taiko, some drills…

Introduction to Omiyage – Taikoproject (A)

Omiyage has become one of American taiko’s most widely played songs.  Originally composed by founding member of TP Shoji Kameda, and refined by later members of TP, Omiyage incorporates bachi twirling, unique choreography and movements, and powerful vocals. (Chu bachi recommended)

Developing Kiai while playing – Masato Baba (O)

I have a loud voice. I know I can kiai. How do I play and kiai at the same time?  This workshop will focus on how to kiai in three areas that we need help in most.  The first area is kiai-ing while playing various patterns within a song without sounding totally fixed.  The second area is playing a supporting role, like playing jiuchi, and giving it your all without falling out of beat.  The third is to create atmospheres within different parts of songs.

Intermediate/Advanced Fue Masterclass – Kaoru Watanabe (A)

This class is for experienced fue players who want to take their playing to a different level. We will explore improvising and playing in various modes and styles (noh, gagaku, minyo, regional matsuri, Okinawan, etc), using extended techniques, getting a bigger sound, more dynamic control, various types of vibrato and more.

Equipment Requirement:
There will be a great deal of individual attention during this workshop. However, when we do play together as a group, we will primarily be using #8 fue.

For information regarding purchase of a Ranjo Fue, please contact Kaoru Watanabe through his website:http://www.watanabekaoru.com/

Ji Patterns and Soloing Musically – Kenny Endo (O)

One of taiko’s major roles in traditional Japanese music is as an accompaniment for
theater, dance, and other music genres. In kumi daiko the art of correctly propelling
the music and supporting the soloists through solid ji playing (base beat) are often
overlooked. Basic kumi daiko ji patterns as well as patterns from traditional music will be
explained. Internalizing the beat, soloing within a group context, timing, and performing
as a soloist will also be covered. Spontaneity, phrasing, and thematic soloing will be
introduced. A great improvised solo will not only raise the energy level of performance
but transport everyone to another place. Explore the creativity you have within yourself.

Key to your Ki – PJ and Roy Hirabayashi (O)

Tap into your ki (energy) with activities that will build awareness, activate individual and
group ki, and erase the boundaries between players and the audience. The workshop
will challenge participants in movement, rhythm, timing and improvisational skills, all
without using taiko…the ki to becoming a better taiko player.

Chappa Workshop – Patrick Graham (O)

The Japanese hand-cymbals known as chappa have exploded in popularity in the past 30 years. These simple but highly expressive little instruments can add tremendous colour and dynamic potential to any type of ensemble, taiko or otherwise. Workshop participants will be coached in chappa playing technique, including an in-depth overview of the the basics (grip, position, arm movements) and some more advanced techniques such as dynamics and effects. The workshop will also touch on style considerations, ranging from traditional chappa patterns, through to more complex compound rhythms (i.e. rhythms in 5, 7, 9, etc).

Kata From the Ground Up: Stance Fundamentals for Beginners – Shoji Kameda (B)

This information packed workshop starts at the beginning diving into the details of stance and body position. Learn how a stable stance and relaxed striking motion will dramatically improve all aspects of playing


2 thoughts on “C. Workshops and Selection

  1. Hi,
    I was just wondering approximately when a poll would be posted for the types of workshops to be offered.


    • Hi there!

      We actually found that we have enough space to offer almost all of them. What will be sent out soon is a form where you can fill out your workshop preferences per slot by rank, and we will use that to assign workshops using the same system as the North American Taiko Conference.

      That will come out once we have assigned these workshops to their specific rooms, which is our current struggle – many factors involved, particularly equipment usage.

      Thank you for the comment, and for your patience!


      Cheryl Tan
      860 834 2112

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