Tag ‘School Workshop Performances’
June 3, 2015
The School Workshop/Interactive Performance Team Sets Off from Kodo Village!
We only just got back to Sado Island after “Amaterasu” in Osaka, but after a few days of rehearsals, we are all heading off on tour again! Next on the agenda for Kodo we have the School Workshop/Interactive Performances, “Kodo One Earth Tour 2015: Eternity” around Japan, and “DADAN 2015” in Asakusa, Tokyo. The School Workshop/Interactive Performance team has set off first.
Safe travels, everyone!
▲Here’s a photo of us waving them off, taken from one of the departing cars.
Dec. 28, 2014
As I visit place to place on tour with the “School Workshop Performances,” I feel the importance of greetings firsthand. At one of the schools we visited recently, each student came up to us to greet us politely one by one.
In everything we do, communication is vital, which begins with a simple greeting that can convey so much.
At the schools we visit, teachers tell their students, “Look at the person speaking as you listen to them. Look into their eyes and listen carefully what they say.”
I think that children who can greet people well also have the ability to concentrate and know when to act in a certain way or when it’s ok to relax, according to different situations.
That goes for us, too.
I used to think that Japanese manners were very strict and a pain in the neck, but someone told me that “Manners are the best way to show how you feel.” Since then, Japanese manners became very natural to me and I started writing letters, too.
Children imitate the behavior of adults, even if they do not understand the meaning of that behavior at first. Later, they will learn the meaning behind it. I think adults should understand the real meaning behind our behavior and help children to understand that individually. As I think about this, I realize that we shouldn’t just explain things to children orally, but that they also need to experience what we mean firsthand for themselves.
Children grow up very quickly everyday and I hope that we can also grow as adults alongside them.
Things I Have Learned from Children
A year has passed since I started touring as a member of the “School Workshop Performance” tour cast. When I was a school student myself, I wanted to skip class as much as possible and I wished it was Sunday or the summer holidays every day of the year. When I think about it, it’s pretty strange that I have started going to school again.
Our performances are held as a part of each school’s curriculum for performing arts appreciation.
During our performance, we want to share the true sound of taiko drums, teach the kids about taiko as a musical instrument, and tell them all kinds of things. We interact with the students using our taiko, all up-close & within arm’s reach. This is the purpose of our School tour.
For about a year, I have traveled around many schools, playing taiko and spending time with my fellow cast members. It seems to me that while we want to say and convey different things to the children, we somehow end up receiving a lot more from them than we give.
I think children are wonderful beings.
When I see other Kodo members communicate with children, they have an indescribably calm and warm look. We are there to give a performance, but we are unusually relaxed. It seems like I can see each member’s true self appear at these performances.
As Kodo members, we always perform with pride and to the best of our abilities. We aim to deliver good sound and a good performance. We all have the same strong attitude towards our performances. However, most of the children have never heard of Kodo and some have never heard the sound of taiko before.
Although I do not know what the children are actually thinking, I feel that they have an instinctive insight into the real nature of each performer without considering the name of “Kodo” or our various titles and positions, like “professional performer” or “musician.”
They also judge whether our taiko performance is good or bad, interesting or not interesting, purely by instinct.
For School Workshop Performances, we perform in school gymnasiums.
So, the audience gets to listen to our taiko at a closer range than in a concert hall. If the sound is too loud, some children block their ears, and if the music is too monotonous, they start chatting. If the performance is good, they concentrate on our music and I sometimes see some children enjoyably swaying their bodies to the rhythm. For me, seeing that instant reaction from the children is very interesting and it makes me feel an air of tension, in a good way. I feel that children help us improve our own sensibilities when it comes to conveying the sound of taiko to an audience.
I used to just play taiko powerfully, with all my might. However, when I play taiko in front of children, my sound automatically becomes softer at times and stronger when I feel it needs to be. I now think about what sound will best reach the audience at each different moment.
As a member of the Kodo ensemble, I have always had in mind that I need to play taiko in a certain way or I need to act in a certain way. However, through our School Workshop Performances, I feel like I am now facing taiko anew.
I have been given a great opportunity to reflect on the sound that I create.
The right sound to play at each and every moment during our performance comes to us from amongst the children and within us, as we share that same space in time.
Keeping all of this in mind, I now enjoy going to school.
Kodo Workshop Performance Tour
The current Kodo Workshop Performance Tour has a brand new cast and programme!
Here’s a message from first-time programme director Eri Uchida and the cast. They’re looking forward to seeing everyone on their tour for some fun with taiko!
Next Public Performance:
Taiko Experience Corner during a School Workshop Performance
The Kodo Workshop Performance tour, directed by performer Eri Uchida, left Kodo Village ahead of the One Earth Tour members. We played taiko as we saw them off, without giving in to the rain.
Bon voyage! All the best with your month-long tour as you share the sound of taiko with children around Japan!
- Dec. 7 (Sun), 2014 Kyoto Performing Arts Center Shunjuza, Kyoto City
- Dec. 20 (Sat), 2014 Kunitachi Geijutsu Sho-Hall, Kunitachi, Tokyo
▼Check out this video about the upcoming performance at Kyoto Performing Arts Center Shunjuza, which includes a message from Kenta Nakagome.
▼Watch on YouTube
Kodo School Workshop Performance in Yawatahama
Every three years, we are invited to perform at schools in Yawatahama, Ehime. This year, after our performance at Aoishi Junior High, one of the students stood up and said to all of his fellow students, “Let’s cheer for Kodo!!!”
Suddenly, all the students leapt to their feet and gave us a massive cheer. It was so unexpected! We were so surprised and really moved!
We would never have this kind of experience at one of our theater concerts. We will use the power & energy they gave us to fuel our future performances! We hope our performances will make a lasting impression on all of the students we encounter on our tours, too.
Update from Asakusa
From July Issue of Japanese Monthly Newsletter “Kodo”
In June, thanks to the cooperation of many locals and numerous others we held five successful performances in Asakusa. Thank you for your support, everyone!
Just like last year, this year there was an array of stalls from shops in Taito Ward set up in the lobby. This kind of lobby setup is unusual on a Kodo tour and quite unique to our Asakusa performances. The shop clerks wore matching happi (workman’s coats) and their presence made the theater atmosphere very lively.
On the first floor, we had an exhibition and also set up a corner where people could play taiko. It provided a chance for many people to play our drums. I hope that the people who had never played taiko before felt a stronger connection to the drums through their hands-on experience.
This time, we also had School Workshop Performances at two schools in Asakusa. For some Kodo members, it was their first time to perform at a school with Kodo. It was such an enjoyable time for all of us to be surrounded by the children with their pure hearts and smiles.
School Workshop Performance in Asakusa
We performed two pieces in front of Asakusa Public Hall in the “Star Plaza” (Walk of Fame) area. Before we performed outside, I went around the locals to let them know we would be doing this and they said “Play taiko as much as you like!” “I’m looking forward to it!,” etc. Then, they even came along to watch us during the outside performance, so I was so happy! On the final day it was drizzling, but when we started to perform Yui,, the sun shined on the performers. I will never forget that moment.
Our Asakusa performances were a success thanks to the help of so many people. During Asakusa’s annual festival Sanja Matsuri, the sound of live music accompanies the portable shrines as they make their way along the streets. Based at Kodo’s Tokyo Office, I will continue to work hard in the hopes that the sound of Kodo’s taiko will also be something the locals in Asakusa look forward to hearing every year!
June 18 School Workshop Performance at Tawara Elementary School in Asakusa
In the middle of “Kodo One Earth Tour: Mystery,” we gave two School Workshop Performances in Asakusa, Tokyo, in hopes that everyone in Asakusa would get to know Kodo better.
The programme and pieces are different to the “Mystery” performance, so we have been making good use of our spare time on the One Earth Tour to practise and prepare for these school performances. There are a lot of young newcomers on this tour and surprisingly more than half our cast has never been on a Kodo School Workshop Performance tour. During our rehearsals, we had to make sure that our facial expressions and movements, which usually aim to reach the furtherest parts of large theaters, were adjusted to suit an audience of children sitting right in front of us. We also had to check that the sound of the taiko and many other things were just right for the kids’ programme.
Once the performance began, the 60 minutes went by in a flash! We received a lot of laughs and some unexpected reactions!
When we rolled out the biggest taiko (o-daiko), there were some kids squealing in anticipation, like they were at the top of a roller coaster just before a big drop!
For me, the impressions of a pupil, who spoke on behalf of her peers, were particularly memorable. She looked us all in the eyes while she told us the characteristics of each piece we had played and how each one made her feel with great frankness. It really made us take note of how your true feelings can have such power of persuasion.
As the children left the hall, one of the little girls gave me a keyring. She said, “It’s handmade. Thank you!” and with that simple act, all of my tiredness disappeared!
We will use the all the smiles and cheer that we received from these school performances as energy for our five days of performances at Asakusa Public Hall.
About Kodo’s School Workshop Performances
We gave a Workshop Performance at Myoko Junior High School in Niigata Prefecture.
This school had a great feeling about it… and you could see beautiful snowy mountains from the gymnasium windows.
The children were carefree and energetic and they enjoyed playing taiko during the “Taiko Experience Corner” of the programme.
The sound of their taiko really energized us, making it a memorable performance.
It was fun!
Photos: Takashi Okamoto
Kodo School Workshop Performances
An Interview with Tsuyoshi Maeda by Johnny Wales
Tsuyoshi Maeda was born in the countryside near Kobe, Hyogo Prefecture on August 28th, 1986. He has one older sister. He fondly remembers a childhood playing in the surrounding foothills, fishing with friends from their small school with whom he remained close from kindergarten right through to middle school. Never keen on school work, Tsuyoshi played soccer and loved making music and art. At the age of 11 he joined the local children’s drum group, Hatakko Daiko. Learning taiko, fue, dance and song, it wasn’t long before Tsuyoshi knew that this is what he wanted to do with his life. Unusually, his parents supported that dream from the start. By high school his rehearsals and weekly performances with the group left too little time to carry on with soccer and he broadened his musical training by studying koto and (Japanese harp) shamisen (Japanese banjo) too.
He first came across Kodo in middle school through a CD which he listened to over and over. He went to see the group at a large concert in Kobe and decided then and there that he wanted to be like them. He remembers thinking that they seemed to shine on the stage.