“Where Kodo’s Sound Begins” by Eri Uchida

We currently have seventeen Kodo apprentices after welcoming a group of new entrants to Kodo Apprentice Centre at the beginning of April. The first day of training for the new first years was making and shaping bachi (taiko drumsticks).

Photo: Eri Uchida

Under Tomohiro Mitome’s instruction, they learn why they make their own bachi, and the step-by-step process of bachi making, from how to choose the wood to whittling the wood into shape. The things they learn are packed with the wisdom that Mitome has gained from his own experience of trial and error making bachi to date with his own two hands.

“When you make bachi, you are crafting your sound”

The local carpenter who joined the lesson to teach them how to sharpen their planes said,
“If your equipment works well, you can do your job well.”

Those words are painfully true, I thought.

Photo: Eri Uchida

Bachi making is not a skill we can master in one day, no matter how clearly we are taught.

Life gets busier as the days go by at Kodo Apprentice Centre. I wonder how much time they can make for themselves to practice what they are being told and embody those lessons.

Photos: Eri UchidaThe roots. The fundamentals. The essence of things.
That is what we all learn at the Apprentice Centre.
It reminded me that I mustn’t forget these foundations, regardless of the experience I gain traveling the world and appearing on stage.

 

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“Apprentice Interactive Performance at Sado Special Support School” by Masami Miyazaki

Kodo apprentices are even busier than usual in the fall. Alongside their usual training, they have to harvest their rice crop, pick persimmons and ship them to Kodo supporters, take part in local festivals, staff the annual live-in workshop “Kodo Juku,” and present Interactive Performances. This year the apprentices gave five of these performances at schools on Sado Island. Today, I would like to tell you about the rather unique “Exchange Concert” they gave at Sado Special Support School on Sep. 28.


For this performance, the apprentices designed a workshop segment to let the students have some fun making music with them. When they started planning this part at the Apprentice Centre, the apprentices split into two groups and talked about their strategies, figuring out which instruments to use and how to go about using their time.

They raised concerns about problem areas and rethought and reworked their concepts over and over again. Then, at last, the content of the workshop started to take shape.

On the day of the concert, the students and apprentices all enjoyed performing together.

In the classrooms, the students performed for the apprentices and everyone got to know each other through self introductions and by spending time chatting together.

The Apprentice Interactive Performances are a valuable opportunity for the Kodo apprentices to perform in front of an audience during their training. They are a good chance for the apprentices to thoroughly consider what it means to appear on a stage, what they need to do to convey their sound and feelings, and what they want to express when they perform.

We are currently accepting applications for the Kodo Apprentice Centre 2018 intake.
Applications close on Nov. 10, 2017.
 
See here for details: http://www.kodo.or.jp/en/apr_en
 
 


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