[30daysv3] Day 8 - Into week two!

  • From: Kristofer Bergstrom <kris@xxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: 30daysV3@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Date: Sat, 29 Aug 2009 06:01:24 -0700

Wow, a whole week has already zoomed by.  Today's email is divided
into two messages - one for those of you on track, and one for those
of you falling behind.

If you're on track -
    Think back through last week and remember one thing you did to
improve your ability to practice.  Maybe you practiced first thing in
the morning, or you put the sticks and pad next to the TV remote.
Maybe you told yourself you couldn't eat dinner until you did your
drills.  Whatever it was, hold on to that thing, because you'll almost
certainly use it this week.  Week two is sort-of the hump week... once
you get past week two, you'll have a bit of momentum behind you.
You've made it this far, don't let week two trip you up!  Think how
proud of yourself you'll be when you make it to the end!  Great work
thus far!  Really!  Great, great work!

If you're falling behind -
    You are a bad, bad person... approaching evil.  Ha!  Of course
you're not!  I bet some of you didn't practice because you were
dealing with something far more important than taiko.  You were
planning a birthday party for your son, or had a minor emergency that
messed up your schedule, or are dealing with a particularly busy time
at work.  That's fine!  You *should* be doing all those things... and
I'll be the last person to make you feel guilty for it.  But take a
moment and think about the following.
    If you look at all the things you care about in life, your
priorities and dreams, taiko is probably situated somewhere in the
middle.  It's more important to you than cleaning the garage, but less
important than finishing that report on time.  And ask yourself this
-- given where taiko sits in your list of priorities, do you devote an
adequate amount of time to practice?  The answer is almost always
"no".  I'm a professional taiko player, and my answer is almost always
"no".  The reason is that we're on our own with taiko practice.  Your
husband will bug you about the garage, and your boss will bug you
about the report, but no one is bugging you to practice.  There are no
due dates.  And the opposite is true too... no one will pat you on the
back when you figure out how to play LRLLRLLL without a glitch at
    No one, except for me, that is!  Right now, during this 30 Days
program, you have an opportunity to utilize encouragement and the
momentum of others, to help bring taiko practice to its proper place
in your life.  I know how hard it is!  I face the same challenge every
day.  So here's what you do...
    Today, you need 30 minutes to get caught up.  That's all!  It's
Saturday, I know you can do it!  You can get back into the game in
only a half-hour... and a fun half-hour at that!  Go back and learn
the 16's drill on day 4.  Then do today's exercises.  Then send me an
email and I'll give you that pat on the back.  In fact, I'll shower
you with love!


Q/A, Errata/Suggestions, Thoughts

When to move on?

Q - On the call and response stuff, I'm getting a LITTLE better, but
even after several times through don't have them perfected. Wish there
were a "slow" button but I don't have one. If I don't attain
perfection on those am I really going to regret it down the line? --

A - The short answer is "No!".  The long answer is... If you feel you
can't quite play it properly, and you're motivated and interested to
get it, then stick with that rhythm.  The fact that you can't play it
tells you it's a good place to focus your energy.  But that having
been said, I'm usually encouraging my students to move on to the next
thing sooner than they would naturally.  The first reason is that
everything is related, so as you work your way through the 30 Days
program, you're generally increasing your dexterity, and this makes
you better at *everything*.  But more importantly, most taiko players
run the risk of holding themselves to too high a standard before
moving on.  We're diligent and obedient and say, "I can't do the next
drill until I can play this one perfectly!"  We try to practice the
rhythm more, but it's not much fun, we don't see much progress, we get
down on ourselves, and eventually we wind up not practicing at all.
This is why very few people make it through a whole book of drum
exercises (or 30 Days to Better Shime for that matter).  So I believe
it's much better to do *only what you want*, and to always focus on
your mind-set and emotions when practicing.  Personally, if I feel any
resistance to doing a particular drill, forcing myself to do it is a
last resort.  I
try and find something else I want to practice, or some clever thing
to think about that makes a particular drill new and interesting.  I
hold my love of practice as sacred -- if I am instinctively drawn to
practice and genuinely enjoy it, I will eventually be a great taiko
player.  Cultivating that mind-set is much more important than any
particular hand combination drill! -- Kris

Q - I am finding that the bpm is to fast for me on some drills (call
and response)  any suggestions for this? Can ipods or computers play
the file slower?  Also I wish I had eight counts between your
patterns, four to pull it together and four to play. I know that it
must be difficult to come up with a one size fits all practice scheme.
 Thanks for all of your good work. -- Karen

A - I love that you're looking for ways to make the practice suit your
needs.  We should always be adjusting tempos and what we're working on
to give our brains just the right amount of challenge.
     There is no way that I know of to easily play the files more
slowly on an ipod.  The free software program, Audacity, can do this,
but that's
probably not the quick solution you're looking for.  One suggestion
would be to focus on every other pattern in the call and response.
Let the audio track play but ignore the even calls.  This will give
you a little bit longer to ponder and try a particular pattern.
Another option is to set the call and response aside for now and
simply choose different back-to-back combinations of the hand
coordination rhythms from that day's exercises.  Set a metronome to
what seems like a comfortable tempo for the patterns, then try playing
all the patterns one after another, no pauses.  Then try starting at
the last one and moving to the first.  Then every other one.  Any
combination is fine -- the goal is to improve your brain's ability to
deal with these hand combinations as they come.  Tweak, re-arrange,
and mangle the drills as needed! -- Kris

I have more on these topics in my Thoughts on Practice essay:

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  • » [30daysv3] Day 8 - Into week two! - Kristofer Bergstrom