Thoughts on the Art of Taiko
Shigeyuki Wakabayashi

I first studied taiko in 1994, but stopped during the following year when I moved to Misono to do hoshi. During my first three or four years there, I went from one job to the next. After holding many positions, I began to think about doing something of particular value to me on a steady basis. I became aware that my desire to perform taiko, which I had not given much thought to over the years, had been steadily growing inside me. Finally realizing this, I decided that my best bet was to devote myself to taiko. I like its sound; it seems to fit my character. So, I made an application to the Ensemble and here I am today.

After joining, I began to look back at every day that passed and assess how I was doing. How strong is my desire? Am I overcoming myself or not? I would ask myself these questions when I ran, as I practiced, and while I did hoshi.

For me, the most memorable performance in which I participated took place at Sendai in 2001. Sendai is my hometown and my parents came to see us. After that performance, my parents, who did not understand either why I joined Shinji Shumeikai or my love of taiko, began to appreciate both my faith and my art.

At the Sendai concert, I played the big drum, the o-daiko, for the first time in public. The composition I played was "Owashi", The Mighty Eagle. The piece is technically very difficult. I remember feeling at the time more like "this is my start" rather than "I have finally arrived." Before the concert, a more experienced member in the Ensemble gave me some pointers as to how to play Owashi. I got very tense when I went on stage. But when it was over I was satisfied that, although exhausted, I had done my best. I found my limit. After that concert, I knew just how much I could beat a drum.

I want to play taiko to serve God in my own way, without others getting between me and the object of this desire. Actually, I think that I adopted this attitude after joining the Ensemble. I am pursuing my independence.

Yet, for now, we younger members need to follow our elders in the Ensemble so that we can continue what they have created. Although I am not sure what the result will be, I want to make every day count. The important thing is to just practice. As an artist in this group, I am still an infant. However, some day, if I have tried hard enough, when I look back, I hope to have a sense of achievement. For I believe I joined the Ensemble with God's guidance. Because of that, I want to be someone who is worthy to serve God.