ITI Workshop: Improv: A path forward

ITI Workshop: Improv: A path forward

Sat, 2023-05-27 14:00 to 16:30
Ticket price: 

UC Davis


For the first 10 years of my taiko career, I hated improvisation.  It led only to frustrating glitches and disappointment.  I have since learned the importance of "being good to the puppy" and the essential role of "rhythm vocabulary", and these concepts have led me to a more light-hearted appreciation of improvisation.  This workshop lays out the path, as I see it, the obstacles along the way, and the potential benefits of being a comfortable improvisor.


Set List: 

Introductions (name, feelings about "improvisation")

- Your brain can handle taiko improv.
- Workshop goals
-- 1: understand the importance of rhythm vocabulary and how to develop it
-- 2: understand the improvisation muscle and how to strenghthen it


SECTION 1: VOCAB  (40min)

Importance of vocab.

- Difficulty of limited vocab
-- conversation with neighbor using only words that start with vowels
-- conversation with other neighbor without using "taboo" words

How to develop rhythm vocab.: manage the challenge level

  1. large chunks: rearranging Matsuri rhythms, students try
  2. medium chunks: go-to hand combinations (coming later)
  3. small chunks: single hits.
    Demonstrate with metronome.
    2nd-level challenge fun with Tally Ho Ieau.
    Everyone practice, call and answer, then taking turns.

Example list of fundamental techniques

  1. 16th-note grid familiarity w/ quarter-note click (serial sticking).
    hit v silence (try on lap)
    don v ka
  2. one hand 16th-note grid w/ other hand playing quarter/eighth click
  3. personal "go-to techniques" everywhere in the bar

Purpose of vocab.
- all-important pulse
- being present to other musicians (and listeners)
-- call and answer with Minh
-- playing prepared music "heads up" and with an open mind (bachi drop example)
- expressing something musically meaningful.  Tally Ho demo.

Questions, videos needed?



- remove the time pressure: show one volun. OOT with confidence-boosting listening
- practicing rebelliousness, idea encouragment, and accepting surprises: CasITA in small groups
- get help: playing along to music for ideas, structure, energy

Questions, videos needed?


-- "Shasta drills"

SECTION 4: Q/A  (30min)

practicing being moved: exposing yourself to art
considering the "greats"
questioning your attractions
importance of "taste"
the humble music lover and the interference of ego
improvisational mindset when playing "set" music
take improv at your own pace (Charlie Parker vs Yoyo Ma)
how to have fun when developing vocab. (truffle hunting, diary, small-group challenges)
improv. for exploration, composition
making a "jam" or drum circle more musical


Other Participants: