Advice From An Apprentice

August 13, 2016

Holly became a member of Midnight Taiko after attending a workshop and training with the group as an Apprentice for seven months. This is her advice for anyone considering a start on their Taiko journey.


I never thought I would be a drummer.  In my early forties with teenage children already, I thought to myself “I’m not coordinated enough”, “I’m not fit enough”, “I’m not young enough”, but mostly there was just that one theme.  I am not enough. I hardly think this thought is pitiful, or unique.  Especially for people in a stage of life where you are coaching your children to become the best they can be and feel a bit like a hypocrite that you have not yet accomplished “the best that you can be”.  When exactly does that happen?  I’ll let you know if I ever find out.

But, I have discovered some things on my journey as a Taiko apprentice:

1) Enough is enough – There is very little I actually need. During my apprenticeship with Midnight Taiko my husband lost his job. As we assessed our living expenses, made budgets and future plans of how to support our family in uncertain economic times I took a cue from Japanese minimalism, looked around myself for the first time in a long time and realized we have more than enough.  Actually, maybe, we have too much.  Too much stuff…just stuff…that most of the time stays stored away or on display collecting dust. Simple is better and less is more.  At taiko all I need is a stick and a drum. With every strike, life seems simpler, less stressful.  All that stuff you are carrying around with you just seems to melt away.

2) Enough time – When I was invited to join the Midnight Taiko apprenticeship program my biggest concern was how I would find enough time.  There was one to three practices per week, each lasting about 2.5 hours.  On top of that there would be shows, dress rehearsals, workshops and more!  With two busy children, neither of whom can drive themselves, I’m still constantly working out the balance on this one. But, I discovered that my kids and husband really wanted me to have this opportunity.  They have been patient and flexible as I work out car pools and my oldest even reminded me that she is old enough to babysit other kids, so why not leave her and my youngest at home alone? Grandma even chips in on the driving duty and I think she actually likes getting regular one on one time with her favorite teenager. Somehow, and it seemed to me like magic, I could make time expand and find a way to schedule my activities right alongside my kids’.

3) Enough energy – There’s something about taiko that gives as much as it takes. A two and a half hour practice should be an incredibly physically draining workout, and it is, but I leave every practice wanting to drum more.  I would not consider myself a particularly fit individual.  Definitely overweight, I struggle to endure aerobic workouts, running, biking and the like, but the sweat can be pouring at taiko (and it often is) and there’s no way I’ll miss a beat. Anyone who has performed in any type of music ensemble knows how uplifting shared music making can be, but rarely does the music making require this level of physicality.

After a seven month apprenticeship, I find myself a Taikoshi, a drummer.  I have improved my coordination dramatically, I have become much stronger physically and although I have not discovered the fountain of youth, I realize the value age and experience bring to many situations. My take away from this experience is that there is always enough time, energy and resources for the things you want to make happen in your life.  And as for whether I still think that I am not enough…to be honest, I hope I always feel a little bit that way.  I hope I will always think that I am not enough….yet! I hope this thought always inspires in me the need to do more, discover more and learn more about myself, those I love and the world around me.