Getting the right form
If you've ever played Taiko: Drum Master in arcades, you'll know that playing the taiko requires a lot of skill, strength and stamina. If you haven't played, you may be surprised how much of those things you need. As far as technique goes, you first need to know how to hold the drumsticks properly. It isn't as simple as grabbing two sticks and mindlessly beating the drum with them. Your hand should be posed as if you were about to shake hands with someone and you should grasp the bottom third of the drumstick with your thumb and index finger, letting your remaining three fingers rest gently against the wooden stick. A moderate grip - not too loose or too tight - is ideal if you want to keep the blood flowing to your fingers and not accidentally hit someone with a runaway drumstick. Keep your wrists apart so that you're holding the sticks in an upside-down "V" shape. It helps to let your elbows naturally point outwards instead of keeping them next to your body, so that your arms can move more freely. Also, standing with your feet rather wide apart takes some strain off your upper body. It's also important to keep the same rhythm as everyone else. Play one beat off, and the effect of the performance is gone. So, lift your arms high and beat the drums so that the room shakes.
Beats around the world
If there is one instrument that could save the world in a global conflict, it might be the drum. Its physical nature appeals to all kinds of people, all over the world.During the workshop, we were amazed by how drums unite people. We watched a group of performers playing an African piece. Sometimes, they hit the drum of the person beside them, making them seem more like a family. Their smiles, their movements and their calls had an almost electric joy. What's more, we could actually feel the beat of the music pulsing with our heartbeats. We wondered if the drums were echoing the beat of our heart, or our hearts following the drums. We felt a real connection to everyone in the room. Learning drumming techniques was just as much fun. Although drums are simple to learn compared to other instruments, there are infinite possibilities when it comes to patterns: some fit into a linear beat, some are syncopated (meaning the stress isn't where you'd expect), some are repeated. With the help of kind and patient teachers who laughed and played along with us, we mastered a few beats. But it was just a start. We definitely want to learn more in the future.
Jimin Kang and Jessie Pang
Ban's Gig Drums has a summer programme starting next month. For more information, go to bansgigdrums.net