Wie ik ben
Mijn passie voor muziek is waarschijnlijk genetisch bepaald, al van kinds af aan was ik er mee bezig. Ik volgde drumlessen en rond mijn zestiende raakte ik in de ban van de Japanse trommelkunst. Internet bestond nog niet, er was weinig over te vinden en het leek mij destijds niet realistisch om daar ooit iets mee te kunnen bereiken. Achteraf, inmiddels alweer jaren als artistiek leider van Circle Percussion, echt een onbegrijpelijke gedachte.
When I started studying classical music at the conservatoire in the early 1990s, I suddenly came across the Japanese art of drumming through a taiko workshop. After all, it was through this taiko workshop that I came into contact with Japanese drumming. I should consider myself lucky! It was the opening to a brilliant taiko career.
I have had the great honour of learning the craft from KODÕ members Yoshikazu Fujimoto (Odaiko), Katsuji Kondo (Miyake), Eiichi Saito (Tsuke Shime Daiko and Chichibu Yatai Bayashi), Ryutaro Kaneko (Yurumi-Daho and chappa) and Leonard Eto (Katsugi-Oke and chappa). Always when I thought I understood something, they pointed out new possibilities to me, or that things should or could be done differently. They showed me things I didn't know existed. As a student, how can you know what you want to learn? After all, you don't know anything yet... It has been my biggest lesson and it has given me my brightest insights.
Through all the years, the search for the essence of taiko playing has been my greatest challenge. Increasingly, I am learning to apply the essence, especially in a broader context. It really is a never-ending process.
We tend to think of taiko drumming as 'macho drumming'. That you can unleash your aggression nicely... That is truly a big misconception. Playing Japanese drums is a very delicate business where your head has to merge with your body. Without that balance, you wont get too far. Agility and a natural posture are very important".
With Circle Percussion, I have produced percussion performances for 25 years and have toured half the world with them. In recent years, I developed IDÕ Drum Workouts and in that context also use the taiko as part of a fitness workout programme.
What I'm doing
In my lessons, I teach you to hit without hitting and to move with no effort. I teach you to play freely without judgement on yourself giving your play lightness. I pay attention to the elementary things. Free play, the natural way of moving, the balance between the physical and the mental, things like intention, drive, willpower, flexibility and perseverance and certainly the more music-oriented things are essential to me.
I teach you the importance of the link between your body and your head. After all, to judge your own skills negatively is disrespectful to yourself.
Wees vooral geen ‘wannabe’ maar wees ‘jezelf’, waardoor je volledig vrij kan spelen. Mijn trainingen gaan naar die essentie. Je leert je lijf, je fysieke mogelijkheden en beperkingen kennen. Je taiko-skills krijgen een enorme boost.
'The spirit of taiko' inspires me. As a result, I feel driven to pass on the art of taiko. My professional training as a musician and my extensive music-didactical background certainly helps me to achieve this.
What I do and why
In the Japanese arts, the essence often is found in simplicity.
Moderne Westerse instrumenten zijn vaak bedacht en doorontwikkeld terwijl de taiko door de eeuwen heen een relatief eenvoudig instrument is gebleven. Het is eigenlijk niet veel meer dan een houten ketel, bespannen met een rundervel, die op een ogenschijnlijk eenvoudige manier bespeeld wordt.
That's precisely where the special thing is; that simplicity goes into infinite depth. To keep it simple, you have to study yourself to death ;-).
To develop your technique and expand your insights, you need the right mindset. Patience, perseverance and learning to perform according to the natural way are the big challenges. Such dedication is important.
How I do it
"My state of mind is all about how I feel on the stage floor, how I move and how I act".
Be in attention, alert. Be aware of what your attitude is. Have fun, enjoy what you are doing. Let go of the idea of achievement. Have fun with failure, see failure or making mistakes as perfect imperfections that contribute to your development of your performance. Be aware of your surroundings, your fellow performers, your audience, the light on stage, your sound. See everything, feel everything, experience everything. Taiko playing expands your consciousness.
Stel jezelf eens de vraag wat je bij mij wil bereiken. In mijn trainingen zal je ontdekken dat die vraag pas na verloop van tijd, beetje bij beetje wordt beantwoord. Als je iets nog niet kent of niet weet kun je er ook geen visie over hebben of mening over vormen. Je hebt namelijk nog geen idee.
We often think we need to be able to do everything at once. Just being in attention is enough. More is not necessary.
Zanshin (残心) and Fudoshin are terms used in Japanese martial arts. For me, they have become commonplace in taiko. They refer to a state of consciousness, of relaxed awareness. The literal translation of zanshin is "remaining mind", that of Fudoshin "imperturbable mind" or "unmoving heart".
By KODÕ member Ryutaro Kaneko, Erwin learned the Yurumi-Daho he developed, playing according to the natural way. His workshops are highly regarded internationally. Erwin sees the principle of Yurumi-Daho as the core of taiko playing, the essence, the starting point.
“No muscle power, only natural power” (Ryutaro Kaneko)
You will discover in this training that playing taikos is not directly based on choreography but on the physically natural way, like a bird flying or a fish swimming. When you are really in touch with your body, you are better able to let the music speak to you naturally. After all, you are not really a taiko master until you have reached a high technical level: "You can be a master of archery even if you have never hit the bullseye".
In a training Yurumi-Daho, I mainly use alternative means. For many, this is surprising. You wouldn't expect a taiko workshop without drums. Yet it works very enlightening!
Be in touch with your body
In Japanese music, the note pattern and sound is often aligned with the physically natural path. A simple note pattern prevails and virtuosity is always secondary. This arises from the logic of the physical possibilities and limitations within taiko playing. Getting in touch with your body comes first. This will eventually merge with the development of your motoric and musical skills and ultimately result in virtuosic playing.
"I like to use metaphors: “Shoulders of the monkey, elbows of the mantis (acupuncture attack), Flexibility of sea weed and bamboo… and… be water!
Water flows freely, always following its natural path and not clinging to anything.
In my workshops, classes and trainings, I like to tell more about this.