My Journey as a Flute Player in the Awa Dance Group

Japanese Traditional Dance: Music and Dancers in Sui-ren


12 Jun

I got my own Shamisen!

Recently, I practice Shamisen often because I finally got my own Shamisen. My friend who was a member of Sui-ren gave me his old Shamisen. It is still in good condition. This Shamisen was damaged but I had it fixed in the instrument shop. When I got it back, the sound is very soft and beautiful, but unfortunately I don’t have enough skill to play it well, so I feel like I have to practice a lot.

Shamisen is very much like the guitar but it has only 3 strings. You can tune it by the tuning pegs to tighten or loosen the strings. It is very difficult for beginners to do it. I don’t have a good sense of musical pitch, so it takes time for me to tune it everytime before I practice.

Shamisen is a string instrument that needs to be strummed like a guitar and hit like a drum. When we play it, we use a stick and hit on the surface after touching a string. Shamisen's body is made up of animal skin. It is very fragile so I have to be very careful not to tear it.

It is the rainy season now in Japan, and I have to be very careful because the moisture in the air tends to tear the animal skin. Awa-dance is performed outside in the rain. For this performance, shamisen players use a Shamisen with an artificial skin.

I now practice a song called "Matsu no Modori". It is a practice song for beginners. It is my first time to play a full song. Before, I used parts or stanzas of a long song to practice. I am happy to be able to learn it!
15 Apr

Practice for Taiwan performance tour

I am going to Taiwan by the end of this month for a performance tour. I am a member of “All Koenji Team” that is consists of 160 dancers and band members. I have joined the team as a flute player.

We had our first practice yesterday. Most of the songs we played were the same that I played at the Furusato festival, which was held last January. The members are familiar, too.

This team is divided to two teams. One team stays in Taipei and the other one travels from south to north. I belong to the second team, so we perform in Kaoshun which is located south of Taiwan and then move to Uinrin the middle, and finally arrive in Taipei. The last performance is going to be participated by all 160 members.

I have a very close friend in Kaoshun, and she and her daughter are going to see our perform on stage. It’s so exciting!
About the writer
Mayuko Kurosaka

She is a member of Sui-ren. She is a flutist. She's been performing for more than 6 years for the group. She was born in Kawagoe an old city in Saitama. She learned to play traditional instrument when she was a young or a kid. She works as a freelance writer.
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