Been battling a pretty intense cold the past couple days so I’m not up for blogging. As soon as this breaks and I get back on my feet, I’ll share tales of my parent’s visit to Japan.
It didn’t occur to me until I glanced down at my Calender that today is Valentine’s Day! Technically, it was yesterday - but nonetheless. In case you’re wondering (I know I was) V-day IS celebrated here in Japan as well. Of course, it’s not without its own little twist. In Japan, on Valentine’s Day, girls give guys gifts. They usually consist of sweets/chocolate/other special foods. For instance, I received cookies, many different kinds of chocolates, and….KFC. Nothing shows affection like deep fried fowl! Now before you start getting all, “OoOooO, it sounds like many girls have a little crush on Chris,” know that these gifts were handed out to several people at the same time, i.e. there was no singling out. It’s ok, though. I wasn’t expecting too much. Also, March 14th is “White Day” when the guys return the favor to the girls, so no one gets left out.
Today three designers came in from the U.S. to help put together more of the show. We got right to work tonight finishing some more drill. It’s very cool stuff as was to be expected. Bret Kuhn, the main drum guy comes in tomorrow. This weekend will be busy but VERY productive.
When we weren’t at the airport today picking up the guys (and getting Starbucks and another one of those bagels), I was busy putting together the Aimachi Bass Drum Exercise Packet. This is something I set out to do when I arrived and after several months of trial, error, more error, and successes, I had a good idea of what I wanted to include. Just to be clear, this is about 6 pages of very short exercises that will help the bass line maintain good fundamental technique and timing. Every good percussion program has an exercise book, but when I came here, I saw lack of a good one. If there’s something I love doing, it’s looking at something and thinking about how it can be improved. That’s why I took on this project so enthusiastically. I wanted to improve the process and the system. Sometimes I think other people view this approach as “sticking my nose in other people’s business,” “over stepping my bounds,” or something to that effect. Honestly, I can’t see such complacency getting anyone very far - or least not as far as I hope to achieve. If, for instance, my position here was defined as being low on the totem pole, I would keep my mouth shut - like I did at the Cavaliers. In 2006, I was new to this scene. I was there to play my bass 1 notes and march bass 1 dots. But here, I bring experience and ideas that I know will further this program. I can’t comfortably lay low when I know I have so much to offer.
It makes me happy knowing I’m doing things that have both helped our designers thousands miles away and also take a section to a level higher than it ever has been. I’m not trying to brag by any means. I just love knowing I’m helping people and am having very positive impact on this special program that is the Aimachi.
So it’s been a few days…or a week to be more precise. Sorry about that. It’s not that I’ve been busy. I’ve been the complete opposite. I usually feel most inclined to write in this blog when I have something to share. This week has been so quiet I haven’t really had anything to write about.
The biggest event of this past week was a nice snowfall on Saturday. It was unexpected, for me at least, which made it that much more enjoyable. In all we got around 6 inches and it all came during mid day. The warmer temperatures made it perfect for snowballs and snowman. From what I could tell, the roads were in pretty bad shape and as a result, very few people showed up for rehearsal that night. By Sunday, almost everything had melted which allowed for a much better rehearsal turnout. We had a very productive day and the show is sounding better and better.
To keep myself “busy” these last few days, I wrote a percussion piece. I’m pleased with how it turned out. I did it both for fun and for the experience of writing. If you’d like a listen, click
I’m in the middle of reading three books right now. I started the first book, “Shogun” several months ago and have been picking at it every now and then. I have been reading the second book, “Thank You For Arguing” almost every day. The book is about rhetoric and how to win in an argument. It’s an entertaining read. It works on the “win, lose” philosophy which bothers me some, but it has several interesting suggestions that I find myself employing without knowing it half the time. The third book is about music theory. I have taken a music theory class in the past but it has been so long I wanted to freshen up on some things. I really enjoy writing music and would like to start toying with more melodic stuff (opposed to non-melodic percussion stuff exclusively). I want to start playing the guitar again when I come home so maybe that will open some more doors in my brain. Something I have noticed about song writing is that I get into a state of mind where I start shutting off everything around me and continually hear music in my head - not in a crazy way, though. It’s more of a “zone.” The hardest part about this is when I want to go to sleep and I still hear music ideas in my head!
I have more to share but it’s time for church and then dinner. I’ll save the rest for another day when I’m short on things to talk about
Last night was a blast. We easily found the restaurant (which we had never been to before) and got our seats right in front of the big screen TV. The place was considerably nice and as the evening went on, more and more Americans piled in to watch the game.
Despite my best efforts to avoid any news about the results of the game, I stumbled across the score hours before we ever made it to the restaurant. This took something away from the experience of watching the game, but I was still having a blast. Knowing who was going to win seemed fairly insignificant in the grand scheme of things. Still, every time I saw someone with a New England shirt or hat walk by, I couldn’t help but feel sorry for them. They weren’t going to be very happy by the end of the evening.
About halfway through the game, we started mingling with people at our neighboring tables. The guys sitting next to us had been living in Japan for 3-5 years and were teaching “survival” English to Japanese natives who would soon be moving overseas. One of the younger guys was Puerto Rican. Coincidently, he was from Flushing, NY - where my Dad grew up- and went to The American University - my brother’s alma mater - and even graduated in the same class as him. This guy in particular was teaching English part time and is studying Japanese full time. That’s sounds like a pretty fun gig.
Today was the monthly church festival so we’ve had to lay low around Aikiyo. I spent my day studying more Japanese, reading through some books about job hunting, eating plenty of snack food my parents sent over, and wrote some more music for my friend’s marching band in Thailand.
Time is passing, as it consistently does, and I’m becoming excited for what lies ahead of me when my time in Japan finishes up. Namely, finding a job I enjoy in a good company and start putting all the great lessons and skills I’ve learned to use. I feel I have a lot to offer and as a 23 year old, have experienced as much, if not more, than many 40 years olds. What is most important to me is that I don’t sell myself short in whatever career/industry I enter. I know in my heart what my passions are and what I am capable of producing when given the opportunity. As my time in Japan comes to an end, I’ll continue to drop as many lines in the water as I can so when I land a job and someone asks me what I do, I’ll be proud to answer them.