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24 May 2014 @ 04:12 pm
Good bye koto :(  
I had my very last koto lesson today. My teacher is moving to LA and social pressures are such that I want to put my energies into an instrument that is less controversial for a white person to perform.

My teacher was great, very patient. I got to perform after her rock band, Ten, a few years back, which was amazing getting to see us both perform. She often tours with people I know from taiko.

We played the song that I had been working on. I still can play it front to back, but our last run through was my best, and really fun. It's a piece called Okoto which had a wonderful mix of old and new influences. We had a little bit of time left, so at my request, she dug out the second to last song we had played and ended with that, which I really love that song. I loved that my last lesson was basically the privilege of playing duets with her. When I didn't throw off the flow, it was really really happy to hear the lovely music coming out of what we were playing.

She pointed out that it had been about 4 years. She thought I had learned very fast, where I thought I had learned slowly because I started out with half lessons and never really had enough time to practice, so I thank her for the compliment.

Also very appreciate to the koto academy for bringing my teacher up from New York City every month. I feel very lucky to have had the opportunity.

I don't think I'll have the stomach to sell my koto for a little while. I really love the instrument for a variety of reasons.

I am really hoping this Korean company, http://www.supersoundintl.com/, that's making fiber carbon gayageum starts it's production run soon, so I can get me one of those and still have expressiveness of the transverse plucked harp mixed with the instrument being weird enough to have little attachment to cultural tradition. Though they seem much more focused on promoting their band right now, than getting the instruments produced and sold, which makes me fear the cost of production was much higher than the CEO was hoping.
 
 
Current Mood: sadsad
Current Music: 秋の日
 
 
 
JB: scruffyjbsegal on May 24th, 2014 11:05 pm (UTC)
Controversial?
Someone I am is waiting for my courageforgotten_aria on May 24th, 2014 11:41 pm (UTC)
Right now there are some in the Asian-American community who feel that a white person even just wearing a kimono is "yellow face." I personally, don't agree with that and think that you shouldn't try to fight racism with more racism. However, on the other hand, one of the things I'm learning from performing taiko is that when people hire a performer of an Japanese art form, they are mostly expecting an Asian, which, again is racism in a different form, however, it does mean that I'm being a little bit exploitive, since people are often hiring people for these art forms because they are looking for something that is Japanese, and I am not Japanese (for instance, as part of a unit on Japan in a school.) So in some ways, it does really matter.

I've been thinking about this a lot lately, and mostly I don't want to have to think about that. I'm never going to be great at anything I do. That's not how I work. So I need to be unique. I was unintentionally riding on the rarity of studying art forms of other cultures. I've decided I need to be unique in a way that cannot be interrupted, regardless of my sincerity, as appropriation.

These matters fill me with a lot of mixed feelings, since I've already given a lot of years to the study and I've never though of myself as anything but appreciative and respectful. But racism is an issue and it is quite possible that before we can achieve equality, things will have to swing a bit the other way.

But that's what I meant.
i. m. feyfeylike on May 27th, 2014 02:26 am (UTC)
i'm not expressing any opinion about your particular situation, because i feel like i don't have enough context. my perspective as a Chinese-American, which is probably hardly representative of the feelings of people of Japanese ancestry, is that the concepts of "yellowface" and cultural appropriation are complicated and context-dependent. i would tend to consider a white person playing an Asian character in a Hollywood movie to be distasteful, because in part they could be denying the role to someone of Asian ancestry, thus reinforcing negative prejudices. in part it's about authenticity. i think it's probably not a problem if you explore an art form of a culture you weren't raised in because it it genuinely moves you, and if you approach it with respect. (this respect can include being sensitive to any discomfort of people who were raised in that culture might have about your presence.) also i think it's more racist for a white person to object to you performing an Asian art form than for an Asian to object to it, at least in this country.