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Coming up in Hamburg

So while I’m fully embracing Hamburg as my new home town, I’m excited to announce a couple of workshops confirmed for next year!

++ Feb 23 : half day workshop with Mel ++
A three part workshop covering breathing, movement and intention. Suitable for taiko players of all styles and abilities – I’ll be covering the foundations that we often don’t get time to focus on in regular drumming classes.

Where: Soundhafen, Altona (Hamburg)
When: Sun 23 Feb, 1330 – 1700 Uhr.
How much: 45 Euro (Early bird before 31 Jan, 35 Euro)
Language: English (but I also sometimes Deutsch ;))
Registration: tinyurl.com/ucuapay


++ Mar 06 – Apr 03 : Four session beginner course with Mel and Ingmar ++
In collaboration with Ingmar from #KionDojo, you’ll be introduced to the basics of movement for taiko and the unique drumming style of Kion Dojo.

Where: Soundhafen, Altona (Hamburg)
When: March 06, 20, 27. April 03.
How much: 70 Euro (Early bird before 07 Feb, 65 Euro)
Language: Movement, rhythm and groove πŸ˜‰
Registration: bit.ly/2rwk3ha


Any questions, shoot me an email and I’ll get back to you as soon as I can πŸ™‚

Goodbye Blue Sky / Sayonara Perth!

That’s a wrap! Thanks Perth for the good times, and thanks to the local taiko groups Taiko On (Perth) and Taiko Do (WA) for looking after me – throwing me into performances, workshops and end of year celebrations. I had a fun time working with you all πŸ™‚

Trying to decide on how to leave a little bit of myself with the taiko community in Perth, while at the same time bringing over something a little special from Europe… I decided on teaching Wa no Ichi, by Kaoly Asano.

Wa no Ichi is a piece that was written by Kaoly for the 3rd European Taiko Conference – as a community piece for delegates to take back to their groups.

I’m honoured to be able to spread it across the globe to Australia 😎

An insight into the mind of Mel*

I was recently asked to take part in an interview about my experience with taiko. It ended up being a great opportunity to really think about what taiko means to me and what I want to share with the taiko community. I hope by sharing it, it gets you thinking about what taiko means to you!

Thanks to Joanna from Yohaku Art for spurring these thoughts. Enjoy πŸ™‚

+ Can you tell me how did you start to practice taiko?

Click for audio: Mel’s taiko practice
Click for audio: Mel’s taiko journey

+ What fascinates you the most in the practice of taiko?

Click for audio: What fascinates Mel about taiko

+ How would you describe the general benefits of taiko for people, who are professional and/or amateur taiko players?

Click for audio: General benefits of taiko

+ How does taiko, according to your experience, influence the body and the mind?

Click for audio: Influence on body and mind

+ Let’s move to the idea of centring and grounding in taiko. How important it is in the drumming practice?

Click for audio: Centring and grounding in taiko

+ Did you personally experience more grounding and connection with yourself and with others through taiko?

Click for audio: Personal grounding and connection

+ Could you give a couple of examples of centring and grounding exercises or rituals thatyou use in taiko?

Click for audio: Rituals
Click for audio: Exercises

+ How do they exactly influence the body according to the concept/philosophy of taiko?

Click for audio: Influence on the body

+ Let’s move now to the idea of emptiness in taiko. Could you elaborate on that?

Click for audio: Emptiness in taiko

+ How does the emptiness transform the practitioner in taiko? How can one use/fill the empty space in between hits?

Click for audio: Emptiness and transformation

+ Does taiko create more open space for self-expression? if so, in what way?

Click for audio: Taiko and self-expression

2020 is Go G0 G0!

Time to kick things up a gear! With my studies over, next year I’ll be putting more time into travelling for workshops again.

If you’d like me to pop up in one of your normal sessions and drop some movement tips, get in contact.

There are no templates, there are no rules! And no idea is too crazy πŸ™‚

This month I’ll be popping up in:
Heidelberg – 18.11 – Ilka at Taiko in Heidelberg for details
Zurich – 23.11 – Micah at Taiko ZΓΌrich – ツγƒͺε€ͺιΌ“ for details

Yoga and Black Metal: An unlikely pairing?

If you’re not a fan of it, the mention of black metal may bring to mind images of Satanism, murder and burning churches; and the idea of combining it with yoga may be more than a little surprising.

So let me help you out by trying to answer the question:

What does black metal mean to me and why do I think it’s a good fit for yoga?

Black metal will always have a piece of my heart. Since the days when I’d play Immortal’s Damned in Black on the cassette player in my car (so many times that the mid-song pause where the tape switched sides is forever etched in my memory), the characteristic sounds of black metal have always stirred something deep inside me. Moved me in ways no other genre (with the exception classical) has been able.

To the unfamiliar, the sound of it can be reminiscent of a broken radio playing a wash of static in an empty shower cubicle (perhaps with a noisy water heater gurgling and clunking in the background). However; similar to eyes in the night, it just takes time for our senses to sharpen and readjust – for the beauty that’s present in the darkness to reveal itself.

In addition, the experience of seeing it live is an intensity matched by nothing else I’ve witnessed: Feeling the thunder in my chest of a live blast beat while dirty guitars relentlessly assault my ears with their rusty chainsaw treble. Being pressed by a wall of sound, without pause, without air, without room for breath, with no relief until the set is finally over. The whole time, being connected to myself and the world through nothing but raw emotion.

So: If it’s not all devil worship and ritual sacrifice – what exactly is it?

Most of the controversy around black metal originates from the murders and church burnings which occurred around the birth of the genre (technically its ‘second wave’). The extreme actions of these individuals (while critical to defining and developing the genre) is restricted to only a handful of incidents within the time span of a few years; hardly representative of the greater black metal community that exists today. Also, outside of these sensationalised events; the ‘satanic’ image portrayed by many black metal bands is exactly that, an image intended to provoke (similar to what can be found in other genres of metal and rock).

The continued association with satanism is one born out of misunderstanding. It’s not a huge leap of logic (albeit a false one) to go from pagan, to anti-Christian, to Satanic. While paganism and anti-Christian sentiments are commonplace in black metal, this does not automatically indicate Satanism. At the same time, it’s small jumps between connecting with your roots, to identifying with historic traditions, to being proud of your identity, to feeling your understanding of the world is superior to others, to discriminating against and promoting hate towards those who don’t share your roots. Black metal can be this and absolutely everything in between.

However; with 35,325 bands currently categorised under black metal on Metal Archives, it’s safe to say it’s only a small minority which sit at the extremes of religion and racism. The genre has also developed dramatically since the glory days of the late 90s – with subgenres as diverse as you could imagine. Whether black metal is now an ideology, or simply a music genre, is something for the individual to decide.

And: What does it mean to me?

Personally, black metal is symbolic of making a stand against the righteous. Of knowing who you are and what you believe in, and holding onto those beliefs in the face of resistance, oppression, violence and the threat of death. Of not pushing your own beliefs onto others. It is a common story around the world (e.g. in every colonised country) and it just so happens that second wave black metal was born in a culture of Norse/pagan roots, where the persecutors were Christians.

It is a form of expression which allows space for the intensity and full range of raw emotion which exists in us; often suppressed. Which acknowledges the wickedness which exists in human nature; instead of hiding from or ignoring it. It celebrates the sanctity of mother nature, and our historic spiritual connections to the earth.

Lastly; listening to it is sometimes a lesson in sitting with resistance, facing the unknown, persisting, and finding the subtle beauty beneath the surface.

Now: How exactly does that fit with yoga?

Yoga is all about connection. At it’s deepest level, connection with the self (which then facilitates connection with everything outside of ourselves).

To me, yoga is one tool to understand exactly who and what we are – differentiating between what is truly ours and what is conditioned or bestowed upon us by others. Learning to understand ourselves is a core aspect of yoga, and it is only by understanding what we believe in (and constantly questioning whether those beliefs still hold true), that we can truly stand up for ourselves in the face of the righteous.

Yoga is also a lesson in identifying and accepting the truth. In experiencing what is really there; completely, fully, and without shame or judgement. Being unapologetically your true self. Connecting with your raw, unfiltered emotions.

Lastly; like black metal, practising yoga has taught (and continues to teach) me to sit with resistance, face the unknown, persist, and to find the beauty in adversity (mentally, physically and spiritually).

Are they really so incompatible after all?

Don’t turn your back and try to run.
Fall into the chaos, soften into the discomfort.
Let it engulf you, and be open to what it has to offer.
Find beauty amongst the chaos. The chaos in simplicity.
The simplicity of beauty.


To experience Black Metal Yoga, join me in the bunker:
Vol. 1 on the 16. Nov
Regular sessions to start in the new year

Uchi-what-i?

Uchi-komi has different interpretations as its origins lie outside of the taiko world (E.g. Kendo and other martial arts).

The literal translation is along the lines of ‘to hit/beat/strike into’, like striking keys on a keyboard. However, its use outside Japan is mostly restricted to describe repetition training, or ‘drilling’, often with a focus on ‘proper form’ before adding complexity, speed and endurance.

I like to use it as an opportunity to reach/identify and break through the barriers which hold us back in our playing.

As a musical and physical art, taiko barriers come in different shapes. Whether it’s technique, physical fitness or mental grit/determination that’s holding you back – I feel that all of these can be addresed most efficiently with the mindful and steady, rhythmic movements (and 150% effort and attention!) of uchikomi.

My approach is always to play smarter, not harder 😊
(most importantly to save enough energy to have fun and enjoy at the same time 😎)

I’ll be leading a few uchikomi sessions over the next couple of months.
Come join us in the Bunker!
Oct 10. & 24.
Nov 7. & 21.

Back in Berlin: 09 & 10 Nov

Berliners, I’m coming back (and very excited about it)!

I’ll be giving a series of three workshops:

++ Sat 09 Nov ++
12-1400h: Breathing and movement
15-1700h: Connection and communication

++ Sun 10 Nov ++
11-1300h: Maaaaaaaa πŸ‘ (The space in between)

20€ per session, 50€ for all three.
Come move, flow and grow with me!

For registration email: Lilo @ Iki-Iki-Taiko.de
For more info email me: MoveFlowGrow @ gmail.com
😎😎πŸ₯³

I’m coming back, baby!

Reeeeeow!
I’m back in the Bunker next week 😎

Now with alternating weeks of:
– A – 2 hours with me, including 90 min non-stop uchikomi training
– B – 1 hour Wildcard session

Please note the time change:
!! New start time !!
!! 1800h !!
(Latecomers always welcome)

+ Uchikomi sessions with Mel +

30 minute warm-up and off-drum preparation
90 minute non-stop drumming!
With a focus on technique, endurance, and then complexity.
Repetitive, but never boring πŸ˜‰

+ Wildcard sessions +

60 minutes of off-drum fun.
An eclectic mix of themes; all relevant to taiko players but also helpful for anyone playing along in the game of life πŸ™‚


Upcoming Schedule:

10.10: Uchikomi (30 min prep, 90 min repetition training)
17.10: 1hr Wildcard – TBA*
24.10: Uchikomi
31.10: 1hr Wildcard – TBA*
07.11: Uchikomi
14.11: 1hr Wildcard – TBA*
21.11: Uchikomi
28.11: 1hr Wildcard – TBA*

*Theme to be announced the week before. Click here for session details.

And now for something completely different…

With winter on the way, it’s a good time to bunker down and turn our attention inwards. The perfect time to start, or continue (or re-start) a yoga practice.

Next season I’ll be mixing two more of my passions and offering something unique in Hamburg: Black Metal Yoga.
(Yes you read that right!)

Just a one off for now, but hopefully a weekly occurrence in the new year.
Meeting point: Kiosk Schatzkiste (S-Bahn Alte WΓΆhr), 1500h.

For updates and offerings, join the group:
www.facebook.com/groups/BlackMetalYoga

++ What to expect? ++
Basically, normal yoga but with no room for judgement, no competition, no bullshit… and with blast beats!
More introspective and about relaxation, connecting with yourself, your body and with the intensity of the music compared to average classes.

I love black metal for this because it’s the subtle shifts and changes beneath all the chaos – that you feel by letting go and surrendering to the flow of it all – where the melody and true beauty lie.
Kind of like life πŸ˜‰

I take my yoga pretty seriously (with body alignment and safety and the rest of it) – and this is no different – but that doesn’t mean it can’t be done with a light heart and a bit of fun.
Kind of like black metal, right? πŸ˜‰

In any case, my priority is always to create a space where you all feel comfortable, safe, and free to express yourselves without judgement. Consider me as less of a ‘teacher’ and more of a ‘guide’.

++ And if all goes well? ++

The plan is to start next year with multiple classes on one day a week.
Something like:

+ Vinyasa-style flow +
Moving the body with the breath through sequences of yoga poses.
1.5 hrs including setup, breathing/relaxation, yoga flow, corpse style relaxation/meditation to end.

+ Question and discussion session +
Content will depend on who is there and what questions come up, but it’s a chance for me to clarify things for the group or to go through foundations and basics for those new to yoga.
~45 min

+ Yin-style yoga +
Holding passive poses for 3-5 minutes each, to allow muscles and deeper connective tissues to relax in stillness. (Less rolling blast beats, and more sonic sound-scapes)
1 hr

Since nothing is set in stone yet, I’m still open to suggestions, wishes, feedback etc. for next year. So, come along to the trial session on the 16 Nov, let me know what works and what doesn’t, and we’ll end up with some great classes in 2020!