Fine Tuning (入念に調律されたドラム)
Sakurazawa Yasunori is truly one of the best musicians in the world and I consider his approach to music to be firmly grounded in classic method, and yet contemporary in spirit. I would say that his playing style has evolved into what I would describe as a very "sophisticated form of singing,” with a wisdom and message that transcends the bounds of any one instrument or configuration.
I had the opportunity to sit in and photograph one of his drum lessons, which I found to be extremely informative. His teaching style is not unlike that of my Minyo sensei—built on patience and passion for the art. For this lesson, Sakura paired up with Atsuto, and offered insight in a sort of a tag-team formation, to one of Atsuto’s students. Both instructors critiqued, listened, and coached the student in their own respective styles, offering the student a valuable learning experience. Wow-- This was a very fortunate drum student! It was obvious that both Sakura and Atsuto are not merely drummers showing students what they do, they are in fact bone-a-fide teachers of the art. Furthermore, I could tell that they had put a significant amount of time and effort into constructing the lesson which was jokingly named “Orekama,” which is basically saying “me-nome” or “me-tronome,” as if to say “I am a metronome."
The lesson centered on a piece of music that wasn’t written with traditional notation, but rather in a sort of “language” that assigned a vowel in Katakana to each drum or beat. The student would then memorize or read the “sentence” and execute it on the drums, as a composition. I felt bad because both Sakura and I walked in on Atsuto’s lesson, which had to be intimidating for the student — Japan’s greatest drummer and a foreign photographer watching his every move! We assured him that we would protect his privacy and the sanctity of the lesson, so those photographs will remain in the photo archive. Regardless, the student performed well and seemed to learn a lot during the short time we were in the room.
It had just rained in Ikebukuro and Sakura San ventured down the street, shielded from the elements in classic rock n’ roll style. We were on our way to his friend’s show and to meet up with Atsuto, after having finished a master lesson. I comfortably assumed the role of Photo Journalist, photographing and studying the ambassador of drums. On this particular evening, Sakura offered input with regards to the tuning of one of the kits to be used at the show that night. It was an experience for the scrapbooks!