The North American Taiko Conference (NATC) 2017 attracted more than 700 participants from eight countries. Taiko Community Alliance endeavoured to capture and honor the experiences of those who took part while learning valuable lessons for the next iteration of the conference. NATC 2017 was therefore evaluated slightly differently in comparison to past conferences, and the data and findings are currently being considered by the TCA board. Meanwhile, some key findings are summarized below for all interested members of the taiko community.
1. Why do people take part in the North American Taiko Conference?
Three key themes emerged from responses submitted via the pre-conference survey:
- Learning, skills development and improvement. 259 (75%) respondents expressly stated that this motivated them to attend NATC 2017. The terms were often used interchangeably by conference-goers.
- Networking/meeting people. This was expressed in a range of ways. 44 respondents (13%) used the term “networking” whereas just over a third of conference-goers wanted to “meet” people, including Workshop Leaders, Vendors, fellow Participants and existing friends. For many, friendship and connection was the driving force: a quarter expressly referenced their taiko “friends” and/or “family” whereas 18% set out to “(re-)connect” with others. In short, social relations – be they for the purposes of friendship, connection or professional advancement – were a key driver for a significant minority of attendees.
- Enjoyment – 21% referenced “fun” and/or “enjoyment” whereas others implicitly referenced this theme (e.g. “I love taiko ten and taiko jam and the post jam party!”)
In addition to these three principal themes, conference attendees shared a broad range of drivers for attending conference, all of which were listed by less than 5 attendees.
2. Which activities allowed conference-goers to realize their goals?
More than 70% of players who expressed an opinion thought that the following activities definitely helped to realize their objectives for attending NATC 2017: workshops (79%), Taiko Jam concert (75%), Taiko Ten concert (74%), and informal discussions/networking (73%). The activities that less commonly attracted strong agreement were Matsuri Crushers’ Battle and discussion sessions.
3. Does NATC facilitate artistic development?
Attendees were asked to reflect upon their individual development. Specifically, we asked whether they had developed artistically and, if so, how and why. This reflects the strong theme of skills development/learning as an objective from the pre-conference survey as well as NATC’s goal to “support the artistic development of the art-form.”
As shown in figure 2, almost two-thirds of respondents stated that they had improved their practice during the course of the conference. While it appears that a significant minority – almost 1 in 5 – had not developed their taiko practice, this can be accounted for by their registration type – all were registered as either volunteers or chaperones.
This data suggests that all other conference-goers universally experienced growth in their taiko practice. This is very positive, particularly in light of the pre-conference objectives set by attendees. Furthermore, it speaks to the contribution made by NATC 2017 Volunteers and Chaperones who gave their time to ensure others had a positive experience and passed on a unique opportunity to develop their own taiko skills – thank you!
When considering how and why players developed, two principal themes emerged: first, access to high-quality instruction in forms and techniques not normally accessible to attendees, particularly o-daiko and percussion instruments; and second, a particular focus on movement and the taiko-body connection. Although players referenced a host of different styles (e.g. naname, miyake) and instruments (chappa, atarigane etc.), the following responses are broadly typical of the two themes:
Attendees (unsurprisingly) referenced workshops as sources of development but also concerts and informal discussions. It seems that respondents drew upon the ecosystem of NATC 2017 in order to develop artistically.
4. Does NATC have wider reach?
With 157 groups represented, we sought to understand the reach of NATC 2017 in terms of sharing skills and repertoire with the wider community. We therefore asked attendees if they felt able to share some of the knowledge (e.g. the demographic characteristics of members of the taiko community) with taiko players who could not attend conference as well as repertoire or specific taiko skills.
For both, a majority stated that they felt able to share beyond the confines of the conference, although this dropped to less than 7 in 10 when examining repertoire and skills. Whether attendees have gone ahead and shared, however, is quite a different matter.
5. What else did we learn?
Collectively, those who took part in the NATC evaluation process provided almost 20,000 data points! What is presented above is a snapshot of the rich and detailed information provided. All feedback is currently being reviewed by the TCA Board in order to ensure the next iteration of the NATC best meets the needs of the taiko community.
TCA would like to thank everyone who took part in the evaluation. You have provided us with a detailed insight into your experiences at the conference. Thank you! Arigatou gozaimasu!
See the full report here: Evaluation report – for website – updated
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License. Created by the Taiko Community Alliance, taikocommunityalliance.org 2017.