Special Award (Japan)
"After Encountering the Drums"
Shota Wakimoto (14, male, junior high school student) Nara Prefecture

I was in the first term of fifth grade at my local elementary school when I first encountered the drums. I could never have imagined what drums were really like.

Our teacher brought a drum set all the way to school. I was quite surprised but immediately asked to touch them. There was a kick drum, three small drums, two cymbals, a strange pair of double cymbals, and so on. It was all so interesting.

One day, a few days later, a man came to the music class in our school. This man was one of the members of a rock band our teacher played in. He was the drummer and heíd come to teach us drumming. At the end of the class, we had a chance to drum by ourselves. Feeling that Iíd picked up the basic idea by listening to the man play, I decided to give it a try myself. When it came to drumming, my whole body was a bag of nerves. But somehow I managed to play. Suddenly I knew how to drum; I hoped Iíd get another chance to play.

Another day in music class, our teacher asked if anybody wanted to drum in the school music event that year. ďIíll do itĒ, I said, raising my hand confidently. But another student had also raised his hand. Eventually he was chosen to be the drummer. There was nothing for me to do but wait for another chance to drum.

In the second term after the summer vacation, I got some good news from my teacher: I was invited to play a song with the teacherís band as the opening act for my piano recital. I was really happy to hear that. It was all the more exciting because we would be playing at a large concert hall called Kagirohi Hall. It would be my first time ever to perform on stage. I would play the drums, of course. The tune was ďImagineĒ by John Lennon. I had learned the drumming part by listening to the tune and being taught by my teacher.

Although I was anxious about whether it would go well on stage, I did my best to keep drumming anyway. It turned out successfully in the end, with lots of applause and cheers. Since then, I have experienced a lot of different stages as a drummer: a summer festival in my old kindergarten; a farewell party for sixth grade students at elementary school; a live performance with my teacherís band; and a cultural festival at a braille school, to name just a few.

A short while after my first performance on stage, my teacher gave me a battered old drum set he had been using for at least ten years. ďI can practice drumming anytime!Ē I jumped for joy. Since then I have practiced in my house, taking it at my own pace. Having decided I really wanted to improve my drumming, I started going to drum school in the summer of sixth grade.

One day, after Iíd become used to drumming, I had a small accident. I broke the pedal of the kick drum. There was nothing for it but to buy a new pedal. With my birthday approaching, I was given a great pedal set with twin pedals. It was something Iíd wanted for a long time. I felt on the top of the world.

Soon after that, I had another accident. This time, I tore the skin of my snare drum. So I went to a music shop to get a new skin. After that, I broke a drumstick and tore the skin of my bass drum. The more I replaced the parts of my drum set, the newer it gradually became. This made me happy. If I tried asking my mother to buy a new drum set now, though, she would never agree to it. I have mixed feelings about that.

Iíd like to be a professional drummer in the future. Although I donít know what my chances are, Iíll be playing with professional musicians at a club this May. I heard they once played at the Kohaku Singing Contestóa TV program on the NHK channel. Iíll try to do my best and not miss this chance. Wish me luck.

Iíll devote myself to practice so I can become a professional drummer. I want to be a great drummeróone who can play any tune or phrase I want.

I wish I could say that my big dream is to be the best drummer in the world, but first Iíll have to work hard to become the best in Japan.


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