Student Group Fine Work (Japan)
"I Will Resonate"
11th Grade, Aomori School for the Blind and Visually Impaired
I’m learning how to play the Shamisen. At first, I didn’t enjoy it but I had no choice but to practice. I was in 7th grade when I began to enjoy the Shamisen. I played at the school art festival and the applause I received felt great.
For a long time, I had practiced and played songs written specifically for the Shamisen. Now I also practice accompaniment parts for Japanese folk songs. My teacher, Mr. Manji, asked, “Do you want to try to play folk songs as part of a group? You are good enough now.” I said “yes,” but I was feeling anxious. I had played together with Mr. Manji, but never with anyone else. Playing the Shamisen itself was hard enough. “What have I done!,” I thought to myself.
I listened to the song many times and practiced hard. It is difficult to play an accompanying part of a folk song. The drum comes in between verses, so I need to play to the beat. I have to listen to the song and the beat at the same time. It’s really difficult.
I couldn’t play along with the song. I was frustrated for not being able to do it. I cried once. I practiced while crying. My teacher and my mother told me it was OK, and I calmed down and went back to practice, feeling relieved. I practiced using a cassette tape. As I listened over and over, I started to get the timing right. I played the drumbeat in my head, “don, don, don” as I practiced. I learned the timing of my part by listening to the drumbeat and the Shamisen tune of “ja-ja-jangle, jangle”. But I couldn’t actually play right away. Practice, practice, practice. I had to practice so many times.
Last year, I held a very short concert at school. Many people came to listen to my performance and I received big rounds of applause. This was my best experience ever. I played my favorite songs and the songs that I was good at. The concert was about 10 minutes in total, including my greeting and performance. I had planned to give a few more performances—another small concert at school, and I also had plans to visit a nursing home. But influenza was going around, so I could neither hold a concert nor go to practice. It was a real shame.
I’d like to hold more concerts this year. I will practice hard to be like Mr. Manji, who can bring people joy.
My favorite song is a piece called “Scent of Tsugaru.” It has a great rhythm and makes people want to dance. I feel great when I play it. I also like the part where the tune hits low notes. The bass sounds resonate in my stomach. I want to make my next concert something wonderful.
My first year in high school has come to an end. I used to just fall silent often, but now I do it much less. And when I am in trouble or I get lost, I now actively ask for help or do something about it myself.
One of my resolutions for this year, the most important one, is to make an effort to communicate clearly what I want to say. Other resolutions include: to improve the speed and accuracy of my Braille and win the first prize in the Braille competition, to learn to use a computer to write and obtain information, to participate in practical training and active-learning programs for my future and talk with many people there, and to practice and become better at the Shamisen and give a performance outside my school.
A poem titled “To the Unknown” has been posted in my classroom since last year. Allow me to share my favorite part:
“I am resonatingLike this poem, I am an egg in a shell. I am resonating a little inside. I am scratching the surface to break free. The shell is getting thinner. It’s starting to crack. I am inside, resonating a little.
The collective resolution of my homeroom is “to resonate” this year. We were taught that “to resonate” means to take action and expand outward. This suits me and my resolutions for this year.
I want to go on stage and give a performance this year. I get nervous, but I want to go expand outward.
I’m resonating a little. I want to resonate more to make the hole on the shell bigger and to at least push my shoulders out while I’m a junior. I’m resonating.