Meet the Song Club and Fue Club
The majority of our performing members joined our group after falling in love with the energy and intensity of Japanese drumming. But did you know that many of our members have talents and aspirations in other musical arenas? Some sing, some play other instruments, and some do both! Now our members are bringing those talents to the group through our fue and song clubs.
Fue club was first started by Jaci Lett, who recently retired after 17 years with the group. The fue, or shinobue, is a flute made from bamboo. Jaci has played flute with various ensembles through the years, and started fue club to teach other members playing techniques and some songs that are part of our repertoire. With Jaci’s retirement, current member Elizabeth Mager has taken the lead to share her experience in playing fue, which she began studying while living in Japan.
Our fue club includes both experienced musicians as well as individuals who are brand new to the instrument. Learning the fue can be challenging, even for our members who already play other instruments. The fue has only seven holes but getting the right sound and the correct note can be incredibly difficult; for the newest people, it can be a challenge just to produce a sound!
Elizabeth has introduced proper fingering techniques to those of us just beginning to learn fue, along with a few simple songs to practice; for others who have played fue but need refinement, she has helped with more complex fingering as well as intonation to add shape and emotion to the music.
Elizabeth has also introduced the song club to develop vocal pieces that complement our normal repertoire. Elizabeth has sung in choral groups in school as well as with her father’s choir, and while she reminds us that she’s not a professional, she has introduced a number of exercises to train our voices and improve pronunciation in unfamiliar languages.
Song club has been a fun opportunity for members who are looking for new ways to contribute to the group, but can’t devote the time to learn a new instrument. Others, who were previously active in choral groups, are excited to be singing again - this time exploring music in unfamiliar languages and from other cultures. In recent months, we have learned two traditional songs that come from the indigenous Ainu culture of northern Japan. With continued practice, we hope to introduce these pieces in upcoming performances!
Recording in Progress!
If you've been to the Missouri Botanical Garden Japanese Festival, you may have seen us accompanying Bon Odori, or summer festival dancing at the Yagura Stage. We provide live accompaniment for the dancers, but recorded music may also be heard throughout the demonstrations. We just completed a recording to accompany Bon Odori and hope to have it ready for the festival this Labor Day weekend. Curious? Join us at the Japanese Festival to check it out!