皆で文化会館を綺麗に Group Effort to Clean Up the Bunka Hall

2009.05.01: 青い目のおもてなし This American’s Omotenashi

Bunka Hall Clean-Up






Our town's Bunka Kaikan cultural hall is used by a variety of local groups. Once a year, those groups gather to help clean up the Hall. I went with the other Kamiyamada Okagura Preservation Group members to volunteer with the flower pots and gardens. I dragged our two sons along to give them experience with volunteering. I feel that's an important part of raising kids.

Speaking of the Okagura group, it's been 3 years now since I joined the lion dance troupe and started learning to play the flute. I was told at the start that the flute is notoriously difficult to learn, and that it would take around 3 years to get used to it. There is no sheet music for this kind of flute, so you have to learn by watching other flutists fingers and listening to the melody. It's been especially difficult for me, because I have absolutely no musical background, and anyone who has heard my karaoke singing will vouch for how I can't carry a tune. I still find myself having to watch other flutists, and just faking the parts I don't have figured out yet.

The Okagura experience has been really rewarding, though. We volunteer for things like this Clean-Up, and perform all over town, for a person's 106-year-old birthday, Arato Castle's cherry blossom time, Chishiki-ji Temple's Spring Festival, Kamiyamada Onsen Summer Festival, Habeshina Shrine's Fall Festival, Zenkoji, Kamiyamada Preschool, etc., etc. In some ways, our group's existence is for the benefit of the whole town. And the town seems to recognize that. I get comments all the time about how hard we work. (See here for one example.)

So I was really shocked when at our last performance, one person came up afterwards and said, "Tyler, your fingers weren't matching the other flutists." I fumbled a reply about just faking it during those times, but the comment really got me thinking. Here it's been 3 years, and I still haven't mastered the flute. Maybe I'm just not meant to do Okagura. Maybe I am just getting in the way of the other members with my off-key notes, and should just quit. But then I think of the grateful face of the 106-year old lady, and the smiling faces of the preschool kids. Okagura is too important to give up. I just need to practice more!

Next time I see that person who made the negative comment, I'll ask her to teach me how to play the flute.


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