dewanakatta's guide to improve on Taiko no Tatsujin (arcade)

Hello, everyone! My, this is going to be a looooooong post on how you can improve on your Taiko drumming skills in the arcade. This guide serves not as a benchmark to set things or whatever, but as a recommendation on how you can improve your drumming skills. Ready to read? Let's go! Want to be good in Taiko drumming in the arcade? Here's a few recommendations:
a) Make your own drumstick/bachi. Note that it has to be relatively light, but heavy enough so that the machine can sense your hits. You don't want one which is too light till the machine can't sense anything nor do you want one which is too heavy till you get tired easily! Note that this takes TRIAL AND ERROR and you'll need to keep making till you find one which is suitable for you! As for me, I bought a long pole stick from the hardware shop and used a saw to cut it. After that, I made it smooth by scrubbing it using sand paper.

PLEASE NOTE THAT YOU WANT TO MAKE IT REALLY SMOOTH SO YOU DON'T GET BLISTERS! The contact between your skin and the bachi will cause a friction and will hurt your hands without you realizing. They can be very painful and you tend to get them often during your first rounds of active Taiko drumming. However, your skin will build resistance against it after a period of time and they happen a lot less frequently. The best thing to do to avoid blisters is to cover your bachi with a form of coating you are comfortable with handling (as pictured above)

b) Be prepared to practice A LOT and be patient!

If you want to be good, be prepared to practice a lot and DON'T RUSH! Sure, everyone who plays Taiko would love to be godly and full combo and achieve high scores all the songs they can find. Why bother to rush to pass a song you keep failing if you don't feel like drumming anymore? Doing so will put stress on yourself and you will take a longer period of time to even pass the song. Play the song only when you really want to and don't bother about what other people say.

c) Read the notes properly and not just simply mash them
I'm very sure any of you who reads to this point would have came across a very difficult setting of notes you find hard to hit. My only recommendation is to READ those notes with the best of ability and train yourself to hit them correctly. Practice makes perfect and there are a lot of ways to remember notes. For instance, you can use Taikojiro and Osu for note reading practices. I have provided over 200 authentic Oni songs in Taikojiro here and you're bound to find a song you're having trouble with! If you have the Nintendo Wii and Taiko game, I recommend you to practice your note reading abilities there as well!

d) Need not hit the drum so hard!
Please remember that playing Taiko in the arcade is NOT a showcase of strength and to show how strong you are! There are many players who play Taiko and it's important to keep them in mind! The drum's sensitivity DECREASES with time and hitting the drum really hard would decrease its sensitivity even faster! A common practice in Japan is to cover the drum with a cloth to reduce impact. A light hit is enough for the drum to sense your hit and you won't easily tire out when playing really hard songs! It's a win-win situation and other players will be thankful.

That wraps up points to note when playing in the arcade. Read on for some interesting stuff...

Drumming styles
a) One-hand for each type of note style During the time I just started drumming in the arcade, I used my right hand to hit the Don notes and my left hand to hit the Kat notes. There are PROS and CONS to this style of drumming.

Pros: Can hit more complicated note patterns, accuracy increase

Cons: Not usable in high BPM songs, can tire you out easily

b) Balanced style This is the style that a majority of Taiko drummers use when playing. It's a style where you hit both Dons and Kats without any hand use restriction. This is the style you want to get good at and master when playing

Pros: Goes with the flow of the song, standardized way of hitting, movement is natural

Cons: Can be difficult to control and master especially when it comes to irregular note patterns and high BPM songs
Improvement guide

Here's a guide of songs to try and practice all the way from beginner (Oni) - [I presume everyone who reads this play Oni] level to godly level!

Beginner For starters, you'll need to get used to looking at Dons and Kats on the screen. Don't be afraid to ask for guidance and don't be afraid to fail! Start off by mastering short streams of 3 and 5 notes. Usually 5-7 star songs has those kinds of notes.

Recommended songs (not all are mentioned): きみのあかり (Kimi no Akari) - 5 star, 夏祭り (Natsu Matsuri) - 6 star, 魔法をかけて!(Mahou wo Kakete!) - 6 star, GO MY WAY!! - 7 star, ヴィリアム。テル序曲 (William Tell Overture) - 7 star

Intermediate I presume you have mastered 3 stream and 5 stream patterns? ^^ Good job, you're one step closer to achieve godhood! It's now time to train more on your note reading skills. Intermediate players should practice on reading notes in two stream patterns like DK or KD and practice on that, because you're going to need master it to play difficult songs! Not only that, you should also try to master longer note streams, build up your stamina for longer songs and notes in 1/6 ticks. Intermediate players should try to master 7-8 star songs.

Recommended songs (not all are mentioned): 双頭の鷲の下に (Underneath The Two-Headed Eagle) - 7 star, Jungle P - 7 star, パパマママック (Papa Mama Mac) - 7 star, 季曲 ~seasons of Asia~ (Kikyoku ~seasons of Asia) - 7 star

Advanced This is the stage where a lot of people have trouble passing. The only recommendation I can give is to practice and not give up. People in this stage tend to get stuck for a very long time and hence a lot of them give up because they can't improve further. Players at this level should focus on getting used to high BPM songs (and BPM changes) and more difficult note patterns, especially ones which are extremely close to each other. Advanced players should try to master 8-9 star songs, including the easier 10 star songs like Classic Medley (Rock Version), Taiko Time and ROTTERDAM NATION (FOO MIX)

Recommended songs (not all are mentioned): ブラック★ロックシューター (Black Rock Shooter) - 8 star, SORA-I アースライズ (SORA-I Earth Rise) - 8 star, スクロール。ミカ (Scroll Mika) - 10 star, DON'T CUT - 9 star,春遊 ~happy excursion~ 「裏」(Shunyuu ~happy excursion~ [Ura]} - 9 star, メカデス (Mekadesu) - 9 star, KAGEKIYO - 9 star, 紅 (Kurenai) - 9 star, SORA-III ヘリオポーズ (SORA-III Heliopause) - 9 star, 天妖ノ舞 (Tenyou no Mai) - 9 star, さいたま2000 (Saitama2000) - 9 star, 月下美人 (Gekkabijin) - 9 star

Note: The Four Godly Songs/Elite Four Songs are 10 star songs that needs a high skill to even pass it. It is considered to be godly to even pass it and even godlier to full combo these songs. The Four Godly Songs (up to Taiko 14) are...

1) Rotter Tarmination 「裏」- Fast BPM and confusing, irregular note patterns. Not to mention the impossible to burst balloon at the end ^^;;

2) 燎原ノ舞 (Ryougen no Mai) - Very fast BPM and difficult, irregular note streams makes this song a popular play choice

3) きたさいたま2000 (Kita Saitama2000) - I recommend passing this first before trying the others. Kita has a fast BPM and also irregular note patterns. The note patterns in this song set a benchmark for the other Godly songs. If you can read the notes in Kita, you can follow the notes in the other Godly songs at a faster pace

4) はたラク2000 (Hataraku2000) - Hataraku2000 has a strangely slow BPM for a Godly song. But don't be fooled by it's initial difficulty, the Go-go time in this song is extremely hard to hit due to fast BPM and also the notes are extremely close to each other!

Expert This is where players are well versed with the note distributions in popular songs and practice them. This is also where players can practice the Four Godly Songs/Elite Four Songs if they are ready. Players in this stage have a high tendency to perfect 8 star Oni songs and a lot of 9 stars and 10 stars as well. Not only that, they are the type of players who are passionate about Taiko and want to keep going further (but can also be stuck here for a long time). At this stage, players should practice and play 9-10 star Oni songs.

Recommended songs (not all are mentioned): ヒカリノカナタヘ (Hikari no Kanata he) - 10 star, 夜桜謝肉祭 (Yozakura Shanikusai) - 10 star [both versions], mint tears - 10 star, 恋文2000 (Koibumi2000) - 10 star, EkiBEN2000 - 10 star, 十露盤2000 (Soroban2000) - 10 star, アルムジカac14.0V (Arumujika ac14.0V) - 9 star, DON'T CUT 「裏」(DON'T CUT [Ura]) - 10 star, タイコタイム「裏」 (Taiko Time [Ura]) - 10 star, Kamikaze Remix - 10 star, X-DAY2000 - 10 star, The Carnivorous Carnival - 10 star

Godly Congratulations! Your hard work has finally paid off! Players at this stage are able to play and full combo just about any song in Taiko no Tatsujin! Even if a new song comes up, they take a shorter amount of time to learn to pass and eventually full combo them! There is little advise I can give to players at this level, just to follow where your heart tells you and keep practicing!

Useful links - aquabluu's Taiko blog. It's an EXCELLENT source of Taiko news and guides in English and you can also learn more about some songs rather than just playing it! Highly recommended to visit there :) (Japanese)- A useful guide for you to recognize and remember the BPM and note distributions in songs

I hope you have enjoyed reading this guide and may it serve you well in your journey to become a good Taiko no Tatsujin player! Remember, don't be frustrated and stressed out from playing Taiko. Always remember that hard and honest work will always pay off and no Taiko player is godly overnight. It takes a long time to practice and perfect. Enjoy yourself while playing and learn from others who are willing to teach you!