Wednesday
Oct302013

Should I Learn to Play Taiko Drums? (Yes! Yes, you should!)

Should I learn to play Taiko drums?

If you want to learn to play Taiko and you are debating whether or not you can, the answer to this question is probably “yes”. In my own personal experience, I wanted to learn taiko drums for many years, but was hesitant because I didn’t think that I could.  There were numerous concerns holding me back, but once I decided to give it a try, I found that all of those fears were unfounded. What are some of the reasons you might be hesitant to join a taiko class?

 

I’m too old/too young.

Probably not.

Age is not really a factor. Taiko truly is an art form that can be enjoyed at just about any age. At the Taiko Center we have students as young as 2 years old and as old as 70! And 70 is by no means an age limit. 70, 80, 90 years old... everyone is welcome!

 

 

 

I am not a musician.

No problem! Many of our students come to us with little or no musical background. We teach our classes in such a way that musicians, as well as non-musicians are able to participate, learn, succeed and enjoy themselves.

 

 

 

 

  

 

 

I don’t have the physical stamina/body type for taiko drumming.

I admit, this held me back for quite sometime. Many people are introduced to taiko drumming at a concert given by professional taiko drummers like Kodo, Yamato or Tao. At the concerts you may have seen something like this...

...slightly intimidating, to say the least. It is important to keep in mind, however, that these touring groups are professional performers and the physically demanding nature of their program is indeed, part of the performance.  The majority of people who enjoy playing taiko all around the world have much more average body types.

On the other hand, it is not hard to work up a sweat playing taiko drums and I wouldn’t be the first person taiko has inspired to live a more healthy lifestyle (which are two great reasons to start playing taiko).

 

Start up costs are too expensive.

The only required start up investment to start taking taiko lessons at the Great Lakes Taiko Center is for a pair of sticks ($8).  We provide drums for you to play in class and at performances.  What about practicing at home? We teach many methods in class, which you can use to practice at home without a drum.  Of course, if you would like to purchase your own drum, we can help you with that, but it is certainly not required.

 

 

 

 I don’t like to perform in front of people.

Then don’t do it. Performing on the stage for an audience is a wonderful growth experience and a good, motivating goal.  At the Taiko Center, we try to provide you with various opportunities throughout the year to perform in a group, but they are always optional and if you would rather not perform, we respect that decision.

 

 

 

As you can see, taiko drumming is a very user friendly art form.  Although there are many highly skilled players, the entry level is also very accessible to the average person.  If you can hold on to a stick and hit a drum, you can play taiko.  No matter your age, race, gender, fitness level, etc. you are welcome at the Taiko Center.

There are openings for entry level classes starting in January. If you are interested in signing up please visit our Class Registration page. If you have questions, concerns, or would like to come to visit/watch a class sometime, write to raion.taiko@gmail.com or call 248-773-8899.

Don’t wait 5 years to try taiko like I did. Give it a try now and join us. You’ll be glad you did!

Wednesday
May152013

Give Taiko a Try this Summer

After a long, cold winter, we are gearing up for the summer season at the Taiko Center. The events and performances really start to pick up in May and June. You can look for the Taiko Center Community Drummers at the finish line for Northville's Kona Run on June 8.  Raion Taiko will be in Holland this weekend (May 18) and at the Hamburg Family Festival on June 15. In July, Raion Taiko will head Up North to Alpena and Lake City.

The Taiko Center will not be offering any introductory taiko classes again until September, but we will run a class that is "beginner friendly": Miyake Daiko. Miyake Daiko is a simple piece, in that it really only has one phrase that is repeated over and over. Playing this phrase with proper form, however, is a challenge for even experienced players. For 10 weeks over the summer, we will introduce this piece to students. Anyone who wants to have fun and give their legs a good workout, this class is for you. No experience required. Just send an email to raion.taiko@gmail.com to register or for more information.

Miyake Taiko Drummers (Miyakejima Geino Doushikai)

More Information about Miyake Daiko: http://www.miyaketaiko.com/en/

Whether you join one of our classes, or come out to see a performance, please give Taiko a try this summer!

Friday
Nov022012

Taiko at the World Series - Detroit Tigers

 

At the Taiko Center, we have had a few opportunities to perform outdoors in downtown Detroit. It is always a unique and fun experience to be surrounded by the big buildings, a lot of people and to hear the deep sounds of taiko drums echoing around the city.

So when the Detroit Tigers made the playoffs last month, I decided that if they could make it to the World Series, the Taiko Center would pack up the drums, go down to the game and cheer on the Tigers from the streets.

Once they punched their ticket to the World Series, through the connections of one of our students, we were able to get a spot right along Woodward in front of Comerica Park. We arrived on site at 5 PM, set up the drums and started playing on and off up until the game began around 8 PM. Once the sun went down it was pretty cold, so we kept playing from time to time to stay warm. Many people stopped to listen on their way to the game, took pictures, videos, stoped to chat and so on. Many people looked happy to see us. I hope we brought some joy to everyone who was down in the city.

 

Unfortunately, the Tigers lost that night and went on to get swept by the Giants the following day. We still enjoyed performing and since the Tigers are favored to get back to the World Series in 2013, we may just have to plan on heading down again.

See more pictures at our Facebook Page.

 

Tuesday
Sep252012

The Turtle Pig Song - Kids Taiko Class

Last week I shared a video of our older kids class and about the challenges of learning and performing one of the most famous pieces in the taiko world, Miyake Daiko. (If you'd like to see them perform it live, please come to West Oaks shopping center in Novi this Saturday (Sept 29) around 3:30 PM).

This week I have another kids class and video to introduce. Our younger class, ranging in age from about 4 years old through 1st grade, meets on Mondays in Novi from 5 - 5:45 PM. Many of our first graders from last year moved up to the next level, so there aren't as many students, but it is also a great time to join the class. We are currently enrolling students, ages 4 through 1st grade for taiko classes in Novi on Mondays and Wednesdays in Ann Arbor. Check the Taiko Classes page or send an email to raion.taiko@gmail.com for more information.

About two years ago, we were honored to have Hono-O-Daiko as a guest to help us celebrate the one year anniversary of the Great Lakes Taiko Center. During that visit, Hono-O-Daiko member and leader, Akemi Jige taught the Kame Buta Song to our children's class. Kame means "Turtle" and Buta means "Pig" in Japanese.

For a few months, the class has been working on getting this song ready to perform. They are getting close. We still have a few more lines to learn, but here is a shortened version, which we will also perform this Saturday at West Oaks in Novi. Enjoy...

Wednesday
Sep192012

Learning Miyake Taiko at the Great Lakes Taiko Center

This past spring, we decided to challenge our Kids/Youth class (2nd - 5th grade) to learn a challenging taiko piece. The piece was made famous by the KODO drummers, who learned it from the Tsumuras of Miyake-Jima.

Miyake Taiko is one of those pieces that probably just about every taiko group has attempted, or at least desired to perform. The piece is simple. It is basically one phrase repeated over and over, but the form is physically challenging. It requires a good amount of endurance as well as significant flexibility. For most adults, unless you've been playing this piece since you were a child, it is probably not possible to achieve the ideal flexibility for this song. It requires that you squat with your feet apart and your buttocks as close to the floor as possible. Then the player must move back and forth parallel to the floor, keeping their back perpendicular. It is very difficult for most adults to achieve a low enough stance and therefore, if we choose to play the piece, we just have to accept whatever depth we can get to.

Kids, on the other hand, are still very flexible and most can move with proper form without a problem. Since late spring, we have been working with our Kids/Youth class (2nd - 5th grade, Mondays 6 - 7 PM) on the piece, Miyake Taiko and they will be performing it for the first time on Sept 29 and again on Oct 7. It is a challenging piece and although we still have a long way to go, they have made significant progress. Here is a video from this past Monday's class. Some of the students only joined the class a month ago, but they have been able to catch on quickly.

The Great Lakes Taiko Center offers classes for children and adults of all ages. If you live in South Eastern Michigan are interested in learning to play the taiko drums, please check our class offerings and find a class that would suit you, or send an email to raion.taiko@gmail.com to get more information.