Sunday, May 6, 2012

Taiko Drumming

How did this happen? I'm a member of a taiko drumming group. I have now performed three times. I can do three songs pretty well and two songs okay. I'm always in the back row so the audience doesn't see me all that much, and I can make mistakes and not beat myself up over it. The thing is, I WANT to perform now. And I want to improve and be near as good as the other members of the group. We started learning a new song on Friday which is done fast and furious. I'm in heaven.

When I started going to the lessons, I found them to be fun and interesting, but I was happy with the lessons only. I have never done anything like this before, and it was amazing to me that I was actually capable. Five of us Zen center refugees began at about the same time. That helped. We were already a group of friends who were just taking on something new.

The Kenshin Taiko group is sponsored by the local Japanese Christian Church. We learn and practice at the church every Monday and Friday evening. Our main teacher is Ron, the fellow right in the front of the photo. He learned taiko when he was stationed in Japan with the Air Force. He is such a good drummer and a good teacher as well. I am so grateful for his patience with me especially because I am the one in the group who always takes a extra time to catch on to how things need to go. (And of course, the other teachers are great too...Laura, Bo, Sandy, Gigi, Stephen...I love them all.)

All anyone has to do is to show up. Lessons are all free, in hopes that things will "stick" and new people will become regular members. Since I have been going, the 5 of us are all performing now, and a few young people have been showing up often enough so that I know them. Two new people came last Friday..we'll see if they return.

The best part for me is to be part of this new community. I would never have met most of my new friends were it not for taiko. We are a very varied group of folks. I wonder how it is that all of us came to be here together. Doesn't matter. We're here now.

I was totally amazed when I got asked back in February or so if I wanted to join the group in performance. Me? Drumming on stage? In front of an audience? I turned won the first offer, but then said, sure, what the heck. Now I want to do everything.

We performed last Saturday at the local Japanese cultural festival, Nihon Matsuri. It was a pretty big deal. The consul general and his wife came from Denver and presented cherry trees to the two Japanese churches and to several other places in the city & county. A whole pile of politicians were there including the local member of the US House of Representatives.

I have to say we were the real "big hit" of the whole day. We had people in every seat and standing as deep as I could see. The cheers and applause were overwhelming.

My friend Sheri was watching. She was seated next to a young man, maybe in his 20's. He was cheering and clapping and commented to Sheri how he really loved it. Sheri told him that if he wanted to join the group he could, but he said he didn't have time. Then he said something like "it looks like there is even a lady in her 50's up there!" Sheri said to him, "Well, I happen to be 50, and I know for sure there are two women back there who are each 60 because they are my friends."

Taiko drumming...never to late to start.

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