About Japanese Taiko Training
The members of taiko go through many hours of intense physical and mental training before they are allowed to perform.
“The essence of learning taiko is not only the skillful playing of percussion instruments, but also the discipline of mind and body, in the spirit of complete respect and unity among the drummers. It is also the ultimate challenge of reaching the point of unity of the drummer's spirit with the drum.” ~ Grand Master Seiichi Tanaka, Founder of the San Francisco Taiko Dojo (1968).
Four Major Elements of Japanese Taiko Drumming
Karada – Discipline of body strength, power, stamina
Kokoro – Discipline of mind, self-control & spirit
Waza – Musical skills, physical expression, rhythm
Rei – Communication manner, harmony, language, unit of spirit between players & drum
The history of taiko is interwoven in the history of the Japanese people. Regarded as sacred since ancient times, the drum was first used to drive away evil spirits and pests that could harm crops. In times of drought, the drums imitated the sound of thunder, to force the spirit of rain into action.
At harvest festival time, the taiko was joyfully beaten in thanks for a bountiful crop. This aspect of taiko drumming has faded with modernization, and what was once an integral part of the daily life of the villagers is now festival relic.
About Boulder Taiko Lessons
Boulder Taiko’s teaching method and essence are based upon the four basic elements taught at the San Francisco Taiko Dojo: Mind, Skill, Body, and Manner. All four elements are essential and should be studied equally so that they all become single form.
For beginning students, the basic grip, stance and movement are learned prior to practicing fundamental drills designed to learn basic drumming techniques. Each class starts with a routine of full body stretches and the use of voice is practiced throughout each class.
Boulder Taiko brings the art and discipline of Taiko to all people, regardless of their race, religion, or political affiliation to promote a stronger, kinder, more compassionate and interconnected community.
Last but not least, the Boulder Taiko course includes the pure enjoyment of playing taiko with all of your heart.
About Julia Misawa
Founder, Art Director and Head Instructor of Boulder Taiko
Julia Misawa began her Taiko studies when she was studying International Business, Graphic Design and Web Design at college. She has studied Japanese traditional Taiko for about ten years under the guidance of Taiko Master Seiichi Tanaka. It was Sensei Tanaka who first brought Taiko to the U.S. about 55 years ago when he started the San Francisco Taiko Dojo in San Francisco.
While studying with Sensei Tanaka, Julia assisted with children’s and adults’ classes and she also served as his assistant for the weekend open classes. Besides her own practice, she coached and directed a separate taiko group and also assisted workshop for mentally disabled children at the Napa Valley Children’s Hospital in Napa, California.
As one of San Francisco Taiko’s performing members, Julia had the great experience of traveling and performing throughout the United States.
She was very impressed and will vividly remember her performance at New York City’s Carnegie Hall. Other memorable performances include the Annual International Taiko Festival in Berkley, California, the Cherry Blossom Festival in San Francisco, California, the Chinese New Year’s parade, and the Black Ships Festival in Newport Beach, Rhode Island, among others.