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March 3, 2013 - Leah Sherman
My thanks to all who responded to my plea for ideas.
And now, the main event:
Last weekend, the city desk at The Maui News received a submitted photo of Zenshin Daiko performing at Whole Foods' anniversary. To my knowledge, we did not publish the photo, but it prompted one co-worker to ask, “Are you still looking for blog ideas? I know the taiko guy. You want me to give him a call?” Uh, yes, please.
Taiko is Japanese drumming. According to the group's website, Zenshin Daiko is a nonprofit corporation, founded by Anthony and Valerie Jones in 1999, which is dedicated to teaching taiko to children and sharing it with the community.
Anthony was so kind to invite me one of the group's practices a few days ago in the Wailuku Millyard. As the drummers practiced, he filled me in about the group and taiko.
Taiko does not have written music, and songs are taught verbally through different sounds for the different parts of the drum. (The group's drums are made from hollowed-out wine barrels with reinforced rims and cowhide.)
Zenshin Daiko currently has approximately 50 members ranging in age from 7 to 17. The group is split into three skill levels — beginning, intermediate and advanced.
The hourlong practice I attended was for the advanced group. Anthony said something to the effect of “I should have invited you to the beginners because that focuses more on technique.” But I was delighted to watch the older students, who were being directed by 17-year-old Trent, the group's artistic director. They've got so much energy and skill and dedication to their art, which is more than just drumming — taiko includes what I would call dancing and stick twirling, as well as flute playing.
Zenshin Daiko performs an average of once per week. In 2012, Anthony said, the group had 61 performances, including on the Mainland. It also sponsors the annual Taiko Festival at the Maui Arts & Cultural Center, which is scheduled for June 8.
If you haven't seen Zenshin Daiko perform, you've got to see/hear them. They are fabulous. With so many events per year, I'm not sure how it is that I'd managed to not see them before now.
To find out more about Zenshin Daiko, see the group's Facebook page or website (links at right) or send email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
And for anyone wondering: No, I did not try drumming. Anthony offered me a chance during a break in the rehearsal, but I feared embarrassing myself and politely turned him down.
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Members of Zenshin Daiko's advanced group practice in Wailuku recently.