A Bit more about Children's Taiko

I recently received a comment from a reader who enjoyed reading the “Children’s Taiko” entry, so I thought that I could write a bit more about it.

I can’t say that I’ve been in Japan long enough to make a judgment like this, but it seems that taiko has become more and more popular over the last 10 years or so, and I am becoming aware of new children’s taiko classes all the time. Of course this could also simply be that as I travel further along the taiko journey, I am just becoming exposed to more of these groups. In any case, children’s taiko classes are certainly prevalent in Japan. My daughter is enrolled in two different classes, each meeting once a week. Many children also have exposure to playing the taiko in their kindergarten and preschool classes. To start my daughter’s first class at Asano Taiko, the teacher asked the parents to share their reason for signing up for the class. There were quite a few parents who mentioned that their children had started learning taiko at preschool/kindergarten and wanted to learn more.

So far, I haven’t come across any groups for children younger than 4 years old. From what I have seen, it is quite an accomplishment to get 4 year olds all playing the drum together. This week will only be our third week in the Asano class, but the teacher has not asked the children to play anything more than single notes so far. The notes are not even part of a rhythm; they are just working on having the correct stance and hand/arm motions. The other class, a neighborhood class, has also not moved beyond very basic rhythms, such as 4 quarter notes, or 4 quarters followed by 5 eighth notes. I am anxious to see what type of song they end up learning.

I have come across children’s groups, which are actually performing groups. Although the average age tends to be a bit older than 4 years old, the members do range in age from early elementary school through high school. One of these groups I saw at Exstasia this year. They were an all girl group from in Island somewhere in Western Japan. It was one of my favorite groups from the Exstasia concert; one of the ones that nearly moved me to tears. They were really incredible. The other group I saw more recently, but they also performed at Exstasia several years ago. They are called Koshu Taiko, or in Japanese writing:高州太鼓. I did not see them at their Exstasia performance, but just last week they performed at the festival of the school where I am working. Their members are also quite young, ranging from around 3rd grade through high school. I got to talk with them for a bit after their performance and we took a photo together.

I was also able to get a video of their performance. The file was too big to upload to youtube in one movie, so there are two parts to it. Please enjoy it.
Part 1

Part 2

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