2008-12-18

Can Playing Taiko Drums Cure the Common Cold?

I caught a cold earlier this week. It isn’t so bad, but there were a couple days of a sore throat and now it has moved on to my nose. No matter how many times I blow it, there always seems to be ... well, leftovers. So I was looking forward to my Kaga Taiko class yesterday (Thursday). Why is that? Because taiko always seems to help my ailments. Whether it is a small cold, or the flu, if I have enough energy to drive myself to taiko practice, taiko is the most effective medicine I have found. Without fail, playing taiko will clear up my nose, lower my fever, soothe my sore throat, not to mention the inherent health benefits which come from the exercise.

Last Sunday I discovered that I was not the only person to feel this way. I visited Ichikawa Juku, a “school” in Komatsu where you can learn Kaga Taiko. It’s a very interesting place and sometime I will have to write extensively about what it is like to learn there, but not today.

A significant amount of time there is spent not playing taiko, but talking (which is actually part of learning Kaga Taiko). The head teacher asked me what jobs my wife and I did in the States and I was telling him how my wife had studied music therapy and was hoping to do something with music therapy and taiko when we return next year. He was a little skeptical about whether taiko could be therapeutic until I began sharing with him all of the research I've read about how drumming has been shown to increase antibody levels in your immune system, and how drum circles have been shown to be effective in helping people recover from addictions or strokes and so on. (Want to read those articles too? Here are the links: Sound Healing, Drums, not Drugs, Should Drums be Sold in Pharmacies?)

I guess it sort of made a connection in his head somewhere, because he then said, “Come to think of it, playing taiko always seems to cure my colds too. I’m in my 50s now and have been playing Kaga taiko since I was in my early 20s. Whenever I got sick, I hardly ever went to the doctor, except for major ailments. I found that playing the taiko always cured whatever it was that I had.”

Last Thursday was the final class of this year's Kaga Taiko course, and Sunday we will have our recital. This year we will have it at an Onsen (Hot Springs Resort), which is kind of exciting because that is the type of place where this style of taiko playing was traditionally peformed. Besides, we'll get to eat nice food and have a good bath. It will probably be a lot different than last year's recital, which included a lot more guests. Still, we'll try to get some videos, at least of ourselves, and we can post them and we'll see if you think we've improved since last year.

In the meantime, I'm curious about the rest of you taiko players out there. What types of experiences have you had with illness and taiko? Does anyone else find that playing taiko helps your colds get better more quickly? Leave a comment below and share your own stories.

1 comment:

Marlene said...

Well, you know I don't 'do' taiko, but I would assume it requires much breathing, energy, and focus, which is great for our bodies. I have been doing yoga for the past 2 months and have sometimes felt my nose becoming stuffy or my immune system becoming weak. I notice, however, with regular attendance to yoga, my body reacts positively because yoga requires deep breathing, energy, and focus. What do you think?

 
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