I took a gamble by attending a Taiko Demo and Workshop panel, and I do not regret it at all. It was both a thrilling and educational experience. The drummers were students attending UC Riverside, an ensemble named Senryu Taiko. For those not in the know, taiko (literally translating to “big drum”) are a broad range of Japanese percussion instruments. Remember when the first official day of Anime Expo begins and there are drums playing, those are taiko.
The workshop started with the students playing the drums, followed by a short lecture about the history of the taiko. One of the interesting facts that stood out was that the taiko drumming was the first native Japanese music to spread all over the world. The usage of taiko was versatile, from communication, theatrical incorporation, war, or even formal events of religious ceremonies and festivals. Several percussion instruments were shown, from the smallest to the biggest.
There is more is to taiko drumming than just the act of beating the drum. I was amazed at the nuances with how the drummers stood, leaning toward and away from the drum by adjusting the degree of their bent left knee.
Vigor propagated through the environment, the audience enthusiastic! The drummers then asked for volunteers, everyone raising their hand in a heartbeat. Although I did not try the drums, it was an amazing experience witnessing others try it! It was nice to see the volunteers receive little prizes of stickers for answering any questions the drummers asked.
Essentially, there were five sets of drumming patterns that were taught to the audience and in between these lessons, the drummers performed. It was face-paced, intense, and thrilling to witness the performances. It was evident that there was so much practice and dedication on the students’ part. I was a little nervous that there might be slip because of the increased tempo, but they moved with grace, agile, speed, and power!
Senryu Taiko provided an unforgettable experience and it was enough for me to provide them with a coverage focusing solely on them. They are always open to having new members join them. You do not need to be a student, and if you have the stomach for it, then by all means take a chance on it!
Here is the contact info for Senryu Taiko if you are interested in learning more about them or want to follow them:
Official site: http://2010.senryutaiko.com/