TEACH ME! Japanese Taiko Drumming

Loving Taiko by Mariana Gavriliu

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I started my taiko classes soon after a Nagata Shachu Music Garden concert, and did not stop ever since. Every Tuesday night, I drive from Mississauga to Scarborough to my taiko class, after a long day’s work of teaching math to my high school students. I play to the last drop of energy until 10 pm, when I go back home, and I cannot go to sleep until past midnight due to all the adrenaline that is left unconsumed in my body after a class where, from the first to the last minute, I am simply profoundly happy.

Nagata Shachu is a group of internationally known taiko performers that was founded 15 years ago in Toronto by Kiyoshi Nagata. They are professional players that made taiko drumming their way of life. The name of the group comes from the founder’s name and the word ‘shachu’ that means ‘performing group’ in Japanese. They are based in Toronto and play locally and all over the world traditional Japanese taiko music, as well as their own modern compositions. The success they had everywhere placed them among the elite international taiko groups, and famous players from abroad are often invited for common performances.

Beside practicing and performing, Nagata Shachu group members teach taiko regularly at their studio in Hymus Road in Toronto, offering beginners, intermediate and advanced classes to a large number of taiko enthusiasts*. The beginners classes are open for all, and start three times a year, in September, January and April. All classes are energy intensive, an hour and a half of playing routines and repertoire songs on various taikos, like shime-daikos, odaikos, myia-daikos, as well as on other small percussion instruments. No previous musical knowledge is necessary, however a good sense of rhythm is useful :-).

I’ve been playing taiko for almost four years now, with one of the advanced ensemble groups. A few months ago, we had our first concert, for family and friends, at the studio on Hymus Road. This picture was taken at the end of the concert, when we were all happy and proud of the great music that we performed for our audience!

My taiko colleagues are of diverse backgrounds, professions and age, but we all have two things in common: we share a profound love for taiko drumming and… all our hearts beat in unison!


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