Who Plays Taiko?
When I tell people I play Taiko, their first question usually is “what is that?” When I answer, they immediately follow with “how did YOU come to be involved in that?” with a tone of disbelief. Why the disbelief? Well…
I am not Asian. My fair skin, blue eyes, and freckles ensure that I am not, nor will I ever be mistaken as having any Asian heritage. In fact, when invited to perform at public events, it often surprises audiences that half, maybe more, of our performing members do not have Asian heritage.
I am not male. Up until recent history, traditional Taiko drums were often considered instruments for only men to play.
I am not in tip-top physical condition. Playing Taiko is a very physical endeavor and is certainly a great workout when played with intensity, but it does not require a person to start out with bulging muscles or a slim waistline.
So what does it require? People who play Taiko are required to have 3 things:
1) Enjoy making music in a social environment
2) Enjoy physically challenging activities
3) Respect the dojo (learning space) sensei (instructors), instruments, other participants, and the cultural art they are representing
People I have met through Taiko work in labs, drive trucks, work in finance, and teach children. They are actors, administrators, software developers, professional musicians, cooks, bakers, communications specialists and even police officers. Some are students, while others hold masters degrees. Mother, Father, Grandma, Grandpa, Sister, Brother, Aunt, Uncle, Cousin are other names we go by, but to each other, we are all Taiko family.