Taiko Drumming is offered to children from Grade 2 onwards for one hour a week.
This is an incredible opportunity for the children to create complex and syncopated rhythms while learning a tremendous amount of discipline through listening to the accuracy of their playing.
It is also an opportunity to feel the difference in approach in Japanese drumming to African drumming or Arabic drumming, in which the children also participate.
Thus their musical horizons are broadened in a firsthand way.
From the mundane of providing a means of communication between Japanese villages, to the divine of calling upon the Shinto gods to bring rain and protect and bless harvests, the Taiko has been an important element in Japanese traditional life. Today, Taiko has evolved into an art form blending music and movement.
In teaching the music, the creative energy of the children comes alive and at the same time, they are remembering each drumbeat in each song they learn. As they play the drums, the children exercise not only their physical beings, but their emotional, releasing tensions, and at the same time connecting with others through the rhythms they play together.
However, I believe there remains more. I believe that Taiko cannot be taught apart from the spirit and disciplines of respect, integrity, and perseverance, which honor the elemental traditions of Taiko. Respect, not only for the teacher, but for the instruments, and for each other as fellow drummers, an understanding of one's own integrity and ability to persevere are essential for a village to come together to give birth to one sound.
In the Zen practice of Buddhism, a Taiko drum signaled morning and night calls to prayer. Teaching the children of New Village School the Way of Taiko drumming is a call to joy and a creative endeavor to be shared with each child. It is my prayer that each child in their turn, becomes a guiding star, the Ichibanboshi (literally the First Star or the North Star), to inspire other children to look for their own light in the night sky.