We love playing the big drums and we want to share this exciting form of group drumming with more people, increase our energy levels, and widen our community. That’s why we are opening up the first hour of our Taiko practice sessions from Thursday 11th November onward on a regular basis.
Leave your worries at the door and join the fun! Connect to your body, get fit, be musical, be loud, and meet new people. We will teach the basics starting with how to stand, how to hold the drumsticks and how to hit the drum. Then there will be rhythms and movement and all the fun things.
If you are 16 or older, you are welcome!!
We can accommodate up to five people in each session.
Sessions are Thursdays 7:30 – 8:30pm, more details when booking.
To join the practices you will need to:
Book your place in advance, (£7 per session, £5 concessions), as you go (email email@example.com for details).
Bring your own ear plugs: the drums are big and LOUD.
Be able to be active for the hour, albeit listening to your body and taking care of your well-being while we practice. Taiko drumming is a physical activity which can be intense at times.
Agree to wear a mask while playing, adhere to physical distancing and the regulations in the hall and not attend with any COVID19/influenza symptoms (please let us know in advance of any exemptions; if unable to arrive due to COVID19 you will be refunded). We keep 3 doors open to allow fresh air and take regular breaks to go outside and remove our masks.
We will supply drums and sticks (bachi). Those who would like to commit to weekly practice, learning, studying at home and stretching their abilities will be encouraged to purchase their own equipment, starting with the bachi.
[This one was cancelled and will be rescheduled when life gets back to what it used to be – stay tuned!]
What is it about taiko? is it the drums themselves? maybe the rhythms? or the power? the movement? the community created in a room of strangers trying to achieve something in unison? the freedom to shout when anywhere else we need to be polite? the endorphins that come with continuous physical activity? why not come and see for yourself?
17 performances which varied from playing for the Swansea Half Marathon runners, to appearing on Welsh TV teaching Rugby players to play taiko, to the relaunch of a Japanese Garden in front of the Japanese ambassador, to rugby stadium gigs and the Chinese New Years celebration. Workshops and demonstrations in local schools and kids clubs. Our Taiko life is always fun and exciting.
All those gigs enabled us to continue studying taiko and this year we had amazing teachers: Ingmar Kikat taught us that we can dance when we drum. Kenny Endo opened our eyes to the classical aspects of taiko.
Ting-Chi Li continued to guide us on the way of playing taiko in the slanted position
Martin and Shonagh taught us Yatai Bayashi, polyrhythms, shime chappa and kane, and Alison Roe pushed us to be musical and brave while soloing over the mitsu uchi backbeat on one or two drums.
And all that can only be possible thanks to the continued dedication of all of us to our weekly practice, and to our strong friendship and mutual consideration.
One of the nice things we learnt on our taiko journey is that reaching out to other taiko players will most probably lead to wonderful things happening. And so when we heard that Kenny Endo and Chizuko Endo are coming to Europe for a couple of months we immediately sent an email asking them to come over to Swansea and teach us.
Kenny Endo spent about 10 years in Tokyo playing with Oedo Sukeruko Taiko and studying classical music of the Edo period (Edo bayashi, Kabuki). So we asked him to teach us Naname and Shime basics.
We spent all day learning from the vast knowledge and experience of Kenny Endo and Chizuko. They were both so generous with their knowledge. We played drills and learnt a practice piece called ‘Oi Uchi’ on Naname. And on the shime we learnt a few Edo bayashi rhythms and could enjoy several demonstrations from Kenny and Chizuko.
The evening before – we had a demonstration and talk by Kenny and Chizuko. They played pieces written by Kenny Endo, and some from his time in Tokyo, written by Oedo Sukeruko. Kenny told us about Noh theatre and Kabuki theatre and demonstrated the use of the Kotsuzumi and voice. From his time in the Kabuki theatre in Tokyo he also demonstrated the quiet sounds that an odaiko can make that are used in Kabuki to bring to life the different natural phenomena – and unnatural phenomena too – Ghosts and spirits. It was a very inspiring evening for all of us.
Every year on the 27th June taiko groups and artists around the world celebrate the life of Daihachi Oguchi, the Japanese jazz player who recreated taiko as a modern performance art form in the 1950s.
This celebration takes the form of a public performance or a practice of the song ‘Hiryu San Dan Gaeshi‘ (‘The dragon god descends 3 times’) written by grand master Daihachi Oguchi.
By a stroke of luck this same day coincided with a massive street party celebrating another event – 50 years since Swansea became a city.
St Helen’s road was closed to traffic and taken over by various artists including children from the local primary school, dancers, bands, singers, Tai-chi practitioners and also Taiko drummers!
We were so pleased to be part of the celebrations: we have been playing together in Swansea for the last 5 years or so. We played in the city centre, on the beach and even in Taliesin! we run courses and in general we are quite ingrained in this city’s life and it was only natural for us to share our love of taiko with everyone by playing this song.
The version we played was arranged by grand master Seichii Tanaka of the San Francisco Taiko Dojo and was taught to us by his student Ting-Chi Li. It includes ‘Isami Goma’ (‘prancing horses’). We took a video of the performance and sent it to the hiryu project website, where it is now presented alongside many other versions played in by different groups at different years.