Tuesday, Aug. 16, 2022 |
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LAWAI — When a master strikes a Taiko drum, you can feel the vibrations course through your body. When you strike a Taiko drum, you feel like you become those vibrations.
“Drumming goes beyond, back beyond birth to the steady heartbeat of mother,” said Ray Nitta, leader of Taiko Kauai, at a Taiko drum workshop held Sunday. “It’s present in every native culture and there are even some who drum on their bellies.”
Taiko is a style of traditional Japanese drumming that involves the entire body of the drummer. Group Taiko requires drummers to maintain their own rhythm, while working with others to create a poly- rhythmic experience.
“It’s very well-rounded and involves your mind, body and your spirit,” Nitta said. “It’s awesome stress release and is great at balancing out energy.”
The workshop was held on the grounds of the Lawai International Center, at the base of a hill where 88 shrines are scattered, created in 1904 by Japanese immigrants as a healing sanctuary.
Nitta and his drummers brought their 20 handmade Taiko drums to the workshop and set them up in a circle underneath a white tent. A silent auction surrounded the edges.
Nitta took 15 or 20 minutes to talk about the history of the Japanese art before he started the workshop by demonstrating the posture of a Taiko drummer.
“You stand with your legs wide and your whole body is part Taiko drumming,” Nitta said, “and you grasp the bachi, or drumsticks, with strong hands.”
There were nearly 100 people in attendance, so everyone took turns standing in a circle behind a drum, striking out simple patterns.
Then Nitta split the drummers up into four groups, which eventually developed their own rhythm. Together, the drummers created that ancient poly-rhythmic experience, even though most of them had never picked up a set of bachi before.
“What an amazing experience,” said Debra Valentina of Kapaa. “This is just so much fun.”
The final part of the workshop was similar to musical chairs. Drummers were placed on either side of each drum in the circle. They began a rhythm and, while drumming, would shout. Those stationed inside the circle would jump to the drum on their left, and those on the outside jumped to the drum on their right.
“It’s so invigorating,” said Anni Law, who was visiting from California. “Jumping and drumming — this really involves your whole body.”
Some folks really got into it; others had a hard time finding their place in the ongoing hodgepodge of rhythm and movement.
“That’s the way it is sometimes,” Nitta said. “Some people can feel the beat right away, others never get it, but Taiko drumming, it takes a lifetime to master.”
Students of Taiko drumming said the art helps them reconnect to themselves and release life’s stresses, as well as find a way to create something beautiful with other people.
“It balances out energy fields and you work with others, too, “ said Linda Oshiro, a member of Taiko Kauai. “I absolutely love it.”
Nitta said Sunday’s workshop was the first he’d done in five years, and was held to attract more students for Taiko Kauai. Currently the group is around 17 members strong, and Nitta said ideally, he’d like to have 25 students.
“It works best with a good, strong group of people,” Nitta said. “So we’re recruiting.”
The group meets on Wednesdays for about an hour and a half at the Soto Zen Temple in Hanapepe. For more information, call 651-8623 or email email@example.com.
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