Pasadena Waldorf School Students Perform Taiko Drumming Recital

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After taking ten lessons from Taiko Master Koji Nakamura, students from the independent Pasadena Waldorf School present their recital to school community members.

8th grade students are pictured with Koji Nakamura after their recital at the independent Pasadena Waldorf School in Pasadena, CA

Eighth Grade Students from Pasadena Waldorf School with Koji Nakamura from Makoto Taiko

Its energetic style and driving beat is likely influenced by the island’s active volcano.

On Monday, May 13, 2013, Grammy-winner Koji Nakamura brought his skills as a Taiko drummer to the Pasadena Waldorf School (PWS) campus for a special performance with seven students from the Eighth Grade class. Mr. Nakamura is the leader of the Los Angeles based Makoto Taiko group, one of approximately 300 Taiko performance groups in the United States.

PWS Japanese teacher Hiromi Koyanagi had arranged the class for the students to learn Taiko drumming as an after school activity. Taiko, meaning “thick” or “fat” drum, is a traditional Japanese style dating back over 10,000 years. Initially, the Taiko drum evolved as a sacred instrument in spiritual ceremonies. Later, the drum was used for celebrating harvests and encouraging soldiers on the battlefield. Today it is primarily recognized as a performing art. Most of the drums used in the recital were handmade locally in Los Angeles, with the exception of the central drum that had been fashioned out of a single piece of wood in Japan.

After 10 practice sessions with Mr. Nakamura, the students performed “Miyake-Daiko,” a traditional Japanese piece originating from Miyake Island, just south of Tokyo, Japan. Its energetic style and driving beat is likely influenced by the island’s active volcano. The piece is unique in the way the drummers must position themselves, creating a highly-visual performance.

Mr. Nakamura’s group, Makoto Taiko, is also preparing for a June 29 concert of its own at Occidental College.

Pasadena Waldorf School, founded in 1979, is one of over 1,000 Waldorf schools worldwide with over 90 years of experience offering inspired education. Pasadena Waldorf High School, which opened this year, joins 40 other Waldorf high schools now operating in North America. Waldorf education is the fastest growing independent school movement in the world.

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Daniel Hindes
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