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One Man’s Journey to Taiko

Doanh Nguyen embodies the true spirit of Fushu Daiko – an amalgamation of talents, experiences and skills that fuse together to bring a truly unique sound to Japanese-inspired taiko drumming.

Fushu Daiko is a South Florida creation, born of artists who celebrate diversity in their cultural performances. Nguyen’s journey to becoming a group member is one that every person can relate to – a journey of curiosity, perseverance and passion.

And all begins with one step.

: How did you learn of Fushu Daiko?

A: I learned about Fushu Daiko during one of my first visits to Morikami during a festival. I heard them in the background playing and thought it was pretty cool, but it was only years later during another festival that I sat down through an entire performance. It was during a speech after a performance did I learn they were local and actually had students. I kept telling myself that I would check it out. But few years ago, I decided to just go and attend a class, instead of telling myself I would.

: What about their performance resonated with you so much that you decided to pursue working with them?

A: The fact that it was a local performance group made up of people who lived here. Because it was community based, I felt like it was accessible to the everyday person who wanted to join the dojo and try some classes. It didn’t seem like there was the barrier of having been a musician at some point in your life to be able to try it.

: Do you have a background in the martial arts, music and/or Japanese culture?

A: Prior to joining South Florida Taiko Dojo, I had studied Japanese and attained an N5 certification in basic Japanese.

: What was the most difficult challenge to master in performing taiko?

A: For me, as someone who never had any formal music training, the most difficult part I struggle with – and still struggle with – is the more music-based skill sets, skills such as keeping tempo and listening to everyone else while playing. Fortunately for me, I can practice these skills at home, like practicing to a metronome or any other number of common musical exercises. But, that’s also one of the reasons why I became so drawn to Taiko in the first place. It is art that you’re always learning and improving at and not something that can be learned or mastered overnight or even in a few years.

: What advice would you give to someone seeking to become part of Fushu Daiko?

A: The best advice I can give someone seeking to join Fushu Daiko is to have the right attitude. At the end of the day, we play music because we love to play. If you’re not enjoying it, then why are you doing it? It may take someone more time or less time to improve than others, but as long as you’re having fun and enjoying the journey, I think that counts for a lot.

: Tell us about you…

A: My background is Vietnamese on my father’s side and Puerto Rican on my mom’s side. I am currently 34 and work as a Software Engineer. I also graduated locally from FAU.

Doanh Nguyen creates taiko thunder onstage as part of Fushu Daiko!

See Fushu Daiko (And Doanh!) At Oshogatsu on January 8!

Experience the roar of taiko along with the playful shishimai lion dance during performances at 11:00am, 1:30pm, and 4:00pm! Also, don’t miss Fushu Daiko in our signature mochitsuki, or rice-pounding ceremony at 12:30pm and 2:30pm.

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