This is not a workshop in which you learn to beat a drum. It is, in fact, a workshop where you learn how to connect your energy with a powerful communications instrument and channel your spirit into a collective work of thundering art. Simply put, this is not your grandfather’s drumming lesson.
Ben Miller, a practitioner of Chinese medicine, acupuncture physician, and artistic director for Fushu Daiko, explains that the principles of “The Way of Taiko” are based upon the teachings of Seiichi Tanaka, who pioneered the art form in South Florida. Sensei Tanaka’s philosophy is one of emotional generosity, which yields a heartfelt performance — the kind of electrifying performance that Fushu Daiko is famous for throughout the southeast.
“We are very relational. Our purpose is to be in a relationship with the audience,” Miller said. “It is a very spirited offering, and a kind of North American distinction on taiko. In Japan, performers are more emotionally reserved, and you may see a stillness on their faces.”
“We encourage our students to scream, yell, sweat and be playful.”
In the workshop, before the actual drumming takes place, guests are educated on the traditional and contemporary uses of the taiko drum sound. They learn how taiko drumming came to be, how the drums are created and how the practice has evolved from Japan to the U.S. Then there is a bit of stretching, light calisthenics and instructions on how to hold the sticks and stances.
“Then, we drum as much as possible,” Miller said. “I want people to find the playfulness within themselves. How can reach inside yourself and find that spirit, and approach taiko from that place?”
In the workshop, students learn:
- how to get a sound out of the drum. Instructors show students how to hit the taiko drum and how to hold their bodies to get a good sound.
- how to listen and hear each other and drum in rhythm.
- how to tell a story with your drumming. Students learn to use their bodies and emotional expressions as a way to tell a story.
Miller has been teaching “The Way of Taiko” for more than 10 years, and with that experience, he has learned that once people lose their inhibitions and find the courage to truly connect with the drum, magical things can happen.
“When someone is given the tools, permission and context to hit something hard and make a big noise, it’s cathartic,” he said. “We encourage our students to scream, yell, sweat and be playful. It’s so surprising and refreshing to be able to be in that mode.”
“The Way of Taiko: The Heartbeat of Japan”
Jan. 24, 2016 & March 13, 2016
AM and PM sessions offered on both days
11 a.m.—1 p.m. or 2—4 p.m.
$50, advance registration required.
Location: Morikami Theater