Traditional taiko course requires ‘mental devotion’

Japanese drumming course takes ahold in South Vancouver


Reported by Christina Dommer.

As eight-year-old James Parkinson and his cousin Nola Natsuzaki drum in sync on their laps, waiting for their class to begin, instructor Noriko Kobayashi knows this is about as quiet as taiko gets.

Kobayashi has no complaints about handing loud instruments to children.

“Kids are great,” she said. “They’re fun, I can be a kid. It’s very satisfying.”

Japanese drumming

Taiko uses large standing drums that can be played either upright or on their sides. Her class is as much about the physicality of the instrument as the percussion.

“It’s traditional, and it’s a very, very advanced style,” said Kobayashi, who teaches miyake taiko, performed in a low, nearly kneeling stance to engage the quadriceps.

Noriko Kobashi’s history

Kobayashi’s taiko journey started in the 1990s when she joined Vancouver-based Sawagi Taiko, a women’s drummer group. Kobayashi then moved to Japan, started a taiko business and taught young children to drum. A decade later, Kobayashi’s drums followed her back to Canada.

Adult tryouts

Saturday’s adult class was the first time Curtis and Judy Mulder tried taiko. They joined after enrolling their son, Cannon, in the children’s group.

“It’s a really good mental and physical workout,” said Judy.

Curtis said that while the drumming elevated his heart rate, taiko required “100 per cent mental devotion.”

The Moberly Arts and Cultural Centre will be offering adult’s beginner taiko classes in September.

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