There is a fervent power behind the Japanese Taiko drum, as surely as there is power in numbers. When you get a number of taiko drummers, synced up and activated from their vocal chords to their toes, the experience is unforgettable – for both audience members and performers.
Sixty-nine-year-old Andrea Lombardo has been a part of Moab Taiko Dan for three years.
“The health benefits are clear,” she said. “No shoulders getting frozen with this old gal (with all the) jumping and yelling and being physical. Learning and remembering the songs, getting them into the body, making the mind, body and spirit, work together at one time … I know it’s beneficial.”
Lombardo has performed with Moab Taiko Dan at a variety of community events, including the annual Thelma and Louise Half Marathon.
“When we come off the songs together, or when there (are) 10 to 15 of us, or when we are playing for the runners and we are echoing in the canyons, (I) get this natural high,” she said.
Lombardo first joined Moab Taiko Dan by attending a beginner workshop, much like the one that will be offered on Tuesday, Feb. 20, from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. at Grand County Middle School, 439 S. 100 East.
Moab Taiko Dan’s “sensei,” or teacher, Tiffany Tamaribuchi, is coming from Sacramento to teach the workshop.
“It is a great intro to this Japanese art form,” Moab Taiko Dan facilitator Alice de Anguera said. “She helps newcomers understand how to wield the drumsticks (called “bachi”), how to make a good sound on the drum, and we do some patterns that are easy enough for a beginner to learn and fun enough to get stuck in your head.”
The cost is $40 for the three hours. No experience is necessary, and all participants are welcome.
“I’ve been drumming with Moab Taiko Dan since 2001,” Vicki Webster said. “In those years, I’ve gone from being a slow-learning beginner to being the apprentice instructor. I have learned so much along the way, and I am still learning. I think that’s what I like about taiko drumming the most – the infinite opportunity for lifelong learning.”
De Anguera said the workshop teaches a few Taiko secrets.
“One of the secrets of Taiko is that gravity is your friend,” she said. “You don’t have to be really strong to make a lot of noise.”
De Anguera said that Tamaribuchi always brings an influx of energy and new ideas, not to mention her spectacular expertise.
“If we are lucky, she’ll play a short solo on the O’Daiko (big drum) and show us how it is done,” De Anguera said.
Lombardo says while she still has fun even when she doesn’t know what she’s doing, that much practice is required.
“You can practice on the couch, on your lap or while walking the dog,” she said. “I had a tire wrapped in duct tape for a while. Now I finally bought my own drum!”
Michele Blackburn has been with Moab Taiko Dan for 18 years. She says making such a loud sound as can be made on taiko drums is a kind of fun everyone should try.
“(But) playing taiko is also much more than ‘banging on drums with sticks.’ It is a multifaceted opportunity for sharing an ancient Japanese art form with our community – through workshops, after-school programs, ongoing classes and performances.”
Blackburn remains in awe that a Japanese-style Taiko group was created in a high-desert Utah town in 1995, and achieved nonprofit status by 2001.
“Decades later, Moab Taiko Dan members continue to be a diverse group of individuals, who practice under the leadership of sensei Tiffany Tamaribuchi,” she said.
De Anguera said that Moab Taiko Dan is always looking for fun new faces, and this workshop is how you get started.
Moab Taiko Dan offers drum workshop on Feb. 20
“It is a great intro to this Japanese art form.”
When: Tuesday, Feb. 20, from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m.
Where: Grand County Middle School, 439 S. 100 East
Information: firstname.lastname@example.org or 206-794-9416
Interested parties can contact De Anguera at email@example.com or at 206-794-9416 with any questions.