• Laura E.P. Sheehan

Finding My Rhythm...Literally

I have always been fascinated by drums. Especially the big bass drums that are a notable part of any marching band. I still vividly remember the swelling I would feel in my heart when the drums would beat, starting off a high school cheer rally or sporting event. It was awesome! So inspiring!!!


When we moved to Tokyo last year, I immediately sought out ways for me and my kids to connect to the community and the culture. One of my daughters was interested in learning Taiko drumming. Why? Well, most likely because one of her new friends was doing it...but also because she is naturally drawn to all things musical. So I signed her up for lessons.


For a myriad of reasons, she didn't begin her learning until January. For most, this was mid-session. The bulk of students had already completed months of training. Thankfully, it took her no time to catch up. I watched every lesson, in complete awe of the fantastic sounds being produced by this group of children. I attended the performances and yearned to be a part of it myself.


So this year, I joined the beginner class. I am with kids as young as three years old...and I love every minute of it! Though not musically inclined (I NEVER thought I would be playing the drums), the experience has expanded my every horizon. I realized this past week that being a part of a Taiko group requires that I master my own rhythm...and that of the group. You have to stand alone AND be in sync with everyone else.


What a life lesson! To be able to be either the leader or the follower, as needed.


The other challenging part of being a beginner Taiko student is embracing and celebrating all of the (kind of embarrassing, from a Western perspective) yelling and posing. We literally have to shout and take fight-like stances as we drum. This is not at all in my nature, but it is an integral part of the Taiko performance. Though a tiny bit humiliating, it makes me feel like a kid again. It's pushing me out of my comfort zone.


I will post a video later this year of my first Taiko performance. Headband and all!


What are YOU doing to challenge yourself, to remember and honor that inner child? How are you marching to your own drum AND being a part of a bigger band?


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