Meet Mana – My Tsukasa Taiko: Member Testimonials Series 019

Meet Mana, one of our Chibikko members.

  1. Why did you choose Tsukasa Taiko?

日本で習っていた和太鼓を、アメリカでも生かしたい。日本の文化を伝えたいと思ったので。

  1. Please share your most memorable Tsukasa moment.

Evanston Ethnic Art Festival。司太鼓初デビューで、間違えたところもあったけれど、最後まで一所懸命頑張れたので。Oak Park Street Festival。「道産子」演奏初デビューで、特に緊張したのは、バチをフリップする所が上手にできたから、嬉しかった。

  1. What do you look forward to doing with Tsukasa in the future?

銀天界に入ってTaiko Legacyに出演してみたい。

Meet Ai – My Tsukasa Taiko: Member Testimonials Series 018

Meet Ai, one of our Chibikko members.

  1. Why did you choose Tsukasa Taiko?

ちょうど近所に教室が合ったので。もともと日本で、地元の太鼓保存会にて太鼓を習っていました。家族のシカゴ駐在に伴い渡米したところ、家の近所のミツワで教室がある事を知り「やってみたい、楽しそう」だと思ったので。アメリカの人たちに、和太鼓の素晴らしさを知ってもらいたい。

  1. Please share your most memorable Tsukasa moment.

Evanston Ethnic Art Festival と、Metropolis Artでのパフォーマンス。Evanstonは、司太鼓初デビューで、Metropolis Artは大きなステージでの、スポットライトを浴びながらの演奏、どちらも緊張したけれど良い経験でした。

  1. What do you look forward to doing with Tsukasa in the future?

Taiko Legacyに出演してみたい。

 

Meet Joy – My Tsukasa Taiko: Member Testimonials Series 017

Meet Joy, one of our Cool Ladies/ Arashi members.

  1. Why did you choose Tsukasa Taiko?

I am with Tsukasa Taiko because this group offers repertoire that is both culturally authentic and artistically ambitious.

  1. Please share your most memorable Tsukasa moment.

For me, the most memorable moment was the realization that my experience with Tsukasa Taiko would be an ongoing journey of personal and artistic development.

  1. What do you look forward to doing with Tsukasa in the future?

I look forward to carrying on with Tsukasa Taiko, to becoming more and more proficient in performing the material that has been given to me, to being swept away by it, and to being an inspiration for the group and the music to grow and develop.

Meet Jennifer – My Tsukasa Taiko: Member Testimonials Series 016

Meet Jennifer, one of our longtime Cool Ladies/ Kazan members.

What Tsukasa Taiko Means to Me

I saw a taiko exhibition about 13 years ago during the Humanities Festival and thought, “Oh, I want to do that!” and then began a 3-year-long search for some place that would take a newbie, wanna-be drummer at age 50+. I found a home at Tsukasa Taiko.

Tsukasa Taiko provides a unique blend of community drumming underlain with a serious push for musicality. Rooted in a foundation of Japanese cultural arts, all the Tsukasa Taiko drummers learn to hear the music, the reverberations and, surprisingly, the silences of each piece. It’s this push for artistry that has kept me at Tsukasa for over 10 years.

There’s also the community from ages 6 to 60. Tied together through mutual effort, Tsukasa Taiko has become a close family united by the camaraderie of hard work. The little ones keep growing into their awesome abilities; the teen agers are so cute in their studied awkwardness; the shy ones take some drawing out−but everyone is united in their efforts to learn the songs, to play together, to get better.

Mostly this is due to Tatsu Aoki and his drive for the music. While holding out a standard for us to achieve, he keeps the learning fun, accessible and has recruited superb teachers who can help you define what you are doing wrong, how to get better, and what the correct form really is. In addition, there’s the influence of those around you who can play the shamisen, shimei or shinobue or dance in the classical Japanese style.

But finally, it’s about the drumming. To perform well, surrounded by all that sound, moving through it, is an experience not readily duplicated.

Meet Catalina – My Tsukasa Taiko: Member Testimonials Series 015

Meet Catalina, member of the Cool Ladies / Arashi group!

  1. Why did you choose Tsukasa Taiko?

I chose Tsukasa Taiko because it seemed to be the school that shared the most authentically musical and Japanese style of the Taiko drumming tradition, and also we would be playing on real drums right away! It was seemed important to me to have the context of the Japanese American Service Center as a home base, and relating Taiko to other arts such as dance. Finally, the leadership of Tatsu Aoki was very important as he grew up in the true Tokyo scene of traditional Japanese arts and Taiko and is also a renowned member of Chicago’s musical community. I feel very lucky to take classes from such an artist!

  1. Please share your most memorable Tsukasa moment.

When we play taiko at various marathons in Chicago, and the runners go by cheering and raising their arms in the air, happily getting energy from our drumming! It makes me think that this is what our world should be – each of us supporting the other in our journeys of art, creativity and self-expression.

  1. What do you look forward to doing with Tsukasa in the future?

I am enjoying our community performances at marathons and festivals and hope to share this beautiful art with more and more Chicagoans.

Meet Mia – My Tsukasa Taiko: Member Testimonials Series 014

Meet the mother of Mia, one of our Chibikko members.

  1. Why did you choose Tsukasa Taiko?

お友達(ジェームスりかさん)に、Amy先生のもとで新しいちびっこのクラスを一緒に始めないか、と誘ってもらったので。もともと私が太鼓のパフォーマンスを見ることには興味があったので、ミアに始めさせてみました。最初は仲良しの友達と一緒だからと気楽に始めたと思うんですけれど、一緒にスタートした4人とも今でも続けて習っているというのはすばらしいですね。

  1. Please share your most memorable Tsukasa moment.

ミレニアムパークでのパフォーマンスに初めてミアが出たときのこと。Holiday Delightのような日系の人がメインのフェスティバルではなく、人種や背景にある文化などさまざまな、言ってしまえばたまたま通りかかった人たちが足を止めてパフォーマンスに見入っていた様子を見て感動しました。まだまだ未熟ながらがんばって演奏していたちびっこたちもすばらしかったです。その時だったと思うんですけど、出演料に10ドルいただいたのにびっくりし、同時にありがたいと思ったのを覚えています。

  1. What do you look forward to doing with Tsukasa in the future?

これは司の中でのこどものこれからについてのことでよろしいでしょうか?的の外れた答えだったら、ご連絡ください。

ミアは9月には6年生になります。勉強もますます大変になっていくとは思います。私としては、無理をせずに、細く長く、太鼓を続けて行ってもらえたらと思っています。本人ががんばれる、と思ったら、もう一歩進んだ舞台に立てるように応援はしたいと思います。

Meet Yukina – My Tsukasa Taiko: Member Testimonials Series 013

Meet Yukina, one of our newer Chibikko members, and her mother.

  1. Why did you choose Tsukasa Taiko?

お友達のパフォーマンスを見て、自分もやってみたい、という気持ちから始めました。

  1. Please share your most memorable Tsukasa moment.

やはり、私はデビューパフォーマンスでの、子どもの真剣な眼差しでしょうか。まだ習い始めて半年ほどですが、元旦のお餅つきでデビューさせて頂き、親子共々ドキドキしたことが印象に残っています。

子ども自身は、初めての大舞台でのパフォーマンス(先日のアーリントンハイツの劇場)で、道産子のテンポがすごく速くて、ついていけるかとても焦ったけれど、途中であきらめずに頑張り通した事が心に残っているそうです。

  1. What do you look forward to doing with Tsukasa in the future?

最近は習いたての時よりも、少し慣れてきて集中力がなくなっているな、と感じます…

今は自分で太鼓を叩くのが精一杯なので、まだまだ難しいかなと思いますが、もう少しレベルアップしたら、仲間の演奏をよく聞きながら合わせていったり、グループで高め合うようなクラスであったり、太鼓に興味のある小さなお子さんとの交流であったり、通常のクラスとは違ったクラスもあったら、参加させたいなと思います。

Meet Kiyomi – My Tsukasa Taiko: Member Testimonials Series 012

Meet Kiyomi, our Gintenkai Leader!

  1. Why did you choose Tsukasa Taiko?

I joined Tsukasa 12 years ago with my two younger brothers as a cultural extracurricular activity that all three of us could partake in. In 2002 I had graduated from my Futabakai Japanese Saturday School and was looking for a whole new “Japanese” experience to pursue. After watching the founder of Tsukasa Taiko perform at my high school cultural showcase, I was convinced that taiko was it. I’m so glad to be a part of the group today because since then I’ve been able to share multiple stages with truly incredible artists and accomplish goals that no other taiko groups have ever achieved. It’s exciting to know that Tsukasa is the artistic taiko pioneer in the Midwest.  

  1. Please share your most memorable Tsukasa moment.

I have countless memorable Tsukasa moments but Taiko Legacy 10 is one of my absolute favorites. It marked a milestone for us as we presented our 10th anniversary show of the Taiko Legacy concert series at the Museum of Contemporary Art. In addition, our executive director had put together Reduction, a unique, poetic, art-focused presentation that explored the idea of collaborative storytelling. I enjoyed rehearsing and performing for both shows that were different as night and day. I love that Tsukasa is able to present an entertaining, exciting, percussion and choreography-based traditional drumming show as well as a creative, theatrical, performance art show that seamlessly fuses multiple artist works. I really don’t think I can experience that anywhere else.

  1. What do you look forward to doing with Tsukasa in the future?

I’d like to collaborate with new events and artists and would also like to host a Tsukasa taiko intensive camp! Last year’s Reduction showcase opened my eyes to new possibilities, and I would love for Tsukasa to perform at gallery exhibition openings, work with filmmakers and photographers, inspire designers and visual artists, and dive even further into the greater Chicago or Midwest art scene. We often explore musical journeys crossing into the genres of jazz, blues, Japanese traditions (naturally…) but I’d love to seek opportunities where we can combine audio, visual, and performance art. Another dream for me is to have a taiko intensive “camp” featuring our youth and senior students where we can perfect routines, experiment with improvisations, challenge ourselves, and build team spirit. Most of us already know each other and bond during community performances but I’ve love to take it to another level where students are able to come up with their own productions under instructor guidance and ongoing mentoring sessions.

 

Meet Koji – My Tsukasa Taiko: Member Testimonials Series 011

Meet Koji, one of our core Gintenkai performers.

  1. Why did you choose Tsukasa Taiko?

My friend Eigen was learning with Tsukasa. He had been playing since he was 4, and I joined when I was 7. We’re two of the original Tsukasa Taiko members. I never would have guessed that we’d both become performance unit members back then, but 12 years later we’re both proud Ginten drummers.

  1. Please share your most memorable Tsukasa moment.

Learning Ku-Ru-Ri, one of the most complicated, hyper-dynamic, synchronized composition only select Gintenkai members have been taught. Ku-ru-ri also represents a particular routine for the small taiko in chamber (ozashiki) music and was originally a part of a shamisen composition. This piece is truly in Tsukasa fashion where we’re able to perform an excerpt from a traditional composition, but reconstituted and modernized to fit our contemporary presentations.

  1. What do you look forward to doing with Tsukasa in the future?

As always, I look forward to new stages and collaborating with various artists. As a seasoned performance unit member, I enjoy recurring shows as well as new opportunities to showcase our group. I love seeing where taiko can take me next. Sometimes it’s a shared stage with established jazz musicians, sometimes it’s a performance with traditional Japanese grand masters, and sometimes it’s with other community groups. It’s always unpredictable, but I love that.

Meet Naomi – My Tsukasa Taiko: Member Testimonials Series 010

Meet one of our longtime Tsukasa Mamas, Naomi whose three kids (Kiyomi, Koji, Kenji) are part of the core members of the Gintenkai performance unit.

  1. Why did you choose Tsukasa Taiko?

Taiko groups in Chicago back then (2001~2002) belonged to different Japanese American temples. My family couldn’t commit to the temple to just learn Taiko, and we had always wished for an alternative option. Tsukasa was the only Taiko group that stood independently and wasn’t affiliated with any religious groups. We also knew the instructor and his students from watching their performances and really enjoyed their style. I knew I wanted my children to pursue the art of taiko drumming with Tsukasa because they had a different presence when they played at community venues.

  1. Please share your most memorable Tsukasa moment.

The first time we performed at the Chicago Cultural Center in front of 700 people for Taiko Legacy 3. The Cultural Center had to turn down incoming guests because our show was way over capacity! It was incredible to see how much the group had grown since when we first started, performing in the Preston Bradley Hall of the CCC in addition to stages at Japanese American community festivals and events.

  1. What do you look forward to doing with Tsukasa in the future?

I would like to have my kids learn from other Taiko artists. Really enjoyed the hands-on workshop with Shidara Taiko from Japan. It’s nice and exciting to see the performers in such a close range as well as to learn new skills and techniques from them. I believe it helps Tsukasa players to open up their perspective about taiko drumming, and what the similarities and differences are between groups and each respective styles.