Drumsticks poised, 12 members of the Boys & Girls Club of Western Treasure Valley anxiously awaited directions from taiko instructor Janet Komoto.
Komoto provided instruction in the proper stance and how to hold the sticks, then followed up with guidance through don tsuku and three other rhythms. Tentative at first, the 10-year-olds quickly gained confidence and within minutes, the room filled with the sound of synchronized drumming.
The taiko class was part of an eight-session series of activities offered by the Kiwanis Club of Ontario in conjunction with the Boys & Girls Clubs’ Triple Play program. Triple Play is a program for mind, body and spirit, supported by a St. Luke’s Community Health Improvement Grant.
Other sessions included a cooking demonstration, science education and bicycle safety and maintenance.
“We hope to expose the kids to a variety of opportunities and broaden their horizons,” said Matt Sorensen, Kiwanis Club president and executive director of the Boys & Girls Club of Western Treasure Valley.
Sorensen said taiko drumming and music are fundamental to a well-balanced life.
“Playing an instrument is a healthy habit,” he said.
Komoto is a long-time civic leader in the community. An 18-year member of an Ontario, Ore.-based taiko group, she is also a member of the St. Luke’s Fruitland Community Council. She happily shares her knowledge and experience of taiko drumming with everyone, especially children.
“I was hoping that the introductory workshop would message to the students that by listening, they can learn the language of taiko fairly quickly, that they can feel the heartbeat or soul of the drum; that when you put large sticks in their hands and a drum in front of them, that they feel empowered when they hit the drum; and that when they take the ‘kata’ position and stand tall, they develop self-confidence and feel better about themselves,” she said.
“Taiko drumming can be physically demanding, but it is a good way to learn about music timing, working and cooperating with others in a group,” she said. “If you thought you had no skills to play an instrument, you very shortly learn that you can make a drum sing.”
Sorensen was delighted that the Kiwanis Club piloted the program and that the Boys & Girls Club members could try new activities in a fun, non-threatening environment.
“This allows the child to find a pathway,” he said. “We want them to be well-rounded people. It is more water to a stone; you shape something over time.”
Amy Stahl works in the Communications and Marketing department at St. Luke's.