Marc Steuben is teaching his students the art of making a Taiko drum.
His first task is to find a suitable drum, here he’s using a Western drum which will be quite different when he’s completed the project. The outside of the drum will be covered with wood slats or a wood finish.
He soaks cowhide in water overnight and stretches it over special made metal rings.
He teaches the students the correct tension for the wet leather and as it dries it will shrink making the perfect drum head.
Here is one of the drum heads and you can see the brand on the hide.
Mark has devised a special stretcher for his drum heads.
Note how he carefully uses a water bottle as a level to make sure he gets the tension even around the entire surface. 😄 he actually forgot his level and was improvising quite clever!
He then drills 10 or 12 holes around the edges and puts a screw through both top and bottom to further hold the leather in place as it dries.
Done for the day. To be continued……….
This article appears here with the permission of Marc Steuben and explains how Taiko was born as we know it today and how Taiko came to the United States.
I have taken several lessons from Marc now and the more I get to know him the more fascinating and complex I find him. Look forward to reading about his other talents and endeavors here soon.
He remains a patient and encouraging teacher even though I have two left hands when it comes to drumming!
I have had my first two lessons on Taiko drumming! I really am having fun!!
I had hoped to share with you detailed information on Taiko drums but it is turning out to be much more complicated than I anticipated.
There seems to be a billion types of drums and since I don’t speak Japanese trying to keep the names and descriptions straight is beyond this new student.
During practice and performance there are many different sized drums in use with the many drums providing different pitches to astound the senses. Probably the most well-known drum in any Taiko ensemble would be the ōdaiko, the largest drum on the stage.
Bachi is the term for the drum sticks used. Right now I am using a very light weight set of bachi. Taiko drumming is quite a work out. The stance is a wide legged stance with a slight bend to the knees requiring good balance so you can move in and out from the drum. (I made the mistake of wearing sandals for lesson 2 and my feet were not happy.) The wrists, forearms, upper arms and shoulders are all used and depending on the strokes and rhythms you are undertaking the workout can be intense. A strong core is essential. I am grateful for the light weight bachi!
Thank you Marc Steuben for your continued patience!
Taiko means drum in Japanese.
In ancient Japan the drum was played to drive away evil spirits and pests harmful to crops and then in thanks for a successful crop.
Drums were used in warfare to inspire troops, and as a kind of a code to transmit orders or messages. In battle, the drummer was an important part of keeping the troops advised and enthused.
Learning Taiko has proved to be a mental and physical challenge and workout. Your whole body becomes involved and finding the balance and coordination and concentration is an interesting test of blending all these elements together.
I have taken 2 classes now with Marc Steuben who is a member of Taiko with Toni – Toni is the leader of the parent taiko group.. I find him very encouraging, he really likes to have fun! Although I am certain I am a klutz he is supportive and diplomatic in his corrections.
If you are interested in Taiko classes please contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org
I’ll keep you posted on my progress. The group is Taiko with Toni and regularly performs and upcoming performances will be posted here also!