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Taiko Drums Break Silence at Menlo Park Library

The Stanford Taiko Drummers performed at the Menlo Park Library for a summer reading program event.

Loud, melodic drumming and in-tempo shouts emanating from the Menlo Park Library’s lawn may have alarmed the pets and wildlife nearby, but certainly entertained the audience filled with curious children and parents.

The cause of the clamor was an event held by the library that included an outdoor performance by the Stanford Taiko Drummers Friday.

Five of the 20 Stanford taiko drummers enthusiastically played four songs for the crowd. One of their songs, “Bounce,” was even co-written by a member present at the event, Kiyoshi Shikuma.

After three songs, the group explained the vocal components of taiko drumming and engaged the audience in an interactive game. The drummers asked the audience to repeat four words which corresponded to a specific drum beat: don, which is a loud beat made in the center of the drum; ka, a beat played on the edges of the drum; tsu, a soft note played in the center; and su, a rest.

The event was an opportunity for the Stanford Taiko Drummers to expand their music to a younger audience, who may be new to the genre. Children in the audience were able to play with the drums after the performance ended.

“The charter of our group is to spread taiko to the community and teach people about taiko. So an event for kids where they’ve probably never seen anything like this before is a really good event for us to do,” Shikuma said.

Although the drummers usually play indoors where the beats can resonate and be heard more dramatically, they maintained their high-energy which transcended their outdoor sound limitations.

“Taiko outside isn’t as cool because the sound dissipates a lot, but all in all, it went fairly well,” he said.

Michelle Harbottle, a resident of Menlo Park for 10 years, enjoyed the taiko drummers.

“I think they were vibrant and exciting," Harbottle said. "They were really fun to watch and listen to."

The Stanford taiko show was just one of the several events the library has been hosting since its children’s summer reading program kicked off on June 1.

The library planned its events to reflect the program’s current global theme.

“The theme of the summer reading this year is 'One World, Many Stories',” Library Teen Coordinator Michelle Burham said. “It’s kind of a multicultural theme, considering cultures from around the world. We tried to center a lot of our entertainment around that.”

The reading program will continue through July 31 with the last event featuring Andy Z on July 29. All of the events are sponsored by The Friends of the Menlo Park Library.

Jerry Gropp Architect AIA July 27, 2011 at 06:00 AM
Having seen Taiko Drummers perform several times in Japan, we decided to have a local group for our 50th Anniversary up here on Mercer Island..It was a great hit!

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