Nine Months Hearing Your Mom’s Heartbeat: You Have Rhythm

Japanese drumming workshop encourages rhythm, expression
Taiko drumming a route to free expression
By Caitlin Andrews – Posted Dec. 11, 2014 @ 1:23 pm


Elaine Fong, of Brookline, Mass., stands calmly at her byou-daiko – one of the many types of taiko drums – beating out a basic rhythm. Around her, 13 members of her Taiko Drum Workshop…are keeping time….

There’s a steady wall of noise….

For Fong, the…discovery of taiko, a style of Japanese drumming, during a festival was the start of a lifelong fascination.

“[I]n the 1980s, I was…near a stage, where there was some music and dance. …I heard a boom from the stage.”

…Fong…saw…10 or 12 drums, beat mostly by Asian women, played together to create a massive sound. It was something she had never seen in her life.

“It unblocked something in me, inspired me,” she adds. “It was like they were giving voice to who they were. It just spoke to me.”

…Fong went to an open audition for Soh Taiko, the group she had witnessed at the festival.

Since then, taiko has been a way of life for Fong. She created her own group, Odaiko New England, or ONE, as she likes to refer to it, in 1994….

Fong says one of the attractive aspects of drumming for her is the chance for expression – especially for women.

“It’s interesting – there are around 150 to 200 taiko groups, and most members are women.”

Fong feels women often have a difficult time expressing themselves…. Taiko…can be used as an outlet.

“I have a philosophy: I look at people who say they have no rhythm, and reply, ‘You spent the first nine months of life in the womb, hearing your mom’s heartbeat, so you actually have a lot of rhythm. There’s a key that unlocks the door; humbly, I would like to give you as many keys as possible.”

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