Taiko Drummers Bring Cultural Curriculum Alive at Inly

By Sharon Ghiloni, Inly Parent

Kindergarten through 8th grade students were treated to a performance of Japanese Taiko by Odaiko New England last week. A special thanks to John B. for a wonderful job introducing Odaiko New England to his fellow Inly students.

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Taiko is a form of Japanese drumming that involves a great deal of movement of the entire body. The visual impact of the performance is as important as the sounds made by the drums. This vibrant and interactive program included tales, drumming, and Japanese lessons. There were also a few surprises, such as the showering of children with rain (a spray bottle filled with water) during the telling of a tale!


The children learned about Kiai, which means “shouting” in English. In Japan it is believed that Kiai enables people to transfer energy to one another. When asked to practice Kiai, Inly students demonstrated that they had no problem exchanging positive energy with one another!

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A major highlight of the show was an invitation for several students (and one teacher) to play a drum on stage. Congratulations to Cyrus E., Raychell P., Rebekah S., Jonah Y., Ali Z.,  Kiko C., Colette M., and Middle School teacher Paran Quigley for a great performance. A good time was had by all!

The children learned a lot during this show. Questions to ask them are:

  1. How long has Taiko existed?  Answer:  Over 1,000 years
  2. What are Taiko drums used for?  Answer:  To establish a rhythm for planting fields, to establish a village’s borders (by sound), to pray, to tell stories
  3. What kind of skins did the Taiko drums in the show have?  Answer:  Cow and horse skins
  4. How do you say “Good Morning” in Japanese?  Answer:   Ohayo-sama

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One thing I like about the Young Audiences performance series is how children are enthusiastically drawn into cultural performances through story, song, and humor. I find it quite unusual that children in grades K–8 are equally entertained and educated by the same performance. The performers seemingly do this with ease. Having been to all of this year’s performances to date, I clearly see how well they complement Inly School’s commitment to cultural studies.

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