Nen Daiko was pleased to present our new youth ensemble Dounen Daiko at Obon on July 14. These performers worked hard all year in preparation for their debut.
Nen Daiko decided to create the group in September 2017 when five young people auditioned at our annual workshops. In the past, Nen Daiko had teenage members, but their parents were also members. Nen Daiko decided to create a separate group for these keen youth which would practice one hour per week. Nen Daiko's typical practice schedule is 3.5 hours per week, plus additional rehearsals and extra trainings.
The five participants were Alyssa, Gabi, Jack, Marisa and Trevor. They ranged in age from 11-17. The group was facilitated by Nen Daiko members for an hour before our regular practice each week. The Dounen Daiko members also helped clean the temple once a month.
With Obon approaching, everyone put in extra effort for their debut. Nen Daiko asked the minister of Ekoji Buddhist Temple to help create a name for the group. Rev. Nariaki Hayashi offered the name of Dounen Daiko, which builds on the name Nen Daiko. The name Dounen Daiko means an approximation of "child or offspring of Nen Daiko." Only one of the members is an actual family member of a Nen Daiko member, but we certainly became a taiko family by the end of our year practicing together!
Nen Daiko is very grateful to these five wonderful people for learning with us. Since it was our first youth program, we were learning as we went. Everyone worked hard to make it a success.
What Dounen Daiko Means to Us
“It’s fun! You make a lot of friends! It makes a lot of people smile.” – Jack (Dounen Daiko member)
“My favorite memory was right before we were performing at Obon, when the four of us were just talking to distract ourselves from the nervousness of performing.” – Alyssa (Dounen Daiko member)
“Taiko is an immense stress reliever, but not in the way I imagined it’d be. There have been multiple people who joked that “if you’re angry at someone, you can just imagine their face on the drum and ‘DON!’” I thought it’d be something like that before we actually played. But every single practice we have to leave all our thoughts and worries out of the door, and focus only at our present state. It leaves me in such a happy and positive mood, independently of what happened during the week or what will come up in the future. Nen Daiko members are also always supportive and fun to be around, so it’s hard not to laugh alongside them.” – Gabi (Dounen Daiko member)
"Meeting all the members and getting to know everyone was incredible in my first year of taiko. It was a great beginning to a fun year of learning and I really enjoyed that specific part of every practice. Taiko helped me spend time on myself with the meditation. It was nice to think for a moment and then play on the drum." -- Marisa (Dounen Daiko member)
"It helped to improve my understanding of the art of taiko and helped improve my rhythm. It is a very active. Inclusive and overall fun thing to do/try. I would encourage anyone to try." -- Trevor (Dounen Daiko member)
"It is fascinating to see how the youth group learned so much in a short time though all the practices from Nen Daiko and how the kids put their best efforts making the performance a successful and beautiful one! We are very proud of you all!" -- Carrie and Scott (parents of Dounen Daiko members)
"Discipline, courtesy, friends, exercise, respect for people, environment, yourself, having fun in a constructive way, good learning experience." Adele and Chari (grandmother and aunt of Dounen Daiko members)
“I believe that taiko is powerful activity for young adults. We really tune in to each other as a group of performers on a level that doesn’t happen in typical daily activities. They form a bond that they can remember during challenging times after taiko practice. Many said their favorite moment was just before the performance when we meditate and warm up together, which has been my taiko experience as well.” -- Carla (Nen Daiko volunteer facilitator)
“Dounen Daiko is the only activity where he literally runs into practice! Obon was already one of his favorite holidays, so being able to perform at Obon was extra special.” -- Lisa (Nen Daiko member and parent of Dounen Daiko member)
“I loved seeing the changes and growth of our Dounen Daiko members over the past year, not just as they learned to play taiko, but also as they became more comfortable with each other and with us. Each member’s individual personalities really showed up in different ways during practices and at the performance, and I’m so glad they became a part of our taiko family!” -- Emily (Nen Daiko volunteer facilitator)
“At the end of last summer, Nen Daiko voted to try an experiment and create a youth group and training program. We didn’t really know what to expect, and seeing the faces of the youth participants on that first practice day, I don’t think they did either. My favorite memory of this first year of Dounen Daiko’s existence, was taking a quiet moment on the sidelines to smile and just observe the natural ease and confidence in stride that each of the youth had on their final performance day at Ekoji’s Obon Festival. Far from the uncertain hesitation in their participation on the first day of practice, we have watched them transform, not just in how they play taiko, but in how they have accepted and embodied the underlying philosophy and mindset of Nen Daiko’s perspective on taiko---gratitude, respect, interdependence, dedication, perseverance, and growth. Dounen Daiko is far more than just taiko, and in the growth of the youth, we in Nen Daiko have grown with them and are humbled and grateful for the lessons they have given us.” -- Brant (Nen Daiko volunteer facilitator)
Do You Want to Play Taiko?
If you are ages 11-17 and would like to try taiko, follow Nen Daiko on Facebook or Instagram where we announce the fall workshop and audition information. The workshop will be in September. Practices are Sunday from 1-2pm at Ekoji Buddhist Temple. As an FYI, did you know that many colleges have a taiko group?
If you are younger than 11, come to our children’s workshop in September (date TBD). We will not be offering taiko classes for children younger than 11 during the year.
Dounen Daiko's Debut - Matsuri
They performed on July 14, 2018 at Ekoji's Obon. Thank you to Tida Rask for the video!
Dounen Daiko Photo Gallery