Taiko Drumming: Bringing Rhythm To Life With Heidi Varian

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What shudders your spine like thunder, has been used to represent the actual voice of Buddha, and can move an audience to tears?  Taiko drumming.  Throughout Japanese history, Taiko drumming was used to summon gods, drive away enemies, ward off evil spirits and distinguish boundaries between villages.  Anyone who has heard the thunderous power of these magnificent drums recognizes a compelling spiritual force at work.  Heidi Varian speaks of her teacher, Grandmaster Sensei Seiichi Tanaka:  "To be his age and to play with that much spirit and power makes you realize it has to be more than just physical strength--it has to come from somewhere else."  On stage, Varian has the skill and spirit that brings the drums to life; she brings that same spirit to you in this dialogue about the artform of Taiko, an explosion of energy unique in the world of music and dance. (hosted by Justine Willis Toms) 


A touring member of the percussion ensemble San Francisco Taiko Dojo, and cofounder with her partner David Laura of TRIBE, Varian also teaches percussion and movement at Napa State Hospital and to youth around the San Francisco Bay Area. 

 Topics explored in this dialogue include:

  • How Taiko drumming helps you physically, mentally and spiritually
  • The advantages Taiko drumming offers for children and teenagers
  • Taiko as art therapy to build confidence and community, and channel aggression
  • The four essential elements of Taiko
  • The fierceness, precision and strength of the Taiko drummer
  • How Taiko drums were originally made, and the innovative methods employed today
  • Surprising Taiko drumming events you have probably been exposed to!
  • Varian’s own path to becoming a Taiko drummer
  • The multi-cultural growth of Taiko in the United States

 Host: Justine Willis Toms    Interview Date: 9/9/1996   Program number: 2741