We continue to make music together, and finding new ways to connect.

While the studio is closed, we meet online!

Staying Connected

We hope this newsletter finds all of you safe and healthy. As we begin our second month of sheltering in place, we are settling into new routines, from working or studying at home, to homeschooling our children and even tackling long-overdue home organization projects. Beyond the changes to our daily lives, we’re adapting our taiko routines as well and are excited to share some of our activities with you.

Music continues to be a huge part of our members' routines but without our drums, a lot of us have been turning to other instruments. Joel meets remotely with other shamisen players around the country to practice new songs and techniques. Katie continues to study fue and has recently begun learning shamisen as well, after participating in the Bachicamp workshop at our studio last fall. Katie has even hinted at taking on yet another instrument that may find its way into our repertoire in the future. She notes that diving into music has been her happy place during this difficult period, a sentiment that many of us share.

Andrew on clarinetLeft: Andrew has also been practicing other instruments. He's been studying clarinet for some time but could never find time for practice; now he's building a regular practice routine and is even learning a part to include with taiko. We can't wait to see his progress!

We're also finding new ways of staying in shape. Playing taiko requires a lot of energy, so of course we worry about losing our taiko muscles before our performances resume. Mana and Heather turn to the outdoors when the weather is warm, going for a run in their neighborhood parks or a quiet hike on trails where we can practice safe social distancing. Helena has been coping with dance, returning to one of her favorite video games from college, Dance Dance Revolution. 

Group exercise is also becoming part of our regular online meetings. Adding movement throughout the day makes a huge impact on our outlook during this uncertain time, and participating as a group strengthens the bond we share as a performance ensemble. Of course, we'd rather be at the studio playing taiko - but when that time comes, we will be ready!

Perhaps the key to maintaining a positive outlook is by adding a little humor to our days. Joel notes, "Now that I'm working remotely and seeing friends and family over remote chat, I set up a green screen in my office to have fun with pictures and videos as my background." 

Joel's home office / practice studioIn addition to unique green screen backgrounds, Joel has added trivia and other games to our regular get-togethers. In addition to having fun, we're finding out who will do anything to win - even cheat!

How are you coping during this challenging time? Whether it's through music, exercise, gardening, or renewed time with family, we hope you are finding ways to stay health and strong, and we will see you again!


Sakura Sakura video link

Finding new ways to perform, even when we can't be together

Spring has finally arrived in the Midwest. While this spring is a very uncertain time for us all, we are still struck by the beauty of the the new growth around us. Whether on our neighborhood walks or watching livestreams from the Missouri Botanical Garden, we are struck by the beauty of the emerging flowers and activity around us.

As we considered ways to connect with each other and our audiences, we couldn't find a better way than to honor the arrival of spring by experimenting with the traditional Japanese melody, "Sakura Sakura."

We began with an arrangement for two fue, written by former member Natsuki Kobayashi, and played by performing members Katie and Helena. Several members joined in, recording individual parts from their homes with traditional instruments like taiko, shamisen and fue, but also adding additional percussion, cello and kalimba (thumb piano). 

Andrew, Mana, Katie, Joel and Helena

Community group member and volunteer Audrey Simes provided sound and video editing. It was quite a challenge to work with so many individual parts, but in the end she layered the many sounds to create a unique take on the traditional composition. Our final arrangement of Sakura Sakura is now available - we hope you enjoy the video as much as we enjoyed creating it!

The creative process for producing music in this way is very different than when we make music together. It's much slower process, but performing member Mana Hayashi Tang notes the deliberation and thoughtfulness to the process. She notes, "The final product, because our individual parts are being pieced together by someone else, feels like a delayed surprise gift. It's fun in its own way!"

The cherry blossoms, for which Sakura Sakura gets its name, have mostly faded but we will continue to share additional projects with you so we can stay connected even when we're not on a stage. Be sure to keep an eye out on Facebook or YouTube for more!

We are a non-profit group that performs the art of taiko around the St. Louis area and the world.
Copyright © 2015 St. Louis Osuwa Taiko, All rights reserved.
10734 Trenton Ave. | St. Louis, MO 63132
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St. Louis Osuwa Taiko · 10734 Trenton Ave. · St. Louis, MO 63132 · USA

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