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In addition to percussion, our members learn other instruments - including the voice!

Song club members are practicing Japanese pronunciation

Meet the Song Club and Fue Club

The majority of our performing members joined our group after falling in love with the energy and intensity of Japanese drumming. But did you know that many of our members have talents and aspirations in other musical arenas? Some sing, some play other instruments, and some do both! Now our members are bringing those talents to the group through our fue and song clubs.
 
Fue club was first started by Jaci Lett, who recently retired after 17 years with the group. The fue, or shinobue, is a flute made from bamboo. Jaci has played flute with various ensembles through the years, and started fue club to teach other members playing techniques and some songs that are part of our repertoire. With Jaci’s retirement, current member Elizabeth Mager has taken the lead to share her experience in playing fue, which she began studying while living in Japan.
 
Our fue club includes both experienced musicians as well as individuals who are brand new to the instrument. Learning the fue can be challenging, even for our members who already play other instruments. The fue has only seven holes but getting the right sound and the correct note can be incredibly difficult; for the newest people, it can be a challenge just to produce a sound!
 
Elizabeth has introduced proper fingering techniques to those of us just beginning to learn fue, along with a few simple songs to practice; for others who have played fue but need refinement, she has helped with more complex fingering as well as intonation to add shape and emotion to the music.
 
Elizabeth has also introduced the song club to develop vocal pieces that complement our normal repertoire. Elizabeth has sung in choral groups in school as well as with her father’s choir, and while she reminds us that she’s not a professional, she has introduced a number of exercises to train our voices and improve pronunciation in unfamiliar languages.

Song club practice

Song club has been a fun opportunity for members who are looking for new ways to contribute to the group, but can’t devote the time to learn a new instrument. Others, who were previously active in choral groups, are excited to be singing again - this time exploring music in unfamiliar languages and from other cultures. In recent months, we have learned two traditional songs that come from the indigenous Ainu culture of northern Japan. With continued practice, we hope to introduce these pieces in upcoming performances!

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Recording in Progress!

Studio recording sessionIf you've been to the Missouri Botanical Garden Japanese Festival, you may have seen us accompanying Bon Odori, or summer festival dancing at the Yagura Stage. We provide live accompaniment for the dancers, but recorded music may also be heard throughout the demonstrations. We just completed a recording to accompany Bon Odori and hope to have it ready for the festival this Labor Day weekend. Curious? Join us at the Japanese Festival to check it out!

Song Profile: Zoku

Written by Leonard Eto

Zoku is a modern taiko piece, written by Leonard Eto while a member of world-renowned taiko ensemble Kodo. It has become one of Kodo's most popular songs and is one of our favorite pieces to perform. We first learned Zoku several years ago from Kaiju-Daiko in Chicago, who learned it directly from Kodo. In exchange, we taught them our original piece, Drive, in a single jam-packed workshop session!

It is rumored that Zoku was originally inspired by Bosozoku, a Japanese biker gang. The Bosozoku are historically known for their rebellious nature and certainly do not have a positive image in society, but Leonard Eto was inspired by the gang's overflowing energy. This energy is apparent in the resulting composition, characterized by a strong sense of togetherness - along with a lot of kiaing, or shouting of encouragement, to one another while playing.


 
Zoku's popularity is rooted in its strong groove, relatively easy to learn patterns, and a song structure that is meant for a large group to play together. The name can be translated to "group" or "tribe," and that togetherness is strongly emphasized throughout the piece. Our version includes a variation for chuu-daiko solos; the piece wasn't originally written to include solos, but it was a hit when we added them at a performance and has been part of our arrangement ever since.
 

Register for Classes

Our next 10-week beginner's session begins Sunday, July 7, and right now when you sign up with a friend or family member, you get both registrations for the price of one! Learn the basics of kata (form), movement, theory and rhythms, along with some pieces you can play. 
 
Our summer session is unique in that students also have the chance to perform a song with us at the Japanese Festival. So grab a friend and visit stltaiko.com to sign up!
 

Save the Date!

Nothing beats seeing - and feeling - a taiko performance in person! Some of our favorite performances are coming up later this summer and fall; don't miss them!
 
Japanese Festival
Missouri Botanical Garden
St. Louis, Missouri
Labor Day Weekend
September 1-3
 
Japanese Fall Festival
Mizumoto Japanese Stroll Garden
Springfield, Missouri
September 7-9

Maryland Heights Community Center
Maryland Heights, Missouri
September 16
We are a non-profit group that performs the art of taiko around the St. Louis area and the world.
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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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