(Frequently Asked Questions)

What is taiko?

The Japanese word taiko means ‘fat drum.’ The same word taiko also refers to the art of Japanese drumming. The way of taiko is over 1,000 years old. In ancient times, the taiko drum symbolized the community. Each community had at least one drum and played various rhythms to communicate messages: call the people together, warn of danger, for religious ceremony, and for different aspects of everyday life. Many villages had their own unique songs. Today these songs are recognized as original styles representative of different prefectures in Japan.

Originally, taiko songs were played on one drum at a time. In the 1950s, a group of Japanese masters convened and discovered the power of playing their drums together. This was the beginning of what is now commonly known as a taiko group. The art of modern taiko drumming involves BIG drums, smaller drums, and many backbeat instruments.

Who’s “Dan”?

Dan (pronounced ‘don’) means community in Japanese. Thus, Moab Taiko Dan is taiko by/for the Moab community.

Where do the drums come from?

Taiko groups either buy their drums (approx. $1500 per drum) or they may choose to build their own. Most of MTD’s drums are built by the local drummers, using old wine barrels and cow hide. The process of drum building is worth the experience!

How long has taiko been played in Moab?

Annette Kearl first brought taiko to Moab in October of 1994. Called “HenKei Taiko”, the group first drummed on old tires lashed to folding chairs, using 16” wooden dowels as drumsticks. They met in backyards, old warehouses, the old HMK School or any place they could arrange. Under Annette’s leadership the group built their own “real” drums, which were A LOT louder -- enough to sometimes catch the attention of friendly Moab City Police.

When Annette left Moab in the late 1990s the group worked hard to survive, reaching out to the national and international Taiko community for instruction and inspiration. Sensei Tiffany Tamaribuchi of Sacramento Taiko Dan, who had been one of Annette’s taiko teachers in California, agreed to take MTD under her wing. This relationship has survived ever since and Tiffany Sensei continues to instruct the group in taiko skills and practices.

I want to play, too! What classes does MTD offer?

Adult beginner workshops happen twice a year, spring and fall, when Sensei Tiffany Tamaribuchi visits from Sacramento. Additional intermediate and intensive classes are also scheduled during those workshop weekends, for drummers with some experience.

Weekly apprentice drummer classes happen on Tuesday nights from 5:30-7:30pm at the MTD dojo. MTD members meet on Wednesday nights from 5:30-7:30pm. Starting in 2014, weekly classes for seniors will be offered on Monday nights. If you’d like to drop in to just watch and listen, all adult classes are open for visitors.

MTD also sponsors classes for children (grades 3 to High School) through the BEACON After School Program.

How can I join and become a performing member?

Attending a beginner workshop with Sensei Tiffany is the first step. Then, drummers must come to at least three months of weekly apprentice classes before applying for full membership. Monthly dues for members are $20. It is common to drum for at least a full year before performing at any races or shows.

Moab Taiko Dan
Moab Taiko Dan is a non profit (501c3) organization founded in 1994.