TEEN AMBASSADOR: JANELLE MERCER | JANUARY 21, 2018
I just came back from an exceptional performance at the Zeiterion Performing Arts Center. I watched the Yamato Drummers, a tradition Japanese taiko drum group. After watching this show, I realized how hard and complex drumming really is. These eight performers are dedicated to their art and put in so much hard work to be the best that they can be. Beginning in 1993, this group performed over 3,500 shows and toured in 54 countries. Only speaking Japanese, this group had to find another way to communicate with their audiences. Only one word of English was spoken, yet I understood everything the group was saying. They let the music they played speak the words for them. Music is a universal language that we all speak, and I’m grateful we have it in our lives.
This performance was filled with color, noise, and humor. The group was able to tell
a story just by using their face and their instruments. It was truly amazing.
The costumes the Yamato Drummers wore were colorful and symbolic to their
culture. Each song had different lighting tones which were used to emphasize
the emotions from the performers and the performance itself. Each one of the
group members challenge themselves in a different way. That’s why they chose to
title the program “The Challengers”. The group performed a high energy show
which showcased the strength you must have as a performer. One scene even
included a whole song where the group had to use their abdominal muscles to
pull them up and down, while hitting the drum on time. I don’t know about you,
but it’s hard enough for me to do a few sit ups, nevermind hit a drum at the
same time. Not only do the performers use physical strength, but mental
strength must be shown. During the almost two hour show the performers were
non-stop. They didn’t have any sheet music. They had every rhythm and pattern
memorized. I was pleasantly surprised about how humorous this show was. One
performer kept making the whole crowd laugh. He did this, not through speech,
but through his actions and his instruments. It was something out of the
ordinary, and I looked for in each coming scene. The amusing performer got the
audience to participate in the show. We learned to make our own music, using
our hands. He would play a drumming pattern and we had to echo it. It was just
like we were having a conversation with each other.
Not only did the group play the drums, they played an assortment of instruments
flutes, stringed instruments, and voices. The performers played around with
different pitches; I learned that the larger the drum, the lower the pitch is.
From the very first hit of the drum the noise echoed through the theater. I
could feel the floor vibrating and I could feel the vibrations resonate through
my body. It’s spectacular how many different varieties of music there are and
how much they can affect you personally. I’m glad I was able to attend the
Yamato Drummers’s performance. It’s something I will never forget.