A few weeks ago, Amara spent the night with us and she noticed that I had four coffee cans sitting on the counter. I save them for scooping up lizards when Twiggy gets bored and leaves them in the front room. I put them back in the garden and then throw the can away. Twiggy hasn’t been hunting much lately so I had extra. Amara asked if she could have them. I knew I wasn’t going to say no to her but I did ask her why. She told me that her class was planning to do a project and make Taiko drums so her teacher was collecting them.
Back in November The PTA had sponsored a cultural performance by the TAIKOPROJECT. The Taiko drummers performed and taught the students about Japanese-American drumming. A few students were lucky enough to go on stage and get a chance to play the drums. Amara was one of the lucky ones. I had planned to go to that performance but somehow got it on my calendar for 1:15 when it was actually at 10:15 and I missed the whole thing. Someone got part of it on video so I got see that ear to ear grin of hers but there are other students in it that I don’t have permission to share. I do have permission to share the smiles below.
So, when Jenna & Justin came to pick her up Sunday morning I had all the coffee cans in a trash bag for easy delivery to the classroom the next day. When Amara and I explained what was happening Jenna suggested I email Amara’s teacher and see if I could come to class the day of the project and take pictures and video! The Segerstrom Center where the PTA gets many of its art programs has a scholarship program which offers the school the opportunity to receive discounts on future performances if they create a school or class project based on a previous performance. I had the email sent before they were out of the tract.
The best part of volunteering is that I get to be there in person to witness everything. This was no exception, I am so glad I got to go. Amara’s teacher showed them how to blow up their balloons to stretch them, cut off the mouth end, then stretch them over the coffee can and tape the drum skin in place. Not as easy as you might think! They worked in pairs and one table broke 8 balloons before they finally got it on! They used construction paper and markers for decorating their Taiko drums. The white board was covered in Japanese inspirations for them. There were lots of common words and their Japanese symbols that they could copy. There were also pictures of the recent tsunami, Japanese style paintings and the Japanese flag. Not only were they being creative they were learning a lot about the Japanese culture, too.
The noise level did get a bit crazy at times and of course if you put a camera in your hand 4th grade boys are going to try to photo bomb you so there was some silliness but they soon forgot the camera and settled down. The teamwork was wonderful to watch as it sometimes took 4 of them to stretch and tape the drum skin on. They traded markers, tapes, compliments and many smiles. Each drum was unique and beautiful. The hour absolutely flew by and as it drew to a close three girls were seen grinning and plotting in the corner.
“Will you go get us Subway for lunch and bring it back? Please! We will pay you back!”
That didn’t happen!
UPDATE: 2/20/2014 The school received their first scholarship credit of $350 for project turned in for Taiko Project