TAIKO WEST

We specialise in leading high-energy, hands-on Taiko Drumming workshops and Taiko performance projects throughout the UK, offering a professional and flexible approach within an ever increasing range of settings, abilities and age groups.

We work in association with schools, colleges, local authorities, team building and corporate training experts, music and art therapists, disability groups, Japan-related educational and cultural organisations, festival organisers and martial arts groups.

Based in Shropshire, and led by James Barrow who has been teaching Taiko in the UK since 1993, we are keen to share our enthusiasm for Taiko Drumming as widely as possible. We aim to both honour the traditions that underpin Taiko Drumming while also developing new musical directions, especially through the use of digital technology.

Since 2014 our main focus has been on building the Taiko West Schools & Communities Project into one of the most extensive ongoing educational Taiko projects around. Offering developmental weekly and monthly courses to children, teens and adults across the length and breadth of the Midlands,  we run 20 classes across 8 different venues, as well as coordinating numerous annual performance opportunities as a focus for our students to build towards.

From one of our main bases at The West Midlands Taiko Centre in Newport, Shropshire we also coordinate Residential Taiko courses and host the annual Midlands Taiko Day. Through our other base in Wem we also co-host the long-running Wem Taiko Fest, and in addition we also offer numerous other performance opportunities across the region. We are currently looking to establish new monthly classes in Shrewsbury and Cheshire. 

Taiko West: Proud to be part of the UK Taiko Community.

 

James Barrow

I’ve been playing Taiko since 1986 – my Taiko CV is here. My training has allowed me to appreciate both the traditional aspects of the art form along with the very experimental. Although not a fan of collaboration for collaboration’s sake, I do love it when the typical boundaries of Taiko are stretched a little. As well as composing taiko pieces I’m also a bit of a singer-songwriter and even recorded an album of original songs with a dear friend when I lived in Japan. I am also a rock music fan and currently play guitar and sing in a covers band; unsurprisingly then, I like to explore the “commonalities” between Taiko and rock music in many of my compositions.

My enthusiasm for Taiko is largely driven by the way it gets me out of head and into my body. Moreover, I see Taiko Drumming and music in general as a force for good in the world. It is also my own personal joy. On one level we’re just humans hitting skins with big sticks. But from another perspective the positive, fun, collective energy we generate in our taiko workshops can be seen as a deliberate act of joyous resistance to the external pressures of modern life that might otherwise push us apart. However you choose to look at it, it’s great fun…

Beth Lear

I am Taiko West’s Admin Officer and I oversee the finer details for James so that he can get on with doing what he does best. I have over 20 years’ experience working in administration and like to think that my organisational skills together with a passion for Taiko assist in driving Taiko West forward.

I have been involved with Taiko West since 2014, through helping to start a children’s after school club in my local town and then consequently helping James set up an Adults Class so I could start playing Taiko myself.

Taiko is now in my blood and has become part of me. I can’t explain the feeling it gives me inside when we create a piece of music as a team. It’s just so inspiring and takes you away from everyday life. I just love it and I want to be a part of helping it to continue.

Michael de Groot

I started kit drumming shortly after I arrived in the U.K. from Amsterdam, in 1977.  I enjoyed about 3 years of drumming in a London punk band but gave it up, it’s a long story!

In 2018, Chris Sanson from Devon showed me videos of him playing Taiko drums with his group, Taiko Journey and I was hooked. I joined James’ weekly group in Church Stretton, South Shropshire, I am a regular at Taiko Central near Stratford upon Avon and now I am co-ordinating the local Wyre Forest Taiko group, Stourport-on-Severn since February 2019.

“I can definitely say that I now have the Taiko bug and delighted to be part of Taiko West, as a Volunteer Co-ordinator and Media Officer in helping grow the Taiko community in the West Midlands.”