KPCC Story on the NEA features Team Taiko

Making Music Makes A Community

Grand Vision's Executive Director, Liz Schindler Johnson spoke with KPCC's Priska Neely about Team Taiko, our transformative music engagement program. Liz also spoke in detail about the importance of NEA grants to small arts organizations such as Grand Vision. The story aired on Tuesday March 14. Watch it or read it here.

Team Taiko is Grand Vision Foundation’s signature community engagement program for adult English Language Learners. We believe in creating unique opportunities for people to come together to try something new, engage in their community in a novel way, and in enhancing acculturation for new arrivals through fun and music.

Team Taiko was made possible with generous support from the National Endowment for the Arts’ Challenge America grant .

In January through May of this year, 47 immigrant adult English as a Second Language students at the San Pedro Adult Learning Center site of the LAUSD Harbor Occupational Center took part in two eight-week sessions of Taiko drum instruction, led by professional teachers from LA Taiko Institute, and coordinated by Connie McOsker, Grand Vision’s Community Project Manager. Sessions were held directly following ESL classes, and attracted students primarily from Latin America with students also from Asia, the Middle East, and Europe. Students learned to hold bachi (Japanese drum sticks) and how to play rhythmic patterns on different types of taiko drums. Instructors taught through call and response and repetition, allowing students to let go of any self-consciousness or fear, as the thunderous sound of taiko playing in unison brought them strongly into the present moment as an ensemble.

Each eight week session culminated in a performance at the Grand Annex, opening for a well-known world music artist. On Friday, March 11, 2016, 30 Team Taiko drummers opened for the Arsenio Rodriguez Project, a Cuban Song ensemble. On Saturday, May 7, 2016, 28 Team Taiko drummers opened for Zhena Folk Chorus, a traditional Eastern European women’s folk group, and the Garlic Band, a Gypsy Jazz band. This incredible mash-up of cultures, musical sounds and excellent international musicians in the same room created opportunities for personal exchange, fun and learning that happens only in places like Los Angeles, and only at places like the Grand Annex!

Original support for Team Taiko came from The James Irvine Foundation’s Community Engagement grant. Additional support from The National Endowment for the Arts, has allowed us to strengthen the project. You can help us continue this real community engagement program through 2017 by clicking here! 

Article Posted: 3/22/2017