Odaiko New England

Taiko, Baby! or Taiko Baby? (part 1 of 2)

For me, 2011 was a year of change. The biggest and most obvious being my transformation from taiko obsessed landscape designer to taiko obsessed landscape designer who is also a mother.

Thinking back, each month of my pregnancy is intertwined with taiko.

First Ultrasound

My first ultrasound. My baby was nothing but a blurry blob with a heartbeat.


In January, I found out I was pregnant right before On Ensemble arrived for a visit.

I had a terrific time hosting Shoji and Kelvin, and taking a private lesson and workshop led by Kris, but I have to admit I was a little distracted.

Don (OMG) Kon (I’m) Don (pregnant!) kara ka ka

With the other instructors and the organizers at the first ever East Coast Taiko Conference.(L-R: Me, Tanya, PJ Hirabayashi, Stuart Paton, Miles Endo,Jon Wang, Daniel Porter, Alan Okada, Merle Okada, Mark H Rooney) photo by Matthew Tom-Wolverton



By February, I’d started to feel different.

Constant thirst and frequent headaches were the worst symptoms of all the changes taking place internally.  But that didn’t stop me from traveling with Tanya to represent Odaiko New England by presenting two workshops at the first ever East Coast Taiko Conference.  I felt a little out of place with the other instructors, but rather than trying to teach taiko, Tanya and I focused on our areas of expertise–core strength and flexibility, and having fun with taiko.  So we taught workshops on body awareness and taiko games.


In March, at my second ultrasound, I saw my baby move for the first time.
Rather than spending the whole month stunned by this development, I joined Gertrude for a day trip to New York to take our first sanshin lesson from Junko Fisher.  Gertrude and I share an interest in Okinawan music and culture, so it was wonderful to meet and learn from Junko.

March also presented an opportunity to see Kodo perform at Symphony hall, and briefly greet them backstage.  It was a lot of fun to see Kodo members I’d met a couple of years earlier while they were still apprentices, playing with such power and grace under the spotlights.


Playing Kashmir at Anime Boston (4 months pregnant)


By April, my headaches were a lot less frequent, which was lucky since ONE was facing the usual spring onslaught of performances.  At a high school in New Hampshire, I swear I heard one of the rowdy boys shouting “I love you, Beth”.  Really?  Did I hear that right?  Well, I know he wasn’t serious, but I also know he doesn’t know he’s shouting at a pregnant lady possibly twice his age.

5 Months


May brought a performance at the Arnold Arboretum on Mother’s Day.

I already felt enormous, but I don’t think anyone in the audience figured out that I was a future mother.

6 Months: Artists for Japan fundraiser, Playing Chichibu Yatai Bayashi with Shane



In early June, Odaiko New England participated in the Artists for Japan fundraiser with our fellow Boston area taiko groups, Rutsubo and the Genki Spark.


By July, I felt truly enormous.  Although taiko had kept me going for so much of my pregnancy, I was starting to loose steam.

7 Months

My final pre-motherhood performance was at the Blackships festival in Newport Rhode Island.  It was a blast, but it wasn’t easy: Saturday afternoon included 3 short performances in the shopping area, and Saturday evening we played Hiryuu Sandan Gaieshi at the gala.  (After we played, one of the guests of honor, the governor of Shizuoka Prefecture, actually took a moment to compliment our performance!)  The next day, the rest of the group arrived for the big hour-long show on a sunny baseball field.  I applied sunscreen liberally, drank lots of water, and played in every song.


In August, heat, exhaustion, travel plans, and my work were all adding up, so I found it difficult to make it to the dojo.  But I did make it to one of the Edobayashi workshops taught by Isaku Kageyama.  Edobayashi is a style that challenges me where I am weakest as a taiko player, so I’m glad I had the chance to take the workshop.


On September 1, Mark H. Rooney stopped by to teach a katsugi okedo workshop for ONE members.  That was a blast, though playing a drum slung over my shoulder while nearly full term was a little awkward.  (I admit I was a little worried about whacking myself in the stomach).  After the workshop, my taiko family presented me with a box full of wonderful taiko themed baby clothes.

10 days later, I was a mom.

1 comment to Taiko, Baby! or Taiko Baby? (part 1 of 2)

  • Lisa

    Hi there,

    I just wanted to let you know that from reading this blog entry at the beginning of the year, I’ve had the confidence to keep going in my taiko training and performances. I’m now 27 weeks, and I’m going to start slowing down a bit now, moving from the chu to the shime for the next couple of months. We had an hour long concert this weekend been, and I can tell things are starting to get a bit harder. But doing taiko throughout the pregnancy has kept me fit, healthy and flexible! I had a small concern when the baby took a couple of days to recover from the concert. It went a little quiet, only just getting back to full kicking now. I imagine she turned to the back, to get a bit of peace! Anyway, thanks! As there is not a lot on the web to refer to.