It's been six years since Brian Sole opened the Great Lakes Taiko Center in Novi.
And this year's annual concert -- taking place Sunday, June 12, at Detroit's Redford Theatre -- shows just how far the traditional Japanese drumming school has come.
"Since we started we've always had guest performers from Japan," says Sole, 42, a former school teacher who was raised in Walled Lake and now resides in Novi. "This year we're doing the whole vent with our own students and performing groups. It's so nice to be able to put on a complete, 90-minute-plus show with (players) we've developed personally, here at the Taiko Center."
Sole, who began playing violin at the age of seven and whose "whole family was rather musical," was still teaching when he first went to Japan in 1998 and was exposed to Taiko drumming. Impressed but also intimidated by the size of the instruments and the precision required to play them, he didn't try it himself until a return tenure in 2007.
"I gave it a try and studied it and learned it was challenging but a lot more accessible than I thought it was," he recalls. "It was a lot of fun, so when I came back in 2009 I brought some drums back and started the Taiko Center.
"It's interesting," he adds. "For musicians, their backup plan is to teach. For me as a teacher, my backup plan was to do music. And it worked out."
Sunday's concert will feature two groups from the center, whose students range in age from three years old to in their 70s. Raion Taiko, which Sole himself leads, is the Center's professional troupe which plays around the state, while Godaiko features other accomplished students from the school. Sole says about 80 of the Center students will perform during the program and, in addition to entertaining, demonstrate just how accessible Taiko drumming can be.
"I try to let people know no musical ability is required," Sole says. "With everything you can reach a high shill level with a lot of work, but with a drum the gratification comes very quickly. It's certainly a little easier than, say, the violin.
"So we have students who are music majors, but we also have people who have touched a musical instrument or read (music) at all, and they can still enjoy it and have a lot of fun. Either way, it's very rewarding."
Great Lakes Taiko Center 6th Annual Concert
4 p.m. Sunday, June 12.
Redford Theatre, 17360 Lahser Road, Detroit.
Tickets ares $15 for adults and $10 for children 12 and under in advance, $5 more on the day of the show.
Call 313-537-2560 or visit michigantaiko.net.
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