Members of Tucson’s Odaiko Sonora show off their taiko skills.
Members of Tucson’s Odaiko Sonora show off their taiko skills.

A lecture-demonstration on the history and diversity of taiko, the powerful and physically demanding discipline of Japanese ensemble drumming, will be offered at 3:30 p.m. Wednesday (Aug. 24) in the Arizona Senior Academy’s Great Room.

Taiko began in ancient Japan as a form of communication. It was also used on the battlefield to coordinate troops and intimidate the enemy. The Japanese also used, and still use, taiko in Kabuki theatre to accompany singers and actors. It is also central to most matsuri, or festival traditions throughout Japan.

The ASA talk will be given by Karen Falkenstrom, and the demonstration will be by Nicole Stansbury and Lani Villanueva, all members of Tucson’s Odaiko Sonora, a non-profit performing arts and education agency offering taiko classes, workshops and performances.

Falkenstrom said they plan to demonstrate a variety of taiko styles, including songs, chants and festival songs. “If people seem interested, we will teach a simple dance,” she added.

She said taiko offers “incredible benefits” to all ages. “For seniors, I’d say the most obvious is a gentle but inevitable increase in flexibility, strength and balance. I call it a ‘stealth workout.’ Our middle-age to senior students have lost weight, lowered blood pressure, increased stamina and can point to taiko as having helped them through tough emotional times. Those, and continuing to engage the mind in learning and exploring, which the Academy is clearly aware of as a benefit.”

Falkenstrom is co-founder and director of Odaiko Sonora. She is also the organization’s lead taiko-builder. A 31-year veteran of nonprofit arts, her honors include a 2008 YWCA Woman on the Move award, 2009 Pan Asian Community Alliance Woman of the Year, the Arizona Arts Award (2009), and a 2014 Tucson Pima Arts and Business “Lumie” award.

More information on taiko and Odaiko Sonora, go to

Written by Mike Maharry, Academy Village Volunteer

More Info on attending an event
Academy Village is an active-adult community located off Old Spanish Trail six miles southeast of Saguaro National Park East. Its residents support the Arizona Senior Academy, a non-profit charitable organization whose mission includes offering free concerts and lectures to the public.

These events are held in the Great Room of The ASA Building adjacent to the Academy Village Community Center. Due to the popularity of cultural events, non-residents who wish to ensure priority seating are advised to make reservations by email at or by phone at (520) 647-0980. To learn more about the Academy, go to

Parking for visitors is in the lot behind the Community Center. All parking spaces in front of the Academy building are reserved.

Learn About Taiko, Japanese Ensemble Drumming: August 2016