For the past month, just as the Free Arts staff begins to clock out for the night on Wednesday evenings, the building is rejuvenated with hope, creativity, and excitement. Long time Free Arts teaching artist, Eileen Morgan, is once again connecting with children from one of our partner agencies. Eileen teaches the art of Japanese taiko drumming, which is a unique art form that teaches respect, self-control, perseverance, and many other values. As soon as the children walk into the Free Arts building, they are greeted by their Sensei Eileen, and they bow before entering the room to show respect for the space that they call their dojo.
During the first few sessions, most of the children showed signs of obvious discomfort in doing unfamiliar tasks like standing with their legs apart in a wide stance and crouching down in a particular manner to appropriately reach the instrument. There was some hesitancy when striking the drums, which created an uneven flow and a great deal of giggles at first. By the third session, the children had become accustomed to the techniques, and began to play their drums in unison. Any staff member left in the building could undoubtedly hear the sound of the taiko beat as it traveled throughout the building, carrying with it the feeling of bravery, connection, trust, and resilience.
This taiko drumming Professional Artist Series provides a learning environment that builds teamwork and creates self-awareness. It teaches the children we serve about the power of hope and affirmation. It is an honor to host a safe space for these impactful opportunities for children and professional teaching artists at Parsons Place for the first time since it reopened in 2020.