Workshops and Classes

All posts in the "Workshops and Classes" category.

Free try-taiko classes this month

Sunday, January 11th, 2015


More info:

In preparation for my term starting in February, I’ll be teaching a week of free, try-taiko classes at the Los Angeles Taiko Institute. If you know someone who’d like to try taiko — perhaps a friend whom you’ve promised to reconnect with this year, or a co-worker with a birthday this month — please let them know! There’s no obligation… we’re just happy sharing taiko with people!

Kris starting two new taiko groups

Thursday, January 8th, 2015

Now recruiting inaugural members

I’m really excited about two new taiko groups I’m starting at LATI: Mochi Mochi and Matsuri Crashers. If you’re interested in a taiko challenge in 2015, let me know!


About Mochi Mochi

Mochi Mochi is a rice-pounding and taiko performing group developing a 30-minute performance for debut in December 2015, and with the goal of regular, public performance. Practices will involve beta and naname nagado taiko forms, plus small-drum technique, ensemble togetherness, and timing. Musical challenges range from accessible to advanced, with individual roles tailored for growth. The long-term vision of Mochi Mochi is to utilize the “mochitsuki” tradition of rice pounding as a compelling, artistic structure for sharing music, culture, food, and fun.


About Matsuri Crashers

Matsuri Crashers tackle the high-bar of slant-drum soloing, and encompass the Rock Solids base-beat crew who support the soloists. Using lighthearted competition inspired by the hip-hop world, Matsuri Crashers host “battles” where players go head-to-head and the audience votes. Weekly practices teach new moves and improvisation with guided individual practice. Members can focus on slant-drum development or small-drum jiuchi, and all members learn the challenging battle structures. Fast-paced and demanding, Matsuri Crashers is seeking advanced players.

Suzuki Sensei is coming to LATI!

Wednesday, September 10th, 2014


While Maz and Shoj are off on tour, I’m holding down the fort here at home. Things at Los Angeles Taiko Institute have been fantastic, and I’m pleased to announce that Suzuki Sensei will be coming to the Institute this month to teach an intensive on Shishi Mai (lion dance) and the accompanying music in a workshop on fue (flute) and a workshop on taiko. A number of us will be taking all three. We’re really excited!

Suzuki Sensei’s lion dance emphasizes the cat-like nature of the shishi, with a full range of gestures from high energy hopping and lunging, to licking the fur and napping. In short, we love Suzuki Sensei’s shishi mai! He’s also an amazing musician and accomplished flutist. Maz and Shoj studied flute with Suzuki Sensei, and he performs regularly with Kenny Endo and other taiko greats.

Yuta and the other LATI staff and I will be making practice lion masks for the participants of the two-day intensive, where Suzuki Sensei will give 12 hours of instruction. We plan to make this the beginning of an ongoing relationship with Suzuki Sensei, with annual visits to help us improve our shishi mai and musicality. Join us and start learning from the beginning!

Kris new classes and free taiko primers start this week!

Monday, July 28th, 2014


I’m very excited about my next term to begin at Los Angeles Taiko Institute. As always, I have a week of free Try Taiko classes for folks who’d like to get a tour of the facility and try the amazing drums. Following that, I start a set of eight new courses with offerings for both beginning and experienced players. I’m focusing on naname and small-drum this term and am really exited about the next 12 weeks.

Join me!

Taiko workshops at the Kaoru Watanabe Taiko Center

Thursday, April 3rd, 2014

I’ll be giving two workshops at the Kaoru Watanabe Taiko Center this Saturday April 5th. Space is limited and there are just a few spots left for the two workshops:

Lion Chant Workshop 1 : Interlocking Rhythms
This workshop will introduce participants to components of Shoji’s newest piece taiko composition: Lion Chant. Focusing on simple independence this workshop will focus on the timing and technique required for creating dense layers of interlocking rhythms. This workshop will also teach part of the structure of the piece Lion Chant and will lay the foundation for learning and performing the composition. All levels welcome! Limited to 12 participants

Mastering Omiyage
This workshop will focus on refining the technique and concepts behind Omiyage. One of the taiko world’s most exciting and performed compositions Omiyage is now performed by taiko groups throughout the world. Learn to master the subtleties of the movements and composition from the creator himself. No previous experience with Omiyage necessary. Limited to 12 participants

10 am to 1 pm: Lion Chant
1 pm lunch
2 to 5 pm: Omiyage

Fee (includes lunch)
For KWTC members:
$55 for one workshop, $95 for both
For non-members:
$60 for one workshop, $105 for both
RSVP by emailing

There is also a great taiko intensive next week Friday April 11th to Sunday 13th at the KWTC with Tetsuro Naito and Patrick Graham.


Shoji Kameda is a Grammy nominated musician, composer and producer and a leading creative force in the taiko world. If you are interested in bringing him out to work with your group contact him at: shoji(at)

Ho Etsu Taiko Intensive

Wednesday, April 2nd, 2014


I had a great weekend leading a taiko intensive for Ho Etsu Taiko. Ho Etsu Taiko originally started as a youth group with the Midwest Buddhist Temple. Four years ago they opened their membership to those outside of the temple and have become one of the most active and creative taiko ensembles in the Chicago area. They perform throughout the midwest and have worked with professional taiko players like Nagata Shachu and Tiffany Tamaribuchi and seek out collaborations with other artists in their area like noted Irish singer Paddy Homan. Here’s a link to a Chicago Tribune article about Ho Etsu Taiko, their recent collaboration with Paddy Homan and their temple’s attempts at reaching out to the surrounding communities.

In preparing for the intensive I had the group leader Jason send me videos and recordings of their recent work and was impressed with the quality of their recent work. When a group asks me to come in and work with them it’s important for me to try to get a sense of the character of the group and what they are trying to do musically and artistically. My goal is to help them become better versions of themselves and give them tools and techniques that they can use on their own to continue their artistic progress as a group. We exchanged several emails and had a face to face meeting to further understand where they are, where they want to go and come up with a set of focal points for our time together.


When working with a group on an in depth basis I like to use pieces that they already play so that it’s more clear how they can implement different concepts that I introduce. I have found that this is much more effective than just teaching them a new drill. I’ve worked with groups in the past to improve their basic kata with a new drill and it will look great while playing the drill, playing relaxed and powerful but the moment they go back to playing the songs they are used to it just goes back to the way they were playing before. I’ve realized that it’s helpful to introduce basic concepts in a way that is more applicable right away.

Using two pieces from the groups repertoire I worked with them to improve their betta and naname basics, stage presence, listening and timing and worked with the composer of the pieces to flush out their pieces with different compositional techniques and approaches. I also taught them parts of a new composition of mine called Lion Chant and invited them to perform the piece as a part of a big multi group performance at the opening of the World Taiko Gathering. We got a lot done over the weekend and I’d like to thank Jason, Ryan, Donny, Dana, Tiana, Lannie, Emily and Alexa for all of their hard work and for taking such great care of me while in Chicago.


Shoji Kameda is a Grammy nominated musician, composer and producer and a leading creative force in the taiko world. If you are interested in bringing him out to work with your group contact him at: shoji(at)

Eien Hunter-Ishikawa Workshops and Private Lessons

Tuesday, February 4th, 2014

After our On Ensemble performances this weekend at the Getty Center Eien will be giving a series of workshops and private lessons at the Los Angeles Taiko Institute. He’ll be teaching two workshops: Small Drum Technique and an Introduction to Edo-Bayashi and will be available for private lessons.

Eien is one of the most technically skilled and musical taiko players in the North American community. He is also a great teacher and his depth of knowledge and experience is a great resource for those who are into taiko and want take their playing to the next level. If you are into taiko and live in SoCal this is a great opportunity to learn from one of the best! Check out the LATI website for a complete list of Eien’s workshops and private lesson availability.

Private Lessons with Eien:

Small Drum Technique:

Intro to Edo-Bayashi:

On Ensemble Workshops: Worth Every Penny

Sunday, January 20th, 2013

(The following is a post by guest blogger, Urie. Thanks, amigo!)

As a music student in some form or another for the past decade, I’ve been exposed to a number of different teachers and teaching styles. Based on these experiences, I feel confident in saying that the members of On Ensemble are among the best educators I’ve had the pleasure of working with. The atmosphere is very laid-back, which really encourages participants to adjust their technique and try something different. I was particularly impressed by how quickly the drills helped improve our taiko group’s approach to improvisation–not an easy concept to unpack for an audience with very different experiences in music and dance.

On an individual level, I thoroughly enjoyed Kris Bergstrom’s “30 Days to a Better Shime” program. As a drummer, many of the concepts came across as a review, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. You’re never so good that you can’t revisit the basic. The pacing of the exercises and the explanation of the mechanics are perfectly suited to someone approaching wrist-centric drumming for the first time.

The diverse backgrounds, skills and perspectives of On Ensemble do, in fact, lead to a group without equal. If you find yourself with an opportunity to learn from these amazing individuals, do yourself a favor and take it.

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