Kilsyth International Carnival Society (KICS) Taiko drumming group the Demon drummers, is currently performing at festivals across Scotland.  These pictures and videos are from recent  festivals at Edinburgh, Helensburgh, on the Clyde, at Strathclyde Country park, and Lauriston Castle, Lothian.

The original funding for setting up the group came from the Scottish Executive through the Futurebuilders Scotland Seedcorn Fund. Subsequent funding has been received from the Foundation For Sport and the Arts and The National Lottery/Scottish Arts Council


Kirsty Hamilton, a professional Taiko drumming instructor who learnt the craft in Japan, has been appointed by KICS to head up the musical programme. Kirsty: "Taiko is a new fusion of Jazz and traditional Japanese drumming that appeals to everyone. You can't really describe it - you have to hear it, experience it live to appreciate it."


 If you would like to try Taiko drumming, or book the group for your festival, for further details phone Kirsty on (44) 01236 829850. For further details of KICS, check the website at www.kic.me.uk

Press coverage includes:  http://www.kilsythtoday.co.uk/ViewArticle2.aspx?SectionID=1594&ArticleID=1342925

Quavers Music - Demon Drums project

Japanese Taiko drumming
Taking part
Benefits and outcomes 

Japanese Taiko drumming


In July 2007 Quavers Music were awarded a grant from the Youth Music Initiative informal sector fund to run two weeks of Japanese Taiko drumming workshops at the Craighalbert Centre in Cumbernauld.  What made this project particularly exciting is that the workshops formed part of the Centre's summer outreach programme for young people with motor impairments.

Taiko drumming workshop, teenager; Courtesy: Craighalbert Centre

Quavers Music were already working with younger children with cerebral palsy at the Craighalbert Centre, but the Demon Drums project allowed them to extend their work to the 8-16 age group.  Two separate groups of young people had an hour-long Taiko drumming session every day for a week - each group had less than 10 participants, which meant that the specific needs of the young people could be addressed and the workshops could be highly tailored to the individuals.

Kilsyth International Carnival provided authentic Taiko drums for the workshops as well as hand gongs and a huge 60cm traditional gong which was used to great effect! 

Japanese gong; Courtesy: Craighalbert Centre

The advantage of Taiko drumming to this group of young people is that it traditionally uses co-ordinated 'kiai' energy shouts and movements as well as drum rhythms.  This meant that in addition to encouraging participation in music making, the project helped achieve movement and vocalisation goals.

Taking part

Both weeks of drumming workshops were a huge success. 

Taiko drumming workshop, younger boy; Courtesy: Craighalbert Centre Comments from the young people ranged from "It was very good fun" and "I like standing up and doing the noisy drums" to one child who had very little speech but gave the project a big grin and thumbs up!  When asked which bits they liked best, participants highlighted the chance to speak Japanese and the tutor who made the workshops fun as well as actually playing the drums.  One boy's favourite part was "the freestyle bit because you can do whatever you want to do".

Reports from the tutor show that every participant was engaged, enthusiastic and quick to learn:
'Everybody was very keen and participated very well'
'The group showed a great understanding of the sequence and they ran through it...until it was sounding perfect'
'All kids stated that they would love to do it again'.

Benefits and outcomes

All the young people who took part in the Taiko workshops were very quick to learn new musical skills like keeping time, mastering a rhythm sequence and varying tempo and volume. 

A key aim of the Youth Music Initiative is to provide opportunities for music making to young people who would not normally have the chance, which here resulted in a whole new set of skills for everyone involved.  Another aim is to encourage creative music-making, and the chance to drum 'freestyle' was evidently popular because of this creative element.

However, there were more than just musical benefits to the workshops.  Learning Taiko drumming improved physical co-ordination, stamina, posture and vocal skills, all of which are vitally important to a group of young people with motor impairments. Taiko drumming workshop, close-up; Courtesy: Craighalbert Centre

An unexpected outcome of the project was the knowledge about Japanese language and culture gained by the groups, who were more interested in finding out the context behind the drumming than had been anticipated!

Taiko drumming workshop, group; Courtesy: Craighalbert Centre At only 500, Quavers Music's application to the Youth Music Initiative Informal Sector fund was the smallest received so far - but they have used the grant to make a huge impact. 

It is clear from the photos and film of the workshops and performances that the young people involved not only had a great time but gained in confidence and ability through their experiences.

To find out more about the Youth Music Initiative Informal Sector fund, please visit the Scottish Arts Council funding pages.  For more information about Quavers Music, contact Kirsty Hamilton.