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Drums for the Deaf

On October 3 and 4, my taiko group is hosting our first mainstage concert - 90 minutes of music to do with what we like. One huge thing we'd like to do is invite a group of high school students from the Illinois School for the Deaf to see us perform.

We met these students in February 2015 at a gig for Illinois College. A member of the college music department hatched a plan to invite an ISD class to our concert. They sat in the front row and we all had the most amazing time.

Taiko is visceral. Our drums are the size of wine barrels. They’re faced with cowhide and played with drumsticks the size of tree branches. At a taiko show, you can feel the music coming up through the floor. It hums in your chest like a heartbeat.

When we hit our first notes that night, the kids in the front rows jumped. Some pressed their hands to their chests. Others looked excitedly at each other. By being music they could feel, it was music they could hear. After our song ended, they erupted in cheers. We came down to talk when the show was through, typing messages on our phones and handing them back and forth to each other. It was a performance none of us will forget.

Now we’re mounting a concert in Chicago and we’d like to invite them back. It’s a way for us to support the arts for students who can appreciate them from a completely different perspective. And since we’re composing all-new pieces, it will be an even more awesome experience for them, both visually and rhythmically. But ISD is in Jacksonville, IL–almost 5 hours away–and the fiscal challenges of bringing this many students would be hard for either the school or our group to surmount alone.

We propose to charter 2 vans on the day of our concert to drive 15 students and 4 chaperones from Jacksonville to Chicago to hear our music again. We’ve reached out through our contacts at IC and have started talking through the details to make sure everyone is on board. All we need now is the money to do it.

Funded by Chicago, IL (September 2015)