WINSTON — A drumming sound pulsated through Winston Middle School on Wednesday as Japanese taiko drummers Nancy Ozaki and Gary Tsujimoto performed for the students.

“That’s a super fun assembly for our kids,” Winston Middle School Principal Dave Welker said. “They get to experience culture from around the world as well as just having fun time out of class.”

After Ozaki and Tsujimoto, known as One World Taiko, performed three pieces, they turned the bamboo mallets over to three students and a teacher.

Ozaki encouraged the crowd to drum along from the bleachers, while she chanted out the beat.

“I like music that moves your heart,” eighth grader Ellie Longbrake said. “The beat physically moves you because it vibrates.”

Longbrake was one of the students who was given the opportunity to drum on the taiko. She said she had played drums before, but this was a different experience because of the stance and the weight of the mallets.

Tsujimoto said taiko drumming is more like a dance and encouraged the drummers to use the space around them.

Throughout the three pieces the duo performed, they danced, shouted and kept the rhythm going. They performed two pieces written by Tsujimoto and one traditional piece.

Ozaki explained that in taiko drumming you do not stand in front of the drum, but rather next to it so that your body can continue to move freely. Their stance is borrowed from martial arts to provide better balance and more power.

In between each performance piece, Ozaki would explain the history of the art form, the materials of the drums, the pieces they performed and even a few words in Japanese.

While she talked to the students, Tsujimoto would rearrange the different drums to get ready for the next performance.

The duo is on a nine-month tour of the United States to teach communities about taiko drumming.

Ozaki, Tsujimoto, Longbrake, science teacher Samantha Parks and eighth graders Jazz MacLean and Wyatt Brannon led the crowd in the final performance.

In the end, Tsujimoto finished it with a final lesson: How to say farewell in Japanese — sayonara.

Sanne Godfrey can be reached at or 541-957-4203. Follow her on Twitter @sannegodfrey.

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