Musicians dream of making it big by selling millions of records and performing for arenas full of people, but taiko drummer Jason Seymore follows a different beat. Instead of playing for the masses, Seymore plans to teach music to classes by opening his own taiko drumming school. Before he can do that, Seymore must study in the place where taiko first began: Japan.
Jason Seymore, a 27-year-old junior business student at the University of Central Florida, is an instructor and performer at Orlando Taiko Dojo and has been playing for eight years.
His passion for taiko drumming began at age 15 when he saw a taiko drumming performance for the first time.
“I think what brought me to taiko was that it was more organic,” said Seymore. “It was more about what’s in the heart. It was about what you felt.”
Once Seymore turned 18, he moved from Tampa to Orlando to pursue taiko drumming at the Orlando Taiko Dojo. With the instruction of his sensei, Takemasa Ishikura, Seymore climbed the ranks to become a professional performer as well as gaining enough knowledge to help aid in instructing.
After eight years of studying, performing and teaching Japanese taiko with the Orlando Taiko Dojo, Seymore wondered how he could continue playing taiko for his future.
“I started thinking ‘What can I do to help continue the Japanese tradition?’” said Seymore. “That’s when it dawned on me that may my destiny lies with opening my own school and provide that opportunity to other people.”
Before he can open his school, Seymore must go through an extensive amount of preparation. Although Seymore has been studying taiko for almost a decade, there is still more he needs to learn not only about drumming, but also about the Japanese culture.
“After talking to other professional drummers, everyone says to study in Japan because you can really connect with the land where [taiko] came from and the people created it,” said Seymore. “It’s a whole different aspect that you just cannot get here in the United States.”
Seymore plans to further his training in Nagano, Japan, where he will take part in a weeklong taiko drumming course called INADANI. It is led by renowned taiko artist and performer, Art Lee of the internationally touring group, Wadaiko Tokara. It will allow Seymore to grow a closer connection to the practice of taiko.
While the course will teaches invaluable skills, traveling to Japan can be pricey especially for Seymore, who is still a college student living on a student budget. Although he is working two part-time jobs, the ultimate costs of the Japan trip have made Seymore’s taiko dream a bit more difficult to reach.
Luckily, Seymore has found a way to reach those goals. Seymore has begun raising funds through the fundraising website, GoFundMe.com. The donations he received through the site help with the costs of the taiko course tuition, hotel pricing, airfare to Japan and other expenses such as food and transfer services. His goal is to reach $3,500.
One of his biggest supporters is Elena Farrance, 58, a fellow taiko drummer who Seymore has also instructed over the years at the Orlando Taiko Dojo. With a generous donation of $300, Farrance has greatly contributed to Seymore’s financial goal.
“Jason is a very talented, very dedicated taiko drummer and talent should be supported,” said Farrance. “He feels taiko with his heart, with his body, with his mind, so I don’t even think not to support talent.”
With the support of his family, friends and the taiko drumming community, Seymore is closer to making his taiko dream a reality. Over the course of three months, he has raised $2,505 and is grateful for every penny. He hopes to reach his goal by this summer.
“I am not worried about trying to make a buck,” said Seymore. “My focus, my goal is to continue tradition, to continue history and keep it alive for other people to enjoy.”
* You can donate to Jason Seymore’s fundraiser by visiting http://www.gofundme.com/taiko_dream *