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By: Allison Ballard, Director of Fort Wayne Taiko

I love doing puzzles. Especially this time of year, when Indiana is cold and dark and layered in snow and ice. I like rifling through the puzzle box, sorting. I like knowing all the pieces are there…I just need to figure out how to put them together. I like being able to reference a picture of what I’m trying to create…it makes the work so much easier! Like most puzzlers, I first set aside straight edges so I can create the frame. I then study the picture and choose a starting point. I sort through again and collect pieces on a tray, creating sub categories of color and patterns. Some pieces jump into place. Others must be studied. Some attempts are abandoned. Return to the box. Repeat the process. It’s tedious. And addictive. I have to set the timer to pull myself away.

It’s a relief knowing all the pieces are there together in a single box. In life, I have the whole world of possibility to draw from as I try to create a picture. A story. A script. A vision. A purpose. Rarely do I even know what the end result looks like. I just follow a fluttering in my heart, a rumbling in my belly, that small still voice that says go this way, now that way…the endless search for clarity.

Thus is taiko this time of year. Fort Wayne Taiko drummers return from the holidays and the year spreads wide before us, a frozen field waiting to thaw. Experience has shown this field will indeed become fallow. Our task is to make sure we are ready with ideas to be planted. And so we ask ourselves, “What do we want?” A daunting question.

This year we are working to pilot a class for young adults, to grow our youth and beginning adult taiko classes, to integrate new drummers into our advanced class, to host another March workshop featuring guest artist Tiffany Tamaribuchi, to create a new show representative of our most recent repertoire. We don’t have a picture to reference. We just keep moving forward. We just keep drumming.

Don doko don!