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By: Allison Ballard

As a drummer, rhythms play through my head on a more or less ongoing basis. Apparently, my subconscious drums a lot–or at least that’s what friends and family tell me. Apparently, I drum while driving. While daydreaming. Even while sleeping. And since taiko is a mind-body form, this practice frequently involves movement and draws some unusual and curious attention. Sometimes it’s full-out rhythms being played mindlessly on the steering wheel or grocery cart or kitchen table or my body. (This can create some embarrassing moments when out in public!) Sometimes it’s just small movement impulses that don’t appear at first glance to have any organized meaning, but can look similar to the tics common to Tourette’s Syndome. Sometimes it’s verbal rhythms articulated through “taiko” language (dong, do ko dong, do ko dong, kata ka ka!) that is muttered under my breath. Sometimes it’s just a far-off stare that causes me to appear to be disconnected from my immediate environment. Someone who knows me well will say, “You’re drumming right now, aren’t you?” And I’ll return from my reverie back to a shared reality.

Most recently, I was coming out of anesthetic from a medical procedure when I started moving my arms and wrists. The observing medical staff commented that she had never seen that reaction before and asked my mother if she knew what I was doing. My mother said, “She’s probably drumming.”

To confirm, she asked me, “Allison, what are you doing right now?”
“Just making sure my wrists still work!” I answered in a drug-induced haze as I continued moving my arms in a rhythmic sequence.
“Yep, she’s drumming!” she concluded.

Just goes to show…when push comes to shove, the beat goes on.