English teacher Joan Froehlich from Bergenfield High School in Bergen County is the recipient of a $6,000 grant from the Hipp Foundation to fund the school’s Taiko Ensemble, an after school music program. The Taiko Ensemble has been funded for the past several years through aggressive fundraising efforts by Froehlich and the students.

The Hipp grant will be used to purchase proper taiko drums and provide professional workshops for the students taught by professional taiko instructors. Other funding was awarded from the JCAW Foundation for Japanese Arts and Culture in Schools, which allowed for the purchase of two of the taiko drums. Fundraisers will pay for workshops for student members, as well as equipment that wears down and must be replaced every few years.

The Taiko Ensemble is a non competitive outlet for students. It requires no previous musical experience. The ensemble is a unique, culturally infused musical outlet that is a bit of music, a bit of sport, a bit of dance, and a bit of a team. Taiko simply means “drum” but the ensemble style of playing, also known as the Kumi-daiko style, was invented in the 1950s. It requires listening to other players, just like a jazz ensemble. It also uses loud vocalization as another instrument. It is joyful, intense, and fun.

The ensemble will perform at various events, fundraisers, high school basketball games, and wherever they can be of service to others. They will also attend the East Coast Taiko Conference when it is hosted by a local university. This forum is usually attended by universities’ taiko ensembles, but these high school students will participate and take lessons from expert teachers from all over the world.

At the end of the season, students will identify and thank every person and organization that contributed in any way to the success of the ensemble through handwritten thank you notes. An end-of-season party will be held to celebrate and honor all who made the Taiko Ensemble a successful program.

For more information, contact:

Joan Froehlich
201-385-8600 (Bergenfield High School)

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