DON kada DON kada DON DON DON!

That's the thunderous sound Alum Creek Elementary School fifth-graders created Nov. 13 using makeshift taiko drums as part of a musical production titled "The Drums of Noto Hanto."

Music teacher Meghan Anderson taught the production, written by Cheshire Elementary School teacher Aileen Miracle and based on a book by J. Alison James of the same name, as part of a unit on Japanese culture.

"Each year, fifth-graders study a different part of the world, and this year it was Japan," Anderson said.

The production features singing in Japanese, traditional games and dances from Japan and Japanese taiko drumming.

While students used upside-down construction buckets as drums for the production, the school was host to Columbus-based percussionist and educator Eric Paton in a daylong workshop Nov. 6 in which each student was able to test-drive an actual taiko drum.

"The kids really enjoyed (the workshop with Paton)," Anderson said. "As part of it, they got to learn a piece that he wrote."

"He taught us drumming and he also taught us the stance that they use to play the really big drums," fifth-grader Cady Ku said.

Anderson said the study of Japanese culture included work in other classrooms, such as the gym, library and art room. During art classes, for example, students made the masks worn by villagers in the story.

"The Drums of Noto Hanto" tells of the residents of a small coastal village in Japan who use the power of the drums to ward off an invasion.

The production retells the story, with fifth-graders singing, dancing, acting and narrating, in addition to playing drums.

The students also created all the scenery for the production, which was presented once in the afternoon for the student body and a second time in the evening for families and the community.

"We learned Japanese words and dancing and some history ... a lot of Japanese culture. It really felt Japanese," fifth-grader Julius Lame said.

"Of course, you'd be nervous being in front of the entire school, but it was fun," Ku said.

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