We had the good fortune of connecting with Chad Przymus and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Chad, have there been any changes in how you think about work-life balance?
I often think about the well known quote “choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life” As a child, I believe I was impacted by two primary experiences that continued to shape my life until this day. I had a very loving and caring father that had a factory job that he dreaded going to almost everyday. He did so to provide for his family, yet even a child could see the toll that this challenging occupation took on his happiness. Also as a child, I was drawn to drumming at a very young age, and I have always had a passion for expression and creativity through music, rhythms, and drumming. So addressing the question of balance, I feel so very blessed to have had a wonderful career centered around music, teaching, performing, and creative expression. Maybe because the line between my “day job” and my passion has been so blurred, or better yet intersected, I feel that this work/life balance has had an organic connection that I will work to continue and cherish.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
My passion for taiko drumming began approx. 12 years ago as an intersection of two of my favorites interests. As long as I can remember I’ve always enjoyed and practiced drumming. I was the child that pulled out the pots and pans from my mother’s cupboard to begin exploring rhythms with wooden spoons. Starting percussion officially in 5th grade, as most young drummers do, I continued to explore drumming, leading to a passion for drum set playing in not only the school jazz and pep bands, but also a local weekend variety band that played everything from prom gigs to wedding dances. Ultimately this experience, along with my High School Band Director’s suggestion that I help teach the drumline after graduation, led me to pursue music in college, and eventually as my career. Along with this emersion in drumming, I had always had an interest in martial arts, and over the years studied various styles such as Tae Kwon Do, Shotokan Karate, Tai Chi, and Kendo. It wasn’t the fighting aspect, but the discipline, physicality, and intensity of these art forms that pulled me into the dojo. Both martial arts and drumming was where I could really focus, relax, explore, create, and connect with others. Looking back, I think they provided me with the best way to really understand myself, and begin to feel what being “artistic” meant. The intersection of these arts forms, and the origin of my taiko drumming passion, came when I purchased tickets for a semi-professional taiko concert, as a way to culturally connect with a Japanese foreign exchange student that my family was hosting. Although I had seen a little bit of taiko in a tv commercial, as well as part of a conference performance, I had never truly experienced it up close and direct, as I did in my 2nd row seat of this concert. Needless to say, the energy, power, expression, and discipline of this performance ignited an artistic connection that would set me firmly on my taiko path. This new found passion inspired me to write a community funded arts grant, in which I was awarded, providing me with the opportunity to study taiko in Japan, as well as get my very first drum. Determined to share this expressive art form with the community that I lived in at the time, I began teaching weekend classes, taking any of the proceeds of these classes and either purchasing new drums, or making practice drums myself. Taiko drumming is such a unique musical art form in that it not only explores drumming patterns of all ranges of dynamics and complexity, but it also demands and displays an ongoing visual element that is capable of being expressive, powerful, lighthearted, and many times dance-like. This artistic depth constantly reminds me that the more I learn, the more there is to learn. 8 years ago I was given the incredible opportunity to merge my taiko drumming training and experience directly into the curriculum and onto the campus of La Jolla Country Day School. Being able to have a full set of taiko drums in my classroom really allowed me to incorporate taiko drumming directly into the Percussion and World Drumming class that I teach, as well as creating classes and workshops for school faculty, and the greater San Diego community. All of this has developed into such a fun and connecting activity, involving school and community members of all ages in a wide variety of taiko classes, workshops, and community performances. In addition, the La Jolla Taiko performing ensemble participates in community festivals and events thru-out the year, and the annual Taiko Beats concert, held on the campus of LJCDS, displays our taiko passion to the community, involving an average of 40-60 taiko drumming performers and guest artists. Drumming opportunities for the community have also recently been expanded, as the new Taiko Beats Drum Dojo offers additional weekend classes and workshops. I’ve always enjoyed teaching, but taiko has allowed me to become an equal part performer and composer, as well as creating an enjoyable way share and connect with others, through such a culturally-rich art form. In summary, as I often joke about getting my “taiko therapy” for the day, I do truly believe in the power and potential of Japanese taiko drumming. Personally, it has been my avenue of expression and creativity, but also a home for health and wellness, physically and mentally. I’ll end with part of the La Jolla Taiko group description, as it highlights much of what we love to do! La Jolla Taiko is a community-based group comprised of members of all ages and backgrounds. The group has developed a base in traditional taiko artistry and spirit, and infused that with influences from a wide range of contemporary and world music. La Jolla Taiko enjoys adding new instruments to the ensemble and experimenting with new grooves and musical timing. Committed to providing performances and classes that reflect this passion for taiko drumming, La Jolla Taiko hopes you enjoy your taiko experience, and that some part of it may inspire you as well!
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
So many incredible experiences available in San Diego, but our time together would certainly include most, if not all of the following: -a long hike at Torrey Pines State Reserve -low tide beach walk/run -visit to Balboa Park -Sunset at La Jolla -multiple meals somewhere on Convoy St. (so much great Asian food!) -a couple of visits to various craft breweries -of course, taiko drumming at the Taiko Beats Drum Dojo!!
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
La Jolla Country Day School – for the amazing support of their performing artists/teachers! With incredible leadership and commitment to bringing the diversity of the world onto the campus of LJCDS, my taiko drumming development has been supported through our arts department curriculum, performing and rehearsal facilities, and varied professional growth opportunities. This support has allowed dozens of students, faculty, and community members to experience the art of Japanese taiko drumming. A heartfelt thanks to all of my taiko drumming teachers in Japan and the US! I’ve been so blessed to meet and learn from a wonderful group of mentors and artists.
Facebook: La Jolla Taiko
Yelp: Taiko Beats Drum Dojo
Other: Google maps – Taiko Beats Drum Dojo