Griffith's Kiyomi Calwell tell amazing musical journey

Kiyomi Calwell spent her childhood watching in secret as the boys in her home town learnt to drum.

Today traditional Japanese Taiko Drumming is a skill she teaches to boys and girls alike.

The Griffith Primary School teacher and Japanese ex-pat falls back on her beloved past time while teaching locally and spends half her year travelling to teach the skill nationally.

“When I was younger, my home town had a boys drumming group,” Kiyomi said.

“But because it was a boys group I wasn’t allowed to take part in the lessons.”

Not to be left out, Kiyomi would go along to the lessons, sitting on wooden floors for hours during the winter with temperatures at minus 5 degrees.

Kiyomi found herself tapping her hands, while making sure they were kept hidden.

“I would watch and listen to the teacher and learn what the boys were learning,” Kiyomi said.

It so happened one of the boys was away, and Kiyomi put her hand up to fill in.

The teacher was at first dismissive, before Kiyomi was given her chance.

To the amazement of the teacher Kiyomi was not only able to play the part, but also do it better than some of the boys.

“The boys had to lift their game, as they didn’t want to be told that I was better than them,” Kiyomi said.

SKILL: Kiyomi Calwell's childhood fascination with traditional Japanese taiko drumming continues to play a huge role in her life. PHOTO: Anthony Stipo

SKILL: Kiyomi Calwell's childhood fascination with traditional Japanese taiko drumming continues to play a huge role in her life. PHOTO: Anthony Stipo

“At this stage I was 11 and because my town was quite conservative, I didn’t have the opportunity to drum, but I still loved it.”

When Kiyomi first came over to Australia and finished her university course, her first work experience placement was in Griffith at Hanwood Public School.

After the 12 months the principals were so impressed with Kiyomi they wrote reference letters endorsing her for permanent residency as a primary school teacher.

Kiyomi returned home for three years, only to return and attend Macquarie University, before receiving a scholarship to teach Japanese in Western Australia. 

It was there Kiyomi first used her love of drumming to enhance education, inspire students and bridge the cultural gap.