The Crespi Carmelite High School Celt Taiko
Ensemble, under the direction of Blaine O’Brien,
is the first academically accredited high school
level Taiko group in America. Since Crespi made
the bold move to include Taiko in its daily
curriculum, Celt Taiko has grown every year and
continues to bring the way of Taiko to young men
who are inspired by the art.

Crespi Carmelite High School, established in Encino, California, in 1959, serves male high school age students who wish to pursue a college preparatory, Christian education in a Catholic environment. Dedicated to excellence and responding to the challenges of education in our time, we offer a holistic model of education emphasizing the spiritual, intellectual, moral, physical and social development of our students. four-year, college preparatory school for young men, owned and operated by the Carmelite Religious Order. It has an enrollment of approximately 600 students with an average class size of 22 members. It offers a curriculum satisfying all requirements for college entrance plus a wide range of special programs, including athletics, art, and drama.


With a 2,000 year-old history, Taiko (TIE-koh, sometimes spelled ‘daiko’ when combined with another word) has its roots in Japanese courts, theater, religious, military, ceremonial, and festival music, where the drum was just one instrument of many that made up the ensembles that performed this music. In the past, Japanese people believed that their ancestors lived in Taiko drums, and thus treated them as sacred objects. Even today for many Japanese, Taiko (translated as ‘big drum’) is considered a sacred voice. In the mid-20th century, the kumi-daiko style evolved, which featured ensembles made up solely of drums. Since then, kumi-daiko has become a symbol of the tradition and culture for the Japanese-American community. In California, there are numerous community groups and college Taiko programs at UCLA, USC, Cal State Northridge, Stanford, and many others.


Bachi – Taiko sticks
Dojo – a place or school of study
Hachimaki – the head band worn by many taiko players (and sushi chefs)
Kamaete – the performers' starting position for a taiko song
Kata – the performers' positioning and movement, a term borrowed from martial arts
Renshu – a practice or warm-up exercise
Kane – a bell or small gong
Chu Daiko – a medium-sized drum about 24 to 36 inches in diameter
O-Daiko – the largest drum, sometimes six or more feet in diameter often played with a player on either end of the same drum
Shime Daiko – the small high-pitched drum that often plays the ‘jiuchi’ or basic rhythm of a song
Fue – a flute made of bamboo generally very high in pitch

The Celt Taiko Ensemble is high-energy entertainment that is the highlight of a variety of public, private, and corporate events. Space, power, and access requirements are minimal.

For more information, contact Celt Taiko Director Blaine O’Brien at bobrien@crespi.org.

Crespi Carmelite High School is located at 5031 Alonzo Avenue in Encino, CA 91316-3699 and can be reached at (818) 345-1672.