Renowned percussionist guest lectures at Loyola

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Taku Hirano, a musician who has worked with artists such as Fleetwood Mac, Whitney Houston, Dr. Dre, Nelly Furtado, John Mayer, Lionel Richie and The Temptations, among others, is teaching masterclasses in Loyola’s music department.

Hirano felt a calling towards percussion from the first time he can remember seeing a drumset at four years old.

Among his many pursuits, the percussionist is also a columnist for Drum! magazine, a contributor for Modern Drummer magazine, an artist-in-residence at Carnegie Mellon University, a teacher at Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz and a guest lecturer at New York University.

Hirano grew up in Fresno, California. At nine years old, he joined the school band and began taking drumming lessons, encouraged by his parents.

“I can’t say that I came from a musical family, but my mom plays a little piano and we had a piano in the house, and my older brother joined the school band and I was around him playing clarinet—I knew that I wanted to join the school band when I was old enough,” Hirano said.

By the time that he was sixteen, he knew he wanted to study percussion in college. At the time, he went to a school of the arts and was playing in orchestra, concert band, jazz band and salsa band.

Then he got into Berklee College of Music for his undergrad.

When Hirano first got to Berklee, he was initially focused on jazz and Latin music. He got experience with a broader range of genres when he was asked to play in other styles, like hip-hop, rhythm and blues, gospel and rock.

Moving between genres, he feels a responsibility to research each music style.

“I think it’s important to learn the tradition and learn how to play a genre of music authentically. You’re blessed to have the opportunity to play the music so you want to make sure that you do it justice,” Hirano said.

When he graduated, his dream was to be a backing artist and tour with other artists and record on their albums; he felt that Los Angeles was the place to go.

He enrolled in graduate school in the Los Angeles area, deciding that it would give him “two years of living in the Los Angeles area and being in the music scene while still having a bit of a safety net and having guided instruction.”

For the younger generation, Hirano recommends studying up.

“It’s time spent learning your instrument and listening and researching and jamming. Do your homework in terms of learning the traditional styles of various genres of music. I think that you should learn as many different genres as possible because it can’t hurt, it will only enhance your own growth as a musician. And as far as practicing, you owe it to the instrument that you get to play, and to the style of music you play, and to your bandmates or the people you’re sharing the stage with and to your audience, to do your best,” Hirano said.


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