Japanese Music and Dance Classes

Japan has a long history of music of many kinds that have been integrated with dance, drama, literature, and cinema, evoking poetic imagery of nature, the seasons, and the human experience. Instructors Mami Itasaka-Keister and Jay Keister offer lessons in Japanese music and dance that range from traditional folk songs to taiko drumming to contemporary songs from popular anime films. Students may study any combination of traditional songs, Japanese dance, Taiko drumming, and contemporary anime music. Instruction may include training on Japanese instruments (no prior experience necessary) or Western instruments (if prior experience).


This course is offered as either a group class (depending on interest) or as private instruction. 

Lesson Packages (four 60-minute lessons each)


Japanese folk songs

Learn the basics of Japanese folk songs. Includes instruction on how to sing and accompany with an instrument (either a Japanese shamisen for rental or a Western instrument of your choice). Also learn drumming accompaniment to songs. Songs studied include: “Soran Bushi,” “Kokirikobushi,” “Hanagasa Ondo,” and “Tairyo Utaikomi.”


Japanese folk dances

Learn the basic movements of Japanese folk dance with live music accompaniment. Dances studied include: “Soran Bushi,” “Kokirikobushi,” “Hanagasa Ondo,” and “Sado Okesa.”


Japanese taiko drumming

Learn the basics of Japanese drumming. Instructions on drumming techniques and common patterns in Japanese music with a focus on playing in taiko drum ensemble style. Pieces include Matsuridaiko and Hatou.


Sampler course

Learn singing, drumming, and dancing for folk songs “Soranbushi” and “Kokirikobushi.” Learn Japanese drumming, including basic techniques and patterns, plus the taiko piece Matsuridaiko. Learn to sing and play the song “Mononoke Hime,” the title song from the anime film Princess Mononoke.



Introductory Class: $10.00

4-Week, 60-Minute Lesson Package: $300.00


Students may rent Japanese traditional instruments from the instructors or use a Western instrument of their choice.

Learn More About Your Instructors!

Mami Itasaka-Keister is Director of the Japanese Ensemble at the University of Colorado Boulder. Trained in classical Japanese dance (nihon buyo) of the renowned Bando School, her licensed stage name is Miko Bando. She has been trained in traditional singing, shamisen, and percussion in Japan.


Jay Keister is Associate Professor of Musicology at the University of Colorado Boulder and has published widely on Japanese music and dance. While living in Japan he received training in traditional Japanese strings, flutes, and percussion.



Interested in a trial lesson? Sign up here