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NEWS | May 9, 2023

PEO Soldier APM Follows Different Drumbeat

By Jason Amadi Army

More than 20 years before he ever assumed his role as an assistant product manager within Program Executive Office (PEO) Soldier, Ronald Boisvert served in the United States Air Force. While stationed in Japan, he discovered a Japanese drumming art called “taiko,” that would become a part of his life, for the rest of his life.

“In 2001, when I was stationed in Misawa Air Base, I found a group on base called ‘Dragon Eagle.’ They were made up of Japanese teachers teaching taiko to the American military. The group was just amazing. Once I saw that there was a group on base, I joined them, and I did that for the next two-and-a-half years. It was an awesome experience. It’s so powerful and cathartic. It’s a combination of music and martial arts in a way. It’s a powerful medium.”

Taiko, which literally translates to “drum,” has been part of Japanese culture for centuries and over time, it made its way over to North America. Boisvert was able to find a group in Utah while stationed in Hill Air Force Base, and from there he branched off and started his own group. He found a group called “Nen Daiko” out of Fairfax Station when he moved to Virginia as an Army civilian in 2018. The group performs regularly in Northern Virginia and Washington D.C.

“Performing in front of audiences is also very powerful. I’ve played really small gigs and festivals, but then I’ve also played in arenas. We played in Salt Lake, City once for a Super Smash Bros. tournament and introduced the finalists. There were 35,000 people watching us perform online and the Utah Jazz arena was full of people watching us. Building up to that, you develop so much confidence performing in front of other people. It’s overwhelming and scary and exciting. But it bleeds over into work too. Sometimes you have to brief generals or go to the Pentagon and things like that. Performing in front of people gives me enough confidence to where it isn’t as scary as it might otherwise be. Supervising can be intimidating, but if you play in front of a few thousand people and suddenly it isn’t so bad,” said Boisvert.

Those interested in learning about taiko and participating in apprenticeships can find local opportunities or reach out to Boisvert to get started.

“There’re a few ways to get involved with Taiko. Every spring the cherry blossoms bloom and there’re many events we perform at. There’s a group in DC called ‘Miyako’ and they perform in the area as well. Both groups are open to apprenticeships. If someone is interested, they can look us (Nen Daiko) up on Facebook and reach out. We have workshops once a quarter, so if you want to show up and try it out for a few hours. We have all ages. We have people from teens to the elderly. It’s a fun time.”