about me

She was blind and insensible to many things,
and dimly knew it; but to all that was light and air,
perfume and colour, every drop of her blood in her responded.

Summer, Edith Wharton

Korea2006Deborah Masterson
This picture says a lot about me…

who I am, and what I like. It was taken in Buyeo, Korea while I was there as part of four-person team to compete in the World Samulnori Gyorugi and Festival.

Though I have studied Korean instruments for many years, for our team’s “fusion” version of a traditional piece, I was playing the Brazilian berimbau. An older Korean gentleman approached me and said, “You play and then we’ll dance!”

Drumming is my path.

60 years & counting…

In March 2001, I completed three years of training and received certification as a TaKeTiNa rhythm teacher; in 2011, I completed and additional year-and-a-half of training and earned advanced certification. Until 2014, I led TaKeTiNa rhythm circles on the island of O‘ahu and co-lead workshops on the mainland US. I re-located and now offer rhythm circles on the Big Island of Hawai‘i, including two years of monthly workshops at Kalani Retreat Center (sadly discontinued due to the 2018 lava flow).

For many years on O‘ahu, I contributed to the Hawai‘i Shakespeare Festival and occasionally to other local theater productions, providing original music.different strokes

My introduction to drumming was through traditional Korean music and dance. I studied ten years with the Halla Huhm Korean Dance Studio here in Hawai‘i.

I also spent a couple of summers in Seoul studying various forms of Korean drumming including Samulnori. I have had the privilege to compete four years in the mind-blowing World Samulnori Competition Screen Shot 2016-02-17 at 9.53.31 AM.
I’m always happy to hear from samulnori fans/students/professionals. I spent many years on O‘ahu studying African dundun, Middle Eastern dumbek and frame, and Afro-Cuban congas. Now, on the Big Island I encounter many opportunities to collaborate with local musicians, in particular an ongoing partnership presenting music of India.

Home on the Islands


I worked at the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa on the island of O‘ahu for 25 years, then retired to the Big Island of Hawai‘i to live in a tiny home my partner, Tucker, and I built ourselves. I am also the owner and caretaker of the ‘Awapuhi Labyrinth. Nowadays, I mostly paint.