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.

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.