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Rhythm And Moves

June 9, 2015 at 07:20PM

Featured in the Star Advertiser Today Section, "Rhythm And Moves."


Jason Tom says beatboxing improves his cardio, lungs and strength. “When I beatbox I’m using my whole entire body. … It can be an interesting way to train.”

Rhythm And Moves

For Chinatown’s Jason Tom, beatboxing is a whole-body workout
By Nina Wu


Ask Jason Tom what he does for a workout and it’s not your typical routine of running or weightlifting.

Tom, 32, is a professional beatboxer. He already has a thin frame, but he swears the beatboxing — a form of vocal percussion — works his core and keeps him toned throughout the year.

“If I were to break it down, singing uses the diaphragm,” said Tom. “So when I practice, I’m taking deep breaths with my diaphragm, and when I’m using my diaphragm, I’m using my core.”

JASON TOM

» Age: 32

» Hometown: Chinatown arts district

» Education: McKinley High School, Kapiolani Community College, Beijing Foreign Studies University

» Workout routine: Beatboxing about 40 hours a week, plus dancing, walking

» Inspirations: The late music instructor Lina Doo, Jake Shimabukuro, Jody Kamisato, MC Jin

» Favorite Song: “Singing in the Rain,” by Gene Kelly

» Signature beats: Tom-toms, high synths, wobbles

» Website: www.jasontom.com

Beatboxing is the art of producing drumbeats, rhythms and musical sounds using the mouth, lips, tongue and voice.

Tom has been beatboxing since the age of 4. He says that’s when he beatboxed Michael Jackson’s “Bad” and recorded it on audiocassette tape.

He learned by listening to music and watching others, studying such masters as Rahzel, Michael Winslow and Bobby McFerrin.

Born and raised in Honolulu, where his parents ran the former Ho Wah Chinese restaurant, Tom had to learn on his own because no one in his family had a musical background. Tom, who is of Hawaiian-Chinese descent, played ukulele in elementary school and tuba in intermediate school, but beatboxing was always his passion.

Born and raised in Honolulu, where his parents ran the former Ho Wah Chinese restaurant, Tom had to learn on his own because no one in his family had a musical background. Tom, who is of Hawaiian-Chinese descent, played ukulele in elementary school and tuba in intermediate school, but beatboxing was always his passion.

He was determined to make a living doing it, and so far it’s worked out, whether he’s teaching or performing, said Tom, who lives in Chinatown’s arts district.

“They say the tongue is the most used muscle,” he said. “So if I show you a ‘snare,’ I hit it in different directions. Right, left, middle, back.”


Jason Tom ranks among best beatboxers in the world.

Three fundamental sounds of beatboxing include the kick drum (“B”), also known as the bass kick, according to Tom, the hi-hat (“t”) and classic snare drum (“pft”). Once those are mastered, beatboxers begin to develop more complex sounds as well as invent their own.

For Tom the world is a cornucopia of rhythm. Whereas others hear sirens or the beeping of a horn, Tom hears rhythms. He can pretty much imitate any sound. Besides English, he also speaks Cantonese and Mandarin, which helps him master new sounds.

While he beatboxes, Tom moves his hands and arms, as if he were conducting the beats. It’s something he learned from mentors in poetry performance. “It helps me hit those notes,” he said.

He also incorporates breakdance-style moves, many of which he learned from friends, into his routine. He can beatbox and dance at the same time, and says one influences the other. Dance includes aerobic moves with a lot of back-and-forth, plus getting down to spin alternatively on hands and feet.

As a child Tom played soccer, and in his teens he practiced judo. He didn’t stick with either sport, and says dance is his favorite way to relieve stress. He also walks a lot and takes the stairs whenever possible.

He swears beatboxing has improved his cardio, lungs and strength, important since he grew up with asthma. Sometimes he beatboxes while walking to develop breath control and stamina.

“You’re constantly moving,” he said. “When I beatbox I’m using my whole entire body. I don’t just use my mouth. My whole body is an extension of the instrument. … Since I am the music, it can be an interesting way to train.”

Tom, who performs regularly at local poetry slams, qualified for the Beatbox Battle World Championship, in Berlin at the end of May. Beatbox Battle Television, a multimedia network which organizes the competition every other year, ranked Tom one of the top 75 male professional beatboxers in the world.

Beatbox Battle’s jury committee nominated Tom to represent Hawaii, which is listed separately from the United States in the competition. Unfortunately, Tom did not make it to Berlin this year due to a family emergency, but is preparing for the next championship battle in 2018.

On average, Tom beatboxes 40 hours or more per week. He sometimes goes to Ala Moana Center, where he finds a place to sit and beatboxes for four hours straight. Kewalo Basin is another favorite spot — he gets inspiration from the sound of birds and waves. It’s where he’s created some new sounds, including an imitation of the birds.

For the next world competition, Tom says he’s going to increase his practice time to eight hours a day.

“I plan to prepare for it like I’m preparing for a marathon rather than a sprint,” he said.

As a founder of the Human Beatbox Academy, he’s been teaching at various schools throughout Oahu since 2006, and also offers lessons one-on-one. He performs at fundraisers and has been featured at TedxHonolulu as well as the Hawaii Book and Music Festival.

He swears beatboxing also has a positive effect on overall well-being.

“Music makes you happy,” he said. “If you become the music, that’s even more joy.”


Jason Tom recorded a beatbox version of Michael Jackson’s “Bad” when he was 4. Today he is ranked as one of the top 75 male professional beatboxers in the world.

 

 

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Jason is a loving, dynamic and driven servant of Jesus Christ who uses his entertainment talents to encourage and inspire all kinds of people worldwide. He is also a truly great friend and family member!

Thank you for sharing your nuggets. Very creative. I Like how you mention "pulling weeds by its roots rather then cutting it".

It was great to hear,good inspiration and nice to know from a different perspective of how we can look at life so thank you for the message

Great nuggets of wisdom! I especially love how you rephrased "Live each day like it's your last" to "Live each day like it's your first." Amen!

I met him on the dance floor at Ong King and he hasn't forgotten the few details I shared about myself.
Soulfully said already, Jason has a way with making a person feel worth. He has a light from inside that drives his love and talent out into the world and into your eyes ears and heart. Keep spreading the you Jason Tom!!

Jason is undoubtedly one of Hawaii's most thrilling entertainers. Reaching out to his community and uplifting others is deep in his blood. On stage he is a class act, and offstage he is a genuine influencer, a teacher of faith, a perseverer, a trailblazer, and a friend to many (including me). I ran into him with my family a few years ago at an Ala Moana show, where he approached me and told me to "check this out." AWESOME beatboxing ensued.

Consider it lucky to have such a well-rounded, dedicated entertainer who is not only able to put on a spectacular show as an innovative beatboxer but also is able to step off stage and infect others with all the plethora of care, enthusiasm, and optimism that he carries in his heart.

He is Jason Tom - and, ladies and gentlemen, he's a good one

The worlds #1 beatboxer!

A super energetic performer and entertainer.

Though I've never met him, he appears to be a holistic individual who emphasizes on being healthy spiritually, mentally and physically. I believe this is what has driven him to achieve his goals and kept him running the race :)

Upbeat, both in personality and in art. A connecting force in the community and music circles. Fresh energy in the international beatboxing realm. Innovative niche-maker in Hawaiian entertainment. Christ-follower. Someone I have known for years and am glad to call friend. That's Jason Tom to me.

Jason Tom is living proof that dreams come true if you work for it! He is a mentor, an inspiration, and continues to be humble through all his achievements. He is a friend to all!

Some people tell you about their dreams. Jason Tom actively pursues it every day.

Jason (or “Spidermon” as I used to call him in Highschool) can be perceived as a bit shy on the surface. He is still the same kind and genuine person as before except now more well-known. He is ready to bust out his beatboxing talent anytime and anywhere and share his passion with anyone willingly to learn and listen.

He exudes a special type of charisma that you can’t help but to feel inspired in his presence. Because you can see the overflowing passion in his eyes while it also tugs at your soul. I know he attributes much of his success and opportunities to GOD, but he is a super hard worker who is constantly working to improve his craft and himself. Because he never settles for just good enough.

The most important thing (I believe), is that he has not forgotten he is human-- who lives and hurts just like the rest of us. But he is able to turn the negatives and use it as incentives for positive development.

If you ever have doubts in yourself, Jason is the living proof that anything is possible.

Hio

hiohio.net

Jason Tom is my very talented friend...in my eyes and experience he is one of the world's best beat box entertainer and a master at his talent in rythms and beats and tones...very first time I saw and met him a few years ago at a event in Aloha Tower Honolulu, when i heard him I knew then he would be as good as he wants to be...keep it up my friend
Rolando Sanchez

Jason is very talented. He can sing, beatbox and draw!

Jason Tom is a pioneer of the art of human beatbox in Hawai. Artist, Educator, Creative Entrepeneur.

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