About Us

sina group


What is Sinaboro?

Sinaboro is a Korean Traditional Drumming Group at the University of Michigan – Ann Arbor. Sinaboro was founded in 1998, and has had members of all backgrounds learn and perform samulnori, including Korean International Students, Korean-Americans, Non-Koreans, Undergraduates, Graduate Students, Alumni and more.

Sinaboro seeks to share Korean culture with the Ann Arbor community and beyond through samulnori. Sinaboro prides itself not only on its hard work, dedication, and commitment to the samulnori tradition, but also on the warm friendships and lasting memories Sinaboro creates between members and with the community.

Sinaboro shares Korean culture in many ways. The main function of Sinaboro is to ignite a passion for samulnori in fellow U-M students in order to pass down the tradition of poongmul. In addition to weekly practice, Sinaboro members also attend biannual retreats and  social events like a holiday dinner to encourage bonding and appreciate Korean culture. Sinaboro performs at many U-M culture shows and events, as well as outside performances for businesses, cultural organizations, music festivals, and schools. Our biggest event each year is the Annual Concert, which includes not only traditional poongmul and samulnori repertoire, but fusion performances with modern and traditional dance, singing, drumming, and also a drama-style mini-movie. Sinaboro staff members also teach Sinaboro Jr. on a weekly basis, made up of K-12 students from around the Ann Arbor community. Sinaboro Jr. gets to perform with Sinaboro at the annual concert.

“I was a Korean-American (born in the USA) who founded Sinaboro because I loved Poongmul and wanted to teach others and share the richness of our culture.  I raised money (around $5000) through various University organizations (International Society, Sterns Collection) and Korean community organizations (Korean Medical Association, Korean Presbyterian Church of Metro Detroit) and some private donors, with the purpose of creating a student organization that would cultivate and promote Korean music and culture in the Ann Arbor and Metro Detroit and serve as a valuable resource in our community.I went to Korea in the summer of ’98, bought around 20 instruments and uniforms, made some contacts through KISA, and got some help bringing back instruments from Korea that summer.The first member that I recruited was in fact a white graduate student in music (who was in the same ethomusicology class I took with Prof Lam – the original faculty sponsor of Sinaboro).  We performed together, just me and him, on the Diag that fall on Student Activities Day–I played the janggu and he played the buk.  About 50 people signed up, 20 people came to the first practice, and 8 members stuck.The original name of the student group was U of M Poongmulnori, but we had a meeting halfway into the year, and decided on the name Sinaboro. Our original group was quite diverse with gyopos, yuhaksaengs, a caucasian guy, graduate and undergraduate students. Sinaboro grew to 20+ the following year, and even more after that (as you know). Jane Lim, the second president of Sinaboro (after me), was the first to start the annual concert at Mendelssohn Theater.” 
Michael Yoo | The Original Founder of Sinaboro

What does “Sinaboro” mean?

“Sinaboro (시나브로)” is an old Korean expression that means “little by little, gradually without notice.” Although the word itself is no longer in use, it implies many of the meanings that are in sync with our organization.

What is Samulnori/Poongmul?

Samulnori (사물놀이) is a style of traditional Korean music which originated from Poongmul (풍물), a type of music performed by farmers in villages as a way to wish for and celebrate good harvests. With roots in shamanism and farmers’ music, the style of this traditional music has evolved through the years. Poongmul was traditionally performed outdoors, but a group named SamulNori, founded in 1978 by Kim Duk Soo (김덕수), transformed poongmul into a form suitable for the modern stage. SamulNori sparked a renaissance in Korea’s traditional music scene and has acquired worldwide acclaim.

In Korean, sa and mul mean “four objects” and nori means “playing” or “game”. Thus, samulnori refers to musicians playing and dancing with four different percussion instruments: kkwaenggwari (꽹과리), janggu (장구), buk (북), and jing (징). Each instrument represents a different weather element: kwenggwari as thunder, janggu as rain, buk as cloud, and jing as wind.

Samulnori Instruments

Kkwaenggwari (꽹과리) represents Thunder
Janggu (장구) represents Rain
Buk (북) represents Clouds
Jing (징) represents Wind