Preserving culture is both rediscovering your roots and letting your expression of culture be alive.

With her contagious smile, Toni Y. Yagami teaches taiko, Japanese drumming, in Denver. “For me, taiko is not only the actual sound of the drum, but of all things in nature uniting with the soul of the person playing and the person hearing the sound,” says Yagami, taiko instructor and performer. Taiko has been described as the ‘heartbeat’; and as the connection between humans and nature and the world beyond. “To some, it may just be the sound of a bachi (taiko drumstick) hitting the head of the taiko playing some rhythm; but if you really listen and ‘feel the sound’, you will know it is much more than that.” ~ Toni Yagami

About the speaker

“Taiko Toni” has been performing and teaching taiko for over 35 years! With a Bachelor of Arts degree in Music Education, Toni has also taught western music in public schools and has been teaching private lessons on saxophone, clarinet, flute, and oboe since 1995. Toni joined “Denver Taiko” in 1978, learning the basics of taiko from groups such as “KODO”, “Oedo Sukeroku”, and “Ondekoza” from Japan; and “San Jose Taiko”, “San Francisco Taiko Dojo”, and “Kinnara” from the US. As well as performing, she helped start and taught their Jr. Taiko group. Other Japanese music related studies during this time in Denver were koto, shamisen and minyo/dance. By 1988, wanting to do more with taiko, Toni moved to San Jose, CA and became part of the “San Jose Taiko” (SJT) professional staff. Some of her duties (besides performing) included mail list maintenance, costume sewing/maintenance, school performances, and teaching student and adult classes/workshops. Performance tours with “SJT” took the group throughout the USA (including the Arsenio Hall Show and Carnegie Hall) and Japan. During the years with “SJT”, Toni has several recordings and compositions to her credit. Returning to Denver in 1995 to marry Lance B. Acker (a professional jazz musician), was also the start of their ensemble, “Taiko with Toni and Lance”. Lance plays shinobue/takebue (bamboo flute) and taiko. The group currently performs as a duo, quartet, sextet – and a full stage of performers numbering up to 18 for local festivals! (Festival performances include students from our three taiko classes) “Taiko with Toni” has performed and taught taiko workshops at many schools and festival presentations throughout Colorado, Wyoming, Kansas, and California. Toni and Lance have taught workshops at the “North American Taiko Conference” at the past 3 gatherings (Angeles/2005 and 2009, Seattle/2007). They have also performed with “Taikoza” (taiko group under the leadership of Marco Lienhard in New York City) on the east coast and in England, Switzerland, and Russia.

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