Taiko with Toni

Taiko with Toni

Denver, Colorado, United States

Founded July 1995

Basic Information


Background Information

Group's Mission and Motivation

We hope to blend our knowledge of Japanese culture and American upbringing into a performance that is educational and entertaining for all audiences. With our mix of American jazz and taiko, we would like to show that music is truly a univeral language.

Structure and Philosophy
Describe the ensemble's organizational structure and philosophy, including leadership structure, membership policy, and instructional process.

We are a small ensemble (3 main members plus 2-3 additional members). We make many performing decisions as a group, but administrative decisions are made by the director.

Group History
Describe how, where, and why the ensemble was founded. What was its inspiration?

Toni Yagami was a member of San Jose Taiko from 1988 to 1995, and upon her return to Denver, felt there was a void in the Colorado schools. "Taiko with Toni" was started in 1995 to fill the need for Japanese culture introductions into the area schools. What started out as solo performances turned into a samll ensemble with performances at festivals and private/public events throughout Colorado and neighboring states.

List of Founding Members

Toni Y. Yagami

List of Current Members

Toni Y. Yagami
Lance B. Acker
Joyce Nakata-Kim

Membership Composition
(i.e. ethnicity, generation, average years of experience, musical backgrounds, and motivation for playing)

TONI - JA Sansei - taiko since 1978 - Bachelors Degree in
Music Education - loves working with kids, sharing the Japanese culture and performing!

LANCE - non-Asian - taiko/fue since 1995 - Masters Degree in Music Performance - enjoys combining the his background in jazz with Japanese music

JOYCE - JA Sansei - founder of Denver Taiko in 1976 - active leader in the JA community and taiko has been a great way to share the committment

Performances, Recordings, Publications

List a selection of your regular performance venues (for example, Denver Sakura Matsuri, Seabrook obon, business conventions, Manzanar Pilgrimage, Maui Marathon, etc.)

Denver and area Public Schools and Libraries
Denver Sakura Matsuri
Gaylord Street Festival
World Fest (Arkansas City, KS)
Smoky Hill River Festival (Salina, KS)
Colleges/Universites in CO, WY, NE
Asian Heritage Recognitions for businesses (i.e. Citigroup, Coors, Lucent, etc)

Instructors, Teachers & Mentors
List the instructors, teachers and mentors who have worked with the ensemble.

Kodo (group as well as individuals: Eiichi Saito, Yoko Fujimoto, Yoshikazu Fujimoto)
Marco Lienhard of Taikoza
Watanabe Sensei of AmanoJaku
San Jose Taiko

Taiko Collaborators
List a selection of taiko players or groups that have collaborated with the ensemble.

Marco Lienhard of Taikoza
Denver Taiko
Chris Holland of Kenny Endo Taiko Ensemble


Toni Yagami
PO Box 102514, Denver CO 80250


Toni & Lance Taiko with Toni 1



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A project of the Japanese American National Museum

Major support by The Nippon Foundation