About us

Eileen Morgan

Our sensei and Director of the Fushicho Daiko Dojo has her own web site at http://taikoaz.com


CarieTaiko Resume: I was introduced to Taiko through a co-worker in 1999. I checked out a beginner’s class with my friend Susan and became instantly intrigued by the sound of the drum and how it resonated right through you, not to mention the stress relief from teaching that it provided me! I was hooked and started taking classes with Sensei Esther Vandecar. A few years later I overcame major nerves and performed in public for the first time as Phoenix Taiko Kai, with Murray. It was a total disaster! We both forgot where we were in a pretty basic song, ground to a halt and had to restart. In another tune bachi went flying. It is now hard to imagine anything going wrong with a set that we could not handle together :) Since then I have attended many taiko workshops to improve my personal and team abilities on and off the stage. Tiffany Tamaribuchi, Yoshikazu Fujimoto and his wife Yoko, Kurumaya Sensei, Shidara, Kenny Endo, Munakata Sensei of Hiroshima, the Kono family, Linda Hoffman, Roy Hirabayashi and Franco Imperial and most recenty Takeru Matsushita of Yamato, provided these workshops. I have performed at numerous Phoenix Matsuri festivals, AZ Asian festivals and two Southern AZ. Taiko Showcases. and many smaller performances around the valley. For the past few years I have studied under Fushicho Daiko and performed on stage with FD at various shows. Unfortunately, I am currently unable to strike the drum due to tendonitis. This is giving me the opportunity to work at various percussion instruments including the shakera and horugai!

Secret Identity: Montessori schoolteacher for 6-9 year olds where I teach an after school Taiko club for children 6-12 years old.

Aspirations: To play taiko once again! To learn how to play many percussion instruments well within our song repertoire. Currently, time is being invested in the horugai with lessons and pointers from the love of my life, Dale.


DianeTaiko Resume: One of the earliest members of PTK returned to us after a couple of years away developing a family. There is photographic evidence of Diane performing with Phoenix Taiko Kai as early as 2002 with PTK alumni Beth and Brian at the Arizona Asian Festival in Patriot Park in the heart of downtown Phoenix. It was especially wonderful that Diane was able to rejoin us for the workshops gifted to us by Takeru Matsushita of Yamato in April 2009. She fairly radiated delight at being able to participate in enthusiastic, energizing taiko again.  And in 2007 she was seen at our All-Arizona rehearsals where all the players in Arizona try to get together to perform a few commonly-known numbers en-masse. Having nearly fifty drummers is spectacular.

Secret Identity: Montessori Teacher

Aspirations: To remember all the taiko tunes she used to know!


EmmaTaiko Resume: Started playing March 8th 2002. Attended lots of workshops and conferences, Played at several Matsuri, AZ Asian Festivals and Showcases. Participated in building her own drum. Keeps Murray in check. Prone to attacks of tendonitis! Made our gorgeous purple and orange happi. Enchanted by the Hachijo women’s style of playing.

Background: Born and raised in Italy, middle-school through postgrad studies in England

Secret Identity: Guide at the Heard Museum of Native American Culture


murrayTaiko Resume: First heard taiko in Hyde Park in London in 1991. Never imagined it was something I could learn until I discovered Fushicho Daiko offering lessons after the Phoenix Matsuri. First picked up a bachi 8th March 2002. Studied with Esther Vandecar and Eileen Morgan twice weekly since fall 2002. Workshops in Tucson with Odaiko Sonora for several months. Benefitted from workshops with, Eichi Saito, Ryutaro Kaneko, Yoko Fujimoto, Chieko Kojima and Yoshikazu Fujimoto of Kodo, Tiffany Tamaribuchi, Kenny Endo, the Kono Family, Linda Hoffman, Ito Hiro, Taikoproject, Roy Hirabayashi and Franco Imperial of San Jose Taiko, Shidara and Takeru Matsushita of Yamato. Attended Taiko Conference 2003, 2005, 2009, 2011, Taiko Camp 2004, 2006, NW Regional Taiko 2006. Played in Taiko Ten at NATC 2009. Visited Japan 2007 – Kodo Earth Celebration workshops, studied with Kurumaya-sensei, attended Ogi Matsuri and many concerts. Played in Phoenix Matsuris, AZ Asian Festivals and S. Arizona showcases and in Nagoya, Japan. Carried a lot of drums. Done a lot of spreadsheets, email and web editing. Swept and mopped the dojo floor. Built a drum with my wife under the tutelage of Tony Trapasso. Taught introductory workshops. Currently study Wa with Ken Koshio and perform with Fushicho Daiko.

Background: Englishman

Secret identity: IT Professional

Aspirations: Perform taiko when I’m 95 years old. Play odaiko in Japan.

Why do you play taiko?: How can you not? It reaches inside you and won’t let go. It keeps you fit, creative and connects you to happy people!

Dr. Rebecca, Ed. D.

RebeccaTaiko Resume: I first heard the sound of taiko when I lived in Japan as an English teacher. I learned to play some local festival tunes in Shimane-ken, and I have been smitten with the taiko bug ever since! That was in 2003 and I’ve been honored to have found PTK and Sensei Esther Vandecar to help me polish my skills and learn even more about this beautiful and energetic art form.

Secret Identity: In my “free” time I enjoy being a wife and friend, a mom to my daughter born in February 2008, a special education teacher of English Language Learners, and a district committee member on programs for our refugee student population.

Why do you play taiko?: Whew! It’s no wonder I play taiko – beating the drums is a wonderful way to release stress and bring some balance to all of the responsibilities (and joys) of life!




Taiko Resume: Classified (because he’s too lazy to write one!) but he’s been interacting with drums since he was fifteen and was attracted by the power, spirit and whole body challenge of taiko. “This is waaay more difficult than Rock drumming!” Leaving us for the snows of Texas!

Secret Identity: User experience guru and Evil Western Drummer :)



CassiTaiko Resume: I heard the taiko drums at Matsuri festival in Downtown Phoenix and was intrigued (taken over, consumed by, mezmerized, etc) by both the sound of Taiko music and by the spirit that Taiko music represents. I started playing taiko in March 2005. Esther Vandecar has been my main teacher, but I have also studied with Kuramaya Sensei in Fukui, Japan, and have taken workshops from Ken Koshio, Kenny Endo, Koji Nakamura, Linda Hoffman of Katari Taiko, the Kono family and Yoko Fujimoto. As well as Taiko drums, I also play fue, and am currently the only fue player for PTK (slackers!!!). I composed ‘Denki’.

Background: Bachelor of Music Performance from the University of New Mexico.

Secret Identity: B-movie addict :) Go go Godzilla!



Taiko Resume: I began playing Taiko in March of 2006, and have previously been a member of Aozora. I joined Phoenix Taiko Kai in June, 2009. As well as Taiko, I sing, play the piano, flute, and the angklung (Southeast Asian bamboo instrument). Esther Vandecar has been my Taiko sensei since I began taking lessons. I have also studied with Eileen Morgan, and Ken Koshio. I had the privilege to attend Yoko Fujimoto’s Voice Circle, Kenny Endo and Takeru Matsushita’s workshops.

Background: Filipina-Japanese. I have been a resident of Phoenix, Arizona since 1991. I have also lived in Manila, Philippines, Nishinomiya, Japan, and Nassau, Bahamas.

Secret Identity: Wife to Mark the photographer, mom to Mariko and Markus.

Why I play Taiko: Playing the Taiko brings me back to what I hold dear – the Japanese culture, and my memories of life in Japan.


olgaTaiko Resume: In 1994 I saw a group of 4 women in flowing black skirts dancing around and playing big drums at an arts festival in Moab, Utah. It looked like fun, so I pestered the leader until she invited me to join them-to play shakeree for the song that I came to know as Hiryu Sandan Gaeshi. Eventually, there was a beginner’s class in 1997 and I learned some basic taiko skills from Annette Kearl, who founded the original taiko group in Moab, Henkei Taiko. She moved away after a few years and we found ourselves “leader-less”. We quickly realized that we preferred a collective model of involvement and decision-making. After numerous work groups and meetings, we formed Moab Taiko Dan, a not-for-profit group which provided lessons to adults and children in the community. We also performed almost anywhere that we were asked to, for free, of course! In 2002, in pursuit of my nursing education, I moved to Phoenix. I began to attend one of Esther Vandecar’s classes, which eventually transformed into Phoenix Taiko Kai. Now I play taiko with PTK, assist in leading classes when our instructors are away and also play with Fushicho Daiko, Esther’s professional group, as an understudy. Over the years I have been blessed with opportunities to take classes from many accomplished taiko players and leaders, including Tiffany Tamaribuchi, Eichi Sato, Yoshikazu Fujimoto and his wife Yoko, Kenny Endo, Kurumaya Sensei of Fukui, Shidara, Munakata Sensei of Hiroshima, and most recently Takeru Matsushita, who graced us with his presence for an entire year. Having the opportunity to travel and play in Japan, including being at the 25th anniversary of Kodo’s Earth Celebration, has expanded my taiko view and enriched my life.

Background: My parents claim that they found me while hiking in a red sandstone canyon in Utah. Apparently, i was sealed inside of a shiny metal egg which had a little window in front of my face. They said i was laughing uncontrollably…

Secret identity: It still evades me, possibly Dragonfly. (Left us for the snows of the north east and founded Mountain River Taiko)

Aspirations: Dispel fear and spread love.

Dr. Ivy

IvyTaiko Resume: An interest in Japanese culture and animation led me to attend Phoenix Matsuri in February 2004, where I saw Fushicho Daiko perform “The Pine of Akoya”. I was hooked on the performance and the sound, and signed up for Sensei Vandecar’s beginning classes on the spot. Since then, I have been performing with Phoenix Taiko Kai, and I have been privileged to attend many workshops and witness many professional taiko performances. All of these experiences have expanded and enriched my understanding of taiko and inspired me to share the joy of taiko with others. (Ivy also makes taiko jewelry)

Background: Arizona resident for over 25 years

Secret Identity: PhD in Educational Leadership and Policy Studies. Ex-Arizona State University student services specialist who left us for the snows of Michigan!

Aspirations: To build my own drum and to someday visit Japan


patrickSecret Identity: ASU student