TCA Member Spotlight: Cathy Tio

Neither snow, nor rain, nor heat (nor humidity, apparently!) can stop Cathy Tio from finding joy in the freedom of taiko. Our long-time TCA Regional Representative in The South, Cathy is always full of surprises. Learn about her taiko journey and incredible array of interests in this week’s TCA Member Spotlight!

When did you first find taiko? Is this the same time that you started playing taiko?

The first time I saw taiko was during freshman orientation week at Stanford in 2002.  Stanford Taiko was playing Amaterasu, and I was captivated by the ji, which was being played on the blocks.  That ji was dynamic and rockin’ — even though the stage was tiny, and I was sitting far up in the nosebleed section of Memorial Auditorium!  I began learning how to play taiko during tryouts and joined the group later that year.

What has your taiko journey looked like?

I played with Stanford Taiko for four years, took classes with Jimi Nakagawa at Kallan Nishimoto’s studio in Oakland for two years, and learned from Kaoru Watanabe many years later when I was living in NYC. Over the years, I’ve learned from an incredible mix of taiko greats through various workshops, and the Intercollegiate Taiko Invitationals and North American Taiko conferences have been so meaningful.  The performance jitters and adrenaline rushes at Stanford Taiko spring concerts, jamming out at taiko parties in Oakland, and playing on stage with 200 other New Yorkers at a Shakespeare in the Park performance — these are just some of the priceless taiko memories I have.  Taiko challenges me in a good way.  It makes me feel happier and lighter.  But what I absolutely love most about taiko is the community and the friends that I have made along this incredible taiko journey.

Why did you become a member of TCA?

Taiko is growing.  It is a positive, creative, and dare I say groovy force that connects diverse people at an elemental level.  I became a member of TCA to support and be a part of this growing taiko community.

What is your favorite post-practice meal?


Do you have other passions and/or hobbies outside of taiko?

Cooking & baking, roller-skating, violin, guqin, ukulele, and acquiring new ones (like pysanky eggs!)

Last, but certainly not least: How many taiko tees do you own?

Too many to count, but I have saved them all.

Shime or Odaiko?


Run for Exercise or Literally Anything Else?

Anything else.

Phone Call or Text Message?


What’s worse: Laundry or Dishes?


Coffee, Tea, or Red Bull (or, you know, another energy drink, I guess)


Perform in incredibly cold weather or incredibly humid weather?

Humid weather.

Record your practice and study the footage or fly free on the feeling?

Fly freee!

Do you know a TCA member who you would like to see spotlighted? Send an email to Sarah Gilbert at to nominate the TCA members in your life for our next spotlight!

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