Composition Honors & Awards:
FL Millennium Cultural Recognition Award
FL Individual Artist Fellowship in Jazz Composition
Broward Cultural Foundation, Brad Foster Fellowship - Music Composition
Toyama earned a Bachelor of Music in Jazz Studies from Indiana University and a Master of Music in Jazz Performance from the University of Miami. He has also attended Berklee College of Music for jazz composition and the University of Hawaii for Asian music studies. Currently, he is completing his 2nd Masters in Studio Jazz Writing at the University of Miami. His private studies include jazz vibraphone from Ed Saindon and Dave Samuels; jazz improvisation from Dave Baker, Kenny Barron, Hal Galper, Barry Harris, Vince Maggio, and Randall Dollahan; jazz composition from Ron Miller, classical music composition from Dennis Kam, orchestration from John Van der Slice, jazz arranging from Jerry Gates, and jazz arranging, orchestration, jazz vocal arranging & studio engineering from from Gary Lindsay, choral writing from Robert Gower, & conducting from Thomas Sleeper. He studied classical percussion with George Gaber, Boston Symphony Orchestra percussionist Arthur Press, Richard Johnson, Thomas Stubbs, Richard Holmes, & Robert DeMello.
Tom Toyama's approach to music comes from his Asian cultural heritage and training in Asian cultural art forms.
Toyama was born in Okinawa, Japan and raised in childhood in Okinawa and later years in Hawaii.
Throughout its history, the Ryukyu Kingdom of Islands (of which Okinawa is a part of) had influences from the cultures of countries that would trade with it. This includes Japan, China, Korea, Malaysia, Phillipines, and other Southeast Asian countries. However, even with the influx of foreign influences, Okinawans still developed languages, music and cultural traditions that are distinctly their own.
From his childhood in Okinawa, Japan, Toyama received kempo martial arts training from his Okinawan father. He later studied and practiced the Chinese martial arts of kung fu and taichi.
His Japanese mother took her son to traditional Okinawan music and dance performances. She taught him Okinawan and Japanese folk songs and exposed him to Okinawan and Japanese cultural music programs on radio and television.
She also brought her son to her flower arranging lessons where he observed her doing ikebana, the Japanese art of flower arranging. He would go to the Okinawa city of Naha with her to select and buy flowers. Upon returning home he would watch how his mother would, with care and focus, trim and place flowers within the space of the display.
From traditional Japanese music performances, he developed an interest in shakuhachi (Japanese vertical bamboo flute) and taiko Japanese drumming. Toyama later studied shakuhachi with Kyoto master Kurahashi Yoshio and taiko with Ishikura Takemasa. Toyama also plays Okinawan taiko.
Today, Toyama's Asian music experiences includes performing on vibraphone, taiko (drum), and shakuhachi with Japanese taiko master Takemasa Ishikura; on vibraphone with koto master Tamiko Asai, and in a live USA to Japan tele-conference on vibraphone with shakuhachi master Seizan Sakata.
Toyama's musical art form continues to be influenced by his Asian cultural heritage.