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Kenneth Wilburn, Senior Web Editor
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Leah Brammer - Media
Rita Burns - Workshops
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Linda Nakagawa, Barbara Meixner, and the Sacramento Teachers Research Group
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Suzuki Piano Basics Foundation
67 Shepard St., Rochester NY 14620
242 River Acres Drive
Sacramento, CA, USA 95831
Next Deadline: April 20, 2006
By Dr. Haruko Kataoka
From the Matsumoto Piano Newsletter
Vol.10 No.1, June 1, 2000
Translated by Mayumi Yunus
Edited by Karen Hagberg
Hard Copy Illustrations by Juri Kataoka
Children must learn to work hard. It is not easy, but they will experience the joy of achievement only by working hard and not giving up before reaching their goals. To be able to become an independent adult, children must repeatedly experience hard work and joy, and their parents must help them choose what to work for. For example, they may choose music (the study of a musical instrument), sports, a single subject from school, or household chores at home. If there are choices, children can choose one thing to work on and try to achieve their goals like climbing a mountain. If they have a goal, they will work hard and will be able to experience the joy of achievement.
I read in the newspaper recently that a seventeen-year-old boy who hijacked a bus had kept receipts from highway tolls as his treasure. I was very sad for him because the boy had never learned the real meaning of “treasure” from his parents. He was a baby inside and did not know what to do with his adult body. He probably wanted to act like an adult and needed some excitement.
I also read about a boy who committed a murder. He was a very good student at school even though he never studied at home. Smart children have the disadvantage of being unable to learn to work hard because they can do well at school without working hard. Parents usually think it is all fine if their children get good grades at school. If the parents do not give those children a challenge, however, the children grow up without learning to work hard and will never experience the excitement of achieving goals. That is why those children will seek excitement in a different way. Please do not think that everything is fine because your child gets perfect grades at school.
I have had several piano students who are the best students in their class without studying at home. I remember good parents who made their child study the piano and the violin and after he started middle school they made him study the piano only. The parents came to see me when he had to quit piano lessons to go to a college in Tokyo. They said to me, “He has never worked hard at school because he could get good grades without working hard, but he had to work hard on the piano because you always told him that he had to work harder to become a better pianist. He learned that he can not do something without working hard. He was grateful that he was able to learn to work hard because of piano.” I was very happy to hear that.
He now is a wonderful adult, married, and has a child. Even though he is not working as a musician, he still enjoys playing piano. That news also made me very happy.
I can tell the same kind of story with a current 7-year-old student. She hates to practice, but loves to play at concerts. She tries hard when she has a concert as a goal. However, it is not so easy to play at a concert. On the morning of a concert I tell all my students, “I will give you treats after the concert if you do a good job.” She was not sure she could do a good job, but she did and she got a treat. Afterwards she said, “I was very nervous.” She experienced the joy of achievement.
We, adults have to make an effort to give children the opportunity to experience the joy of achievement.
June 5-9, 2006
June 23-27, 2006
July 17-21, 2006
July 23-26, 2006
July 24-27, 2006
August 7-11, 2006
University of Louisville Suzuki Piano Institute
Bruce Boiney, Director
University of Louisville, Louisville, Kentucky
For students of enrolled teachers, all levels
(Piano faculty: Bruce Anderson, FL; Huub de Leeuw, Netherlands;
Karen Hagberg, NY; Cathy Hargrave, TX;
Linda Nakagawa, CA)
6-Piano rehearsals and performances for
students and teachers
Enrichment courses include Creative Movement, “Great Explorations,
” “Orff Plus!” and others tba
www.louisville.edu/music/suzukipiano Application Deadline: April 1
Contact: Bruce Boiney 502-241-5921
West Coast Suzuki Music Institute
Mei Ihara and Rae Kate Shen, Directors
Concordia University, Irvine, California
For piano and violin students, all levels
Piano faculty: Bruce Boiney, KY; Rita Burns, CA; Karen Hagberg,
NY;Cathy Hargrave, TX; Linda Nakagawa, CA
Violin faculty: Nadia Ghent, CA
Enrichment classes include Art, Drama, Choir, Dance, Drum, Circle,
Handbells, Music and Movement.
One-day teacher research on Thursday, June 22.
Concert by Seizo Azuma (more information elsewhere in this newsletter)
Application deadline: Postmark by May 20
Contact: Mei Ihara (714) 997-8692
Southwest Suzuki Piano Institute
Cathy Hargrave, Director
Southern Methodist University, Dallas, Texas
For students, all levels (faculty: Bruce Boiney, Anne Bowman, and
Teacher Training with Cathy Hargrave
Classes for Parents
Enrichment courses include Orff/Kodaly, Jazz Improv, Chamber Music,
Art, & Drama
Application Deadline: May 15
Contact: Cathy Hargrave 972-412-8864
Suzuki Piano Summer Festival
Jacki Block, Director
Featuring Karen Hagberg
Piano students, all levels; teacher training;
University of Puget Sound, Tacoma WA
Contact: Jacki Block 253-759-7213
Cambridge Suzuki Young Musicians
Piano Workshop and 4-Piano Concert
Featuring Bruce Anderson, Betty Power, Stephen Power
University of Cambridge, England
For piano and strings
Contact: Stephen Power 01223 264408
Sacramento Teacher Research Workshop
Linda Nakagawa, Director
Featuring visiting teachers and students from Japan
For all interested teachers wishing to research Suzuki Piano Basics
and strengthen our relationship
with the Japanese teachers
For students of enrolled teachers (Students will have a workshop
lesson and may audition to perform in a Friendship Concert with the
Application Deadline: June 9
Deadline for video auditions for Friendship Concert: June 9
Contact: Linda Nakagawa 916-422-2952
June 23-27, 2006
July 17-21, 2006
July 23-26, 2006
July 24-27, 2006
August 7-11, 2006
July 17-21, 2006
July 23-26, 2006
July 24-27, 2006
August 7-11, 2006
Born in 1962, Mr. Azuma began his study of piano with Dr. Haruko Kataoka, co-founder of the Suzuki Piano Method. He later enrolled in the Music High School attached to Tokyo College of Music. He has studied with Ms. Aiko Iguchi, Mr. Minoru Nojima and Mr. Kazuhiro Nakajima.
In 1983, Mr. Azuma won the first prize in the 52nd Music Competition of Japan. In the following year, he was admitted to Conservatoire National Superieur de Musique de Paris as a scholarship student of the French Government, where he studied with Mr. Jacques Rouvier. He was a prize winner in several international competitions.
Mr. Azuma has performed with various orchestras in Europe, North America and China, and with all of the major orchestras of Japan.
His recitals at Kioi Hall in 1997, performing the 24 Preludes of Chopin, earned him the Award of the Frederic Chopin Society of Japan. One of the critics wrote, “Seizo Azuma exhibited confident and original interpretation of the work, which was entirely his own.” In July 1999, his performance of the Rachmaninoff Third Piano Concerto with the Sendai Philharmonic Orchestra attracted huge critical acclaim.
While being active as a soloist, Mr. Azuma also has enthusiasm for chamber music. The Bois Vert Trio, which he founded with Akihiro Miura, Concertmaster of the Tokyo Philharmonic Orchestra, and Mr. Ryoichi Fujimori, principal Cellist of the NHK Symphony, is one of his treasured projects. In addition to this, he has performed and recorded exquisite collaborations with a number of top soloists.
Seizo Azuma’s solo debut album, Beethoven & Schubert and his second release, La Campanella –Liszt Best Album, both on the Seiko Epson label, were met with great acclaim by the general public and critics alike.
In spite of his extremely busy performing schedule, Mr. Azuma presently teaches younger pianists at the Tokyo National University of Fine Arts and Music, and the Tokyo College of Music.
Students enrolled in the West Coast Suzuki Music Institute will receive a ticket to this concert as part of their registration. Additional tickets may be purchased for $15.
J. S. BACH / M. HESS
Chorale Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring from Cantata BWV 147
W. A. MOZART
Sonata in A major K.331
from Preludes Book 2
Les tierces alternées
__ Intermission __
M. P. MUSSORGSKY
Pictures at an Exhibition, Suite
The issue of training teachers was very important to Dr. Kataoka. Those of us who knew her since the ‘70’s could only marvel at how often she made the long trip from Japan to the United States to teach workshops (especially after making that trip ourselves). There were several years when she came here three times, twice in the summer and once in the winter. Until the year before she passed away, she came here faithfully at least twice annually.
Those of us who spent extended periods in Japan know that she worked tirelessly training teachers over there. She spent Thursday and Friday mornings with the local and foreign trainees; she taught private lessons to trainees on Sundays; and she taught a group of out-of-town teachers on Mondays. Just as Dr. Suzuki did, she taught seven days a week.
As time went on, she developed the concept of “Piano Basics.” This term means to pay attention to the very first, beginning steps: to make sure these are correct and excellent, before going on to more advanced things. As she would often say, “Lay the foundation before hanging curtains and pictures.” Teachers who had the patience to attend her workshops year after year to be told the same basic things over and over began to understand the concept of Piano Basics. Others, who could not understand the value of such concentrated study on such small things, stopped coming. Many more left than remained.
From this, we might conclude that Dr. Kataoka’s method of training teachers was a poor one because so few teachers pursued the study of Piano Basics after their first contact with it. If we measure her success only in numbers, this might be said.
But in the world of Piano Basics, as she always told us, we have to be content with quality alone, not quantity. If we make compromises in order to satisfy people who do not have the patience, who are not ready, who cannot shake their traditional ideas, the concept of Piano Basics, so simple yet so deep and difficult really to do, will become diluted to the point of being meaningless.
Unlike larger organizations, Piano Basics is an organization that stands for a certain pedagogy that we know is effective and that we try to develop in ourselves every day.
Just as many teachers were not ready to spend much time studying with Dr. Kataoka after seeing her once or twice, many teachers are now not ready to sit and watch 10-Piano rehearsals for hours and hours a day for more than two weeks. And not many teachers are ready to benefit from watching their colleagues teach, or from playing Twinkles and Down-Ups for each other. These are unusual ways to study. However many teachers come to Piano Basics events for the first time, just a few will be drawn into this method (just as few of us of many have stuck around and have become committed to this way of teaching)
. The information that one learns at music school is not Piano Basics. Because many of us master teachers have music school degrees, other teachers, who do not have these credentials, want that kind of information from us. And we are qualified to give it. But this is not teaching Piano Basics. And, speaking for myself, I can say that it is very difficult not to be pulled over into the realm of giving out this information in workshop sessions with teachers and students. The distinction between Piano Basics and academic information has to be very clear to us if we are to be teachers of Piano Basics.
We cannot be concerned with numbers. We have to be concerned with quality. I personally was drawn to Piano Basics after hearing the students from Japan perform on videotape, both solo and on a 10-Piano Concert. If we are to attract serious trainees, we have to have a product that is worth emulating. New trainees need exposure to this product, and this is why encouraging them to attend 10-Piano rehearsals and concerts is so important.
Nurturing trainees on a local level is also important. Wherever there are two teachers, there is a research group. Teachers who come to a workshop from a remote area where they are alone can be encouraged to bring another teacher to the next workshop or event and then go home and research together.
Lately, we “old timers” are becoming concerned about how to bring young teachers to this wonderful method. How do we convince young teachers that what we do is worthwhile?
The answer is the same as it has always been. We need to be able to produce students who play wonderfully, with good basics. We need to expose young teachers to the results of our teaching. Some of these young teachers, not all, will perceive the unusual quality of this teaching and want it for themselves, for their own students.
Kataoka Sensei was not promoting herself when she played recordings of the Japan 10-Piano Concerts for American teachers, she was promoting this wonderful method. Now we all have recordings of the Japan concert and the Sacramento concert that we can show to new teachers. We have wonderful recordings of Friendship Concerts where students from various places have come together to perform. There are recordings of the performances at the Piano Basics Institutes. We can, and should, play these recordings for every new teacher who comes to us. The proof is in these results.
Kataoka Sensei never quantified her teacher training. She never “certified” any of her trainees. She never stated that our research was finished. She advocated continual study and research throughout the professional lifetime of teachers, and she did this herself. Dr. Suzuki taught in the same way and believed in the same process.
It is not an easy way to study. It is not an immediately understandable way to study.
There is a saying in Zen Buddhism, “When the student is ready, the teacher appears.” Teachers have to be ready for this kind of study. And when they are ready, they find a teacher.
There is also a Zen concept that students determine who the teachers are. Students come to a person wanting something that person knows. It does not work the other way: that people are named teachers by an authority and then students are told to study with these people. Students who really want something have to find teachers who can give them what they really want. Serious students search for their teachers. Serious students find teachers who are worthy of them.
Those of us who attended Kataoka Sensei’s funeral heard about her final advice to us: not to make changes too quickly, not to try to expand too quickly, to work on our quality, to create something worthwhile studying. She was telling us to try hard, and to be patient. If we are creating something of value, it will not go away.
This summer the General Membership Meeting will take place during the teacher research workshop in Sacramento in August.
As the Chair of this year’s nominating committee, Ann Taylor from Tucson, Arizona is accepting nominations from our members for officers of the Foundation until July 15. If you have names you wish to put into nomination, please contact Ann at 520-881-5573 (firstname.lastname@example.org).
We hope as many members as possible attend this research workshop and can join us in this year’s meeting. See you there.
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First Online Edition: 26 August 2006
Last Revised: 9 March 2012