Occasionally, there are some very good documentaries on late night television. They are so good that I often wonder why they are shown at late night rather than earlier when everyone can watch.
The other night I happened to turn on the television late at night. They were doing a feature on a young man with muscular dystrophy. His name is Ken-chan. Until he was two or three years old, he was apparently a healthy child. When he was five, they found something out of the ordinary and he was taken to the hospital where he was diagnosed with muscular dystrophy. This is a disease where the muscles in the body gradually cease to function. There is no cure. His family was told at the hospital that he would probably only live until the age of twenty.
However, he is now thirty years old. Of course, by now his disease has progressed to the point that he cannot move. About the only thing that he can do almost normally is to speak. When he sleeps, his eyelids have to be taped shut. When he eats, because his lower jaw can no longer move, there is a metal rod attached to his wheelchair and he must place his jaw on that in order to eat and speak. Since no part of his body moves, he uses a wheelchair. But in order to go out, his mother carries him on her back. His mother is also ill and must take four insulin shots a day. Even so, she is by her son, taking care of him twenty-four hours a day.
When Ken-chan turned twenty, his father told him, "At twenty, you are an adult! Earn your own room and board." This became the impetus for him to start a tiny store, Ken-chan's Comic Cram School, where he sold items to the neighborhood children. It has grown in the past ten years to a chain of bookstores called K Books. He is now operating three or four stores. These stores are in such places as the (famous) Sunshine Building in Ikebukuro and near the Kichijoji Station in Tokyo, so it is truly a fine chain of bookstores. There are now dozens of employees and they take employee tours to hot springs and such. Ken-chan, who was not supposed to be able to do anything because of his muscular dystrophy, takes responsibility for all the operations.
He does not stand still and let things happen. When he feels that he must see how a particular store is doing, he goes there personally so he can see it with his own eyes. (How difficult for his mother!) How strict he is when he does go to supervise! His scolding voice pierces through the air it anyone seems to be slacking oft even a little bit. His is not a mild strictness, but a very severe one! His mother, who takes care of him from morning to night, also works at the bookstore and is constantly being yelled at by Ken-chan. When a person who is supposed to be that ill gets angry, with that much energy and spirit, it can be very convincing. There is a sense that one cannot talk back. Because of this, his mother, store managers and other employees work whole-heartedly even while being scolded. Ken-chan said, "Everyone believes that they are doing all that they can, that they are working as hard as they can, but this is a mistake.... They are not doing all that they can. Are my mother and I together one complete, independent and successful person? No, not yet. I have to do even better.... We are opening a new store where the rent will be one million yen He continued, "The reason I am so strict toward everyone and the reason I rush is because I have no time. When I am gone, I want everyone that is working for me so hard now to be able to have their own store."
It seems that in any field of endeavor, those who do outstanding work seem to have the humble attitude of "I am incapable of doing anything." They all seem to go back to their initial hopes each day and concentrate on what they are doing. Because of this, they can produce outstanding work. On the other hand, those who feel that they are great and are doing good work fail to see that this is their own delusion and that it is not objective truth. Even though he is very ill, Ken-chan is able to fully understand this.
Could a fully healthy person do as much in the span of ten years? I am only embarrassed when I put myself in his place.
I felt that people are marvelous when I saw this program. Being stricken with such a disease and not being able to use his body, it would be a matter of course if he did nothing. But because he had the spirit, he was able to accomplish so much. Not only that, but he was able to extend the life that was only supposed to last for twenty years by another ten years. A person's spirit is amazing, is it not? I was forced to reflect on my own self after chancing to see this program. I was being admonished by the gods, "You are being lazy."
Let us not become satisfied that this is the best we can do, because by striving with a "can-do" spirit more and more possibilities reveal themselves to us. This is human life. Let us treasure the spirit to accomplish, and live our lives throughout this year with whole-hearted and total effort.
ALICIA DELAROCCHO VIDEO
There is a wonderful videotape of Alicia DeLaroccha playing Beethoven's Piano Concerto #1 with Michael Tilson Thomas conducting. It is one of a series called Concerto! Originally produced for the A&E network. The program is artfully produced and begins with an interview with the artist by Dudley Moore and excerpts from rehearsals. The actual performance is full of wonderful close-up shots of her technique. This is an important video for students, teachers, and parents to enjoy and to study.
The best news is that the video costs only $9.50 and is available from the 1996-97 Young Musicians catalog (item #V974 on page 29). You may order by calling Young Musicians at (800)826-8648.
Thanks to Carole Mayers in Philadelphia for this tip!
This piece is in 3/8 time. It is based on eighth notes, so it is a piece with a light feeling. Of course, as with any piece, the student must practice playing the right and left hands separately, phrase-by- phrase. (The phrases in this piece are almost all four measures long.)
After the student memorizes the piece and can play it thoroughly hands together, the study begins.
First, we shall consider the right hand in the first four measures. The G with the fifth finger at the beginning of measure 2 is a note which students cannot play well without practice. Have them practice playing musically on that note with good tone. Use the Twinkle A rhythm or simply play big down and up strokes on the note repeatedly. Because the fifth finger is small and weak, it always becomes stiff like a stick whenever that finger is isolated from the rest of the hand. In order to play without stiffness, make sure that the fingertip not only touches the key, but that it moves, along with all the fingers, with a natural feeling of holding down the key without pushing.
If we use our entire hand and make correct use of the body, we may produce musical tone with the fifth finger. This G, is sung out as the first beat of the measure.
I often have the students practice this G by playing the two preceding light staccato notes on C (ending with an upstroke), getting ready, and then playing the G (down). After the student can play these three notes well, add the preceding two sixteenth notes and practice all five notes together. Because the first two notes are sixteenths, never fail to play them very lightly with the hand in the same position.
Next, carefully teach the student to sing out the D in measure 3 and the C in measure 4 as downbeats and to end the phrase quietly.
In this way, students will gradually become able to play the first phrase well.
The sixteenth notes in measure 7 must be played legato and quietly. To produce beautiful legato, always move the fingertips and avoid hitting the keys. Practice playing the first four of these notes long and carefully and the last two very lightly (the same feeling as the triplets in the left hand). It is very important to play the last two very lightly and softly.
When the student has studied the right hand, learn the left-hand accompaniment and play quietly, at the back of the keys as much as possible. In measures 17-29, pay attention to the repeated C's. In triple time, the first beat is played down with a deep tone and the second and third beats are up and light. This is true for any measures, but special attention should be paid to repeated notes so that they will not be played all the same.
Be especially careful about the position of the right hand in measures 23-24 to make sure that the wrist and hand do not fall down when playing the first A with the second finger in measure 23. This is one of those places where students may acquire good piano technique it they pay- attention to this. Teachers must patiently work on it at every lesson until the students can play these two measures without changing the position of the hand.
The left-hand chords in measures 23-29 should be played rhythmically in triple time. If the tone is noisy, it means that the hand and fingers are still and are hitting the keys. Give good guidance to students so that they are able to produce a musical tone on these chords with moving fingertips.
It is all right to make a ritardando in measures 32-33 and then to pick up the tempo again in measure 34.
Make sure that the left-hand arpeggio in measures 50-51 is fingered correctly, using fourth finger on the E. Then play the arpeggio legato with moving fingertips.
The right-hand chords in the last four measures should all be played with a musical tone on the downbeat (with a downstroke).
The 16th-note passages in measures 24-28, 54- 58, etc. need slow practice with moving fingertips in order to produce a smooth legato.
Since this third movement is Vivace, students should practice it to the point where they can play actively, lightly and fast.
As every Suzuki teacher discovers after years of experience, the Suzuki Method is much broader, more profound, and all-encompassing than one could imagine upon first reading Dr. Suzuki's book, Nurtured by Love, and becoming enamored with the beauty of the philosophy. My vision of the wholeness of the Suzuki Method, and where I fit, in relation to the highest ideals, is much clearer now than when I began down this road.
Prompted by moving from the West to the East coast, two-and-a-half years ago, my vision has been greatly expanded due to the challenges inherent in starting over. When I had to build a studio up from "zero" once again, I was compelled to re-think every possible facet of what I was doing -- and why. I continue to be acutely aware of the gap between what I know and what I actually do with students and parents on a daily basis.
After a stimulating two-day workshop with Karen Hagberg this past January, the gap seemed like an abyss, until I put things in perspective and allowed some time for changes to take place in my studio. Change is a deep learning process. I now expect students and parents to make changes one step at a time, just as I know I do after each workshop I attend. It is important to be open, accepting and patient, and compassionate toward one's self.
MONDAY EVENING (after the two-day workshop): The overriding feeling was one of enthusiasm; I felt energized, inspired and encouraged. I vowed to work harder on basics in my own playing, to listen more closely to myself and my student, and to be clearer in my expectations of parents.
The main area I identified for self-improvement was to communicate more clearly with beginning parents, helping them understand how every beginning skill lays the foundation for successful long-term study.
Overall, I felt far more satisfied with my studio here in Pennsylvania than the studio I left in California, and I knew it had everything to do with the growth in my teaching abilities, and not with the "quality" of students or parents on either coast. (Karen taught in my studio and worked with 95% of my students.)
TUESDAY EVENING (after resuming teaching): I felt fundamentally depressed and deeply frustrated with my teaching that day. Lessons seemed scattered. Too much time was spent talking and not enough time was left for piano playing or spot practice. A couple of factors seemed to be contributing:
WEDNESDAY AND THURSDAY: As I settled back into my "old" way of teaching, I noticed some new things being interspersed quite naturally--a new approach to handling a student, or proceeding in a lesson, or talking to a parent.
In trying out something new with young students, I realized that unpredictability must be accepted, even embraced.
Another area of self-improvement became clear -- learning how to be more adaptable to differences among students and parents, ages and personalities, moods and learning needs of the moment. I think I need to be more alert in order to meet the needs of all of my students. I renewed my commitment to continually try, experiment, be observant and thoughtful.
THE ABILITY TO COMMUNICATE WITH PARENTS is the key to improving the quality of one's studio. Karen articulately explained basic Suzuki principles, as well as details of piano technique. Parents were put at ease by her positive, friendly manner, and their questions were clearly and thoroughly answered. They were motivated to take at least a small step to a new level or in a new direction, and they felt reassured that they really are doing O.K. (e.g., all children resist practice, not just their child).
As I stated before, my work revolves primarily around improving my communication with parents, particularly beginning parents.
CHALLENCE YOUR STUDENTS by asking a little extra, making them "stretch" their abilities. Learning will not happen if one is complacent. Engage their interest. Help them focus by being intensely focused yourself. Expect quick responses. A sense of urgency or importance should accompany certain learning situations. Use humor and always affirm what the student can do, but stay in control of the lesson.
WHAT IS PRACTICE? Make sure that every parent understands what practice is -- repetition with focus to improve a skill. Eventually, the student will know that playing and practice are two very different endeavors with practice leading to the ability to play the piano well. This is the law of ability. Enough repetitions lead to mastery, when it becomes second nature to execute a skill without thought or reminder. To respond well, easily and naturally is true ability. It takes approximately ten years.
REPETITION AND QUALITY are needed to effectively realize the teaching points. I teach almost all of the technical and musical points that Karen worked on with my students. However, I really had to think about how early I teach each point in Book 1 and how well I teach them.
As I review what I have learned, very little seems new to me. Yet my understanding of both fundamental truths and fine details deepens with each repetition that I am open to receive. The implementation of basic principles is the real work--it is difficult and challenging; it is joyful and deeply satisfying. I feel so fortunate to continue down this road, a little further every day, and in such good company.
The staff of Piano Basics Foundation News expresses appreciation to all who have contributed to this and previous issues. We would like to hear from more of our members. Please submit articles relating to your research groups, area workshops, or any subject which you think would be informative for our readers. We also solicit your general input and suggestions for the newsletter The July/August issue will focus on "fund-raising" as a way of bringing concerts and workshops to our communities. If you have specific thoughts in this area, please send them to PBF News, 1487 Telegraph Road, Bellingham, WA 98226, by June 1. Thanks!
Grace Baugh-Bennett, Director
School of Music
Louisville, KY 40292
An opportunity for additional observation of Dr. Kataoka's teaching after the University of Louisville Institute, featuring indepth lessons which will include reading and scales.
Elizabeth Rose, Director
567 S. 250 East
Kaysville, UT 84037
Special 1-A Unit offered. All teachers registering for the full week will be eligible to have a student receive a lesson, space permitting.
Karen Hagberg, Director
25 Palisade Park
Rochester, NY 14620
FAX (716) 244-3542
Additional two days of observing Dr. Kataoka's teaching in Karen Hagberg's studio, August 10-11. Gala Friendship Recital with teachers and students from Matsumoto, Japan.
Linda Nakagawa, Director
242 River Acres Drive
Sacramento, CA 95831
(916) 422-2952 Tel/Fax
Observation of visiting teachers from Matsumoto plus Friendship Concert with students from Japan. Dr. Kataoka will be teaching in Linda Nakagawa's studio on Thursday and Friday, August 14-15.
Sarah and Simon Salz, Directors
PIANO PACULTY: Bruce Anderson and Cathy Williams-Hargrave
Cheryl Teichert, Director
PIANO FACULTY: Bruce Boiney, Karen Hagberg, Cheryl Kraft, Linda Nakagawa, and Cathy Williams-Hargrave
PIANO BASICS FOUNDATION CATALOG OF EDUCATIONAL MATERIALS DISCOGRAPHY -- SUZUKI PIANO REPERTOIREPrices good through December 1998 Non- ID/Composer ARTIST TITLE LABEL CAT# Member member VOLUME 1 H. Kataoka Volume 1 PBF 5005 14.00 17.00 VOLUME 2 H. Kataoka Volume 2 PBF 5007 14.00 17.00 VOLUME 3 H. Kataoka Volume 3 PBF 5009 14.00 17.00 H. Kataoka Complete Set PBF 5011 36.00 51.00 VOLUME 4: Mozart W. Gieseking Minuet I,III, VIII CAP 63688 85.00 95.00 K. 315a Beethoven W. Gieseking Sonata, Op.49, No.2 PHS 9930 17.00 20.00 Emil Gilels Sonata, Op.49, No.2 PLC 19172 16.00 20.00 Bach Dinu Lipatti Minuet I & II CAP 69800 10.00 13.00 Gigue (BWV 825) VOLUME 5: Beethoven V. Ashkenazy Fur Elise PLC 17751 10.00 13.00 (Bagatelle) No Longer Available J.S. Bach Glenn Gould Prelude in C COL 52600 31.00 34.00 (Well-Tempered Clavier Book 1) Andras Schiff as above PLC 14388 30.00 33.00 J.S. Bach Glenn Gould Inventions 2&3 Part COL 52596 15.00 18.00 Andras Schiff as above PLC 11974 15.00 18.00 Haydn Ingrid Haebler Sonata in C. PLC 42659 10.00 13.00 Hob. XVI, No. 35, No Longer Available VOLUME 6: J.S. Bach Andras Segovia, Little Prelude CAP 61048 10.00 13.00 guitar (Preludes for Lute, BWV 999) Mozart W. Gieseking Sonata K.545 CAP 63688 85.00 95.00 A. de Larrocha Sonata K.545 RCAV 60709 15.00 17.00 (with K.281, 282, 284) Daquin S. Rachmaninoff The Cuckoo RCA 61265 107.00 125.00 (The Complete Recordings of S. Rachmaninoff) Mozart W. Gieseking Sonata K.330 CAP 63688 85.00 95.00 A. de Larrocha Sonata K.330 RCAV 60454 15.00 18.00 (with K.309, 310, and 311) Scarlatti Dinu Lipatti Sonata "Pastoral" CAP 69800 10.00 13.00 L.413 VOLUME 7: Mozart W. Gieseking Sonata K.331 CAP 63688 85.00 95.00 A. de Larrocha Sonata K.331 RCAV 60407 15.00 17.00 (with K.253, 332, and 333) Handel S. Rachmaninoff Harmonious Blacksmith RCA 61265 107.00 125.00 (The Complete Recordings of S. Rachmaninoff) Paderewski Paderewski Minuet RCAV 60923 10.00 13.00 (No Longer Available) ADDITIONAL DISCOGRAPHY A. de Larrocha Spanish Fireworks/- PLC 17795 10.00 13.00 Piano Collection A. de Larrocha Spanish Serenade RCAV 61389 14.00 17.00 A. de Larrocha Spanish Encores PLC 17639 15.00 18.00 Impresiones... V. Horowitz Private collection RCAV 62643 14.00 17.00 V. Horowitz Complete RCA Recordings RCAV 61655 212.00 240.00 J.S. Bach Glenn Gould Italian Concerto/- COL 42527 7.00 10.00 Partita/Tocatta Beethoven F. Gulda Piano Sonatas PLC 43012 15.00 18.00 14/15/17/21/23/24 V. Ashkenazy Piano Sonatas 1-32 PLC 25590 94.00 105.00 Complete (No Longer Available) Beethoven/- S. Azuma Piano Sonata 8/26 EPS 005 15.00 18.00 Chopin A. de Larrocha Preludes-Complete PLC 33089 7.00 10.00 Clementi V. Horowitz Horowitz Plays RCAV 7753 10.00 13.00 Clementi Liszt M. Nojima Nojima Plays Liszt REF 25 15.00 18.00 Mozart A. de Larrocha Fantasy 397 RCAV 60453 15.00 18.00 (with K. 279,280) M. Ravel M. Nojima Nojima Plays Ravel REF 35 15.00 18.00 VIDEOTAPES Matsumoto 1996-10 Piano Concert PBF 5007 100.00 120.00 Seizo Azuma Solo Piano Recital EPS 107 50.00 60.00 June 28, 1995 BOOKS Author Title H. Kataoka Sensibility and Education 7.00 10.00 S. Suzuki Nurtured by Love 12.00 15.00 H. Kataoka Thoughts on the Suzuki Piano School 5.00 7.00 H. Kataoka My Thoughts on Piano Technique 5.00 7.00 H. Kataoka How to Teach Beginners 10.00 12.00 To order, call or FAX Piano Basics Foundation at: 916-422-2952.
Sorry, we do not accept credit cards.
Piano Basics Foundation has recently been organized to support the method of teaching and playing the piano taught at the Talent Education Research Institute in Matsumoto, Japan by Dr. Haruko Kataoka. Piano Basics Foundation will provide its members with recordings, books and videotapes with free postage and handling.
Earlier in this issue is a listing of books, videotapes and recordings (instructional materials). If you are looking for a particular recording, enclose a note with the composer's name instrument, name of the piece and the name of the artist. We will let you know if it is available or not.
Recently released, on the Seiko Epson label, is a videotape of pianist SEIZO AZUMA playing a long program of mixed repertoire. Recording date: June 28, 1995
Debussy -Suite bergamasque
Rachmaninoff- Sonata, No. 2 in Bb minor, Op. 36
Schumann - Kinderscenen, Op. 15
Liszt - Annees de pelerinage, Premiere Annee, Suisse, 4. Aubord d'une source
Liszt - Hungarian Rhapsody, No.2 C# minor
Chopin - Nocturne. No.5, F# minor, Op. 15, # 2
Debussy - Golliwog's Cakewalk
Beethoven - Sonata, No.20, Op.49 No.2, 2nd movement: Tempo di Minuetto
ORDER NOW! EPSlO7 Limited supply
Member Price $50.00
SUZUKI METHOD 10-PIANO CONCERT VIDEO TAPE
April 28, 1996
Harmony Hall, Matsumoto
The Suzuki Method 10 - Piano Concert has grown to include 250 students. Pieces performed include the Twinkles and much of the repertoire throughout the books, Brahms' Hungarian Dances, Mozart's Fantasia in D minor and Liszt's La Campanella in G-sharp minor.
ORDER NOW! PBF 5007
Member Price $100.00
City, State, Zip Code:__________________________________
Phone (Day and Evening):________________________________
Number of CDs/- Label and Artist/- Books/Videos Catalog # Composer Title Price Each Total
___Piano Basics Member (Free Shipping) Sub-Total ___$25.00 dues enclosed CA Resident 7.75% Tax Shipping (Non-Members Only) Shipping for Non-Members Total 1-5 Items, add $7.50 6-10 Items, add $15.00 11-15 Items, add $22.00, etc. Please make checks or money order in US dollars, payable to: Piano Basics Foundation
Mail your order to 242 River Acres Dr., Sacramento, CA 95831 USA
Return to the Suzuki Piano Basics Home Page.
First Online Edition: 5 February 1999
Last Revised: 21 February 2001