Hard Copy Illustrations
Leah Brammer - Media
Rita Burns - Workshops
Renee Eckis - Translation Coordinator
Cathy Williams Hargrave - Editions
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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
Deadline for Next Issue: 15 December 2003
Dr. Suzuki habitually reiterated the idea that children have no responsibilities. If a child cannot play the instrument well at lessons, it is the teacher's responsibility. That is what he meant by saying, "Children have no responsibility."
Before I came to Matsumoto forty years ago, I belonged to the common sense school of thought. Because of that, I was always so surprised by Dr. Suzuki's teachings. In the world of common sense, teachers are good and respectable. If students cannot perform well, it is their own fault. People believe that such children are lazy and unintelligent. I thought so too. In the beginning, when children did bad things there was no way that I could take the responsibility for this, but as I worked with Dr. Suzuki over a long period of time I began to agree with him.
Once I understood this idea, I had to think about it all the time and ask myself what I had to do to make children understand; how could I find the best and easiest technique that everyone can comprehend? I did my own research. After five or ten years I began to see results, and I began to understand this philosophy of teaching. The students became much better players than before. This is why teachers should take on all the responsibility.
Recently, there was a sad and heinous crime committed by a 12-year-old boy here in Japan. I feel sorry for both the victim and the criminal. Everything is the responsibility of adults. It is not only his parents, but all adults (including myself).
Of course, the parents have the greatest responsibility because they raise the child. I heard one politician say that we should arrest the parents and drag them around the city like we did in the old days. Of course, the parents' responsibility is huge, but parents are only humans as well. It is very hard to raise a child in such a rough society that we have lately. Politicians, who cannot seem to do anything about the adverse effects things like computer games, cell phones, television, and so on have on children, should take responsibility first. But it is not only the politicians, we all have to take responsibility. If all the adults in the world were to realize this, and if we all tried hard, our society would be a much better place in which to raise children with healthy minds and bodies.
A middle school teacher in Nagasaki wrote a letter to a student who committed a crime. In the letter, he repeated many times, "This is all the adults' responsibility. I am sorry that I could not help you. I am sorry." This is an adult with love.
I remember, long ago, Dr. Suzuki's visit to a reformatory to deliver a speech. He told me, "This is wrong. The parents should go to the reformatory, not the children."
My mother was born in the Meiji Period [100-150 years ago]. In our household, when we children would have a fight, the older child was always punished, regardless of whose fault it was. When I fought with my sister, she always took responsibility for it.
I think my parents wanted to teach us that the older person always has responsibility for the actions of the younger one. I hope that all adults, not only in Japan but all over the world, will realize that they have the responsibility to raise children well. The result will be that all adults, not only the politicians, will be able to bring up young people with wonderful hearts. I am hoping that day will come soon as I listen to classical music.
Reconciliation of Right Hand
Measure 1 WB: 3 Mi - Re - Do - Do Zen-On: 4 2 1 Measure 4 WB: 3 1 Do - Sol - Sol Zen-On: 2 1 (2) (The same fingering is used in each exact repetition of this measure.) Measure 17 WB: 3 Sol - Fa - Mi - Mi Zen-On: 4 2 1 Measure 18, Beat 3 WB: No finger listed Zen-On: Finger 3 Measure 22, Beat 3 WB: No finger listed Zen-On: Finger 5 Measure 29 WB: Finger 2 on Fa sharp Zen-On: Finger 3 Measure 30 WB: 1 Fa - Fa - Re - Ti Zen-On: 2 1 Measure 31 WB: Fa - Fa - Re - Ti Zen-On: (1) 2 Measure 34 WB: Finger 2 on Re Zen-On: Finger 3 on Re Measure 56 WB: Finger 3 on Mi Zen-On: Finger 4 on Mi Measure 57 WB: 2 1 Ti - Do - Re - Mi - Fa - Re Zen-On: 1 2 3 5 3 Measure 65 WB: 2 1 Ti - Do - Re - Mi - Fa - Re Zen-On: 1 2 5 3Reconciliation of Left Hand
Measure 1 WB: 5 3 1 Do - Mi - Sol Zen-On: 4 2 1 Measure 3 WB: 5 4 1 Do - Re - Fa Zen-On: 4 3 1 Measure 4 WB: 5 3 Do - Mi - Sol Zen-On: 4 2 Measure 19 WB: 1 2 2 Do - Do - Do Zen-On: 1 2 1 Measures 20, 53, 61 WB: 1 2 2 Do - Do - Do Zen-On: 2 1 2 Measure 23 WB: Fingers 1 (La) and 5 (Re) on the chord Zen-On: Fingers 2 (La) and 5 (Re) Measure 64 WB: 5 (3) (1) Do - Mi - Sol Zen-On: 4 (2) (1) Measure 65 WB: 5 3 1 Do - Mi - Sol Zen-On: 5 3 1 This concludes Part Three.
By Dr. Haruko Kataoka
What is the basic technique of playing the piano? It is how to use the whole body. One cannot play the piano using only the brain. You need to use your body. Why is that so important? There is a basic technique for everything, not just for playing piano. This is the foundation. If you construct a building without a good foundation, it is like constructing a tower in the air. You may see the tower for a moment, but it will disappear. For example, it is impossible to play the piano well without good technique, even if you practice a lot. Without good technique, you will get tired and will never achieve good results. If you use your body naturally, you do not need to practice so much in order to be able to play the piano and to enjoy playing the piano.
I do not know why this is, but everybody dislikes the basics. Basics are very easy. I guess that people feel easy things are foolish, or maybe it is too boring to care about basics. Some people maintain that they are playing piano only as a hobby, so they do not need basics. They are only interested in playing difficult repertoire.
Adults hate simple repetition. Children do not mind repetition if teachers tell them to do it. It is easier for them to learn the basics, and they learn much faster than adults. This is why people should begin learning music or sports when they are young. Anyway, everyone needs to use the body to play the piano well. Let's think about the basics of the body.
We need to learn the basics in the very beginning, and we need to practice every day using the basics. The human brain can understand things quickly, and for smart people it is very easy to learn new things. However, the body is nothing like the brain. The body will not learn if one does not use it with patience. The brain is smart, but the body is a little stupid and needs repetition.
The positive side of this is that the body never forgets something once it is learned. Things you learn with your brain go away easily. We need both the brain and the body to play the piano.
I always think about athletes. Even the world class athletes begin with stretching and running. They do not start at the beginning with their own specialty. The basics come first. Pianists should be like this. We play the piano sitting down. Have you ever thought about how to sit on the chair for better piano playing? Please start with the selection of the chair. An adjustable chair is the best. Please sit properly and use the entire surface of the chair. The upper body is the heaviest portion of the body. It is easier to balance yourself on the chair if you sit on a bigger area.
The shoulders are relaxed 100%. The small of the back should be sucked in under the spine, in the same position as when you are standing beautifully.
Next I will explain the height of the chair. The form of your arms is very important. The length of the upper body and arms varies from person to person. It is not right to think that everybody has the same length in the upper torso.
At first you should relax your shoulders and then hold your upper arms sprouting from your body. Hold them in front of you. The wrists should not be tight, but have to maintain them in a certain way. Holding the wrist properly will help the fingers relax, and will allow the fingers to move freely. Some people misunderstand how to relax the wrists, and they shake their wrists up and down as they play. Fingertips are much more delicate than wrists. If the wrists are shaken, it will make the fingers stiff in order to support the wrists, and the resulting sound will lack depth.
If you can hold your arms well, please sit so you may hold your palms and fingers on the keys, always from above the keyboard. Please set the height of your chair so that you can hold your elbows and wrists horizontally against the floor. The length of the upper body and upper arms will change the height of the chair dramatically.
Play the piano freely, with your fingers. The piano keys are about five inches long. In the beginning, when you study elementary pieces, routinely use only the middle part of the keys so that you do not need to shift your body. Do not think about moving your body. Let's first start with moving your fingers. (To be continued)
Suzuki Piano Basics Foundation
August 4, 2003, 9:00 a.m.
Convention Center Room 204
The meeting was called to order by President Karen Hagberg. Thirteen members were present.
Dr. Hagberg reviewed discussion and action from the 2002 annual meeting in Louisville, Kentucky (see 2002 minutes immediately below these minutes).
The first order of business was election of officers. The slate as previously mailed to members was presented and there were no nominations from the floor. Melody Diehl moved and Vicki Seil seconded the motion that the slate be accepted. The vote was unanimous and the following officers were elected: President: Karen Hagberg; Vice-Presidents: Leah Brammer and Renee Eckis; Secretary: Cathy Hargrave; and Treasurer: Linda Nakagawa. Karen announced that Gloria Elliott has been appointed to the Board of Directors.
Treasurer Linda Nakagawa reported that the total cash on hand as of August 4, 2003 was $8,593.44. She gave a rough description of our source of funds, which include Memberships ($4500), Sale of Materials ($3,000) and Donations ($1,000). She stated that donations were considerably lower than usual this year.
Dr. Hagberg opened the floor for discussion on ways to increase donations. Suggestions offered included encouraging family/parent memberships, teachers asking families to make donations, and teachers including donations in yearly studio/registration fees. It was suggested that the need for donations be put into the newsletter and that examples of what the Foundation uses funds for include scholarships for teachers going to Japan for study to encourage more teachers to do so.
A discussion on the difficulties in getting the Japanese newsletter translated for our use resulted in unanimous consent to pay a translator to reduce the time and effort spent by Foundation officers and volunteers and to increase efficiency. Dr. Hagberg will work out details.
Dr. Hagberg and Ms. Nakagawa explained the newsletter production process, answering some questions about delays.
Linda Nakagawa reported that she has been unable to find a recording distributor since Valley Distribution closed. After discussion, Ben Smith volunteered to research and arrange to obtain a "gateway site" for the Foundation through Amazon.com. This would enable all members to order online, reduce Foundation officers' workloads, and could provide a 1% rebate to our treasury. Ben will also investigate setting up a listening guide for the general public sponsored by the Foundation through Amazon.com. [Thank you, Ben!]
Cleo Brimhall moved and the motion was seconded by Connie Snyder that the meeting be adjourned at 10:00 a.m. Motion passed and Dr. Hagberg adjourned the meeting.
Gloria Elliott, Secretary Pro-Tem
Suzuki Piano Basics Foundation
June 4, 2002, 12:30 p.m.
University of Louisville
Members Present: Lori Armstrong, Vicki Seil, Carmen Geisler, Joan Krzywicki, Jane Guerin, Mary Cowles, Hava Rogot, Libby Armour, Pam Fusselman, Sarah Neham Salz, Carole Mayers, Carol Novak, Denise Lindquist, Tanya Matsuda, Chioki Kubota, Ellen Jaco, Amy Williams, Lee Groth Olson, Ann Taylor, Malinda Rawls, Jil Lifse, Marche Altom, JoAnne Westerheide, Eloise Sanders, Linda Nakagawa, Christine Z. Mathews, Phyllis Newman, Shelley Sparks, Bonnie Latta, Vicki Merley, Christrine Albro, Melody Diehl, Suzanne Dixon, Robin Blankenship, Karen Hagberg.
President Karen Hagberg called the meeting to order at 12:35 p.m.
She began by asking for an acting Recording Secretary to take minutes in the absence of Cathy Hargrave. Carol Novak volunteered.
Karen mentioned that we always need to hear from people with various skills to volunteer for various jobs. All help is welcome.
Linda Nakagawa reported that we have presently $5,001.84 in our treasury. She has an inventory of Seizo Azuma's recent CD (with a cellist) available for purchase. Linda needs help researching a supplier for CDs since our former supplier went bankrupt. Contact Linda if you can help with this.
The slate of officers as it stands from the previous year:
President Hagberg invited further nominations from the floor. Libby Armour moved that we accept the slate of officers as it stands. The motion was seconded and passed unanimously.
President Hagberg invites input for our newsletter. She reported that our editor, Cheryl Kraft, has been dealing with the serious illness of her husband.
The members joined in to thank the officers and board for all their work.
Linda Nakagawa noted that the most important job for every member is to continue studying Piano Basics with Kataoka Sensei, to research becoming better teachers, and to work together in our respective geographical areas to help each other do research.
We discussed the frustration of feeling isolated and not receiving respect from traditional teachers, but concluded that it is best not to worry about that, but just to learn to teach better every day.
The meeting was adjourned as 12:55 p.m.
Carol Novak, Acting Recording Secretary
From: Cathy Williams Hargrave
Secretary, Piano Basics Foundation
Date: 20 August 2003
Dr. Gerald (Jerry) Kraft of Yachats, Oregon, passed away on Saturday, August 16, 2003. Although Jerry was an entomologist and not a Suzuki teacher, he was always very helpful and supportive of the Suzuki Method. He was married to Cheryl Kraft who is a Suzuki piano basics teacher, founding member of the Piano Basics Foundation, and teacher trainer for the Suzuki Association of the Americas. Jerry served the Suzuki Method in many capacities over the years. Along with Cheryl he co-founded a Suzuki center called Summerstar and co-directed an annual Suzuki Piano Teacher's Workshop in Bellingham, Washington, with Dr. Haruko Kataoka for over ten years. He was a former board member and treasurer of the Suzuki Association of the Americas. Jerry was a kind, compassionate person with a quiet spirit and a warm smile. He will be missed by many.
A memorial in honor of Jerry may be expressed in the form of donations to the Mesothelioma Applied Research Foundation, Inc. at 1609 Garden Street, Santa Barbara, CA. 93101. The website is http://www.marf.org. or to The Friends of the Yachats Commons, PO Box 435, Yachats, Oregon 97498, where a memorial park is being established in his memory.
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First Online Edition: 5 May 2004
Last Revised: 8 March 2012