Volume 10.3, May/June 2005

To facilitate, promote, and educate the public
on the way of teaching and playing the piano taught at the
Talent Education Research Institute in Matsumoto, Japan by Dr. Haruko Kataoka.

Suzuki Piano Basics Foundation News

Editors and Layout
Dr. Karen Hagberg and Teri Paradero
Mayumi Yunus - Translations
Phyllis Newman - Proofreading

Web Editors
Teri Paradero - Volume 10.3
Kenneth Wilburn, Senior Web Editor

Hard Copy Illustrations
Juri Kataoka

Leah Brammer - Media
Rita Burns - Workshops

Production and Distribution
Linda Nakagawa, Barbara Meixner, and the Sacramento Teachers Research Group

Send Articles to:
Suzuki Piano Basics Foundation
67 Shepard St., Rochester NY 14620
Fax: 585-244-3542

Linda Nakagawa
242 River Acres Drive
Sacramento, CA, USA 95831
Phone: 916-422-2952

Deadline for Next Issue: 30 June 2005

Would you like to change how you think?

By Dr. Haruko Kataoka

There is so much information about everything and it is available everywhere lately. When I see a commercial on television with famous actors and actresses, I feel as if I want to buy the product that they are trying to sell. TV stations broadcast those commercials repeatedly over and over, and the more I see them the more I believe what they say. I am brainwashed. It is not only television. When you are caught in a stream of information, it is very difficult to retain your own judgment.

Many things are now very different from the way they were in the old days, for example, how to treat the flu. When people today have flu and fever, they use their health insurance to go to a hospital and get medicine to kill the virus and lower the fever. In the old days, we simply warmed up the body, wrapped a scarf around the neck, and drank lots of water.

I saw a recent report saying that it is not good to lower a fever too quickly because a high fever can kill a virus, so I have changed my mind back to my former way of thinking. Now, when I have a symptom I think of it as a way my body is telling me about a problem. I can happily deal with such a pain without feeling I need to make it go away with medicine.

About twenty years ago I studied with Mr. Noguchi, the founder of the practice of Seitai (a natural healing method), who had conducted research to find natural ways for the human body to cure the flu without using medicine. The body can heal itself better than medicine can. Mr. Noguchi also taught me it is not a good idea to avoid the flu.

When you see something not only from one side but from many different sides, you can get more interesting results. The same is true in the field of education. In school, it is better to help develop students' concentration, patience, effort, posture (health), dreams and love than to consider only their test scores and to force them to study. Developing these other areas gives them a more promising future.

There is a wonderful parent in my studio who has a strong belief that if her child can do anything with concentration, she will let him do it without question, even if he must skip school to do it. For example, her child holds the record of playing video games for 48 hours straight. I asked him how he was able to do such a thing. He said that he played the games for two days and two nights without sleeping. He skipped school. He played as he ate. He said that it was strange to notice that, as he played the games, he sat up as straight as he does when practicing the piano. I am sure that some day this boy will be a successful researcher or businessman if he is not lazy.

If you think that "skipping school" is not good, or "playing video games" is not good, and "staying up late at night" is not good, you will become a boring person who can only follow the rules. Parents have to teach children the basics that they need to live as a person and the children have to be able to stand in the flow of society and to be able to have their own judgment. Let's change the way you think of everything and look around yourself more. I think you will be able to live a little happier.

From the Matsumoto Piano Newsletter
Vol. 11, No. 1, June 6, 2001
Translated by Mayumi Yunus
Edited by Karen Hagberg
Hard Copy Illustrations by Juri Kataoka

Going "Back Home" to Matsumoto to Prepare for a Concerto Performance

By Leah Brammer

Bria Long, my daughter and piano student for the past 14 years, first traveled with me to Japan to study with Dr. Kataoka in 1993. We returned five more times to study and perform in the 10-Piano Concerts. Immediately after graduating from high school this May, Bria left for Matsumoto to spend two intensive weeks preparing the Mozart Concerto #20 in d minor, K. 466 for a performance with orchestra in the Atlanta Suzuki Piano Associations' Graduation Concert to be held on June 18.

As I write this, Bria is in Japan. She has been able to have lessons with Keiko Kawamura every other day, and to practice 4-5 hours daily. She will perform for the teacher research group in Matsumoto at the end of her stay.

This is Bria's first trip to Japan on her own. She has been studying Japanese in school since seventh grade. She was surprised how quickly she could begin to think in Japanese.

She is staying with the family that has already hosted her several times. On the phone Bria reported that going back to Matsumoto without the other students or her mother made her feel like she was coming back home after having been gone a long time. She said she feels old now! She said that Kawamura Sensei was not surprised when being told that she sounded just like Kataoka Sensei when she was teaching. When I asked what she was learning, her first reply was: "Kawamura Sensei can play with such a beautiful tone. I have one problem which applies to all my playing: I have to use my finger pads."

Thank-you so much to Kawamura Sensei and to all the Matsumoto teachers for helping my daughter.

Recent Opportunities to Study Piano Basics that Have Come My Way

By Gretel Von Pischke

It has been exciting to have had so many opportunities to keep up with the study of Piano Basics over the past few months.

So much talent and expertise was shared in Dallas last February in an atmosphere of openness and support. In addition, there have been other workshops scattered round the country at which highly skilled Piano Basics trainers have freely shared their skills for the benefit of both teachers and students.

Linda Nakagawa visited southern Virginia and North Carolina last October. Cathy Hargrave taught 47 students from four different teachers at my studio in Reston, Virginia in April and also worked with five teachers.

Piano Basics constantly challenges us to rethink the most fundamental processes of teaching and producing sound on our instrument. We work on some aspects and then find we have neglected others that perhaps we once did well but somehow overlooked while working on other points. As we continue studying we gain deeper insights. It is gratifying that we have teachers in our organization who are willing to help us with these learning processes both at larger teacher workshops and by visiting studios around the country

I was amused recently by an article in the magazine The Economist about "self interested people who freely share technical talent" rather than saving their knowledge for their own exclusive use. Dr. Kataoka showed us by her example how we might do this and we continue to benefit not only from her spirit of generous sharing but her urging of us to do likewise. I paraphrase some of the points made in The Economist. This type of cooperation "breeds reciprocity and trust to the benefit of all." We gain "experience and prestige as well as find sharing to be fun." There are network effects also. "The more people there are who demonstrate the value of these skills, the more demand there will be for them!" So let's hope that we will continue to find opportunities to develop our teaching and playing techniques, because, as my husband says, "If you can't C# you will Bb."

They came, they came, at last they came! What? What came?

By Leanne Anderson

The cherry blossoms and the American teachers, both at the same time. And it was great.

Pink cherry trees bloom at home too, but it's not important. We walk outside one day and, ah, look, the cherry tree bloomed. How nice. We might even mention to a friend, "Hey, the pink trees are out. Pretty, huh."

Not so in Japan. These little pink and white flowers attract national attention: Newscasters interview them, radio talk show hosts debate them, fashion designers model them, restaurants and tea shops serve them, and Moms buy Cherry blossom desserts at Safeway or Albertson's. The weatherman predicts just when which trees will bloom: Alps Park is 30% out now, after tomorrow's rain we'll have sun through the rest of the week so expect full bloom by Friday or Saturday. And then everyone can plan their Cherry Tree Parties.

Six American teachers and two from Singapore arrived just in time to party with us. From April 11-20 they watched lessons, attended a concert, and researched together with the Matsumoto teachers. Mei Ihara and Rae Kate Shen, from Orange County and Redlands, California, stayed with me at the Koiwai's. I didn't want to let them go home, and not just because Mei's Chinese food is so good. Talking with these two ladies really encouraged me.

But they all had to go home. The rain, mingled with cherry blossoms, fell on the train platform as they boarded, bound for Tokyo.

Life's moments are so brief,
A song starts, and then it's done.
A flower blooms, and then it's gone.
A friend comes, and then they leave.
And sometimes you don't get to see
them again.
Grampa died last April. I don't remember if Cherry Trees bloomed then in Idaho.
They must have.

Just yesterday the brevity of things hit me again. I sat listening to Ogiwara Sensei teach 6- and 7-year-olds, but instead of listening my mind was off planning the rest of my week. "Leanne, you're like a cook with no time to taste her food!" the thought came. I tried to listen, but I couldn't. I tried again, I lasted about two minutes. Finally, the last hour or so, my concentration improved. You know, I managed to enjoy some nice music.

How silly, that a musician can't even listen to music . But it's true. I have too much I want to get done to enjoy what I do. And doing my life matters more than searching for the God who gives me life to do it with.

A few cherry trees are still pink and the mountains look sharp against the blue sky. Maybe I'll leave early this morning so I can notice them as I ride.

Our Stay in Matsumoto

By Mei Ihara (Orange, California) and
Rae Kate Shen (Redlands, California)

Saturday, April 16th 2005

When we sat down to write this message, we had been in Matsumoto for five days already. On Monday evening when we arrived at the Matsumoto train station, the Japanese teachers and home stay families were waiting for us. They gave us a warm welcome before they took us home.

Our daily schedule for staying in Matsumoto was already prearranged. On the first day, we were brought to Dr. Kataoka's gravesite. The cemetery is at the top of a hill with a beautiful view. All the teachers were given time individually to pay their respects to our Master teacher, Kataoka Sensei. Afterwards, the Matsumoto teachers took us to Sensei's favorite Chinese restaurant. That afternoon our work began.

Each day comprised of observation of student lessons given by different Matsumoto teachers. We were fortunate to be able to participate in two research meetings as well as have individual lessons ourselves.

Yesterday's research meeting was special because some of the out of town Japanese teachers came to join us. The highlight of the day was teatime and fellowship together.

Tomorrow is Sunday, and we are invited to a concert given by Suzuki Piano students from different cities. The concert hall is located in South Minowa Village, about an hour South of Matsumoto by car.

The cherry blossoms are in full bloom and are absolutely beautiful throughout the city. Our departure from Matsumoto in a few days is coming up all too soon. This has been an incredible studying experience that we have never had before. Although Sensei is no longer here the spirit of her teaching is still present. We hope all of us can continue researching and studying as Sensei guided us to.

Studying in Matsumoto

By Rita Burns (Carmichael, California)

Wow, do I feel fortunate. Eight teachers, (Mei Ihara & Rae Kate Shen from southern California, Linda Nakagawa & me from Sacramento, Ca., Renee Eckis from Pasco Wa., Chisa Aoki from Canada, and two teachers from Singapore all flew to Japan and met at the train station in Tokyo on our way to Matsumoto on April 10). Our quest was to sharpen our teaching skills by both having a lesson and observing the experts (Keiko Kawamura, Keiko Nozawa, Hisayo Kubota, Keiko Ogiwara, and Ayako Fujiwara teach their students).

We not only had one lesson, but three and had the opportunity to get feedback from all of the teachers when we all played "down ups" with each hand alone on the Twinkle theme. We were all so different with different issues. Each teacher tried her best and was very open to suggestions. It was a great feeling. There was a good atmosphere of trust among us all. If you live near another Suzuki teacher, please take the opportunity to help one another. Everyone needs a coach.

Renee & I stayed with a wonderful family who had four children ages 10, 8, 4, and 2. The three oldest had lessons with Kawamura Sensei. We had the added benefit to observe how a Japanese family practices, plays the CD, etc.

The 10-year-old was playing 2 Minuets and Gigue, the eight-year-old was at the beginning of Book 3, and the 4-year-old was just starting with Twinkles. Their mother worked at her son's preschool from 2:00 to 5:00 in the afternoons every day and Dad was a physician.

We were awakened each morning at 6:00 a.m. with the sounds of Two Minuets and Gigue played by the ten-year-old. After breakfast, Mom quite often did "Ready Go's" on Twinkle A and painstakingly helped her four-year-old play with good tone on Twinkle D.

The middle of the second week Mom got the flu and had a fever, so Renee and I offered to help practice with the two oldest. To say that they were overjoyed to practice is quite an overstatement. They were like all of our students. They cried, stalled, and complained, but got through it. We never saw Mom practice with the older girls because we were never home in the afternoons or early evenings, but they played well and Mom took copious notes at their lessons even with a rambunctious two-year-old at her side.

Renee and I had some great outings with our family (Dad and the 2 older girls). Mom stayed home with the younger two because she was sick). After the concert in Minowa we took the girls to an obstacle course in a beautiful park. We also went "strawberry tasting" in a beautiful town in the mountains.

The picture of us all is at the Hotel Buena Vista in Matsumoto where we enjoyed a very special lunch together. Many courses were beautifully presented to us. The servers answered our questions about the food and were very attentive and gracious.

On April 20 we all met at the train station (Chisa stayed a little longer) to go to Tokyo for the long trip home.

Again, the basics are a little clearer. I will never tire nor never know all there is to learn from observing the Matsumoto teachers. I am just grateful to have the opportunity. We will see four of the Matsumoto teachers in Sacramento this August for the Ten Piano Concert. If you can come, please attend and observe the Japanese in action. It is certainly a shorter trip than traveling to Japan. It is a wonderful opportunity.

Suzuki Piano Basics Discography:

To access this new resource go to the address and click on the Suzuki Piano Basics Discography link on the tool bar at the top of the page. You will be taken to the Suzuki Piano Basics Discography website starting with Volume 4. Volumes 1-7 are available as well as selected books and DVDs.

When you click on an item's description you will be taken to where you have the opportunity to purchase the product and/or research through reviews and sound clips of the recordings, books and DVDs.

Please send corrections to Kenneth Wilburn, Senior Web Editor

To the Kataoka Sensei Memorial.
To the Suzuki Piano Basics Home Page.

First Online Edition: 26 July 2005
Last Revised: 9 March 2012