Vol. 10.5 September/October 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
Carol Wunderle - Vol. 10.5
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

Next Deadline: October 20, 2005

The Difficulty of Communicating with Words

By Dr. Haruko Kataoka

From the Matsumoto Piano Newsletter
Vol.12 No.4, September 2, 2002
Translated by Mayumi Yunus
Edited by Karen Hagberg
Hard Copy Illustrations by Juri Kataoka

As always, I took some students to the United States during summer vacation. Before we left, I held a meeting with teachers and parents and told them what to take along with them and what to be careful about. We were going to Atlanta, Georgia and Sacramento, California. Both cities are very hot in the summer, and the buildings are very cold because of strong air conditioning. I particularly asked the parents to make sure the children brought warm sweaters. If is not good to cool children’s bodies in the summer. Doing this might make them sick and cause them to perform poorly in the concert.When we arrived at Spivey Hall in Atlanta where the workshop was held, it was so hot outside and so cold inside. The building was like a refrigerator. However, nobody had a wool sweater even though I had asked the parents to pack them. They had brought only very thin summer clothes. Why?

It was too late to regret the situation. Probably the parents have never experienced such air conditioning. They may understand, in their heads, what I said, but they did not understand from the bottom of their hearts. Only people who experienced it would really understand what it is.

As a result, there were some students who became sick to the point of having a fever. I really do not understand why the hall is kept so cold. They say it is for the pipe organ...

American people don’t seem to mind the cold temperature. They have air conditioners at home, too. They have already become accustomed to living life with central air conditioning. There is no central air conditioning in Japan. People have not become used it, so we get sick easily when there is a large temperature difference between inside and outside.

It is the same story when I teach piano. Parents and students often do not really understand what I say. I explain what I want them to do and I think they understand, but a week later I find out that they actually did not understand what I said. Even though I am very careful about explaining, sometimes it just does not work. So, I sigh and try to explain again. I usually try to say the same thing about three times, but by fourth or fifth time, I get angry. I feel bad for the students and for myself. After all, it is entirely my fault. I do not have the ability to tell my students what I want them to do. There are certain things like “Relax your body,” or “Concentrate on your lower back,” that I seem to have to say over and over. Students will not understand if you say something just once or twice. If you really want your students to understand, you need patience. You need time. Old people say, “Practice the same thing one million times.” People who teach understand this saying and routinely tell students the same thing over and over until they get it.

The other teachers and I had a meeting when we came back from our trip, and one of the teachers said, “Our meeting was useless. Even though we asked them so many times to bring warm clothes, they did not.”

I said, “The meeting was not useless. We just do not have the ability to tell them what we want them to do yet.” So we all learned a lesson.

It is so difficult to tell people, with words, what you really mean.

The 2005 10-Piano Concert in Sacramento:

The Many “Hats” I Wore

by Pam Fusselman (Omaha, Nebraska)

At this writing I am still exhausted and exhilarated from this year’s 10-Piano Concert in Sacramento. This was not my first experience there. In 2003 I expressed a strong desire actually to perform in the concert. How else could I obtain a sense of “10-Piano Concert” to relate to my students? I felt I could not give them something that I do not know about. Linda Nakagawa was brave and kind when she allowed me to play the Spiritoso from Clementi’s Sonatina, Op.36, no.3 that year.

These concerts are not fun-they’re better than fun!
Afterwards, I was able to speak from experience when answering my student who asked if 10-Piano Concerts were “fun.” I could answer, “No, fun is what you will have the day you go to Six Flags. Fun happens to you for a little bit and then it is gone when you get out of bed the next morning. The 10-Piano Concert is hours of hard work, moments of fright, and then months and months of joy. It is much better than fun.”

I now understand why students return to participate even after their high school years are behind them. I believe my students when they tell me they “have to go back.”

Understanding how students learn and do everything with ease.
This year, never having taught the piece I was asked to perform, the Allegro from Mozart’s Sonata K.545, I learned it more like a student than a teacher. When playing a piece that I have taught, I usually visualize the score as I play. The written music becomes an important part of how I know the piece. But this Mozart is different. I listened a lot and consulted the score in the beginning to make sure the fingerings were correct, but then didn’t use it much after that. So when I am working on a section, if you were to put the score in front of me and point to what I’m supposed to be thinking about, it will take me a while, because the score is not that connected to how I see and hear the piece. I watched several students experience this during the rehearsals. When a teacher put the score in front of a student who was trying to find the practice spot it did not help that much. In fact, it was a more complicated process! I hope to remember this and allow my students more time to find that connection when we are working at a lesson.

As a teacher, I was keenly aware that students can easily accomplish things that I have to work hard to do. They probably took little or no time to memorize the notes, for example, and I cannot even say how long it took me. They come to the piano with the habit of using their bodies correctly, while I battle the bad habits of my past. They were taught to listen to their sound from the beginning, while I struggle to hear myself. They can play with a quiet mind, while I’m trying to hush the teacher within that will not let me rest when things are not perfect.

What we have in common.
There are similarities. We all wanted to succeed for ourselves and for others, whether it was our parents or our teachers or our students. We all labored under the burden of knowing that our mistake becomes everyone’s mistake. We all practiced more seriously in the last few days. And we all left the stage with the delight that comes from finishing something we worked hard to accomplish.

What an amazing experience for my students who played. I am excited for them because I know they are going to be happy that they made the effort to do this. I was interested to see what they could learn in an environment so different from home. They learn to practice better. We both learn how to better prepare their pieces as we take to heart the assignments given by the fine teachers who conduct the rehearsals. What a gift they are given when they hear a demonstration from Keiko Kawamura! They must keep the memory of this sound forever so that they may accomplish a more beautiful tone!

The challenge of footstools.
This year was my first try at doing footstools for the concert. I was thankful both for the assignment and for the good help and advice that was given by other teachers as I struggled to do on-the-job training. Certainly, a person doesn’t want to make any mistakes here either! It was probably also a blessing to be so busy trying to do footstools that I only had time to change into concert attire and stand in line for a few moments before performing. This did not allow much time for the inner-teacher to force its way into my thoughts!

A 10-Piano Concert would be mere fun if it was just about getting together and playing some pieces. Because we all came together for our students in order to improve their musical skills and to give them an experience of a lifetime, it was a source of great joy for me. Thank you everyone.

Suzuki Piano Basics Foundation Website

What was I Thinking?

A Teacher Performs at the 10-Piano Concert

by Carol Novak (Omaha, Nebraska)

What in the world was I thinking?! How did I end up here? These were some of the thoughts going through my mind on Wednesday, August 10 as our group was rehearsing for the 10-piano concert in Sacramento, just three days before the big event.

My Background
Let me give you some background. I have taught Suzuki Piano Basics since the fall of 1981. Although I play piano and organ for my church, I have never considered myself a performer. In fact, my 20-something daughters are quick to remind me that I am a piano teacher, NOT a pianist. And here I was--preparing the 1st movement of Mozart’s Sonata, K. 545. This is a piece I have seldom taught and had never performed. The last time I performed a piano piece from memory was at my senior recital in college --a very long time ago. I am sure you are wondering: how did it go? Was it worth it? My response is a certain, “YES!”

Bringing the Experience Home
I returned to my usual teaching schedule yesterday. I am just beginning to see the fruits of the time, effort and energy that I gave as I practiced and rehearsed for the 10-Piano Concert. I assign repeated practice of small sections but I hardly ever do that kind of practice on a daily basis myself. Now I understand more fully what it means to know a piece inside and out.

challenging piece in the 10-piano concert, I feel better prepared to assist my students with their performances. I have learned more about breathing, focusing my mind when practicing and performing, how to handle nervousness and excitement.

As I observed rehearsals, I tried to absorb the amazing tone of the teachers from Japan. I need to keep that sound in my ear, in my imagination, in my tone. I have come away with a new resolve to sing with my students and to encourage the parents to sing also. I now have new ideas.

Thanks to my Friend
My friend and co-teacher, Pam Fusselman, deserves much of the credit for all that I learned and gained from this experience. We prepared our piece together, meeting at least bi-monthly for five months to practice and talk through our questions and frustrations. Having a practice partner during the two weeks of rehearsals helped us both. We could encourage and discipline each other. Even keep the other person awake after three hours of practicing! I want to continue to research piano technique and tone through our teachers’ group here in Nebraska and through my own practice and study. I am thankful that Kataoka-Sensei and Dr. Suzuki did not give us a recipe book of how to teach and how to play our instrument. Instead they both encouraged us to search for ourselves, challenged us to grow as musicians, as teachers, as people. We need to live up to this legacy.

Participating in the 10-piano concert has taken me one step closer to this goal.

Our heartfelt thanks to those teachers from Japan who came to help us with the 10-Piano Concert.
They are: Keiko Ogiwara Sensei, Hisayo Kubota Sensei, Keiko Kawamura Sensei demonstrating tone and technique, Keiko Nozawa Sensei with her 4-year old son Daisuke. Hard copy Photos of the teachers is by Kyle Kumasaki.

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 DVD's.

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.

Lessons from Kataoka Sensei, I

Why We Need Acoustic Instruments

by Karen Hagberg

In the wake of the wonderful 10-Piano Concert in Sacramento, now is a good time to remind ourselves of some basic lessons we learned from Dr. Kataoka. As she would always say, important lessons must be repeated over and over.

A 10-Piano Concert is a massive undertaking. Ask Linda Nakagawa about that! So many students must be prepared to play well at a given time. So many logistics must be worked out about the housing of visiting teachers and students. The program must be written, designed and printed. Advertising must be sold. Rehearsal space must be secured. So many things.

Most important, and perhaps the most problematic, is the difficulty of getting ten pianos in one place and having them tuned together. This is an extremely cumbersome and costly procedure. Moving just a single piano is quite a project, as we all know. And having a single piano tuned is expensive enough, and takes time.

Why Go to All This Trouble?
Why, we must ask ourselves, do we go to all this trouble? I ask this question particularly because there are many people out there who do not really seem to know why. Such people wonder why we don’t simply use digital keyboards that are easy to move, require no tuning, and are, consequently, much less expensive and problematic. The salespeople these days are beginning to convince their customers, many of whom are professional piano teachers, that these keyboards are now virtually indistinguishable from the real thing.

We all need to know the truth about this matter. Increasingly, we have had parents call and ask why they need a real acoustic instrument, as they too have been proselytized by the sales people. We teachers need to be good at answering this question when people ask us.

Staying in the Real World
Our world of technology is providing us with a virtual, fake reality. We have foods that look like the real thing, but that are processed or genetically engineered so that they can be shipped great distances and sit on a shelf for weeks without spoiling. We have “fabrics” that are basically made of plastic. We have television that brings pictures of real life into our homes. We have artificial scents in our cleaning products and cosmetics and artificial flavorings in our foods. Technology, while solving many problems, is taking us further and further from the reality of the world. But this natural reality is the very basis for the aesthetic and the beautiful in our lives. It is the real thing.

Dr. Kataoka always promoted the value of genuine reality. Yes, technology has spawned new forms of art and music, but there is value in acoustic sound, the same way that there is value in the flavor of an organic apple. The music that we study, when played on an acoustic instrument by a human being, is capable of producing sound that literally can lift us up toward heaven. Artificial sound is nothing like that, and it is a tragedy that some people have become deaf to the difference after hearing fake sounds and noise from morning to night in our technological environment. It is a tragedy that there are some people who can walk into a church and not know whether the organ is electronic or not, who can attend a Broadway show and not hear that the “orchestra” is no longer real, and who can hear a singer and not be able to tell whether or not the voice is coming through a microphone.

Help Parents Understand
When a parent asks you why a digital keyboard is not ok for their beginning 4-year-old when the salesperson has explained that the digital is now just as good as an expensive grand piano, begin by pointing out that artists do not perform on digital instruments in the classical world. And then explain that a child’s body cannot be taught to produce natural sound on something that has no natural sound and that cannot respond to the way the body is being used. Talk about ear training and compare it with eating real food as opposed to processed food. Those who are brought up on processed food lose their taste for the foods that are good for their health. By the same token, those who hear only electronically produced sound lose their ability to hear and to appreciate the real thing. The ears of very young children are particularly sensitive, and can be easily ruined unless adults around them take care to teach them to hear and appreciate natural sounds.

We can be sure that every student, even the youngest one, appreciates the quality and uniqueness of ten grand pianos on one stage. The children know that we adults have gone to great lengths to provide them with such wonderful instruments. They know that we did not settle for the cheap, virtual version of the real thing. They know this is the real thing.

High Quality Environment
Providing a high quality environment for young children is the basis of their education. Put them in a mediocre environment and they will learn mediocrity. Put them in a virtual environment and they confuse it with the real thing to the point where they cannot tell the difference.

We teachers have a responsibility to stand up for what we know is true and genuine. The people who sell digital pianos have no such responsibility, and we need to stand our ground against their persuasive sales pitch. It is our responsibility to educate children.

Upcoming Suzuki Piano Basics Workshops/Events

September 23-25, 2005
Portland, Oregon
Workshop with Linda Nakagawa
Contact: Connie Snyder

October 7-9, 2005
Atlanta, Georgia
Workshop with Linda Nakagawa
Contact: Kathy Sheeley

October 10, 2005
Richmond, Virginia
Workshop with Linda Nakagawa
Contact: Karmalita Bawar

October 11, 2005
Chesapeake Bay, Virginia
Workshop with Linda Nakagawa
Contact: Melody Diehl

October 14-15, 2005
Phoenix, Arizona
Workshop with Karen Hagberg
Contact: Vicki Seil

October 17-18, 2005
Tucson, Arizona
Workshop with Karen Hagberg
Contact: Ann Taylor

October 21, 2005
Los Angeles, California
Workshop with Linda Nakagawa
Contact: Rae Kate Shen

November 3-6, 2005
Rochester, New York
Teacher Research Workshop
Contact: Karen Hagberg

January 13-16, 2006
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Workshop with Karen Hagberg
Contact: Kathy Moser

February 3-4, 2006
Phoenix, Arizona
Workshop with Karen Hagberg
Contact: Vicki Seil

February 24-26, 2006
University of Redlands, California
Workshop with Cathy Hargrave
Contact: Rae Kate Shen

March 10-12, 2006
Atlanta, Georgia
Workshop with Karen Hagberg
Contact: Leah Brammer

April 30, 2006
10-Piano Concert, Matsumoto, Japan
Contact Karen Hagberg


Compact Discs

Dr. Haruko Kataoka performs Suzuki Piano Repertoire volume 1
Member Price: $14.00; Non-member $17.00
Dr. Haruko Kataoka performs Suzuki Piano Repertoire volume 2
Member Price: $14.00; Non-member: $17.00
Dr. Haruko Kataoka performs Suzuki Piano Repertoire volume 3
Member Price: $14.00; Non-member $17.00

Additional Discography

Seizo Azuma, piano, JUST ARRIVED: only 5 available: Schubert Four Impromptus, Op. 90/ Beethoven Sonata No. 8, Op. 13, c minor, “Pathetique” / Beethoven Sonata No. 26, Op. 81a, Eb major, “Das Lebewohl”

Member Price: $24.00; Non-Member Price: $29.00

Seizo Azuma, piano, NOW AVAILABLE! La Campanella –F. Liszt “Favorites” La chasse, 4 Valses oubliees, no. 1/ Consolation No. 3/ Au bord d’une source,/ Ballade No. 2/Sposalizio/ La Campanella/ Sonetto 104 del Petrarca/ Ungarische Rhapsodie No. 2/Liebestraume, no. 3

Member Price: $17.00; Non-Member Price: $20.00

Mineo Hayashi, cello; Seizo Azuma, piano, Fun Classics, 12 Pieces:The Swan/Après un Rêve/Clair de Lune/Prayer from “Jewish Life”/Song of the Birds/ Paraphrase on a Japanese Folk tune Sakur, Sakura/ Song without Words in D major Op. 109/ Etude, Op. 8 No. 11, Bb minor/ Songs my Mother taught me Op. 55 no. 4/ Elegy Op. 24 / Adagio und Allegro in A-flat major Op. 70/ Polonaise Brilliante, Op. 3, C major

Member Price: $20.00; Non-Member Price: $25.00

Mineo Hayashi, cello, Six Suites for solo cello, by J. S. Bach
Member Price: $28.00; Non-Member Price: $30.00


April, 1996 Matsumoto 10-Piano Concert
Member Price: $100.00; Non-Member Price: $120.00

August 1999 Suzuki Piano Basics International 10-Piano Concert, Sacramento
Member Price: $50.00; Non-Member Price: $65.00

November 2000 Matsumoto 10-Piano Concert
Member Price: $100.00; Non-Member Price: $120.00

August 2001 Suzuki Piano Basics International 10-Piano Concert, Sacramento
Member Price: $50.00; Non-Member: $65.00

April, 2002 Matsumoto 10-Piano Concert
Member Price: $100.00; Non-Member Price: $120.00

August 2003 Suzuki Piano Basics International 10-Piano Concert, Sacramento
Member Price: $50.00; Non-Member: $65.00

November, 2003 Matsumoto 10-Piano Concert (DVD)
Member Price: $100.00; Non-Member: $120.00

NEW! Memorial Concert held in Matsumoto, July 28, 2004, featuring Seizo Azuma and other distinguished former students.
Member Price: $45.00

NEW! Suzuki Piano Basics International 10-Piano Concert, Sacramento 2005 (DVD)
Member Price: $50.00; Non-Member: $65.00


Dr. Haruko Kataoka Sensibility and Education, 2nd printing
Member Price: $12.00; Non-Member: $14.00

Dr. Shinichi Suzuki Nurtured by Love
Member Price: $13.00; Non-Member: $16.00

Dr. Haruko Kataoka Thoughts on the Suzuki Piano School
Member Price: $6.00; Non-Member: $8.00

Dr. Haruko Kataoka My Thoughts on Piano Technique
Member Price: $6.00; Non-Member: $8.00

Dr. Haruko Kataoka How to teach beginners
Member Price: $12.00; Non-Member: $14.00

Full color edition of Memorial Piano Basics Foundation Newsletter
Member Price: $5.00; Non-Member: $10.00

NEW ! Print of pencil portrait of Kataoka Sensei, 6”h x 4” w, drawn in Matsumoto in 1992. Drawn and donated by Huub de Leeuw. (Proceeds to benefit the Memorial Fund.)
Member Price: $20.00; Non-Member: $25.00

NEW! 10-Piano Poster: 1999,2001, 2003, 2005
Member Price: $10.00; Non-Member: $15.00

NEW! 10-Piano Poster: 2001 Autographed by Dr. Kataoka and Juri Kataoka
Member Price: $25.00; Non-Member: $30.00

NEW! 10-Piano Poster: 2003 Autographed by Dr. Kataoka
Member Price: $25.00; Non-Member: $30.00

Sorry, we do not accept credit cards. To order, make check payable to: Piano Basics Foundation and send to:
Piano Basics Foundation
242 River Acres Dr.
Sacramento, CA 95831

Please send corrections to Kenneth Wilburn, Senior Web Editor

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

First Online Edition: 31 January 2006
Last Revised: 9 March 2012