Vol. 10.6 November/December 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 - Volume 10.6
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: December 20, 2005

The World of Nothing

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

I was not very interested to see Olympic Games on TV even though the event happens only once in four years, because I did not think the Japanese team would do very well. However, once it started I was very impressed, not only by the athletics but also by the artistic aspect of the Games. In the event called “Aerial Skiing” I saw some ski jumps which seem almost impossible for a human to do. Watching this and other Olympic events actually helped me study piano technique.

It is unreal to see people jumping and turning in the air and landing on the snow with great body balance. In the pair figure skating, men easily lift women while skating on the ice and I even saw a woman lift a man. It was amazing to see.

The most incredible event was the Aerial skiing. The gold medalist turned three times and twisted 5 times in the air with heavy skis. The wonderful part was the landing. I wonder how they can land so well.

It is impossible to do those wonderful sports with only the power of a single human being. The Earth belongs to the entire universe and is controlled by the rules of universe. Within these rules, humans are very small, like amoebas, and have no power. However, the only reason humans can do such amazing things is because they are borrowing power from the universe. By simply obeying the rules of the universe, anything becomes possible. Humans must come to nothing and concentrate in order to find this point of balance. Coming to nothing makes everything possible, but it is not easy. God will never let lazy people do it.

You have to work hard every day forever. It is not easy. It is not as if you can do it tomorrow simply because you could do it today. Even some contenders who were considered “perfect” athletes made mistakes during the Olympics because they lost their balance. In sports you have to find your balance using your body, and you have to do it every day. The great athletes simply repeat good practice, and are able actually to do this in the world of nothingness.

It is the same for piano. We need to teach our students what kind of practice will help them find the world of nothingness and thereby how to enjoy the wonderful world of music.

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.

The Importance of the Suzuki Piano Basics Teacher Research Workshop in Rochester

by Ann Taylor (Tucson, Arizona)

I always prefer to be in win-win situations. Rochester was a win-win. From my perspective, I saw students being taught by superb teachers, teachers watching great teaching, teachers having great lessons, and, if that were not enough, teachers with a performance opportunity! (Admittedly very scary, but an important self-check).

All that seems like enough for four days, but there were many more wins than that! Over breakfast, lunch and dinner we discussed what we know, want to know, and need to know. We went to a great concert, had a calming yoga session, enjoyed a friendship concert, became very tired and generally celebrated being together and learning together.

Sounds like a good workshop? Even like those we had while we still had Dr. Kataoka with us? To me, what really made Rochester important was researching together, to be still growing in the Basics. As Suzuki teachers, we stress the importance of environment in learning. Rochester did exactly that – set up an environment that encouraged and supported Basics Teachers. Our individual need is to grow through research in Basics. This Basic was nurtured in Rochester.

Four From Utah to Rochester

by Cleo Ann Brimhall (Salt Lake City, Utah)

Four teachers from Utah determined to make the cross-country trek to Rochester to research together. What a wonderful experience we had. Not only was it motivating to meet so many teachers from so many areas of the country, we each were able to clarify and answer the questions we arrived with and discuss the highlights of the experience with each other.

(Hard copy photo of O'Hare Airport in Chicago on the way to Rochester , from left to right: Cleo Ann Brimhall, Suzanne Snow, Billie Tuttle, and Nila Ledesma)

What did I learn generally from this most recent research session? If I narrowed it to one point it would be “Be still.” There is too much busy-ness. Sometimes it is our minds that are too busy and we cannot focus on just the one issue at hand. Sometimes it is our hands that are too busy and we cannot move freely at the keyboard. Sometimes it is our lives that are too busy and we cannot focus on the things that really matter to us. Isn’t it amazing how one concept can have such a universal feel to it? When we teach, there is a tendency to be "busy" doing too many things. I was impressed at the workshop that there was always time – time to go over the point with MANY repetitions in order to make it really internalized. Be Still and Take the Time to do it correctly. Not so much busy-ness during the lesson.

What did I learn personally? How often did Sensei tell me that I was smart and understood things very quickly, BUT I did not take the time to put them into my body. It goes along with the busy-ness. I came to the workshop feeling that I knew what I would encounter for my lesson, the performance, and everything. And then when it came time to do it – guess what? My mind knew very well and my body failed me. Big surprise? It was just a real wake-up call.

I am sure that each one at the workshop had their own general and personal learning experiences. That is the beauty of the nature of the study. We come to the well together and leave with exactly what we need. I realized more than ever, that our research sessions have many purposes. 1. We get together and study tone production – or playing technique – or whatever our personal definition of “Basics” happens to be. This is when our previous study with Kataoka Sensei kicks in and we remember those things we have heard before (and I recommit to researching at the piano even more carefully and more often). 2. We watch our colleagues teach and be taught. We watch the students have focused lessons. This is a wonderful new bonus in our research. We learn so much to improve our teaching skills. There are so many gifted teachers in our group. I suppose gifted is not a very Suzuki-like term. I mean those with much experience who are incorporating this experience to such a high level. It is a joy to watch this teaching and to glean new ideas and reinforce previous ones. 3. I had a colleague who early in our Suzuki training mentioned how important it was to travel and to immerse ourselves in the “methodology.” Many of us have had so many years of traditional training and even traditional teaching experience. If we do not constantly renew our study of Piano Basics we tend to gravitate back to our traditional ways. Just being together is a motivation to carry on with energy. Looking forward to our next time together, hoping we can host the Piano Basics teachers in Utah sometime soon.

Suzuki Piano Basics Foundation Website

My Experience in Rochester

by George Thigpen, spouse of Marile Thigpen (Potomic Falls, Virginia)

Marile told me that it was about time for the husband-of-the teacher to write an item for the newsletter, to give a different perspective of how things went at the recent Rochester workshop. At previous workshops I would often sneak in some quality time sitting in a darkened corner of an auditorium watching the incomparable Kataoka Sensei. But this time, there was no safe place for a husband to hide and observe in silent amusement. So, what do I have to offer about a workshop I really didn’t attend?

That was before the Friendship Concert on Saturday night! Magnificent! This was the culmination of the workshop and what this Rochester workshop and all the previous ones are all about: to refresh your spirits and hone your skills so that you can return to your studios and continue the important work you are doing. Very important work, to nurture the innate talents in music that Dr. Suzuki knew all children have.

Marile remarked at the concert’s end, that this one had been the best ever. I think I agree. From the very beginners to the budding professionalism of the more advanced, all were imbued with the joy of making music to the best they could, for themselves and the audience. The younger ones were clearly mentored by their more advanced “colleagues,” and I suspect, just maybe, after having the opportunity to perform in such a classy venue, piano performance will become at least as desirable, and possibly more so for them, than soccer excellence. In the future, I look forward to more of these wonderful concerts, the fruition of all the hard work of the teachers of Suzuki Piano Basics.

(Hard copy Photo by Nila Ledesma of the final bow at the Friendship Concert at the Hochstein Performance Hall, Rochester, New York, November, 5, 2005.)

Rochester Magic

By Christine Albro (Cary, North Carolina)

On November 2, 2005, 27 Suzuki Piano Basics Teachers began to converge on Rochester, New York for a research workshop at the Hagberg Studio. Teachers came from twelve states as well as Ontario, Canada. It was singularly appropriate that the workshop began on November 2. That is All Soul’s Day a time to remember those who have died. We all were sharing our memories of Kataoka Sensei and honoring her constant request to “research.” The weather was beautiful, with temperatures in the 60’s, sunny days, and foliage of brilliant scarlet, crimson, gold and bright yellow, with breezes to whirl the leaves around through the air. I saw pink roses blooming in Upstate New York in November! They reminded me of Sensei, who loved the color pink.

Karen Hagberg had carefully planned out our time from Wednesday night through Sunday afternoon. We had a wonderful dinner reception at Karen and Dorothy’s on Wednesday evening. We enjoyed catching up with old friends as well as partaking of the good food.

(Hard copy photo by Billie Tuttle of Cathy Hargrave teaching Sarah DiMino, student of Rochester teacher, Lisa Cash.)

Thursday morning and early afternoon were devoted to teacher lessons. Every teacher who came had chosen one of the other teachers (who had volunteered) for an individual lesson. We all played “Twinkles” and progressed in our research of tone and how to produce it. In the afternoon there were student master classes. In the evening there was a wonderful Chinese banquet, and then we had the marvelous opportunity to enjoy a concert of the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra in the Eastman Theater. On Friday we continued with teacher lessons and student lessons. Students had come from six different states to study, and observing teachers found their lessons very helpful. The student lessons were our lessons too. Observing the many teachers reminds us of all the different basic skills we must strive to impart to our own students. Saturday morning was spent on student master classes. In the afternoon we had a teacher recital. All the teachers put on their performance clothes, and we played “Happy Farmer” for one another on the nine-foot Steinway in the Hochstein Performance Hall. Later in the afternoon, the students had their dress rehearsal. The teachers who had no students along had a free afternoon. Our group went shopping up and down Monroe Avenue! In the evening there was an amazing Friendship Concert. The students’ beautiful tone reminded us why we keep striving. Music is the universal language, understood by all cultures and age groups.

Sunday, November 6, our final day, was spent doing student master classes in the morning and teacher lessons in the afternoon. The beautiful weather, which we had enjoyed until the afternoon lesson time, finally broke with gusty winds, rain, thunder and lightening, even hail. Our magic time had to come to an end, but we all, I am sure, left the Hagberg Studio greatly enriched by this interval of study and idea sharing!

Thank you Karen, Dorothy, Lisa and Teri for this much-appreciated Suzuki Piano Basics Research Workshop!!

Lessons from Kataoka Sensei, II

Why We Need Two Pianos for Teaching

by Karen Hagberg

Apparently, in the old days at the Talent Education Institute in Matsumoto when piano was just beginning to be taught there, Kataoka Sensei requested a second piano for the teaching studio but Dr. Suzuki saw no need to provide one. She tried all kinds of persuasions and arguments. She pointed out that Dr. Suzuki himself would not think of teaching without having his own violin in his hands for instant demonstrations during lessons. She mentioned the time wasted by having to ask a student to get up while she sat to demonstrate something, or the awkwardness of a demonstration that happened if she had to reach around a student to do it–and that such a demonstration showed nothing of body balance or good physical piano technique. But no amount of convincing worked. She ended up purchasing the school’s second piano herself. And, as years went on, she took it upon herself to furnish the other piano studios at the school and frequently to upgrade the school’s pianos. During the years I was in Japan, she had begun holding an annual garage sale on a grand scale that had become the talk of Matsumoto (in Japan, garage sales are not routine). That event raised tens of thousands of dollars for the school’s piano fund.

One thing I really liked about Sensei is that she did not take “no” for an answer. Had she tried to remain content with her single piano years ago, our teaching would be very different today. We would be bringing our students into a different world.

When the teacher has no instrument on which to demonstrate, sh/e is moved to resort to explanations. I remember my own lessons as a child. Although I had three different teachers, they all taught me at my home on my single piano. And they all talked throughout most of the lesson. We could not study sound much at all. What was left but to talk about music?

At two different conservatories, my teachers taught on a single piano. Even today, most conservatories allow studios with room for two pianos for only their top-tier, artist faculty, and even then one or both pianos are not very good ones. Two pianos are considered unnecessary for the teachers who are teaching piano minors and children.

The philosophy of Suzuki Method, however, is based on the idea that the youngest children need the best environment. The first piano teacher is most important: the first piano, the first studio, the first concert, the first lesson. Why set a child in the direction of mediocrity, when we know what the best environment contains?

We are all poor musicians, and the question of furnishing our own studio is one we must take very seriously. If we have inferior instruments, if we use electronic keyboards, there is no way we can persuade our students’ parents to provide high-quality instruments at home. There is no way to explain why electronic keyboards are unacceptable. If we try to teach on a single piano the all-important teaching of tone and body balance is virtually impossible.

How can we afford the equipment we need to do our job? This is the question, really. First, we have to understand the importance of having two good instruments. Throw away the idea that we all were given in music school that the 2-piano studios are reserved for advanced piano majors. Try to understand the truth of Suzuki Method philosophy, that the beginning is the most important.

I am convinced that any teacher really knowing this will figure out a way to get the pianos. How can Suzuki Method work without this fundamental requirement? How can we offer our students less than what we know they must have to succeed? How can we feel good about our work?

Where there is the will, there is the way. Please try hard to take our work seriously and let’s all develop the ability to not take “no” for an answer.

Upcoming Suzuki Piano Basics Workshops/Events

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

February 2-4 2006
Salt Lake City, Utah
Workshop with Linda Nakagawa
Contact: Linda Tuttle>

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

February 6, 2006
Albuquerque, New Mexico
Workshop with Karen Hagberg
Contact: Vicki Merley

February 8-9, 2006
Tucson, Arizona
Workshop with Karen Hagberg
Contact: Ann Taylor

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

March 3-6, 2006
Atlanta, Georgia
Workshop with Karen Hagberg
Contact: Leah Brammer

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

June 23-27, 2006
Orange County Suzuki Institute
Contact: Rae Kate Shen

Tentative date, August 7-11, 2006
Sacramento Suzuki Piano Basics
Workshop with Matsumoto teachers
Contact: Linda Nakagawa

Please report upcoming Piano Basics events to Karen Hagberg
(585-244-0490, for inclusion in this list and on our website.

Attention Members

Your membership renewals of $25 for 2006 are now due. Make check
payable to Piano Basics Foundation
And send to:

Piano Basics Foundation
242 River Acres Drive
Sacramento, California 95831

Those members who have paid dues by February 1, 2006
will appear in the updated printed directory.


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