Volume 1.1, March/April 1996

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.

Piano Basics Foundation Created: Membership Information

Piano Basics Foundation was formed to promote the teaching of Dr. Haruko Kataoka and to serve and support teachers and families. As currently paid or previously paid subscribers to the Piano Basics Newsletter, you are welcome to join as charter members of this new and exciting organization!

The present Piano Basics Foundation News will replace the previous newsletter and will become the official publication of the Piano Basics Foundation. It will not be available separate from membership.

Membership categories are Teacher and Parent. Dr. Haruko Kataoka is the honorary president of Piano Basics Foundation.

Membership Benefits:

Membership Dues:

We need your help and support in this new venture. Your membership in Piano Basics Foundation will start by paying the annual dues of $25.00 by May 15. Our membership directory will be published in early July. Use the enclosed membership card to join. Please do not delay, send your dues now.


As a non-profit corporation, Piano Basics Foundation may receive tax-deductible contributions from members and other friends. Contributions will be acknowledged in our annual directory and in all Piano Basics Foundation-sponsored programs. Contributors will be listed at the following levels:

$25 - $99		Friends
$100 - $249		Donors
$250 -  $499		Supporters
$500 - $999		Sponsors
$1000 and up		Patrons

Funds received from contributions will be used to further the goals of Piano Basics Foundation, publish books, provide educational materials with free postage to members, and provide reduced rates at future international workshops. Contributions may be made at any time. Your ideas and suggestions are welcome. Because this is a non-profit organization, officers are not compensated for their duties. If you would like to be directly involved in the administration of the new foundation, please call Dr. Karen Hagberg (716) 244-0490. We hope that you are as enthusiastic as we are about the future possibilities of this organization and will support the goals and programs of the Foundation through lending your energies and talents to accomplish these.

The Treasure of Music

Dr. Haruko Kataoka

Let us take children to concerts by great performers.

From birth, people store all that we have seen, heard, and experienced as feelings within the warehouse of our minds. Those feelings are brought out and used when the proper opportunity arises. It is exactly the same as a floppy disc for a computer where information is input and utilized when needed. In children, knowledge is not fully developed so everything around them that is experienced is stored in the body and mind as feelings.

I cannot help but feel that people must utilize throughout their lives these things they have received from birth through their twenties. Things that are seen, heard and experienced in childhood become a person's invisible, but valuable treasure.

When we mention treasure, people immediately think of money, land, buildings, and such. However, money and material things are not a person's true treasures. There is always the danger that a single incident may cause those things to disappear overnight. To hear good music, to see beautiful scenery, to experience things with one's own body, to achieve a talent through one's own effort are true treasures. These treasures will stay with us throughout our lives, regardless of what may happen. They are ours until death.

I cannot forget an experience immediately after Japan was defeated in the Second World War. At that time I was eighteen. I had diligently saved the money I had received as New Year's gifts, since I was a young child, in my savings account at the Post Office. (Translator's note: In Japan, it is customary to give children money for New Year rather than Christmas.) I had saved 300 yen which was quite a bit of money at the time. The monetary system was changed after the war however, and that money became worthless. This was a great shock to me.

By comparison, the classical music concerts which I attended with my mother several times each month as a child, do not remain in any shape, but have formed my musical sense today. This experience is an extremely valuable treasure for me.

Long ago, Dr. Suzuki would frequently tell me, "I went to listen to concerts by marvelous performers almost daily, except for the off season, during the eight years that I spent in Germany. The musical sense that I have is due to those concerts."

I often hear from mothers, "We bought these expensive tickets and went to the concert, but she doesn't sit still and listen....," or "(s)he falls asleep immediately...," and other such complaints. However, this is a mistake compared with adults who think that they are listening. Children who seem not to be listening are actually hearing much more.

One mother once told me, "I thought that my son was fidgeting and was not listening, but the other day at home, I turned on the radio and an orchestra was playing. Instantly he said, 'Mom, this is the same piece that they played at the concert the other day'. After listening for a few minutes, I realized that it was The New World Symphony by Dvorak. It is just like you say. Children are amazing. I was sure that he wasn't listening!"

The famous conductor, Toscanini, is said to have told many people, "When I was four, my parents took me to a concert where I heard Verdi for the first time. That was my first encounter with Verdi. Even now, I cannot forget the emotion of that instant." I doubt that he was able to express in words the emotion that he felt at the age of four. That is why people get the erroneous impression that children are not listening.

When an artist plays a marvelous and moving performance, children will listen quietly. During a mediocre performance, pre-schoolers will say, "Let's go home." Because children cannot express their reasons, adults who are listening with their logic will make fun of them and quiet them when children actually understand more and are hearing more than the adults.

I tell mothers that no matter how expensive the tickets, even if you have to go to the bank and withdraw money, please take children to hear concerts by great performers. This experience will become a treasure that will stay with your child forever.

From the Newsletter of the Matsumoto Piano Teachers Association of the Talent Education Research Institute; Volume 4, Number 12, May 22, 1995; translated by Reverend Ken Fujimoto and edited by Karen Hagberg.

Membership Benefit: Free postage and handling are now available to all members when ordering from the Piano Basics Catalog. See insert for new discography and order form. Please note special rates on Dr. Kataoka's CD's as well as availability of new, professionally recorded video tapes of the 1995 Dallas International Friendship Recitals plus Seizo Azuma's solo piano concert.

The Difficulty of Relaxing When Tense

Dr. Haruko Kataoka

Because everybody tends to become extremely tense when playing a forte section on the piano, ten out of ten people will put strength into their bodies and play very hard. As a result, they will not get music, but noise that reverberates and shocks listeners, giving them an unpleasant feeling. This kind of playing gives the listener the impression that classical piano is something undesirable, and the person playing gets sore fingers and elbows, becomes sore all over and simply gets tired.

How can we prevent this from occurring? We must teach children at each lesson that when playing forte, they should not put strength into their bodies, but rather, release tension and relax. The body will be in better balance because it will be relaxed and natural.

The highest level of concentration and energy is necessary at the instant the forte is to be played, not strength or tension. However, the problem is that when we think, "Concentration and energy," unnecessary power and effort often come into play. We must somehow eliminate this.

In order to understand why a person's unnecessary power is not good, we need to realize that human beings are but a very small part of the universe and that we are really incapable of doing much of anything, no matter how tense we make that little body and how much power we put into it, even if we continue to the point of exhaustion. To play forte, using that kind of power, we need to relax the body and make it natural. By using the weight of the body in perfect balance, we can use our concentration and spirit to play forte. This natural and unstressed way of playing will help both the performer and the listener. The resulting sound of music is capable of bringing happiness to a person.

During the National High School Baseball Tournament held at the Koshien Ball Park recently, the team from Kannonji Chuo School in Shikoku, who qualified for the first time in its history, won the tournament. I read a newspaper article which reported, "Kannonji Chuo (High School) overturned what is considered common practice in high school baseball. Even in the finals they blazed their path to victory with an aggressive attack....The Kannonji Chuo batting order was able to display their uniqueness by swinging away from a relaxed posture." The famous, professional baseball player Ochiai, once stated on television that, "When standing in the batter's box, the more you can relax and relieve the tension in your body during the time you swing and as the bat hits the ball, the further the ball will go." People, for some reason, think the opposite. They are under the delusion that the more power and tension you put into it, the further it will go. Playing the piano forte and hitting home runs are the same thing.

This principle not only holds true for playing the piano and in sports, but also for living life in general.

From the Newsletter of the Matsumoto Piano Teachers Association of the Talent Education Research Institute, Volume 4, Number 11, April 24, 1995; translated by Reverend Ken Fujimoto and edited by Karen Hagberg.

Dr. Kataoka's 1996 Summer Schedule

LET'S GO !!!

June 10 - 14
Louisville, Kentucky
Contact: Linda Helm, 3126 Sunny Lane, Louisville, Kentucky 30205, (502) 485-1443. SAA Institute for teachers and families. Piano faculty includes: Bruce Anderson, Bruce Boiney, Gretchen Smith, and Kagari Tanabe.

June 17 - 21
Bellingham, Washington
Contact: Cheryl Kraft, 1487 Telegraph Road, Bellingham, WA 98226, (360) 734-9955. Piano Basics Workshop for teachers.

August 11 - 16
Atlanta, Georgia
International Suzuki Piano Workshop
Contact: Robin Blankenship, 2518 Country Lake Circle, Powder Springs, GA 30073 (770) 943-1218.

Teachers, begin making plans now for continuing your training at a summer workshop. Due to the International Suzuki Workshop in August, Dr. Kataoka will be presenting only two regular summer workshops. Enroll early, as space may be limited. Let's work together to help our students! See you at the workshops!


by Pat Huck

Special greetings from your snowbird friends in Saskatchewan, Canada. January presented us with grueling cold temperatures, and I mean cold; i.e., minus 30 to minus 45 degrees in some northern areas of our province.

In spite of the hardships inflicted by this weather, ten hearty teachers traveled to Saskatoon for our annual meeting. The warmth of the friendship at the meeting was a direct contrast to the adverse conditions outside. The highlight of our trip was the opportunity to observe Silvija Abols teach students of our Saskatoon teachers. All of us were delighted with her "childrenese" - a special language she uses to teach youngsters. It is so effective and the lessons were really fun!

This past October, about eighty students from Regina played together in our annual Five Piano Concert. It was televised by our local Cable company and will be presented many times throughout the year. We were delighted to have some students from southern Saskatchewan join us in this fine program.

Our Regina Suzuki Piano Association together with the Saskatchewan Suzuki Piano Teachers Association are excited about our plans for a Summer Institute. It will take place in Regina, July 15-19. Along with some wonderful local musicians we are pleased to have Lori Armstrong, Cheryl Kraft, and Kagari Tanabe present, to further enhance our teaching of Piano Basics. We are hoping our fellow teachers from Alberta, Manitoba, Montana and North Dakota can join us. Brochures will be ready for mailing soon. If you would like one, please write or give me a call: Pat Huck, 69 Cardinal Crescent, Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada S4S4V6. Phone: (306) 586-4330.


by Claire Sie and Fumi Kawasaki

The first Singapore Piano Workshop was held December 18-21, 1995. Most of the attending teachers were from Singapore, except one, who came from Indonesia. With the exception of two teachers, this was their first exposure to the Suzuki Piano Method. Linda Nakagawa from Sacramento was the guest teacher.

The workshop took place at the Marine Parade Library Auditorium. The Friendship Concert, a highlight of the workshop, featured twelve students from Singapore (Ms. Sie's studio) and six students from Sacramento (Ms. Nakagawa's studio). The teachers were all impressed with each student's ability and immediately after the concert, any initial hesitations about the Suzuki approach were replaced by excitement, curiosity, and an enthusiasm to learn more!

The workshop provided better attitudes toward practicing the piano for the students, and for parents, a more positive and open feeling to participating actively with their children.

The teachers from Singapore now have a deep desire to continue their studies with Dr. Kataoka and to seek out other workshops. The Suzuki Method will continue to grow in Singapore, as the teachers work together for the benefit of the children.

Music is truly a powerful language. It brings people from different countries and cultures together in peace and gives them happiness.


The eighth Ten-Piano Concert will be held in Harmony Hall, Matsumoto City on April 28, 1996 with 250 pianists. American students attending are Tim Chueh, Kelsey Kuehn, Bria Long, David Specht (studio of Leah Brammer); Katherine Dulski, Adrienne Nott, Stephanie Nott, (studio of Karen Hagberg); Michael Champ, Sherry Hatamiya, Carly Mompellier, Bobby Wang,(studio of Linda Nakagawa). Best wishes to all students and their teachers!


by Marile Thigpen

Gretel Von Pischke and I recently invited Dr. Karen Hagberg to present a piano workshop in the Washington D.C. area. There were both student and teacher lessons as well as an evening lecture for parents. It was a packed two days for all involved. Teachers, parents, and students were enthralled by the spirit from Dr. Suzuki's Institute in Matsumoto and the application of piano basics.

Karen worked well with all the students and enabled them to do their very best.

At the parent session, she expounded on the development of the Suzuki Method from its very beginning, on what we as teachers are trying to accomplish and the indispensable role of the parent.

A small group of teachers played for Karen while others observed. We were impressed by Karen's demonstrations and touched by the account of her journey from earning a Ph.D. at a prestigious school of music to her satisfying experience in Matsumoto where she discovered what she really wanted.

In reflection, this was a time for learning, encouragement, for straightening out bad habits and correcting mistakes. Above all, Karen reinforced what we had previously heard from Dr. Kataoka and are trying with all our energy to apply in our own studios.

If your country is not listed above, please send news.


Featuring Dr. Haruko Kataoka
August 11 - 16, 1996
Atlanta, Georgia

COME TO ATLANTA for the Fourth International Suzuki Piano Conference. The committee is working hard to provide the best facilities, schedule, and events.

Seizo Azuma, Concert pianist

Friendship Concert with special guest Hiroh Ohtsuki.
Hiroh, age nine and blind since birth, has studied with Dr. Kataoka since the age of three. He will perform the Haydn Piano Concerto in D with an Atlanta chamber orchestra.

The First International Five Piano Concert
Dr. Kataoka is bringing a large group of students from Japan who will join with other students from throughout the United States to perform in the Five Piano Concert and Friendship Concerts.


In an effort to create a truly International Conference a special incentive program is being offered for teachers coming from countries other than the United States. If you are interested in being an "Ambassador" from your country, please contact Pam Smith.


One of the highlights of the Conference is renewing old friendships and making new ones. In order for this to be a true gathering of all Piano Basics teachers we need YOU to come to Atlanta to make the conference complete. Family members and students not performing in the concerts are welcome to come for the week, attend the concerts, observe lessons and enjoy Atlanta.

For a conference brochure or additional information, contact: Pam Smith, 3993 St. Clair Court NE, Atlanta, GA 30319 (770) 457-5144 or Robin Blankenship, 2518 Country Lake Circle, Powder Springs, GA 30073 (770) 943-1218.

Deadline for student videos for Friendship Concerts and Five Piano Concert is May 15.

Conference Committee: Robin Blankenship, Leah Brammer, Dollean Preamble, Pam Smith, and Chris Tsai

The Method of Training Beginners, Number 18

by Dr. Haruko Kataoka

Musette by Johann Sebastian Bach

This piece is in 2/2 time in "Tempo di Gavotta". It is a beautiful piece with a quiet rhythm.

As always, first learn the right hand and then the left hand. Put hands together only after being able to play each hand smoothly. Sometimes students can learn to play pieces easily and they try to play with both hands right away. Teachers often put up with this and do not always remember to teach hands together only after each hand alone is played well.

The first three notes in the right hand (D-EC) are on the second beat. Therefore, they are on the upbeat. The teacher should count the first beat (the downbeat), and then the student can play these notes lightly and beautifully on the second beat.

The following note, the first beat of the first full measure, D (a quarter note), is an important tone. However, it is a low tone in the melody, so it is not loud. That is to say, if we were to sing it, we would use a great deal of breath. The second beat B (another quarter note) is a light tone, but as a high point in the melody should be sung out with enough volume to produce full sound. The next two eighth notes (AF#) have quiet and light tone. The G (quarter note) in the following measure at the end of this phrase is sung out deeply from the bottom of your heart. The final note of the phrase (D) should be played very quietly.

The following phrase in measures 2-4 is sung out with a higher tone than the first phrase. Play the ascending scale (GABC) in the third measure crescendo, and fully sing out the highest tone (D). In this way, the overall larger phrase in measures 1-4 can be played beautifully. Patiently teach how to make a song of the music with the right hand alone at each lesson. How to make music in the subsequent four-measure phrases is exactly the same as in the first four measures.

Never play ritardando until the ending of the piece at the final repeat (the last three measures). Do not slow down before the repeat.

In measures 8-12 the music is sung out most fully, and the ending is quiet. Produce sound fully with a natural and good tone in the right hand, and sing out from your soul.

Compared with the right hand, always practice playing calmly with a quiet sound in the left hand. We hear the tonic G major note (G) as the lowest note throughout the piece. Sing out the beautiful upper melody of the left handwhile listening to the G, and always play the first beats quietly and carefully.

If the performer uses different colors in each hand, the listener may enjoy both melodies simultaneously. If, on the other hand, the right and left hands are played with the same tone color, the two melodies become indistinct. The music then only becomes noisy.

Minuet by Johann Sebastian Bach

This piece is a minuet in g minor. It is beautiful beyond description in our current world, and it is full of sadness.

As I have written about the Musette above, learn each hand and then put hands together. After learning the notes in this way, study of the music may begin.

What is the most difficult in this piece, and the point a teacher must teach without fail, is to produce a musical sound on the first Bb in the right hand and then to move a soft fingertip from above to play the A just beside Bb without losing balance in the body or hand. Because the black key is high, the A will be played by a pulling of the third finger toward the front of the keys if you are not careful. Make sure to play the A just beside the black key without changing the hand position.

In measure 8 in the left hand, the eighth notes (DCBbA) pose the same problem. It's a question of the thumb, which plays after the Bb, toppling down toward you. Never drop down onto the thumb next to a black key. Practice being able to play always in the same position.

The questions above are the same in the second half of the piece. We must teach the technique of playing an entire phrase with the same hand position. In addition, a very important thing is that this piece is a minuet and is therefore in triple time. Although there are sometimes variations to this principle owing to changes in the melody, the first beat in triple time is usually sung out greatly from the bottom of the heart and must, therefore, be a deep tone. The third beat is a light tone. Inhale fully at each third beat and be able to play each subsequent first beat deeply, with a full exhale.

If we follow the basics and practice diligently, we can have a sense of the music which is given to us by Heaven. Having this, we can certainly produce a fine performance. However, do not neglect to teach students also to listen to a model recording many times daily. We can understand the importance of this if we think about language. None of us can speak a language we do not hear.

Translated by Mitsuo Furumachi and edited by Karen Hagberg.


All eighteen articles on The Method of Training Beginners by Dr. Kataoka (Books 1 and 2) are now available under one cover. To order the complete set, send requests to: Piano Basics Foundation, 242 River Acres Drive, Sacramento, CA 95831.
Introductory Price - $10.00 (US)

A Legacy For The Future

The Editors

This issue marks the beginning of a new and exciting publication, Piano Basics Foundation News, after seven full years of the Piano Basics Newsletter. The newsletter was published single-handedly by Cleo Brimhall for the entire time of its existence and we are grateful to her for her pioneering efforts.

During Dr. Kataoka's years of study with Dr. Suzuki at the Talent Education Research Institute in Matsumoto, she has developed a wonderful vision of how to apply his ideas specifically to piano pedagogy. She has continuously asked us to research and work together to make a better world for the children. Webster defines research as "careful, systematic study and investigation in some field of knowledge". The formation of the Piano Basics Foundation and the newsletter are two ways in which we can continue and promote this research process.

Piano Basics Foundation News will now appear six times a year. In July, members will receive the membership directory. This new publication will feature articles directly from Dr. Kataoka, as well as translations from the newsletters of the Matsumoto Piano Teachers Association. We also need articles from you. Being an international organization, we have included in this issue articles from around the world. We will continue to do so. Our readers are interested in articles from students, parents, teachers, and study groups regarding what you are learning, changes you are implementing and your results.

We are really building a framework for the future that will live beyond us and raise the standard through the years.

This commitment requires from each of us hard work, study, a willingness to share, and also funding. In order to grow we need resources as well as research. Donations in any amount will help to ensure the success of our collective efforts. If you are in a position to contribute over and above your membership dues, now is the time to do it!

Notice the expiration number on the label of your newsletter. Those numbers prior to 8.1 have already expired. We welcome you to join with us now. Those with 8.1 are expiring with this issue. It is time to join. Those with 8.2 and higher have paid ahead. You have three options as explained on the renewal card and in the ATTENTION statement to subscribers. We hope to hear from you as new members of the Piano Basics Foundation.

In conclusion, we would like to leave with you with a paraphrase of Dr. Kataoka's thoughts from the 1994 International Suzuki Piano Conference in Brussels:

"Throughout this workshop I am happy to notice that teachers are serious about music education for young children. From all over the world, Europe, America, and Japan - you are all here for the same purpose - the music education of children. I am really touched.

Education is important, but to keep human life going education is not the only thing. It is one contribution to the quality of life. I really value the seriousness of each individual person who has a role. Even if the role is small, we must each carry out our individual role carefully and together the world will become a better place for children.

Art is a wonderful gift from God. In reality every person cannot become a king or queen, but in the world of art we can feel that way. To be able to develop children with the ability to enjoy this wonderful feeling, we must protect their rights.

The world has become smaller. It is easier to communicate throughout the world compared to just a few years ago. Because it is easier, please make a special effort to contact each other and work together for a better world for the children."


In 1993, Piano Basics was incorporated in Salt Lake City to publish Dr. Kataoka's book Sensibility and Education, to aid in the recording of her CD's, (Books 2 and 3), and to promote the goals of Piano Basics. Because this initial corporation was subject to several federal and state fees and taxes, it was decided by the directors to form a non-profit foundation. We are pleased to announce that this has finally happened!

Until the annual membership meeting of the new foundation can take place (at the International Suzuki Piano Conference in Atlanta) the original directors of the old corporation will serve as officers. The officers are serving as the editorial board of the Piano Basics Foundation News.

Everyone who becomes a member of the new foundation will be entitled to officer and voting privileges. Membership dues are tax deductible as "professional dues" for teachers. Other members, who are not teachers, may deduct the amount of $13.00 (dues minus newsletter costs) as a "contribution". If you are interested in assisting in the development of the new foundation, please contact Dr. Karen Hagberg or any of the officers.

Piano Basics Foundation News
The official publication of Piano Basics Foundation

Publication Dates and (Deadlines):

March - April (February 1)
May - June (April 1)
Membership Directory (May 15)
July - August (June 1)
September - October (August 1)
November - December (October 1)

Copying and/or publishing the articles contained herein for commercial gain or interest is prohibited without the written permission from the author.

Call for Articles: send articles, typed and double-spaced, to Piano Basics Foundation News, 1487 Telegraph Road, Bellingham, WA 98226

Editorial Staff and Officers
President - Dr. Karen Hagberg
Vice-President - Cleo Brimhall
Secretary - Cheryl Kraft
Treasurer - Linda Nakagawa

ATTENTION: Piano Basics Newsletter Subscribers:

Those whose newsletter subscriptions have previously expired or expire with this issue are welcome to continue receiving future newsletters by joining Piano Basics Foundation. Check the first box on the membership form. The expiration number is listed on your newsletter mailing label. The current issue (Vol. 1.1) corresponds with 8:1 on your label. If your number is 8.2 or higher, you may either donate the remainder of your subscription credit to the Foundation (second box) or request a credit on dues in the amount of your remaining subscription fee (third box).

The credits are as follows:
	8.2	$25.00 dues - $2.50 credit   =   $22.50
	8.3	$25.00 dues - $5.00 credit   =   $20.00
	8.4	$25.00 dues - $8.00 credit   =   $17.00
	9.1	$25.00 dues - $11.00 credit  =   $14.00
	9.2     $25.00 dues - $14.00 credit  =   $11.00

At the end of this year, all membership fees will be due at the beginning of each calendar year. Questions??? Call Cleo Brimhall at (801) 943-1237.

PIANO BASICS FOUNDATION MEMBERSHIP CARD Name Phone ( ) Street Address City State/Province Country Zip Membership Category Teacher Parent a Yes I want to become a member. Enclosed are my dues ($25.00). $ a Yes, I want to become a member. Enclosed are my dues ($25.00). $ Please use my newsletter subscription credit as a donation to the new foundation. a Yes, I want to become a member/Please apply my newsletter subscription credit to the dues. Enclosed are my dues less credit. ($25.00 less $ ) $ a Yes, I want to support Piano Basics Foundation with a contribution separate from membership. $ Friends $25-$99 Donors $100-$249 Supporters $250-$499 Sponsors $500-$999 Patrons $1000 and up a No, I do not want to become a member. Please send my remaining newsletter(s). TOTAL ENCLOSED $ Please send this form or enclosed card with check (payable to Piano Basics Foundation in US funds) to Piano Basics Foundation, 242 River Acres Drive, Sacramento, CA 95831 USA

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First Published Online: 2 September 1997
Last Revised: 20 February 2001