Vol. 11.4 July/August 2006

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.

Piano Basics Foundation News

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

Web Editors
Carol Wunderle - Volume 11.4
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

Think not only about the Present, but the Future!

By Dr. Haruko Kataoka

From the Matsumoto Piano Newsletter
Vol.10 No.3, August 1, 2000
Translated by Mayumi Yunus,Teri Paradero Chisa Aoki,
Edited by Karen Hagberg
Hard Copy Illustrations by Juri Kataoka

Generally speaking, our present day society pursues only those things that bring instantaneous enjoyment. We have forgotten to think about what will happen ten years from now. However, we should ponder how the things we do today affect the outcome in ten years and live accordingly. We can say the same thing about piano lessons, and similarly, to the discipline in our daily lives.

I often observe, with individuals whose only motive in life is to gratify their momentary whims, that when it comes to childrearing they tend to keep themselves busy with no other awareness than life within the bounds of their own household, their lives devoid of any societal insight. Are they not raising their children for their own vanity, to satisfy their own image in the pursuit of their own instant self-gratification?

Parents have no way of knowing how long they will live. Shouldn’t it be the goal of the parent to raise and nurture a child so she can survive on her own? I believe that this is true parental love. Children and parents are born with different personalities. It is my experience that they can be bewilderingly different. Therefore, when a child chooses a life path (career) that suits his own personality but not necessarily the path of the parent’s choosing, parents must help their child advance in that direction.

I recently read Hirotada Ototake’s biography, Gotai Fumanzoku [literally My Unsatisfactory Limbs, translated into English with the title Nobody's Perfect. Mr. Ototake was born with short stumps instead of limbs]. I found myself being more impressed by his incredibly wonderful parents than by this remarkable man himself. His parents understood the importance of the basics of the human heart and soul, and carefully taught them to their son. They brought him up without regard to his physical disabilities in a very strict, uncompromising manner. In this world, there must have been those around them who could not comprehend parents with such principles and accept what they were doing. These parents probably had to endure harsh criticism and suffered insurmountable hardships. It must have been psychologically as well as physically taxing for them. Just the normal job of teaching daily tasks that we take for granted, the ones children learn with relative ease like eating and writing, must have taken unimaginable effort and caused them to shed blood, sweat, and tears. They focused their effort so that in ten years, perhaps in twenty years, their son would be able to live as a full-fledged, independent adult member of society. I am impressed with this individual who possesses such a high level of sensibility and intelligence that he publicly is able to appear so unaffectedly positive.

Nowadays, parents are raising their normal children as if they need to be sheltered. They do everything for them. They have become content to see instant gratification on their children’s delighted faces.

There’s an old saying, “You fall seven times, you get up eight times. Success is born out of failure.” Children should be brought up strictly and allowed to experience failure. Children should be provided, within their daily environment, the opportunity to help with daily chores and a safe place to make mistakes.

When I was growing up, I was given cleaning and kitchen chores. I was not merely told to do them. I was given strict instructions about how to clean and how to straighten up the kitchen. If I did not follow the orders exactly, I was reprimanded.

These days, children are constantly riding in cars and as a result their legs and backs are not strong enough to walk well. They don’t even know how to take the train or the bus. When I was in second grade, I remember holding my little brother’s hand as we went on an errand that took us an hour and a half by bus and train. From the time I was in grade school, I would run the banking errands. Times have changed since the days when it was more peaceful and not as dangerous. Even so, I remember feeling nervous and being very careful not to lose or drop what was given to me as my responsibility.

I know of a person who, because his mother was bedridden, had to go to the market with a list of ingredients for dinner everyday since the age of 6. (As an adult, he is still an efficient shopper.)

Please be more insistent to teach good manners in your daily lives. (For example: Please. Thank you.) If you don’t teach them, children will grow up to be inconsiderate and selfish human beings. You must teach manners strictly, until they become an ability, so that in ten to twenty years, you will have granted your children a fortune with which they will flourish as well-educated, sensible individuals and productive members of society. Please let’s not only think of what is in the present, but also think of the future, ten to twenty years from now.

Getting Inspired in Sacramento

By Janet Dizney, Federal Way, Washington

When I was getting ready for the Sacramento workshop (the first I had attended in quite a while), I looked forward, with some trepidation, about a week of dealing with the loss of Dr. Kataoka. Although her loss was apparent and she was deeply missed, the focus of the workshop was what it always has been: teaching teachers and students how to use the body in a natural way to produce a beautiful tone in any given piece.

A good workshop is one that creates an environment for the teacher that nurtures good playing and good teaching. I find that these workshops, for me, are what the parents and the CD are for the students. They provide me with such a fine learning atmosphere that I cannot help but be inspired and enriched by the support of everyone around me. Exactly how to benefit from working with other teachers is something I feel I learned in Sacramento.>

Throughout the week eight teachers, three from Japan and five from the United States, taught workshop lessons to both students and teachers. But, in the context of research sessions based on the way they are conducted weekly in Japan, each of those teachers also played for each other and received critiques and help with their own playing. Personally observing that process was the next piece in the puzzle. I began to see that we teachers will never be perfect; we just continue to try hard. When I realize this, it really takes the pressure off me to be perfect. It also reminds me that I have to keep trying hard. To me, this means rejoining a research group and continuing to attend workshops as I’m able.

In the last three years my students and I have been removed from almost all Suzuki influences. Because of this, my students have lost much of their tone and technique and my own playing has certainly suffered. The store where I teach offers plenty of opportunity for teachers to chat between lessons and glean ideas from each other, but none of them are Suzuki teachers or have any prior understanding of the Suzuki philosophy. Between listening to the attitudes of these teachers and the fact that I now teach for my living, I have gradually become jaded toward the students that I love and the parents who raise them. The workshop in Sacramento was the beginning of changing my mindset so that I will, once again, be able to nurture them and help them create a supportive musical environment.

More important than learning to keep my balance again or relearning how to sit at the piano, how to practice properly and listen to every sound I make was the re-kindling of love for my students and appreciating the gifts of the teachers around me. I had grown so tired and worn down by my own expectations that I had forgotten what a beautiful thing it is to teach. Ogiwara-Sensei reminded us that we are so privileged to be in a profession where we bring joy to people. I received so much joy from the collective group of teachers that I cannot wait to rejoin my local research group and continue the healing process that I felt began at this workshop.

Linda Nakagawa said it best during her closing speech when she said, “I feel that there is hope.” That’s what I feel, too – great hope welling up inside me for myself, my students, and all of the other members of the Piano Basics family. We will carry on the work we are doing with hope and joy in our hearts.


Photo by Dorothy Drake of Japanese visitors after the Friendship Concert at the Sacramento Suzuki Piano Basics Teacher Research Workshop, August 8, 2006. Standing: Hisayo Kubota, Kyoko Miyashita, Eri Momose, Keiko Kawamura, Fumitaka Kobayashi, Ryotaro Ito, Aahs Shimizu. Seated: Keiko Oglwara.

Piano Basics Foundation Upcoming Workshops/Events

September 19-21, 2006
Albuquerque, New Mexico

Suzuki Piano Workshop with Cathy Hargrave
Contact: Vicki Merley 505-332-8726

September 22-23, 2006
Flagstaff, Arizona

Suzuki Piano Basics Workshop with Cathy Hargrave
Contact: Charlotte Schwepker 928-213-9470

October 6-10, 2006
Redlands, California

Suzuki Piano Basics Workshop with Bruce Boiney
Contact: Rae Kate Shen 909-794-9461

October 7-9, 2006
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Suzuki Piano Basics Workshop with Karen Hagberg
Contact: Dawn Price-Flewellen 610-436-4422 7-8)
or Jane Sanbuichi Guerin 215-848-2567 (October 9)

October 11-12, 2006
Tucson, Arizona

Suzuki Piano Basics Workshop with Karen Hagberg
Contact: Ann Taylor 520-881-5573

October 13-14, 2006
Phoenix, Arizona

Suzuki Piano Basics Workshop with Karen Hagberg
Contact: Vicki Seil 480-926-7804

October 19-21, 2006
Salt Lake City, Utah

Suzuki Piano Basics Workshop with Linda Nakagawa
Contact: Janet Buhler 801-414-4791

October 26-29, 2006
Atlanta, Georgia

Suzuki Piano Basics Workshop with Cathy Hargrave
Contact: Robin Blankenship 770-426-4967

November 3-4, 2006
Duluth, Minnesota

Suzuki Festival featuring Bruce Boiney
Contact: Karen Sandy 218-724-0576

January 12-16, 2007
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Suzuki Piano Basics Workshop with Cathy Hargrave
Contact: Carole Mayers 610-354-0637

January 27-28, 2007
Rochester, New York

Suzuki Piano Basics Workshop with Linda Nakagawa
Contact: Karen Hagberg 585-244-0490

February 23-25, 2007
Redlands, California

Suzuki Piano Basics Workshop with Cathy Hargrave
Contact: Rae Kate Shen 909-794-9461

March 3-6, 2007
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Suzuki Piano Basics Teacher Research Workshop
Hosted by the Greater Philadelphia Suzuki Association
(Scheduled to coincide with a performance by the legendary pianist
Martha Argerich with the Philadelphia Orchestra performing Beethoven’s
2nd Piano Concerto)
Contact: Carole Mayers 610-354-0637
or Joan Krzywicki 215-836-1120

April 20-22, 2007
Reston, Virginia

Suzuki Piano Basics Workshop with Cathy Hargrave
Contact: Gretel von Pischke 703-860-5654

To add or change items on this list and on the Suzuki Piano Basics website, contact
Karen Hagberg 585-244-0490.

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 January 2007
Last Revised: 9 March 2012