Suzuki Piano Basics Foundation celebrating Our 10th Anniversary


Vol. 11.5 September/October 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 11.5
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, 2006

What Makes a Wonderful Suzuki Teacher?

By Dr. Haruko Kataoka

Translated by Mitsuo Furumachi
Edited by Karen Hagberg

The International Suzuki Association Conference was held in Seoul, Korea this past August (1993). Many people came from all over the world, making it a great success in terms of overall participation. In the midst of the conference, however, I became bothered by two things.

First, there were many students in attendance who had not been taught the basics at all and who played difficult pieces blindly, making loud noise instead of musical tone. The beginners in Books 1-4 could play only the piece they were currently studying. When asked to play earlier pieces, they said they could not, or that they “hadn’t practiced.

” Dr. Suzuki says that such music education is wrong education. He teaches us that musical ability is created in the same way children learn their mother tongue, by repeatedly playing earlier pieces and keeping these in their repertoire. In other words, this is the Suzuki Method. I completely agree. Unlike violin, piano cannot usually be played ensemble, so if the piano teacher does not pay careful attention to this point, children grow up playing poorly. Second, I was dismayed by the faculty concert held on the first night of the Conference. Since teachers are not performers, no matter how hard we try it is impossible for us to play well. What must the parents and children who came to the concert have thought of it? People who could tell that the performances were poor were unanimously saying things like, “This is awful,” and “It’s unbelievable.

” I could not help but wonder why we should provide such a concert for children when Dr. Suzuki has always said that it is the teacher’s job to select the very best performances for children to listen to.

I have been working under Dr. Suzuki since 1955, and he has never played in a concert except for the one time he played the second movement of a Beethoven violin sonata at a summer school. I clearly remember, because I was his accompanist. (Also, after his lectures, driven by enthusiasm, he sometimes plays solo lullabies.)

[In the pedagogical setting] we have always given the greatest importance to children’s concerts in Japan. Children are happy to play, for they can develop through their experience. If a faculty concert is held at all, the number of good solo concerts by children should be increased.

Sometimes both teachers and parents are mistaken. They think that a teacher who can perform is a great teacher. What is a good teacher in the Suzuki Method? A wonderful teacher is the teacher of a class where the children do not drop out and where all the students in the class (not just one or two of them) have developed to the point where they can play beautifully. Because all students come from a different home environment, it is natural that some may progress more quickly than others. It is a question of how well the student can play the piece he or she is working on, and whether or not he or she has acquired the basics.

Just as an educator’s job is very difficult, the job of a performer is not child’s play. Performing at odd moments while teaching is out of the question. Much misunderstanding has arisen from teachers who blur the distinction between these two jobs. Teaching is the job of education. Just because a person can perform well does not mean that he or she can teach. The two jobs are in entirely different fields. Because an educator, of course, must demonstrate when teaching, being able to play a piece is absolutely essential. When I say that an educator does not have to be able to perform, immediately teachers begin to think that they do not need to be able to play, and then we find people who cannot play at all shamelessly teaching children. If we cannot speak English, however, is it possible to teach English to children? If parents cannot speak Japanese, they cannot teach it to their children. Therefore I think that Suzuki Piano teachers should constantly practice playing piano, but not as performers.

There is no absolute need to play in front of a great number of students. Having children hear the best performances in the world is the important essential. Those who are in a city where they can hear many fine concerts are lucky. If you live in a small town or cannot go to concerts, children can hear fine recordings. I think that it is not so difficult to obtain video performances of Rubinstein, Horowitz, and other true virtuosi. Teachers, please make the effort to expose your students to great piano playing.

Here in Matsumoto there are not so many concerts as there are in Tokyo, but fortunately we do have world-class concerts several times a year. In this past year, for example, we heard pianists Seizo Azuma, Minoru Nojima, and Alicia deLarrocha; singer Jessie Norman; cellist Mischa Maisky; a European orchestra; the Saito Kinen Orchestra; various chamber ensembles; the opera Jeanne d’Arc au Bûcher; etc. These were all world class performances. There were many other live concerts too.

It seems that it is not possible to hear the best concerts in the world very often in a big country like the United States. Since Japan is so small, it is easy for performers and audiences to go anywhere (and sooner or later something good comes nearby). Therefore, children and parents in Matsumoto understand very well whether or not a performance is good from having heard so many really fine concerts.

Day after day, as we pray to God, Piano Basics Teachers, do we try as hard as we can to be good teachers for children?


The photograph of Dr. Kataoka published in the May/June issue was originally taken in June 1999 by Bert Mayers at the home of Carole and Bert Mayers in King of Prussia, Pennsylvania after a workshop in Philadelphia. It now resides, to Bert’s delight and surprise, blown-up and framed on the wall in her former studio at the Talent Education Institute in Matsumoto. In our earlier edition it was attributed to Malinda Rawls, who took a photo of the photo.

Philadelphia: a Workshop; a Great Pianist; a Friendship Concert.

The next Suzuki Piano Basics Teacher Research Workshop will be held at Temple University in Philadelphia, Saturday-Tuesday, March 3-6, 2007. This event is sponsored by the Suzuki Piano Basics teachers in the Philadelphia area and the Greater Philadelphia Suzuki Association.

The workshop will follow the established format of teacher and student lessons, with teachers of your choice in both cases. In addition, the teaching faculty will participate in a research group in which they will critique each others’ basic technique.

The workshop will coincide with an appearance by the legendary pianist Martha Argerich with the Philadelphia Orchestra, performing Beethoven’s 2nd Piano Concerto. Group seating has been reserved for workshop participants on Saturday evening.

Attending teachers are encouraged to bring students for a masterclass lesson and to perform in the Friendship Concert at 1:30 p.m. on Sunday (dress rehearsal at 3:00 p.m. on Saturday). Students will be invited to perform in the concert by video audition due on January 2. As an incentive to bring students, visiting teachers will receive a $15 discount on their registration for each attending student.

Workshop tuition is $175 for teachers and $50 for students, with a $25 registration fee for teachers (late registration $50 after January 2). Argerich tickets are $34.50 and $48. Rooms at the nearby Holiday Inn Express Midtown are $96 plus tax for a room with 2 double beds. Parking at the hotel is $21/day.

To receive complete information and registration materials, please contact Joan Krzywicki Phone: 215-836-1120. See you in Philadelphia!


Pianist Martha Argerich.

The Fifth Suzuki Piano Basics International 10-Piano Concert, Sacramento, California

Planning has begun for the upcoming Sacramento 10-Piano Concert which will take place on Saturday, August 18, 2007 at 2:30 p.m. at the Sacramento Convention Center. Yet again we enthusiastically anticipate guidance from the Japanese teachers and participation of students from Japan.

All teachers are invited and encouraged to register for the entire rehearsal period (approximately two weeks prior to the concert). Observing 10-Piano rehearsals is an invaluable experience for individual teacher enrichment and research. Dr. Kataoka always felt there was no substitute for this opportunity to see and hear ten students at a time receiving a lesson on the same piece. Student participation is based on the teacher’s previous experience, with preference given to Suzuki Piano Basics Foundation members, those who regularly attend teacher research workshops, and those who have recently observed 10-Piano rehearsals in Sacramento and/or Matsumoto.

Teachers considering student participation are asked to make their initial inquiry before December 1, 2006 by contacting Linda Nakagawa at; phone: 916-422-2952. Teachers wishing to register as observers may request registration materials before June 15, 2007.

Photo by Kyle Kumasaki


Final bow after 10-Piano Concert at Sacramento Convention Center, 2005

Suzuki Piano Basics Scholarships

At our General Membership meeting in Sacramento, the possibility of developing a scholarship program was raised. The Board is calling for ideas and suggestions for such a program, and for volunteers who are interested in serving on a committee that will make formal recommendations. Please contact Karen Hagberg with your input. 585-244-0490.

The Suzuki Repertoire as Taught in Japan

by By Linda Nakagawa

In conversations with the Japanese teachers who attended the 2006 Sacramento Teacher Research Workshop (Keiko Ogiwara, Keiko Kawamura, and Hisayo Kubota), we gleaned their current thinking on the order of pieces in the upper repertoire. These are general, not rigid, guidelines. Here they are, for the information of our members:

Für Elise is taught at the end, not the beginning, of Book 5.

After the Turkish March (the completion of Mozart K.331) the pieces are (not in any particular order): Daquin Cuckoo, Mozart Sonata K. 332, Paderewski Minuet, Mozart Fantasie K.397

Then the Bach Italian Concerto

After the Italian Concerto: Handel Harmonious Blacksmith; Haydn Sonata No. 59 in Eb Major; Beethoven Rondo in C Major, Op. 51 -1; Haydn Concerto No. 11 in D major; Mozart Concerto, K. 488 or Coronation Concerto, K.537 or Concerto K. 414.

Benefits of Membership in the Suzuki Piano Basics Foundation

Even though you may access our newsletter and other important information online, please do not forget the various benefits of membership in our organization:

1. Support the ongoing work of promoting and preserving the work of Dr. Kataoka
2. Receive a hard copy of the newsletter (that may be shared with your students and their families)
3. Receive a hard copy of the Membership Directory
4. Be able to order Suzuki-related materials at discounted prices and without paying postage
5. Be eligible for discounts at some Suzuki Piano Basics events
6. Receive preference for student participation at Suzuki Piano Basics events

Our dues remain only $25/year. If you have not paid your dues for 2006, please send them in right away. If you have not paid your dues for 2007, it is time to think about doing this. We do not like to badger our members with constant reminders. Please take the responsibility of not letting your membership lapse. The $25 dues are for the calendar year, so all memberships come due at the end of December. Please make checks out to Suzuki Piano Basics Foundation and send them to Linda Nakagawa, Treasurer, 242 River Acres Drive, Sacramento CA 95831. Thank you, as always, for your ongoing support.

Piano Basics Foundation Upcoming Workshops/Events

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: Nila Ledesma 801-942-5472 or

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

March 23-25, 2007
Atlanta, Georgia
Suzuki Piano Basics Workshop with Karen Hagberg
Contact: Robin Blankenship 770-426-4967

April 20-22, 2007
Reston, Virginia Suzuki Piano Basics Workshop with Cathy Hargrave
Contact: Gretel von Pischke 703-860-5654

July 23-26, 2007
Cambridge, England
Cambridge Suzuki Young Musicians Summer Workshops 2007
Contact Betty & Stephen Power (01223) 264408

August 18, 2007
Sacramento, California
Suzuki Piano Basics International 10-Piano Concert
Inquire before December 1 for student participation
Contact: Linda Nakagawa 916-422-2952

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: 27 January 2007
Last Revised: 9 March 2012