Vol. 12.5 September/October 2007

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 12.5
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: November 1, 2007

Heart and Responsibility

By Haruko Kataoka

From the Matsumoto Suzuki Piano Newsletter
Vol.10 No.7, December 5, 2000
Translated by Chisa Aoki and
Teri Paradero
Edited by Karen Hagberg
Illustrations by Juri Kataoka

I was reminiscing about the best things from this year’s 10-Piano Concert in November. We started at the end of October when all ten performers would be able to gather to rehearse. At the beginning of November, a total of 70 teachers, students and parents from America and Canada arrived in Matsumoto. All the homestay families embarked on their respective responsibilities for caring for their guest students. This is a time when Matsumoto teachers and all the parents will be involved in an ultra-busy, unusual flurry of activities.

I have seen this over and over. All our families, with a great sense of social responsibility, willingly make a huge effort to take on numerous tasks. They rely on each other with a spirit of cooperation in the midst of this enormous international project, somehow overcoming the language barrier with their foreign guests. They manage to commute daily to and from rehearsals, prepare meals, and help all the students practice. This is such a wonderful example for the children, who learn what dedication really means by observing the adults around them being so determined to make things happen and to succeed.

As the concert draws near, the rehearsal schedule becomes more grueling with rehearsals for each piece every other day, and then daily. The timely transporting of the children is very taxing on the parents who work outside the home.

Nevertheless, everyone cooperated to strive to make the concert even more wonderful, for the sake of the children, in many, many small ways. This is what usually happens at every 10-Piano Concert, and I am so very grateful.

The 10-Piano Concert is not only about performance. It also affords us the opportunity to learn about how people can put effort into a project with a strong spirit of cooperation. Last year in Sacramento, twenty-four to twenty-five American teachers experienced and realized for the first time the enormous amount of work involved in a 10-Piano Concert. This time in Matsumoto, unlike previous years, they were very helpful and cooperative.

To truly understand in your heart what your own individual responsibilities are and to act accordingly will improve our world. On the television news, we often see government officials and business leaders who do not take responsibility for their bad actions, and furthermore, get away with it. This make me concerned about the future of our country.

However, at every 10-Piano Concert, when the day of the concert arrives, the children are very earnest and perform wonderfully. They take their responsibility seriously. It is moving to witness children handling themselves responsibly. It gives me hope, and I think Japan will be alright after all. It makes me happy.

This time, more so than last time, from the Twinkles to the advanced levels, the pieces have improved greatly due to the great effort of the Matsumoto piano department teachers. One thing never changes: children lack their own motivation. Unless the adults around them put forth concentration and spirited energy, children do not choose on their own to do their best. (Advanced students are the same as beginners in this regard. They tend not to take anything seriously until the day of the concert, even when we teachers do nothing but scold them. Because of their good technique they know that if they earnestly practice just two to three days before the concert, they will be able to perform.)

The day of the concert finally arrived, and I felt that we were not prepared enough. Yet we received so many compliments from the audience: “It was so wonderful”,” “It was so moving,” “I couldn’t stop crying.” It made me very happy.

Those of us who have the responsibility to guide, direct, or advise young people must always strive to study more all the time. Children remain always wonderful; they are always full of surprises. It is unimaginable what kind of strides they can achieve in the last two or three days before a concert.

In the 21st century, we will be sustained by these young people who have acquired enduring ability in the arts and who will continue to thrive. It is my hope that, with heartfelt effort, we will continue to prosper. Thank you so much to all of you!

Views of the 5th Sacramento Suzuki Piano Basics
International 10-Piano Concert,
August 18, 2007

Hard copy's page 3 photos

Hard copy's page 4 photos

Hard copy's page 5 photos

Hard copy's page 6 photos


This speech was delivered at the banquet following the
Sacramento 10-Piano Concert on August 18, 2007.

Hello. My name is Ryota Miyoshi, and as many of you probably know, I was a long-time student of Dr. Kataoka. I would like to talk about my memory of Dr.Kataoka this evening.

I was not a Suzuki student from the beginning. I began to study the piano at age 3, but my first teacher followed the Yamaha approach. I began to learn to read music from the very beginning, and I spent my lessons memorizing song after song. As soon as I’d learned a piece by heart, I moved on to the next one. I learned to enjoy playing the piano, because I never had to spend any time on boring techniques, perfect posture, or hand and body control. It didn’t matter so much what the song sounded like, as long as I played the right notes. I learned song after song and had a lot of fun.

One of the songs I played tonight—Debussy’s Cakewalk —I played at the age of 8. I was playing Chopin’s Waltz at age 9. By the age of 12, I was performing in public and composing my own music and arrangements. Many people who heard me back then, told me I was a genius, and I thought so too. Of course, so did my parents. This was because I could play such difficult music at such a young age. But by the time I entered junior high, I was no longer such a child prodigy, since many of my peers could now play those same songs too.

Then one day, my mother took me to a public workshop put on by Dr. Kataoka. Like all the other students, I played for her and had a lesson. I expected her to praise my piano playing, just like everyone always had done. But the truth is, she told me that my playing wasn’t even music, it was only noise! I was crushed. But secretly, down inside, I knew that what she was saying was true. I could memorize songs very quickly, and my hands were fast and flashy, but I did not know how to control them to make the music beautiful.

I started studying with Dr. Kataoka at age 12. You can probably imagine what it was like for me to go from Chopin’s Waltz one day, to Twinkle the next day. Yes—I started with Book 1, just like any beginning Suzuki student. Honestly, it was humiliating for this piano genius! But my mother was totally dedicated to Dr. Kataoka and the Suzuki method, and if you knew my mother, you’d know that you do what she says. Period!

That first year was the most difficult year of my life. A big part of me wanted to go back to the days when everyone thought I was terrific and brilliant. But another part of me was wise enough to realize that Dr. Kataoka was the one person who could truly teach me how to play beautiful music. Of course, I couldn’t cross my mother, either!

After one year of lessons with Dr. Kataoka, she totally shocked me! She said that I would have to play two extremely difficult pieces in the upcoming 10-piano concert, which was only one-and-a-half months away. I was terrified! I knew that my playing was still noisy and uncontrolled, and I didn’t want to disappoint the other 9 performers. But Dr. Kataoka said an amazing thing to me. She said that I had nothing to worry about, because if I played badly, it was her fault, not mine. She told me to “just practice what I teach you, and I’ll make sure that you can succeed.” From that point on, I made up my mind to do whatever she said.

In Japanese, the word for “music” is “ongaku”. The two characters, “On” and “gaku” mean “sound” and “enjoy”. Before I met Dr. Kataoka, the enjoyment was for myself. Now, because of Dr. Kataoka, I understand how to create the sound that enables other people to truly enjoy my music. Through the 10-piano concert, I can help make people smile who live on the other side of the world. I can build relationships and make new friends around the world through my playing.

Dr. Kataoka was not just a piano teacher. She was a “life teacher”. She always wanted her lessons about playing the piano and about music to generalize to everyday living, to make us better people, not just better pianists. For her, each 10-piano concert was a symbol of all the things she wanted us to learn about friendship, about hard work and about not being selfish in life. That is Dr.Kataoka’s greatest lesson for us all.


Student Ryota Miyoshi (Japan) giving speech at the post-concert
banquet,Sacramento Convention Center, August 18, 2007. Photo
by Kyle Kumasaki

Piano Basics Foundation Upcoming Workshops/Events

October 5-9, 2007
Southern California (various locations)

Suzuki Piano Basics Workshop with Bruce Boiney
10-Piano Concert in Matsumoto
Contact: Rae Kate Shen 909-794-9641

October 23-24, 2007
Tucson, Arizona

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

October 26-27, 2007
Phoenix, Arizona

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

October 26-28, 2007
Salem and Hillsboro, Oregon

Suzuki Piano Basics Workshop with Linda Nakagawa
Contact: Connie Snyder
or Jill Austin

November 2-4, 2007
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Suzuki Piano Basics Workshop with Karen Hagberg
Contact: Carole Mayers 610-354-0637

November 4, 2007
Sunnyvale, California

Suzuki Piano Basics Workshop with Linda Nakagawa
Contact: Fumi Kawasaki

November 8-11, 2007
Atlanta, Georgia

"Core Education: A Suzuki Piano Basics
Workshop with Leah Brammer"
Contact: Joslyn McGuire 404-524-5880

January 18-21, 2008
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Suzuki Piano Basics Workshop with Leah Brammer
Contact: Carole Mayers 610-354-0637

March 7-9, 2008
Cary, North Carolina

Suzuki Piano Basics Workshop with Karen Hagberg
Contact: Christine Albro 919-460-8233

March 27-30, 2008
Atlanta, Georgia

Suzuki Piano Basics Workshop with Karen Hagberg
Contact: Joslyn McGuire

April 27, 2008
Matsumoto, Japan

10-Piano Concert
Contact: Karen Hagberg 585-244-0490

June 3-7, 2008
Louisville, Kentucky

University of Louisville Suzuki Piano Institute
Contact: Bruce Boiney 502-241-5921

June 9-13, 2008
Murray, Utah

Intermountain Suzuki Institute for Piano and Guitar
Suzuki Piano Basics Tone Class for Teachers
Master Classes for Students
With Huub de Leeuw, Rae Kate Shen,
Linda Nakagawa, Aleli Tibay, KarLyn Brett, Cleo Brimhall
Contact: Andrea Greger 801-768-0262

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: 2 February 2008
Last Revised: 8 March 2012