Vol. 13.5 September/October 2008

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
Chisa Aoki and Teri Paradero
Web Editors
Carol Wunderle - Volume 13.5
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 7, 2008

Different Ways of Thinking

By Haruko Kataoka

From the Matsumoto Suzuki Piano Newsletter
August 24, 1991
Translated by Chisa Aoki and Teri Paradero
Edited by Karen Hagberg
Illustrations by Juri Kataoka

When I was in elementary school in 1933, I was assigned summer homework that consisted of a thick workbook with drills, science research, math problems, crafts, etc. Whoever thought of such a dreadful thing! I don’t believe that a child will become smarter even by completing every single page of such exercises. Instead, reading the works of Kenji Miyazawa or Margaret Mitchell’s Gone with the Wind, or any great works of literature, or watching videos of the great masterpieces in art would provide better learning opportunities.

Students enrolled in my grade school were automatically admitted to the affiliated high school, and as a result things felt laid back since we did not have to pass entrance exams. Summer break was exactly two months long. Now, here in Matsumoto City in Nagano Prefecture summer break is only 20 days long. Such an extreme difference, isn’t it?

At about the time I was in fifth grade, because of my fragile health my family began spending summers in Karuizawa. My main concern was to have a healthy summer, being outside and running around every day. I decided to leave for Karuizawa without my school supplies and assignments. Although I felt a little guilty, I just wanted to enjoy the summer. But one day I revealed to Mr. M (who later became a Minister of Education), a frequent visitor from our neighborhood who was still a high school student under the old system, that I had left all my school things and homework at home in Tokyo, to which he responded, “Great!”

I was not an active, spirited child, so it didn’t occur to me to ask him why he said that. On the one hand, the remark startled me, but another side of me wondered if what I had done was justified. I can still remember my thinking process. As a result, in subsequent years I ended up doing the entire workbook on the very first day of summer break. I thought that this was the best solution.

Then came the arrival of the next generation, my own children. My older child did not challenge my way of thinking. However, it was different with my younger child, my daughter. At the beginning of summer break when I told her to gather up her summer work and finish it all at once, she retorted, “That’s not right! My teacher told us that we have to do our work every day, one page at a time, so I’m going to do my work one page at a time. My teacher said we must live according to proper rules and regulations and we should make a daily schedule.”

On the chart she was given, 7 a.m. was the time to awaken and breakfast was at 8. I was aware that this teacher’s opinion applied to the general population, and I also understood all too well that my daughter was trying to do her summer assignment as best she could. However, I couldn’t contain myself and blurted out, “She must be joking! This is summer break after all. So why do I have to get up so early? My workday ends late at night and by the time I’m finished with house chores, I get to bed at 1 or 2 a.m. Sometimes it’s even later than that. Our home is not like other regular homes.”

Her face all dejected, my daughter countered, “But I can’t write down that breakfast is at 10.”

I responded, “Then you can lie, I hate things like planners anyhow. We can’t plan things that cannot be done. You're making plans, then you're actually practicing to break them.” I was venting my anger not so much at my daughter, but toward society in general.

Of course, one’s view of any single issue differs according to the many diverse personal situations present. I supposedly understood that situational differences exist. Through my own child, however, I was deeply touched by this fact and learned from this experience. We cannot always assume that parental thinking is correct. We may share the same goal but the thought process behind that goal can originate from entirely different directions!

So please, fathers and mothers of our piano school, understand that all people act accordingly to how they think based on their individual sensibilities. We must be mindful that our parental thought process is not altogether infallible. Please lend an ear to your children’s point of view!

Welcome, New Member!

Suzanne Lichtenstein
36 Midland St.
Simpson, PA 18407
570 282-2215

Change of Address:

Connie H. Bell
5149 Grey hawk Dr.
Lehi, UT 84043

Change of Email Address:

Teri Paradero

February 2009

Two Suzuki Piano Basics

Teacher Research Workshops


Keiko Ogiwara


Keiko Kawamura

February 12-16 Orange County, California
Contact: Mei Ihara 714-997-8692

February 19-23 Louisville, Kentucky
Contact: Bruce Boiney 502-241-5921

Please note that they will not conduct workshops in June next year, and that teachers wishing to enroll students in the 10-Piano Concert in Sacramento, as well as the students themselves, are encouraged to have a lesson in February. There are Friendship Concerts scheduled in both places.

How I came to Suzuki

By Kay Koehler, St Peter, Minnesota

In the early 90’s, I owned a music store with my twin sister. We sold pianos and sheet music; and we gave lessons in voice and piano. We each had around 60 students, and in four years I had burned out. That was l995.

Last August I found myself walking into a music store in Minnesota and heard myself say, “Do you need another piano teacher?” Their response at first was negative, but after reading my resumé, they said they would make room for me. That “room” turned out to be a bathroom. The facilities were missing, and an indoor/outdoor carpet had been glued down to cover up the drain. The drain was such that any chair or much less a piano bench would wobble. I shared it with a guitar teacher who had awful posters all over the walls.

The store put in a small digital that plugged into an amp. That was new for me. Thing was, they quickly booked me with almost a dozen students, so I was off and running again. Among those 12 students was a 4-year-old. This posed a great question: How was I going to teach a 4-year-old? She couldn’t read yet!

Fortunately, the store owner’s daughter was a Suzuki mom. She and her daughter had been taught Suzuki piano for four years. She suggested very strongly that I get acquainted with Suzuki. I shrugged it off and said, “NO WAY!” I just wasn’t interested.

I checked out every method book I could find and found nothing that would work. I felt frustrated and a bit panic-stricken. So I found myself in the same office again in total surrender saying, “OK. What the heck is Suzuki?” She smiled, and introduced me to Ruth Greve, their teacher. Ruth has become my mentor and dearest friend. The more Ruth talked and demonstrated the Suzuki method, the more I knew I was led to be here. Ruth got me in touch with Jeanne Luedke who strongly suggested I attend the Louisville Suzuki Piano Institute.

I am now so in love with the Suzuki Piano Basic method of teaching children. Even Helen Keller could see and hear the difference the Suzuki method holds in playing piano. The tone is superior to anything taught today to say nothing of the development of the whole child that is probably the best perk of all.

The parent and child learn what it is to be a strong, confidant, and well-developed human being. In all my years teaching traditional piano, I knew there was something missing. Something I couldn’t put my finger on. Then I found Suzuki. Suzuki not only teaches how to play piano with beautiful tone and musicality, but it treats children and parents with the respect, love and nurturing they so deserve. I feel privileged and blessed to be a part of this marvelous way to learn the piano.

My First Piano Basics Workshop:

By Suzanne Lichtenstein, Simpson, Pennsylvania

Suzanne is familiar to Suzuki-L readers. She lives in a rural area in Pennsylvania where there is little opportunity to study with other teachers. In the early months of this year she frequently asked questions online about how to teach Suzuki Piano Method, and many Suzuki-L contributors encouraged her to attend a summer workshop with teachers from Japan. She went to Rochester, New York for the August workshop and files this report:

I loved my first workshop. The tone of the Japanese teachers amazed me. I also watched closely how they interacted with students, how they encouraged the children to listen to their moms, and how they got a promise from each student that they would practice the way the teacher had shown them. I found this to be all very interesting and useful.

The Q&A sessions were beneficial, too. I especially had questions about how to organize lessons, how long to keep students on a piece, what to do with students who are overscheduled and do not have time to practice, and so on. The teachers' answers were very helpful, always on-target and based on actual experience.

This cake, if you will, was rich enough; but the icing on top was the social time with the other teachers. Karen Hagberg had planned well for teacher meals together, rides for those without cars, and fun activities every evening. Who could ever forget ducking down for Low Bridge on the Erie Canal--to literally save our heads? (Those less adventurous stayed below deck.) And after many days of sitting through lesson observations, Karen led us on an ambling walk along Lake Ontario, which stretched as far as the eye could see.

It was a grand time. And the lesson observations have changed the way I teach: less talking, more showing; making way for the student to listen to the tone, instead of to me.

Thank you to everyone who encouraged me to "come and see" instead of only reading about this method. You were right. Thank you, Lisa Cash, for opening up your studio to a crowd of teachers and students. Thank you, fellow teachers, for welcoming me into the group and for sharing your experiences and ideas with me. And thank you to Karen for organizing such a good workshop. And for baking those awesome pies...

My Time in Rochester

By Marjorie Saviano, Acworth, Georgia
Student of Robin Blankenship

Last month I attended the Suzuki Friendship Concert in Rochester, NY. This was my second friendship concert; the first one was in Atlanta. During my visit to Rochester, I was fortunate to stay with Karen and Richard Simmonds, and their daughter Ashley (13). In the concert I performed the Liebestraum, by Liszt, and for my lesson with Kawamura Sensei I played the Polonaise in Ab, by Chopin. Friendship concerts give young performers the chance to learn from teachers around the world, share music with fellow students from all over the United States and Japan (and in some cases other countries), and build friendships that can last a lifetime.

All of the American students received a lesson with one of the Japanese teachers, and the Japanese students with the American teachers. I had a thoroughly beneficial lesson with Kawamura Sensei. She gave me great pointers on technique, and helpful suggestions on perfecting the tone quality of the Polonaise.

The friendship concert was a true enjoyment. We performed in a beautiful venue, the Performance Hall at the Hochstein Music School, on a gorgeous 9-foot Steinway. While I was playing the Liebestraum (which means “Dreams of Love”), I completely forgot I was performing! I just let the music take me to a state of elated bliss. Each and every student played wonderfully. After the concert there was a small reception. I was able to interact and spend time with the Japanese students, which was very helpful for me since I am currently studying Japanese.

For the five days I was in Rochester, I spent most of my time with Karen and Ashley. We en-joyed each other’s company very much. I felt right at home, because Ashley reminded me of myself when I was her age, and Karen was so much like my own mom! They definitely created a mem-orable experience for me. The first night I was there, they took me to see the very accomplished pianist, Norman Krieger, perform with the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra. The performance was mesmer-izing!

We ventured to the beautiful Canadian side of Niagara Falls, and enjoyed some touristy activ-ities while we were there. We also had a blast at Seabreeze Amuse-ment Park!

My experience in Rochester was one of great encouragement, ca-maraderie, and inspiration. Thank you to everyone who made this possible.

Our Trip to Rochester

By Sobia Mufti, Atlanta, Georgia

Students of Robin Blankenship in Atlanta, Georgia, Ranya and Aydan Mufti traveled with their parents to Rochester, New York in August to participate in the Suzuki Piano Basics Teacher Research Work-shop. They both had master class lessons, and Ranya performed in the International Friendship Concert. Their mother Sobia reports: The Mufti family had a wonderful experience in Rochester, NY this summer. We are overjoyed that both children had the opportunity to take part in this unique experience.

We arrived in the scenic city not knowing what to expect, and were pleasantly surprised by the charming neighborhoods and friendly people as well as families who facilitated practice times in their homes. We were overwhelmed by the experience of the performance hall at Hochstein.

Both the Suzuki workshop and the Concert were very special. At the workshop the Japanese instructors (who did not speak much of the English language, and had never met our children) were able to focus on the very basics of our children's technique. The technique gained from the two lessons will go a long way in helping both Ranya and Aydan relax their hands and get the best sound from each piece.

The Friendship Concert was a delight. The Concert took place in the heart of downtown Rochester in the Performance Hall at the Hochstein Music School. This historic hall with stained glass windows, and stadium seating allowed us to truly experience each performance on a singular level. The Japanese students performed masterfully and enriched the polished performances of the other students.

The experience provided us with a deeper un-derstanding and appreciation of Suzuki Piano. It was amazing to witness children from different parts of the world coming together with the same goals, dedication and love of music. For me, watching my daughter’s performance there was a perfect end to the summer.

Share your Videos

We would like to remind teachers that Ken Wilburn and the staff of East Carolina University are willing to begin archiving videos of Dr. Kataoka's master classes. Many of you have videos of lessons and may submit them to Ken for inclusion in the online archive.

There is a copy of the video release form on the Suzuki Piano Basics web site, although you do not need to get a release signed for the lesson to appear on the archive. For a copy of the release form, see: .

Send your videos, in any format, labeled as to place, date, piece, name and age of student (the student's name and age will not be published online, but will be archived for future research) to: Dr. Kenneth Wilburn, Department of History, Brewster Building, East 10th Street, East Carolina University, Greenville, NC 27858


Mondavi Center for the Arts, UC Davis, Davis, California
Saturday, August 15, 2009
2:30 p.m.


All Suzuki Piano Basics teachers wishing for their students to participate in the 2009 Suzuki Piano Basics International 10-Piano concert in Sacramento must complete pre-registration for themselves and for their students in order to qualify to participate in the concert. The following is a reminder of the guidelines:

   1.   All teachers are welcome. The total registration fee for teachers is $275 for August 1-15, 2009. Those who help with the concert          will receive a free concert ticket.
  2.   Another observation option is available. A   teacher may pregister for a 3-day pass for $150. The 3day pass is good for 1-3 days                of observation. (Pre-registration fee will not assessed if you contact Linda Nakagawa at least two weeks prior to your arrival.)
  3.   Teachers who wish to enroll their students must be a member of Piano Basics Foundation and must pre-register by December          10,2008.  (The pre-registration deadline for local Sacramento students is November 1, 2008.)
  4.    Preference will be given to students of teachers who have had lessons with a Japanese teacher in 2008 and 2009.
  5.    It is highly recommended that the student also have had a lesson with a Japanese teacher.
  6.    Teachers with students participating must attend all rehearsals.
  7.    Students who come alone and require homestay must be old enough to take care of themselves (independent of their parents).          Homestay hosts will provide transportation to rehearsals, meals, laundry etc. The fee for homestay will be $225. Students will also need          spending money for any sightseeing, personal purchases and/or meals away from the homestay.
  8.    Priority will go to teachers who have observed, or have had their students participate in past 10-piano concerts.
  9.    Students will be chosen on the basis of repertoire and homestay availability.
10.    Homestay is not available for families. Students coming with parents are asked to stay in a hotel for the duration of the 2-week          rehearsal period. Practice facilities will be provided.
11.   There is a greater possibility that students will be accepted if homestay is not requested.
12.   All performers must be in Sacramento and ready to rehearse from Saturday, August 1, 2009 at 10:00 a.m. until the concert on         August 15.
13.   Pre-rehearsed groups of 10 students will not be accepted.
14.   Registration Fee for students (bowers included) is $200, payable upon acceptance to SMAC-Sierra Branch.
15.   Rehearsals for local students and teachers are planned for every week-end starting at the end of June. Students and teachers outside of         the area are welcome!

Please contact Linda Nakagawa by e-mail ( or by phone (916-422-2952) to request registration forms and submit by December 10, 2008. (Note: Sacramento-area teachers' deadline is November 1.)

Piano Basics Foundation
Upcoming Workshops/Events

October 3-4, 2008
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

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

October 21-23, 2008
Tucson, Arizona

Suzuki Piano Workshop with Karen Hagberg
Contact: Ann Taylor 520-881-0452

October 24-25, 2008
Salem, Oregon

Suzuki Piano Basics Workshop with Linda Nakagawa
Contact: Connie Snyder 503-585-0929

October 24-25, 2008
Phoenix, Arizona

Suzuki Piano Workshop with Karen Hagberg
Contact: Vicki Seil 480-234-9003

Oct. 24-27, 2008
Atlanta, Georgia

Suzuki Piano Basics Workshop with Bruce Boiney
Contact: Jocelyn McQuire 404-524-5800

October 26, 2008
Hillsboro, Oregon

Suzuki Piano Basics Workshop with Linda Nakagawa
Contact: Jill Austin 503-640-5795

November 7-9, 2008
Toronto, Ontario

Royal Conservatory of Music
20th Annual Conference of the Suzuki Association of Ontario,
in conjunction with "The Art of Teaching" Celebration at the
newly renovated Royal Conservatory of Music.
"The Legacy of Haruko Kataoka," talk by Karen Hagberg;
"Piano teachers" retreat facilitated by Karen Hagberg
Contact: Elizabeth Sherk 416-431-7264

February, 19-23, 2009
Louisville, Kentucky

Suzuki Piano Basics Teacher Research Workshop with
Keiko Ogiwara and Keiko Kawamura
Contact Bruce Boiney 502-241-5921

March 10-12, 2009
Tucson, Arizona

Suzuki Piano Workshop with Karen Hagberg
Contact: Ann Taylor 520-881-0452

March 13-14, 2009
Phoenix, Arizona

Suzuki Piano Workshop with Karen Hagberg
Contact: Vicki Seil 480-234-9003

April 23-26, 2009
Atlanta, Georgia

Suzuki Piano Basics Workshop with Bruce Boiney
Contact: Jocelyn McQuire 404-524-5800

August, 1-15, 2009
Davis, California

International Suzuki Piano Basics 10-Piano Concert
Mondavi Center for the Arts
Contact Linda Nakagawa 916-422-2952

The events listed above are for the information of Suzuki Piano Basics Foundation members and others.
Suzuki Piano Basics Foundation does not endorse, sanction, or sponsor events.

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: 16 May 2009
Last Revised: 9 March 2012