by Dr. Haruko Kataoka
On May 2, we held the tenth 10-Piano Concert. I am really relieved, but at the same time, I am reminded about some things that teachers need to consider more.
A month before the concert, at the beginning of April, our rehearsals began in the rehearsal room of Matsumoto Bunka Kaikan (Matsumoto Cultural Center). During this period when all the students, teachers and parents expended their utmost patience and effort, there were some things I noticed.
First, thanks to the hard-working teachers who teach the important basics of piano playing throughout the year, I was very pleased to see how the level of the children's technique has improved. You may think that rehearsals must have been really easy because of this, but that was not the case. Children are completely different from adults. They do not plan for success. In other words, they do not become serious at rehearsals as they do at the concert. Of course they had memorized their pieces, but they had no desire to play their best. If they had played really badly, they might have realized the necessity of practicing, but the fact that they were not particularly bad and that there were ten students together did not help each individual student become serious enough. Consequently, the instructions from the teachers at the end of each rehearsal did not sink in and were not faithfully practiced at home.
Come to think of it, no matter how much their technique has improved, children are still children. Although they possess wonderful abilities, they do not even think about using these without special help and encouragement from adults. Thus, it was quite a challenge for us to make each student gradually become more and more focused and understand that they had to listen really carefully so as not to ruin the effort of the nine other people who were performing with them.
I think it is actually to their credit that children are not naturally focused. Having no intentions of their own, they are receptive to our scolding and also to the practice we require of them. They need good adults who keep reminding them that they must be focused. Otherwise, they will just waste their valuable childhood without using the treasure they possess.
The other interesting point I observed was that children respond to the requests of teachers based on how these requests are made. The choice of expressions, how the words were used, the tone of voice and the way in which they were encouraged all elicited different responses from the students. It made me realize that when a goal is not accomplished, we should not lust blame the children. Adults really must choose the very best words and the very best manner in which to touch children's hearts.
On concert day, I am always impressed by the seriousness of the children. They perform wonderfully, as if they were totally different people from the ones who came to the rehearsals. They say they are nervous when they are waiting to go onstage. This nervousness, as long as the preparation has been thoroughly done, helps them to do their very best. In order for children to experience the kind of joy that comes from doing their best, I feel we adults should do our utmost to help them prepare for it. Such a joyful experience will develop the kind of confidence that will help them throughout their lives.
We adults are given the responsibility to raise these wonderful children. Dr. Suzuki often said, "Children are not responsible." He was right! We adults are the ones who are responsible. Now that another 10-Piano Concert is over, this simple fact again weighs heavily on my shoulders.
In appreciation for our wonderful environment where children can pursue studying art, we again requested donations to UNICEF to benefit children who live under difficult conditions. Parents and teachers from Japan and the United States and the audience members at the concert helped us very graciously. It resulted in a total of $11,472, which we presented it to the Mayor of Matsumoto at the 10-Piano Concert.
One mother said, "Whenever I see some program about underprivileged children on TV I wish I could do something, but it can easily slip my mind during busy everyday life. So I think it is a wonderful idea that we hold this concert as a benefit for UNICEF It is in this way that we can demonstrate our ideals for our children."
Reprinted from the Newsletter of the Matsumoto Piano Teachers Association of the Talent Education Research Institute, Vol. 8, No. 12, May 10, 1999. Illustrations [not in the web edition] by Juri Kataoka. Translation by Haruko Sakakibara. Edited by Dr. Karen Hagberg. Web Edited by Kenneth Wilburn.
The next issue of our newsletter will feature the 10-Piano Concert recently held in Sacramento. Participating teachers, students, and parents, please send your articles and comments by September 15 to SPBF Newsletter, P.O. Box 342, Yachats, OR 97498; Fax: 541-547-4829; email: firstname.lastname@example.org
On June 16, 1999, after a six-year hiatus, the Suzuki Piano Basics teachers of the Philadelphia area welcomed Dr. Kataoka for five days of intense training. Many teachers from beyond the Philadelphia area also attended our workshop. They came from central Pennsylvania, Ohio, New York, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, Florida, Washington, Canada, and even England. New friendships were made and old ones were strengthened. Together we focused on Suzuki philosophy and on using our bodies naturally when playing the piano.
Our institute was held at Rock Hall on the campus of Temple University. Each day we observed teacher lessons and student lessons and heard Dr. Kataoka lecture on various points. One day her lecture was directed mainly to parents. That lecture was followed by a pizza picnic and then a student recital featuring twenty-one selected performers from various states. Many of the students had already had their lessons with Dr. Kataoka, and it was exciting to hear how much they had improved in only a day or two.
We were very fortunate to have Dr. Karen Hagberg with us for our workshop. During the week we observed her teach seven students, and she presented a lecture titled "Ongoing Parent Education." She urged us to nurture and teach the parents in our studios as carefully as we do the students. We must not give up on our weakest parents but instead find ways to convince them about listening and practicing.
We also watched two videos that Dr. Kataoka brought with her from Japan. One was of the very latest 10-Piano Concert on May 2,1999. The other was of a recent solo recital in Matsumoto. All of the performances were impressive and inspiring.
On the last day of the institute, several of us participated in a teacher recital. Dr. Kataoka then made brief comments about each performance. Many of us realized how valuable it can be to put ourselves in the shoes of our students.
Throughout the institute and also during the extra days that Dr. Kataoka stayed with us in Philadelphia, I found myself experiencing a wide range of thoughts and emotions. There was nervous excitement upon her arrival as well as happiness that she was here again after many years. Upon taking a lesson with her, I was nervous before, relieved afterward, but also left with a lingering despair. Will I ever get the Alberti bass mastered? During student lessons, my emotions ranged from amazement at her incredible teaching to anger when she was particularly negative and demanding with a student. I also was very proud of each student, as they all responded to her suggestions with serious intent. I was especially moved at the student recital. The last student on the program played Mozart's "Twinkle Variations," and this brought tears to my eyes just like when my own two children had been in Suzuki violin concerts.
With the end of Dr. Kataoka's visit came renewed determination to practice and to improve my teaching. There was also sadness, both at the end of the workshop and in saying good-bye to Dr. Kataoka at the airport. Not only is she a master teacher to be greatly respected but she is a human being who has become a warm friend. And so perhaps the greatest emotion of the week was love...for my colleagues in Philadelphia, for all those who attended, for all of the students and their parents, for Dr. Suzuki's great legacy, and for Dr. Kataoka.
The essence of being a good teacher includes the willingness continually to improve, the eagerness to seek out ways to change and the knowledge that we can always develop our abilities to a higher level and deepen our understanding. Teaching well, like learning, is a multi-layered process, and thus, a life-long, fascinating endeavor.
Dr. Suzuki always said, Suzuki Method is parent education. The significance of this most fundamental principle of Suzuki philosophy came clearer to me at the recent workshop presented by Dr. Haruko Kataoka here in Philadelphia. Her artful example of persistence in educating the parent during the master class lessons was wonderful to observe and very helpful to my growth as a teacher.
My Suzuki program now requires extensive parent education and preparation before the child begins lessons:
However, where my teaching needs improvement is in the ongoing, continual education of the parent at each and every lesson. We have a weekly opportunity to influence, guide and support parents in numerous and profound ways.
Listening is at the heart of the Suzuki Method, and of being a good musician. It is incumbent upon us, as educators, to deepen and refine our own ability to listen with sensitivity and dear perception. Parents can also greatly improve their ability to listen and understand musical sounds. In fact, it is essential that they be engaged in educating their own ears, or they will lose interest in the music learning process and will eventually feel inadequate to the task of being a Suzuki parent.
Of course, it is the teacher's responsibility, working with both parent and child, to train a parent's ear and interest them in this world of sound and musical expression. The basics are the foundation. Parents can learn to discriminate between:
The result of attending to these basic musical points is that the parent can tell the difference between a high quality performance and one in which the student merely plays all the notes correctly. If a piece is played note-perfect but with a loud accompaniment, the performance is, in a sense, one big mistake. Playing beautifully and making a couple of note mistakes is far preferable. Parents who understand and can hear the difference will be better able to assist in their child's practice. They, then, will be more willing to do the necessary work because they can be excited about the results. Students who study in this way will play more beautifully and confidently, allowing the natural development of musical expression.
It is important for the teacher to clearly assign one of these basic listening points at every lesson. Then, the parent and child know what to listen for at practice time, and the practice becomes interesting and productive.
How else can students improve their musical abilities? One game that students in my studio like to play is "Fool the Adults." Almost always, there are two or more students and their parents in the studio. If a student has been working on a basic skill and has begun to master that skill, e.g., repeated-note legato, then we play this game. Everyone observing must close their eyes as they listen to two musical examples played on the same piano, one example played by me and one by my student. Then the observers decide who played first. I find that the parent of the student playing hears more discriminately because they know how their child sounds. One particular student who loves this game is quite creative. So, sometimes I have to play twice and mess up once, or perhaps he will do a similar thing.
It is still amazing, though not surprising, to discover how improving one basic musical point can fundamentally change a larger, complex piece. I was recently working with an adult student on the second movement of the Beethoven Sonata in Book 4. There were many details that could have been addressed. However, the most basic rhythmic structure of the Tempo di Minuetto, the three-beat meter was not being executed consistently. The opening motive begins on beat three, a light upbeat, and the dotted-sixteenth note must be the lightest note of the three-note motive, followed by a deeper tone on the beat-one half note. Careful attention to this motive and its many repetitions will transform the piece into an elegant, gentle dance.
There are many levels of listening, all of which require much repetition effectively to develop a good ear. It is a difficult job to hear oneself clearly and accurately while practicing, and every music student needs to develop this type of focused listening. Children hear more sensitively and absorb sounds more quickly and directly than adults.. Yet, without a parent there to nurture this attentive listening during practice time, children are unable to do the necessary work that builds a solid foundation of basic skills. Therefore, as Suzuki teachers working with both parent and child, we must continually remind ourselves to find ways to provide a strong listening education for the parent. The child will greatly benefit from this musical learning environment.
Ten-year-old Peter worked herd to prepare for his lesson with Dr. Kataoka at the Philadelphia Institute and shared his feelings with fellow students at a recent studio group lesson. "It was awesome," seemed to sum up the general experience. He explained to the group that Dr. Kataoka's English was pretty good, but when things got complicated, her interpreter took over. We talked about seeing students who had come quite a distance to have one lesson with Dr. Kataoka - one teenage boy had traveled all the way from Florida. I added that another student, Lorelei, had expressed surprise when she noticed that two teachers sitting beside her were from England.
As a teacher, I enjoyed catching a glimpse of Pete returning to his seat after performing at the institute's recital and sharing a "high five" with the ten-year old boy seated beside him. The Philadelphia Institute was an experience we will never forget, and I am delighted that we had such a wonderful educational opportunity.
The Minutes of 1998's Annual Membership Meeting were read by the Secretary, Cathy Williams Hargrave. Cleo Brimhall moved to accept the Minutes as read. The motion was seconded by Pam Werner.
The Treasurer, Linda Nakagawa, read the Treasurer's Report. The current balance is approximately $27,715 with another $10,000.00 in a CD. The current membership total is 245. Cheryl Kraft moved to accept the Treasurer's report. It was seconded by Connie Snyder.
Nominations for 1999 Board Members were called for from the floor. Since there were no new nominations, Barbara Meixner made the motion that current Board Members continue in their positions for another term (three years). Pam Werner seconded the motion. Board Members are: Cleo Brimhall, Dr. Karen Hagberg, Cheryl Kraft, and Linda Nakagawa.
The resignation of Vice-President, Joan Krzywicki was announced and it was decided by the membership that there was no immediate need to replace her position. Officers continuing in their positions for one more year are: Dr. Karen Hagberg - President; Bruce Boiney and Leah Brammer - Vice-Presidents; Cathy W. Hargrave - Secretary; Linda Nakagawa - Treasurer.
The death last month of Fanetta McLean was announced. It was suggested that members express their sympathy to the family by sending condolence cards to the address listed in the "Membership Directory." Fanetta was in her 70s and valiantly fought breast cancer.
Cheryl Kraft thanked everyone who contributes to the Newsletter: Karen Hagberg for editing, Linda Nakagawa for copying, Barbara Meixner for mailing and the Sacramento area teachers for their assistance. She called for more articles from the membership.
Members expressed concern on the subject of music reading and proposed that Dr. Haruko Kataoka's articles from past Newsletters be compiled into one collection. This will be considered. It was also proposed that a Membership Form be included as the final page of the Membership Directory for members to copy for people interested in our organization.
Cleo Brimhall made a motion to adjourn. Seconded by Rita Burns. At 12:30 the meeting adjourned.
Respectfully submitted by Cathy Hargrave, Secretary.
We were saddened to hear of the death of our longtime member, Fanetti McLean in June. Condolences may be sent to her family at 916 West Street, Amherst MA 01002.
PIANO BASICS FOUNDATION CATALOG OF EDUCATIONAL MATERIALS DISCOGRAPHY -- SUZUKI PIANO REPERTOIREPrices good through December 1999 Non- ID/Composer ARTIST TITLE LABEL CAT# Member member VOLUME 1 H. Kataoka Volume 1 PBF 5005 14.00 17.00 VOLUME 2 H. Kataoka Volume 2 PBF 5007 14.00 17.00 VOLUME 3 H. Kataoka Volume 3 PBF 5009 14.00 17.00 H. Kataoka Complete Set PBF 5011 36.00 51.00 VOLUME 4: Mozart W. Gieseking Minuet I,III, VIII CAP 63688 85.00 95.00 K. 315a Beethoven W. Gieseking Sonata, Op.49, No.2 PHS 9930 17.00 20.00 Emil Gilels Sonata, Op.49, No.2 PLC 19172 16.00 20.00 Bach Dinu Lipatti Minuet I & II EMI 67003 10.00 13.00 Gigue (BWV 825) VOLUME 5: J.S. Bach Glenn Gould Prelude in C COL 52600 31.00 34.00 (Well-Tempered Clavier Book 1) Andras Schiff as above PLC 14388 30.00 33.00 J.S. Bach Glenn Gould Inventions 2&3 Part COL 52596 15.00 18.00 Andras Schiff as above PLC 11974 15.00 18.00 Haydn NEW! Lili Kraus Sonata in C. Cassette Tape 8.00 10.00 Hob. XVI, No. 35 VOLUME 6: J.S. Bach Andras Segovia, Little Prelude CAP 61048 10.00 13.00 guitar (Preludes for Lute, BWV 999) Mozart W. Gieseking Sonata K.545 CAP 63688 85.00 95.00 A. de Larrocha Sonata K.545 RCAV 60709 15.00 17.00 (with K.281, 282, 284) Daquin S. Rachmaninoff The Cuckoo RCA 61265 107.00 125.00 (The Complete Recordings of S. Rachmaninoff) Mozart W. Gieseking Sonata K.330 CAP 63688 85.00 95.00 A. de Larrocha Sonata K.330 RCAV 60454 15.00 18.00 (with K.309, 310, and 311) Scarlatti Dinu Lipatti Sonata "Pastoral" EMI 67003 10.00 13.00 L.413 VOLUME 7: Mozart W. Gieseking Sonata K.331 CAP 63688 85.00 95.00 A. de Larrocha Sonata K.331 RCAV 60407 15.00 17.00 (with K.253, 332, and 333) Handel NEW! Murray Perahia Plays Handel & RCA 61265 107.00 125.00 Scarlatti Harmonious Blacksmith Rachmaninoff Harmonius Blacksmith RCA 61265 100.00 115.00 Complete Recordings Paderewski Paderewski Minuet RCAV 60923 10.00 13.00 (No Longer Available) ADDITIONAL DISCOGRAPHY A. de Larrocha Spanish Fireworks/- PLC 17795 10.00 13.00 Piano Collection A. de Larrocha Spanish Serenade RCAV 61389 14.00 17.00 A. de Larrocha Spanish Encores PLC 17639 15.00 18.00 Impresiones... V. Horowitz Private collection RCAV 62643 14.00 17.00 V. Horowitz Complete RCA Recordings RCAV 61655 212.00 240.00 J.S. Bach Glenn Gould Italian Concerto/- COL 42527 7.00 10.00 Partita/Tocatta Beethoven F. Gulda Piano Sonatas PLC 43012 15.00 18.00 14/15/17/21/23/24 Beethoven/- S. Azuma Piano Sonata 8/26 EPS 005 15.00 18.00 Schubert Chopin A. de Larrocha Preludes-Complete PLC 33089 7.00 10.00 Clementi V. Horowitz Horowitz Plays RCAV 7753 10.00 13.00 ClementiEPS Liszt M. Nojima Nojima Plays Liszt REF 25 15.00 18.00 Liszt NEW! Seizo Azuma La Campanella- EPS 006 17.00 20.00 "Favorites" Mozart A. de Larrocha Fantasy 397 RCAV 60453 15.00 18.00 (with K. 279,280) M. Ravel M. Nojima Nojima Plays Ravel REF 35 15.00 18.00 VIDEOTAPES Matsumoto 1996-10 Piano Concert PBF 5007 80.00 Seizo Azuma Solo Piano Recital-25/6/1999 EPS 107 50.00 60.00 Matsumoto NEW Spring 1999-10 Piano Concert PBF 5009 100.00 120.00 Sacramento NEW Suzuki Piano Basics PBF 5010 40.00 60.00 International 10-Piano Concert BOOKS Author Title C. Hargrave Basic Rhythm Studies 7.15 7.95 C. Hargrave Reading Music By Ear 11.65 12.95 H. Kataoka How to Teach Beginners 10.00 12.00 H. Kataoka My Thoughts on Piano Technique 5.00 7.00 H. Kataoka Sensibility and Education 7.00 10.00 H. Kataoka Thoughts on the Suzuki Piano School 5.00 7.00 S. Suzuki Nurtured by Love 12.00 15.00 To order, call or FAX Piano Basics Foundation at: 916-422-2952.
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Piano Basics Foundation has recently been organized to support the method of teaching and playing the piano taught at the Talent Education Research Institute in Matsumoto, Japan by Dr. Haruko Kataoka. Piano Basics Foundation will provide its members with recordings, books and videotapes with free postage and handling.
See the link just above for a listing of books, videotapes, and recordings (instructional materials). If you are looking for a particular recording enclose a note with the composer's name, instrument, name of the piece and the name of the artist. We will let you know if it is available or not.
The Suzuki Method 10-Piano Concert has grown to include 250 students.
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-F. Liszt "Favorites"
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August 6,1999, Sacramento Community Center Theater
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First Online Edition: 5 October 1999
Last Revised: 4 March 2012