Volume 7.5, September/October 2002

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.

Suzuki Piano Basics Foundation News

Editors and Layout
Dr. Karen Hagberg and Cheryl Kraft

Web Editor
Kenneth Wilburn

Leah Brammer
Five Color Photos from This Issue

Hard Copy Illustrations
Juri Kataoka

Leah Brammer - Media
Rita Burns - Workshops
Renee Eckis - Translation Coordinator
Cathy Williams Hargrave - Editions

Production and Distribution
Linda Nakagawa, Barbara Meixner, and the Sacramento Teachers Research Group

Send Articles to:
Suzuki Piano Basics Foundation
P.O. Box 342, Yachats, OR 97498
Fax: 541-547-4829

Linda Nakagawa
242 River Acres Drive
Sacramento, CA, USA 95831
Phone: 916-422-2952

Deadline for Next Issue: November 15

Second 10-Piano Concert In Sacramento

By Dr. Haruko Kataoka

This time thirty students from Japan went to Sacramento to study. The basics of the American students: posture, balance, etc. have improved since the previous 10-Piano Concert. This is because many American teachers have studied the basics by attending the 10-Piano Concert in Matsumoto. When teachers do not study, students cannot improve. If the teacher cannot demonstrate technique, there is no way the student's technique can get better. I am happy to see that the teachers have begun to understand a good way of teaching.

All children, American and Japanese, are the same. As the date of the concert approaches, they get serious and begin to do extraordinary practice. I am sure they do not practice this much normally. Unlike performing solo, when they are part of a group of ten players there is pressure on them not to let the others down. Together they work as a team. Feeling responsibility, they work harder. I feel, as always, it is the same in America.

There were 2,000 people in the audience, and the concert was wonderful, a great success.

Afterwards, I received this letter from the mother of one of the Japanese students:

Thank you for your kind care of my daughter during the trip to America. Since my daughter started junior high school, she has been too busy every day. Although she practices, her piano study was beginning to feel meaningless, and she was at a dead end.

By nature, she is passive and quiet, so she surprised us when she announced that she wanted to go to America. As parents, we had our doubts and worries, but after much consideration we agreed to let her go.

When she came back, she told us that Kataoka Sensei assigned a practice of 2,000 repetitions, and that this was so difficult. The children in the homestay family who did not even know the Turkish March at first began humming the piece after hearing it so much.

Then she told us that she was so moved by the thunderous applause from the American audience. We could tell, both from her words and her body language as she reported the details of her trip that there was a glimmer of cheerfulness in her as a result of everything she had learned and experienced in America.

I am so grateful for the host family's hospitality. Even though they were busy with four daughters, the mother took such good care of my daughter. The girls became very fond of each other. When it came time to leave, the second daughter was sobbing very loudly as she waved good-bye to the bus.

My daughter said, deeply from her heart, that she was so glad she never gave up and continued with her piano lessons. I feel the same way. I have three daughters taking lessons. At night, it is like a battlefield at our house. However, I have renewed determination to keep on going.

Please continue to guide us.

The 3rd Sacramento 10-Piano Concert is being planned for August 16, 2003. Teachers are invited to come and study. Students of teachers who are already studying are invited to participate. For further information, contact Linda Nakagawa, 242 River Acres Drive, Sacramento CA 95831.

Translated by Chisa Aoki and Teri Paradero
Edited by Dr. Karen Hagberg
Hard Copy Cartoons Illustrated by Juli Kataoka
From Matsumoto Piano Basics Newsletter
Volume 11, No. 4

Letter to the Editor:

I want to express my sincere appreciation to Pat Huck and the Saskatchewan Suzuki Piano Basics Association of Canada, for their fund-raising efforts in support of a child in New York City whose life was affected by the tragic events of 9/11/01. It was Karen Hagberg who informed me of this outreach. I was told that the fund-raising Practice-a-thon sponsors would like for me to identify the recipient of the scholarship.

Six-year-old Joshua Powell lost his dad, firefighter, Shawn Edward Powell of the Brooklyn, New York based Ladder 122, Engine 207 Firehouse. Joshua's mom, Jean Powell, expressed her gratitude and deep interest in having Joshua study Suzuki Piano Basics at Dynamic Focus Studios, Brooklyn, New York. We received $350 from the Saskatchewan SPBA and a $200 gift from a friend of Dynamic Focus Studios. These monies have helped us to provide a one-year scholarship to Joshua. With a brand new piano and his enthusiasm about lessons, Joshua is progressing nicely, though sometimes it is difficult to focus when he sees other children whose fathers bring them to the studio.

I am grateful to be a part of an association that touches lives in such meaningful ways.


Barbara Ray Francis
Brooklyn, New York

History Repeats Itself

By Cathy Williams Hargrave
Rowlett, Texas.

At the Annual Membership Meeting of the Piano Basics Foundation in Louisville there was a discussion of how isolated and lonely teachers sometimes feel. As we all know, it is difficult to "stay the course" when those around us do not have the same ideals.

A friend recently gave me a very old book called, Oxford Piano Course and subtitled "Teacher's First Manual". It was written by Ernest Schelling, Charles J. Haake, Gail Martin Haake, and Osbourne McConathy and published by Oxford University Press Music Department in Cooper Square, New York. The book has an original copyright date of 1929. Here are some fascinating quotes to brighten your day and encourage you. Remember this was written in 1929!

"Comparison with Language Reading. Let us compare the process with that of learning to read the mother tongue. The child first learns to talk. In the course of time he sees the printed expression of what he has said or of a story he has heard, and learns to recognize his familiar thoughts in their printed form. Then the same words that were used in the story are repeated in other relations to express variations in the thought, and eventually to express new thoughts. This is a common procedure, familiar to every school teacher.

"Playing By Ear. But the piano teacher of the past has persistently avoided several steps essential to the above procedure. In the first place, everything savoring of "playing by ear" has until recently been strictly forbidden the young pianist. Why? Music is primarily a matter of hearing; why not use the ear in piano playing? The answer has been that "playing by ear" leads to carelessness and indifference to the exactness of the printed material. This may be true, but if so it merely points to the necessity for stricter supervision by the teacher. The modern teacher uses "playing by ear" as a fundamental process, just as the school teacher assumes that children first learn their language "by ear."

"Imitation. Another way of discussing the same subject is to speak of early language experience as "imitative." Learning to play "by imitation" has been thought of as something to be avoided, whereas, as a matter of fact, all early pianistic experience must necessarily be through imitation. The imitative faculty is one of the child's strongest means of development, one of his most effective ways of learning. The piano teacher cannot avoid the employment of imitation in his instruction even if he wishes to do so; therefore let him study so as to utilize this powerful process in ways which shall be effective. Of course the real problem in the "imitative" plan of instruction lies in the danger of failing to develop the child's powers of initiative and independent effort. But this failure, when it occurs, is not due either to the use or the neglect of the child's natural instinct for imitation. It merely means that the teacher is not sufficiently inventive to avail himself of this great natural force and to make it contribute to further growth. It is the teacher's, not the child's limitation.

"Confusion of Reading With Playing. One of the most serious problems in elementary piano teaching has been the confusion in the minds of teachers between giving instruction in the beginning of piano playing and in the elements of notation. Tobias Matthay has stated the situation clearly in his pamphlet, "On Method in Teaching" where he says, "Most of the mischief has been done because the teacher does not distinguish between the first steps of learning to play the instrument and learning to read notation." ...But, and here is the rub, the two things are by no means synonymous. Certain playing problems which are extremely simple may involve notation difficulties of an advanced type, and vice versa certain notation problems which are extremely simple may involve considerable difficulty from the playing standpoint.

"The So-Fa Syllables. The use of the so-fa syllables is recommended, though this practice is not essential to the course....the syllables are valuable in expressing the tone relationships within the scale, and offer the simplest means for tonal ear training. A difference of opinion exists between advocates of the movable do and the fixed do systems. This controversy is something outside and apart from the purposes of the course. The piano teacher is advised to follow the practice of the school singing classes from which his pupils come.

"On role models. …It is most vital that the teacher, whenever he plays for the pupil, shall illustrate in every movement the principles of correct technic in such matters as easy, graceful arm movements, good hand position and well controlled finger movements. The basis of the child's early technical development is imitation. Therefore he must be given opportunity to observe and imitate good models and through these to form his ideal of good piano playing. When the child fails to do so his attention should be called to the points wherein he shows weakness and he should be taught to observe and improve. The teacher should seldom touch the child's and or arm; rather the child's powers of observation and will to self control must be developed."

Reconciliation of Editions of The Suzuki Piano School
Part Eight: Sonatina in G Major by Ludwig van Beethoven
Moderato, 1st Movement

By Cathy Williams Hargrave
Rowlett, Texas

In the first movement of the Beethoven Sonatina, the major differences between the editions relate to phrasing and articulation. (The Warner Bros. edition will be referred to as W.B. for the sake of aligning the text.) The use of parentheses in the Warner Bros. edition is a useful tool for knowing what Beethoven really indicated in the score as opposed to what editors throughout the years have added. In this Sonatina, the melodic direction clearly indicates which dynamics to employ; therefore, comparisons between symbols for dynamics between the two editions need not be addressed.

Reconciliation of Right Hand, Measure 1-8

Zen-On : There is one slur over all the notes from Measure 1, Beat 1 to Measure 2, Beat 1.
WB: The slur is written over Beats 3 and 4 only.

Dr. Kataoka teaches the Zen-On version.

Zen-On: There is one slur over all the notes from Measure 3, Beat 1 to Measure 4, Beat 1. Also, the 4th finger plays the "Do" grace note preceding Measure 3, Beat 3.
WB: There is a slur over Measure 3, Beat 3 through 4 and no indication of the 4th finger on the grace note.

Dr. Kataoka teaches the Zen-On version.

Zen-On: There is a slur from Measure 4, Beat 2 through Measure 5, Beat 1.
WB: There is a slur from Measure 4, Beat 2 through 4 only.

Dr. Kataoka teaches the Zen-On version.

Zen-On: There is a slur from Measure 5, Beat 1 through Measure 6, Beat 1. A new slur begins on Measure 6, Beat 1 and continues through the 2nd eighth note of Measure 7, Beat 1. There are 2-note phrases on the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th beats of Measure 7.
WB: The slur in Measure 5 is for Beat 3 - 4 only. The same type of slur is also used in Measure 6, Beat 3 - 4 only. Measure 7 has 2-note phrases on each beat.

Dr. Kataoka teaches a legato R.H. from Measure 5, Beat 1 through Measure 7, Beat 4. She does not teach the 2-note phrases as indicated in both editions in Measure 7.

Zen-On: Measure 8 consists of a 2-note phrase over the two cadential chords. The chord on the 1st beat is "Do" (finger 1)- Fa# (finger 3)- La (Finger 5). The next chord is Ti (finger 1) and Sol (finger 4).
WB: Measure 8 also has a 2-note phrase but indicates "Do" and Fa# of the first chord may have been an editor's addition to Beethoven's authentic score. This is also indicated on the lower note (Ti) of the 2nd chord. Two possible fingerings are listed for Measure 8, Beat 3; however,the 4th finger must be used for the 3rd beat or it would not be possible to play a legato 2-note phrase.

Dr. Kataoka teaches the Zen-On version.

Reconciliation of Left Hand, Measure 1 - 8

Zen-On: There is a slur from Measure 1, Beat 1 through Measure 2, Beat 1.
WB: No slur indicated.

Dr. Kataoka teaches the Zen-On version.

Zen-On: There is a slur from Measure 3, Beat 1 to Measure 4, Beat 1.
WB: No slur.

Dr. Kataoka teaches the Zen-On version.

Zen-On: There is a slur from Measure 5, Beat 1 through Measure 7, Beat 1.
WB: No slur.

Dr. Kataoka teaches the Zen-On version.

Zen-On: All 4 quarter notes in Measure 7 have a staccato marking with a slur over the top which indicates non legato tone.
WB: All 4 quarter notes have an editorial marking for staccato and tenuto which is another way to express non legato.

Dr. Kataoka teaches the Zen-On version.

Zen-On: The notes in Measure 8 have a slur without staccato markings as in the previous measure.
WB: There is no slur.

Dr. Kataoka teaches the Zen-On version.

Reconciliation of Right Hand, Measures 9 - 17

Zen-On: A slur begins at Measure 9, Beat 1 and continues to Measure 11, Beat 1. A new slur begins at Measure 11, Beat 1 and continues to Measure 13, Beat 1.
WB: A slur is over Measure 9,Beat 3-4 and Measure 11, Beat 3-4.

Dr. Kataoka teaches the Zen-On version.

Zen-On: There are slurs from Measure 13, Beat 2 through Measure 14, Beat 1; from Measure 14, Beat 2 through Measure 15, Beat 1; from Measure 15, Beat 2 through Measure 16, Beat 1; and finally from Measure 16, Beat 2 through Measure 17, Beat 1. There is also a fingering discrepancy between the editions in Measure 15 and 16. Zen-On's fingering is Re (1)-Mi-Fa#-Sol (1)-La-Ti-Do (4).
WB: The dotted slurs over notes are the editor's system for indicating Beethoven did not actually notate these slurs. The WB's fingering is Re (1)-Mi-Fa# -Sol-La (1)-Ti-Do (4). In Measure 16, there are no slurs.

Dr. Kataoka teaches the Zen-On version.

Reconciliation of Left Hand, Measures 9-17

Zen-On: There is a slur from Measure 9, Beat 1 to Measure 10, Beat 1.
WB: No slur.

Dr. Kataoka teaches the Zen-On version.

Zen-On: There is a slur from Measure 11, Beat 1 to Measure 12, Beat 1.
WB: No slur.

Dr. Kataoka teaches the Zen-On version.

Zen-On: There are staccato markings for the chords on the 4th beat of Measure 13 and 14.
WB: The staccato marks are in parentheses indicating Beethoven did not actually write them.

Dr. Kataoka teaches the Zen-On version.

Reconciliation of Right Hand, Measures 25-34

Zen-On: A slur begins at Measure 25, Beat 1 and continues to Measure 28, Beat 1. Measure 25, Beat 1 indicates finger 4 on Re.
WB: There is no slur in Measure 25 and finger 1 is indicated on Re. A slur begins in Measure 26, Beat 1 through Measure 26, Beat 4.

Dr. Kataoka teaches finger 4 on Re in Measure 25. Beats 3 and 4 are played detached. They are not played as legato repeated notes. The 3rd and 4th beats in Measure 27 are played the same way. She teaches legato tone from Measure 26, Beat 1 through Measure 27, Beat 1.

Zen-On: The slur begins in Measure 29, Beat 1 and continues to Measure 31, Beat 1.
WB: The slur does not begin until Measure 30, Beat 1 and continues to Measure 30, Beat 4.

Dr. Kataoka teaches Measure 29 like Measure 25; however, the fingering in Measure 29, Beat 1 is finger 1, not 4. The 3rd and 4th beats are played with finger 3 and 2 respectively. The legato begins at Measure 30, Beat 1 and continues to Measure 31, Beat 1. The quarter notes in Measure 31 are played with Twinkle A tone. The chords in Measure 32 to the end of the first movement are played as legato repeated notes.

Reconciliation of Left Hand, Measure 25-34

Zen-On: There is a slur from Measure 25, Beat 1 to Measure 32, Beat 1.
WB: There is one slur from Measure 25, Beat 1 through the 2nd eighth note of Beat 2 and again from Measure 25, Beat 3 through the 2nd eighth note of Beat 4.

Dr. Kataoka teaches the Zen-On version.

The notes from Measure 32, Beat 3 to the end of the first movement are also legato, including legato repeated notes in Measure 32.

This concludes Part 8.

Thoughts After the Sacramento Workshop, 2002

By Shirlee Rickman
Sacramento, California

Dr. Kataoka said it many times during the August, 2002 Suzuki Piano Basics Workshop in Sacramento: "Parents love their children; teachers love the children; we all work hard for the sake of the children."

Of course, we all agree with her. The teachers attending the workshop are working hard to improve their playing and teaching skills so they can help their students become better players and musicians. And the parents only want the best for their children. But one thing became especially clear to me during the workshop: we must be careful our love for the children does not impede their accomplishments.

To become a truly able pianist and musician, a student must practice carefully and diligently- performing careful physical repetitions to train the body to play with good balance and technique. This is not fun. It takes concentration and patience. But it is necessary in order to become accomplished.

Loving parents can interfere with their children's progress by not demanding enough of them during home practice. If a child complains that a practice point is too hard, or they are too tired to sit with good posture, or they DON'T want to listen to the recording EVER again, or piano playing isn't fun, some parents relent and let them off the hook. After all, we love the children and we all want them to be happy don't we? If we MAKE them do something they do not want to do, they just may suffer a little bit and experience a degree of unhappiness.

This rationale is unfortunate. This is where parents must use their maturity and patience and insist on good, regular practice and listening. Not only will this demonstrate to the children the parents' dedication to piano study, but the children will also learn some very important lessons: lots can be accomplished with hard work and perseverance; not everything in life is fun; and some things that are not always fun can eventually bring joy and extremely rewarding results.

Dr. Kataoka asked my student if she suffered in her life. She was quick to answer, "No." Dr. Kataoka agreed that this student's life, in fact the lives of all the people in the room that day, was not filled with unbearable suffering. She cited the children of Afghanistan, whose lives are burdened with suffering day after day, as are the lives of many other people all over the world.

"We must be careful our love for the children does not impede their accomplishments."

So Dr. Kataoka suggested, since this student had a life virtually free of suffering, that she might consider suffering a little every day for her art. Practicing repetitions is tedious, but she should suffer through them. When you think about it, not many circumstances which cause human suffering lead to positive results, so is it not worthwhile to suffer for your art? Is suffering a little in piano study not a good way for our children to learn to persevere and work through hard things, developing patience and determination?

If parents and teachers insist that children do their piano homework diligently, listen regularly to their recordings, and work hard to become better pianists, we will be truly nurturing the children, and we will be developing our own perseverance, patience and determination at the same time. If we do not insist, we will be taking the easy way out. We will be electing not to "suffer" ourselves for the sake of the children.

So as we love, nurture and care for our children and students every day, let's be sure not to give in to a child's resistance when it comes to practice and listening. Let's all work hard and suffer together for our art!

The Sacramento Workshop

By Eleanor Tsui
Edmonton, Alberta Canada

Attending the Piano Basics Workshop in Sacramento this past August was just wonderful!. The weather, the facility, the people, the programs and everything else just turned out really well. Although I didn't know any of the people there except the two colleagues that I went with, everyone in the workshop was very nice and friendly. There was music making all the time and music was the one powerful thing that we all shared. The love of music was common among us and even though we were all strangers to each other, we were able to communicate, share and laugh with each other.

The most exciting factor was to meet Dr. Kataoka. I got a glimpse of her talent in real life for the first time during the five-day workshop. She is a magnificent musician and a great teacher who wanted to share her experience and knowledge with every teacher and every student there. I had a great lesson with her and she showed me how to improve in such a gentle and loving way. This trip really inspired me to continually strive to be a better teacher for my students, and to be a better musician.

My Thoughts on the Piano Basics Workshop, Sacramento 2002

By Kara VanderMeulen
Calgary, Alberta, Canada

After several years of observing lessons, reading Dr. Kataoka's writings, and doing a little teaching on my own I finally attended my first Piano Basics Workshop. While my prior experiences had certainly been helpful in setting me on the right road with the Suzuki method, nothing beats interactive learning - live and in person.

I had some of the Basics concepts correct in my mind, but I couldn't tell from reading a book what a beautiful tone sounded like or what the strong but relaxed hand looked like or what the supported forearm felt like. I needed to experience it.

And that experience has literally transformed my playing and my thinking.

My lesson with Dr. Kataoka stands out as a highlight because she is amazingly insightful. Within two minutes she had identified my three most serious technical challenges - issues I have been trying to understand and resolve for 15 years. In the two weeks of practice since the workshop the issues have already begun to improve.

The workshop was also a great place for new teachers like myself to interact with veteran teachers who have been studying and researching for decades.

Perhaps the most encouraging conversation was with a group of experienced teachers discussing some specific teaching issues. I was becoming quite anxious to get all the facts right and nail down the ideal procedure so I could finally "teach perfectly." Then a teacher gently reminded me, "It's okay. Don't be afraid to make mistakes. We all do. Keep learning, researching and practicing."

The workshop has helped me rediscover the joy of the learning process. It isn't about becoming perfect. It's about growing. So with a new sense of patience and a long-term perspective on development I am enjoying practicing more than I have in years.

I've decided that adults need repetition as much or more than children and the workshop is an invaluable place to be reminded of what is most important, hear and see what makes music beautiful, and be challenged to carry on the work for the sake of the children.

Thoughts On The Sacramento Piano Basics Workshop

By Amber Jorgensen
Edmonton, Alberta, Canada

If there was one thing I could tell you that I have learned from the Piano Basics workshop in Sacramento, it is that Dr. Kataoka is a remarkable woman and a remarkable teacher (of course everyone knows this already.) This was the first Piano Basics workshop I have been to, and the first time I have met Dr. Kataoka or had a lesson with her.

My impression of the atmosphere was that it was such a warm, supportive circle of friends - unusual in professional circles. How nice it is that for us, professional is not as the world assumes professionals should be! I met new people and became reacquainted with people I hadn't seen for many years - like my very first piano teacher, Clarice Leite. What a wonderful moment this was when I got to meet her again! I also got to know the two piano teachers I travelled with from Edmonton much better. This was also really nice.

At first, I felt a little challenged by Dr. Kataoka and some of the things she would say. "That is going a bit too far," I would think to myself. Usually when I thought this, it had to do with her expectations of others. However, more and more I am realizing that when expectations are high, much can be achieved. Where expectations are low, this is excuse enough for most people not to deliver to potential. Being with someone who expects you to achieve to potential is a very challenging thing. I perceived that Dr. Kataoka can easily see through situations and is not afraid to challenge others. This often may be hard to bear, but it is the way of growth.

My lesson with Dr. Kataoka - that was a very special moment to me. I felt, somehow, as if time had stood still for a few minutes. But afterwards, I struggled with becoming conceited at all the attention I received. My message to the other teachers is to not be afraid to reach higher for yourselves and for your students, and to let your hearts guide you along the way.

Atlanta Workshop 2002 - Tenth Anniversary

By Leah Brammer
Atlanta, Georgia

It was the tenth anniversary of Dr. Kataoka coming to Atlanta, and it was as poignant and relevant as the first. Students prepared over their summer vacations to have lessons and perform in the Friendship Concert. Parents made food preparations, got articles in newspapers, worked on contracts, raffles, recitals, and opened their houses to guest from Japan. Teachers prepared as well, practicing, teaching, and organizing.

As the workshop began, there was a feeling that something must be forgotten because things were going really well. We were actually able to concentrate on the task at hand!

The events of September 11 gave deeper meaning to the term "Friendship Concert." To come half way around the world to perform in a piano concert has now become a strong statement of faith and purpose.

The Concert was sold out and ended with a standing ovation. The week progressed with many hours of concentrated, exceptional teacher and student lessons given by Kataoka Sensei, Ogiwara Sensei, and Kubota Sensei. The lessons were interspersed with picnics, dinners for friends and co-workers, celebrations of teachers working together, and finally hugs and kisses at the airport.

Late last September, my colleague who was in Atlanta to teach a workshop and I discussed in a joking but serious way that we were really going to have to get our acts together quickly if we were going to save the world through teaching music to children.

In Workshop 2002, the mechanics of moving your thumb, finding your center of gravity, and giving students a way to realize their dreams, came together with saving the world in a way that was both reassuring of our mission, and challenging to the work ahead.

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First Online Edition: 3 October 2002
Last Revised: 8 March 2002