As the recent wedding of England's William and Kate, music helps make life special. As Tomoko remarks, "In celebration there is usually music. People experience heightened feelings, and the music follows." Consider how people use music to express the important rites in life: from birthday songs to graduation marches, from wedding trumpets to funeral dirges. Tomoko recommends Chopin Opus 27 #2 as one of the best pieces for weddings.
Tomoko also notices how music joins people: "In a crowd, a few people know music—when they can do it together it is unifying. She goes on to say, "We are like a chorus, we take a breath together." In that respect, going to a concert heightens the musical experience as everyone shares it. Tomoko has passed that experience down to her daughter Beata. "I took Beata to an opera when she was in third grade. I gave her a good foundation in music, and some interpretation of music. Children don't know about music, but they are curious so they can learn about it." Tomoko understands, "It can be so much trouble to go to a concert, but the experience is worth it."
Musical performances themselves frame life experiences. "When you go to a concert, you dress your best, you feel great and are treated well," Tomoko says. "You are polite, and you don't compare the performance, just as you wouldn't tell a hostess what is wrong with her home when you visit it." You appreciate being able to have the experience.
Piano performances, such as recitals, enable musicians and music students to experience and display the highest caliber of music. Tomoko tells her students, "In the performance you cannot cover up. You must prepare, detail by detail. How to reach the best sound is a big project." Tomoko remembers when she sent one of her students to a symphony competition across state. " The mother showed me two dresses, and asked what was appropriate." Everything contributes to the musical experience: the technique, the feeling, the bearing, the appearance. Both the performers and the audience bring out their best aspects. Framing the experience "lifts it up."
Tomoko's own philosophy reflects this reach for excellence: "Whatever I do it’s the highest quality. This is the way I teach, and the way I perform." Even as a child, Tomoko would skip lunch to save her money so she could buy good quality, clean music sheets. Likewise, Tomoko treats every student professionally so they will have a heightened sense of music and life. She says, "With proper music, we experience the joy of life – it lifts up your body."
Bartok is known for capturing the joy of Eastern European folk music celebration. You can get a lift out of hearing Tomoko play his folk dances and melodies on her Touria album, available at https://www.cdbaby.com/cd/tomokohagiwara13