Tomoko remarks, “Many people don’t plan for practice. Since I was 12 years old, I have planned time for practice.” That kind of planning exemplifies Tomoko’s attitude to music and life.
Tomoko advises her students to practice early in the morning. “Wake up at 3:30 am, and practice two hours in the morning. That is the best time.”
Tomoko would like to have been able to play at that time when she was a teen, but the houses in Japan were too close together so that playing at that time in the morning would have woken her neighbors. Therefore, she had to plan her practice time carefully, taking the street car and bus according to their early morning schedule so she could arrive at school at 6:30 am. She had the practice room to herself at that time of day; others would arrive at 8:30 am. Tomoko notes, “The brain is so fresh for school.”
Naturally, she plans for recitals months ahead. For recitals of her students’ performances, that planning starts from the very beginning in choosing pieces for her students to study and showcase.
Tomoko says that planning helped her daughter Beata succeed as an ice dancer. Tomoko would drive Beata to practice very early in the morning. “Beata was like a monk in her practice.” And it took years of planning for Beata to be ready to compete professionally – eventually resulting in an Olympic performance.Planning permeates Tomoko’s life, even in gardening. She does it practically every day, just as she practices the piano daily; both take much planning, work, and patience. The rewards can be immediate, as when planting or weeding – such as working through a particular section of a composition – and sometimes it takes years to see the results. But planning is necessary in either case; “It brings order to life.”