Even though Tomoko loves the United States, and has not gone back to her first land, there are still things about Japan that she likes as she remembers growing up there.
She liked the early morning hours; she felt fresh and ready to start the day. It’s a habit she still maintains. She remembers sleeping on the futon, and putting it away in the closet in the morning: good memory of starting the day. “The tatami smelled good,” Tomoko recalls, “It reminded me of nature.”
At school everyone sang. Young students sang patriotic songs with Japanese lyrics set to European music. “We had better singing education than here in the states.” Tomoko learned the solfège method of singing, which she still likes, and was taught her do-re-mis and music keys in German because of that country’s influence on the Japanese musical world.
Indeed, music was a priorty at her high school, and it showcased Tomoko’s native talent. Not long after entering Ferris Academy, Tomoko was asked by her teacher, “Would you accompany the school’s chorus?” Although the teachers knew how to play, they were busy teaching and conducting the singing groups. On her part, Tomoko hadn’t been trained in this task before, but she eagerly agreed. It validated her expertise, and gave her status among her peers. Being able to shine in one area of school made her feel more self-confident and worthwhile to know.
Tomoko also smiles when she recalls school field day. One of the activities was dancing with ribbons, which was a favorite way to do rhythmic gymnastics. Tomoko enjoyed it, not only because it was usually done to music, but because it was graceful. It combined creativity with discipline, which challenged Tomoko in a positive way.
These memories have helped Tomoko in her own teaching, building on her students’ interests, and giving them opportunities to grow and shine.