Tomoko has loved music her whole life, and encourages people of all ages to enjoy music. She also has many examples of livelong engagement with music.
Tomoko has students who start taking piano lessons from her in their forties and older. They are often working professionals, and they bring their work ethic to the piano. “They bring emotional maturity and dedication,”
Tomoko asserts: “Piano playing is good when you are 60 years old; you can even start after 70. As long as you can move your hands, you can continue to play the piano. Tomoko remarks, “Playing also stimulates the brain, and keeps it younger.” Playing at an older age has other benefits too. “When you get older, you may find yourself repeating pieces,” says Tomoko. “They can be so beautiful, and give you warm memories as well as console you.”
Likewise, Tomoko knows musical performers and teachers who are in their nineties. Tomoko recalls Pablo Casals performing publicly at the age of 96. At that time, in 1972, one of Tomoko’s college friends was inspired by Casals, and flew to Arizona State University where he was playing a benefit concert to raise money for an International Cello Library. Tomoko went along with her friend, and met Casals at the airport. They spent a meal with him and his young wife, who was the same age at Tomoko.
And even if people cannot play the piano, they can enjoy and appreciate piano performance throughout their lives. Tomoko remembers performing at the Carmel Bach Festival, and seeing many rich ladies sitting in the audience. One woman came up to Tomoko and said, "I am 95 years old, and I love music.”
Tomoko recalls another incident. “I remember an older lady who was a relative of the Gettys and on the San Francisco Conservatory of Music board. She enjoyed going to the courtyard at the old conservatory building and where she would trim the leaves and do a little garden maintenance. At the same time she enjoyed listening to all the music coming from the windows of the three sides of the building that overlooked the courtyard.”
Tomoko notes, “Emotion is the same, regardless of age. Spirit is timeless.”