Tomoko is an explorer. She explores music through performing, reading, and travel.
Even today Tomoko continues to learn new pieces of music. “It deepens my knowledge and skill,” she says. “Challenge is very important.” There is also an element of curiosity. “It is like visiting a new city,” she comments. Each city, each piece, has unique features that are fascinating to experience.
Likewise, Tomoko enjoys attending master piano classes. “The advisor is always warm and good,”says Tomoko. She contends that there is always something to learn.
As a teenager, Tomoko remembers looking out at the Yokohama harbor, imagining the ships going out to sea, wondering where they would dock into port. She wanted to be on one of those ships, traveling to new shores. So it was no surprise that she left Japan to seek a wider world of music. “There was little opportunity for women to perform after college,” Tomoko remarks.
When Tomoko travels, she usually keeps her eye out for musical connections. She visited homes where musicians and composers lived. For instance, in the Chopin Museum, she played his raindrop prelude on their piano. When she visited a museum housed in a Medici residence, Tomoko asked, “May I use your harpsichord? ” She wanted to know how it sounded, and the museum staff answered, “You have to try it.” Tomoko played Bach’s Prelude in C sharp major BWV 848 on this antique, and recalls, “The instrument needed to be tuned.”
Tomoko also explores the world of music through reading, learning about musicians’ lives, which informs her own performance. By learning how how musicians create and respond to their world, Tomoko is able to relate to music and people even more effectively. She claims, “Books gives you ideas, and open your mind about people.”She shares that knowledge with her students so they can play more meaningfully.
In the final analysis, Tomoko’s explorations help her – and her students – grow musically and personally.