One thing that keeps Tomoko young in spirit is her lively curiosity.
As a teenager, Tomoko overlooked the Yokohama harbor, and was curious about the journeys the ships took. And she was curious about visiting other countries herself.
Tomoko continues to carry her curiosity as she travels. For instance, 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 instrument.
That curiosity is well grounded in her music. She continues to learn new pieces of music. “It is like visiting a new city,” she comments. Each city, each piece, has unique features that pique her curiosity.
Not surprisingly, she also infuses her teaching with that sense of curiosity. Tomoko cautions, “Never say you have no talent; students often don’t know where they are musically.” Instead, Tomoko builds on the child’s curiosity. She will preview a piece of music with the child, and ask, “What do you think comes next? Which part do you like? Isn’t that rhythm interesting?”
Tomoko also thinks that performances should leverage curiosity. She advises her students, “When you go to a recital or other performance venue, remember the importance of first impressions. Be most careful at the start. Keep a little mystery about yourself that will feed people’s curiosity.”
Tomoko concludes. “We need to grow and develop.” In the process, she says, “We need variety. Audiences and musicians needs novelty.” And that is fueled by curiosity. It certainly has worked for Tomoko.