“Would you rather big a big fish in a little pond, or a little fish in a big pond?” Tomoko would prefer the latter. Here are some examples why.
Tomoko auditioned to get into the prestigious Ferris Academy, a private school established in 1870 by the Dutch Reformed Church as the first higher learning institution for girls. Tomoko worked to get decent grades to be as good as her classmates in academics, and was pleased to accompany the school’s chorus.
Likewise, Tomoko chose the University of Tokyo because it was the best university for music. “Always strive for the best” Especially since her parents thought that whatever one pursued, it should be done well. The university had 500 applicants; after four days of auditioning, Tomoko was accepted along with only 17 others.
When Tomoko emigrated from Japan to continue her musical studies and career, she had to start over again in a new culture: with little money and little English. Tomoko says, “The Conservatory is a good spot because they have good basics and strong theory.” She continues, “You have to be smart to play the piano; mediocre people get out.” Upon graduation, she was asked to teach there.
At that time, she also competed professionally, both in state and abroad. “I wanted to go to Europe; being accepted into these international competitions was a big deal. I didn’t expect to be top.”
Tomoko challenges her students to do their best, and many have succeeded well academically and professionally. Furthermore, her attitude about working with the best people in top-notch settings applies to her daughter Beata. Who competed in the Olympics ice dancing event.
Tomoko says, “Competition makes one strong.” And she certainly swims well …