November 24, 2012

The International Language of Music

Tomoko Hagiwara was born in Japan, lives in the U. S., and has traveled widely in Europe. So she knows the international nature of music. “When I came to the U.S., I couldn’t speak English. The piano helped me communicate. The piano speaks the international language of music, and the keyboard acts as the translator.”

As a teacher in the conservatory, Tomoko has worked with many students from other countries. She herself was the first Asian teacher there, and notes how both the staff and student population now is much more diverse. The love of music is visibly shared by people around the world who gather together to learn how to express that love.

In particular, Tomoko recalls one Indonesian mother who had five children who were all conservatory students. Tomoko noticed that the woman stayed at the conservatory, and asked, “Why do you come to the conservatory?” The woman answered, “Because I LOVE the beautiful music.” She also commented, “Everyone carries a violin case, unlike in public school.” Music is the norm, not the exception at the conservatory.

Tomoko concludes, “In any language feeling is the same.” She expresses that feeling in her performances, and encourages her students to start with their hearts, even before they use their fingers, when they learn a piece of music.