February 10, 2013

Emotional Wasabi of Playing the Piano

Tomoko rightly says that the language of music is international and timeless. The keyboard is international. Similarly, emotions are universal: “In any language, feeling is the same: guilt, nastiness, courage,” asserts Tomoko; “emotion is same as in Egyptian time.” Furthermore, piano playing is an emotional experience, as Tomoko explains. She realizes the importance of emotion when practicing and performing. “I go with the feeling philosophy.”

“I love music,” Tomoko says. “I feel good because I can play well.” But Tomoko warns, “If you take piano lesson you have to be miserable. Every lesson has a challenge; one thing may be ok but you need to improve as well.” On the other hand, “When was I disappointed in myself, the piano could lift me high,” Tomoko remembers. She also advises, “Enjoy the challenge, and feel confident.”

Composers integrate emotion in their writing of piano music, and the performer tries to recreate that emotion in playing the piece. For example, compositions based on folk music often convey nationalistic pride.   “Think about The Star-Spangled Banner,” Tomoko reminds us. “Other music moves the listener to tears.”  She adds, “Liszt and Ravel translated violence.  Beethoven’s music conveys his emotion, which was so strong inside.”

As a piano teacher, Tomoko recognizes the impact of emotion. “A student’s first experience learning the piano needs to be fun. The teacher needs to be welcoming. She is opening the door to the world of music. The teacher is the passport.” Tomoko continues, “From day one the teacher needs to instruct with love with respect at any age. You need to be sympathetic.” By sharing her passion for music and the piano, and care for her pupils, Tomoko lays the emotional groundwork for student enjoyment and perseverance when playing gets tough.

Tomoko concludes, “If there are no emotions, why play? If you have no interest, do not share. Without feelings, you are missing wasabi.”

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