July 25, 2013

The Benefits of Challenge

Sometimes success comes too easy or too soon. There’s a price to pay, in fact several. “Some people become instantly popular. That is not good.” That is not Tomoko’s way.

For instance, Tomoko doesn’t believe in proteges. “They may have technique but they do not have the heart of life experience.” She mentions several proteges who peaked too soon or burned out early. “Think about the champion chess player Bobby Fischer,” she is reminded.

On the other hand, it isn’t necessary to start learning how to play the piano as a child. One of her students started when he was in his 40s; in eight years he was playing Messian. Tomoko adds, “There is a big trend for international competitions among people over 35 years old. These performers are professions, real musicians, even though their day jobs are different.”

Nor is it always good to have an easy time in learning. Tomoko recalls, “I am not gifted . I was the last student in a big class when I was 12. I had to start from the ground up.” She feels, “ It is better to be in a big school and be the worst because it challenges you to do better and learn more.”

Tomoko asserts that one of the best aspects of her teaching is challenging her students to stretch themselves in playing. “Development is important, especially when you are young.” She continues, “It’s better to try a hard piece and do a B+ performance than to go for the easy A.”

Tomoko concludes: “The piano is a lifetime pursuit. It is an idea and a mind set.

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