September 19, 2015

Hardship and Heart

Tomoko understands hardship, and she knows that it can help one personally and professionally.

As a child in war-worn Japan, Tomoko experienced shortages of food and other supplies. Neighbors sold their organ to Tomoko’s family because of financial constraints, which led Tomoko and her brother eventually to become professional musicians. She remembers her high school teachers promising her and other students chocolate in order to motivate them to memorize music.

When Tomoko arrived in the United States, her English wasn’t very good, so she had to learn the nuances of the language to get around. To a large extent, she had to make it on her own; she built on her experience to give piano lessons to help pay tuition and daily expenses. Tomoko’s hardships have helped her build resilience and inner strength.

Tomoko’s family has also experienced hardships. Tomoko’s husband Desy also experienced hardships. He was a professor who fled Hungary under Communist rule. When he arrived in San Francisco he had so little money that he had to sleep in the park. Their daughter Beata had to make sacrifices for her skating, traveling a distance to practice at the rink sometimes before the sun came up. Both husband and daughter have gone on to successful and fulfilling careers.

Having dealt with hardships, Tomoko knows how to encourages her piano students who themselves experience hardships. When parents do not support their children’s playing, Tomoko encourages her students to keep up their hope. When a piece challenges a student, Tomoko helps them take one step at a time to overcome the musical obstacles.

Tomoko philosophizes: “When you have hardship, you understand more.”  She continues, “Then I tell my students that everything is possible.” Tomoko should know.

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