March 19, 2016

Signs of Spring

Spring has arrived! Time for renewal and hope. Tomoko appreciates the natural seasons as well as the seasons of one’s life and the seasons of playing the piano.

Tomoko has always enjoyed nature: the sounds of birds, the fresh smell of spring grass, the warmth of earth as the sun shines on it. Even though winters are mild where Tomoko now lives, the hills signal spring as the early year rains transform the dried brush into green velveteen ranges.

Sometimes a musician experiences a personal winter in his or her own playing. Stress or tiredness can cause the emotions to be muted so that playing becomes more mechanical. In one respect, this time can be used to good effect to focus on technical playing that requires little emotion but can occupy the mind. Sometimes a musician may find himself or herself at a plateau, seemingly unable to progress; that may be a time to switch to another genre of music. Other times,  piece may just feel too daunting; “90% challenging is not a good balance,” says Tomoko. It may be time to regroup, and focus on a simpler piece, or to focus on just one movement of a challenging piece.

“I always try to give my students hope,” says Tomoko. She knows from experience that even most bitter winter must end, and that a springtime of renewal will come eventually. Furthermore, when a student persists through a bad season of playing, and comes through successfully, their joy and pride are stronger for the challenge.

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