July 20, 2016

Living the Dream

“Everyone has a dream,” contends Tomoko. She knows from experience. Tomoko has had many dreams, and she has made them real.

As a child, she dreamed of learning how to play the piano. Her parents enabled both Tomoko and her older brother to take lessons.

Tomoko dreamed of studying piano at the best university for music in Japan. Competing against 500 applicants, she was one of 18 who were accepted at the Tokyo National University of Fine Arts and Music: her dream university. She earned a Bachelor of Arts degree with highest honors, and was a post-graduate student. However, she left school to follow another dream.

Even as a high schooler, Tomoko wanted to venture abroad. From her school she could gaze at the Yokohama harbor. The port stood for activity and the open sea. “I will play the piano in freedom in America some day,” Tomoko promised herself.

Her dream of America came true because UCLA professor Dr. Herbert Jan Popper saw her piano performance in Tokyo. He was impressed with her talent, and told her about the U.S. and its opportunities. He was able to get her to be listed along with a group of Japanese singers for a Japanese opera that was going to be performed for UCLA. He advised her to apply to the Conservatory of SF because the paper work was relatively easy. Tomoko took his kind advice, and was able to live her dream in America.

Tomoko dreamed of winning a piano competition. While a student at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music, she won the San Francisco Symphony Foundation Audition program as well as a Young Adults Award sponsored by the Fresno Philharmonic Orchestra and the Junior League of Fresno. Leter she competed internationally.

Now as a teacher, Tomoko helps her piano students to dream, and helps them realize their dreams. “Giving a dream is important,” she says. Tomoko gives them a dream of a gift: the piano.