A Path From Self to Social

A Path From Self to Social

Copyright: © 2020 |Pages: 21
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-2063-5.ch004

Abstract

This chapter presents a narrative account of the author's music learning and teaching experience both in Japan and the U.S. The author reflects upon the processes of developing critical perspectives in musical pedagogy and developing the idea of transforming music education from self to social. The author analyzes how he encountered and learned music, and how those experiences improved and changed his playing with interaction in two different cultural contexts: Japan and the U.S. The author begins with the story of his early musical experiences in Japan. He then goes on to discuss his violin learning experiences at conservatories in Tokyo and New York. The author concludes with his performing and teaching experiences in Miami and New York as a professional violinist.
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My Early Musical Experience In Japan

Early Childhood

According to my parents, as a baby, I was famous for crying in my hometown. In Tokyo I often cried so loudly whenever I was hungry or on the way to go to see my doctor. My doctor later told me that he noticed my crying voice even from a few miles away when I was reaching his office on my baby carrier. I was also interested in many things; for example, I liked watching tree leaves in the wind and moved my hands as the leaves blew lightly through the trees. I also liked watching trains pass by at the railroad crossing near my home. I imitated the train sound by stomping the ground with my legs. I was so focused that my mother often had to stay at the rail crossing for more than 10 minutes almost every day.

I also went to a park near my home daily with my mother and played hours and hours in the sandbox or the bushes in the park with my friends. Since my father was a professional artist and illustrator, I spent a lot of time at his art studio exploring various artistic materials, papers and drawing tools. In my early childhood, I engaged with various music actively at home. My parents liked to listen to music on their record player, and the selection of the music included Viennese waltzes, Mozart, Jazz, Rock, Japanese folk music and pop. I often moved my body with the musical beat. According to my parents I was like a mini rock dancer.

In my private kindergarten near home, I remember that there was a professional harmonica player who often visited my classroom to demonstrate and to teach the harmonica. When I heard him playing the harmonica for the first time, I was impressed with his sound and his virtuoso performance style. My mother purchased a little harmonica for me and tried to teach me the harmonica at home; however, it was quite difficult because I was not able to play a certain tune and had difficulty focusing . Although I liked listening to and watching the master harmonica teacher playing, I disliked the initial practice time with my mother.

One day, I came home and suddenly said to my mother, “I want to practice the harmonica.” She was surprised, but soon after she found the reason why I now wanted to practice the harmonica. I had told my mother that one of my kindergarten friends played the harmonica very well. I simply wanted to become like him. It was at that moment that I started to practice the harmonica with strong intention. I began to enjoy playing the harmonica whenever I went out shopping with my parents or going to the park to play with friends. I held the little harmonica in my hands and played it all the time.

My kindergarten was filled with daily musical activities. I sang various Japanese folk tunes and children's songs, danced to music and learned to play the drum in a mixed instrumental ensemble. I remember that I played the offbeat of El Condor Pasa on the drum in the ensemble and performed the song at the kindergarten assembly. I played the off-beat on several sections. It was quite challenging, but I enjoyed the drum playing. I remember I practiced one-on-one manner with my classroom teacher, and enjoyed our rehearsals. All classrooms had upright pianos that teachers used to accompany a variety of children's songs. I remember that I also began to like singing with the piano accompaniment very much. I discovered an old organ sitting in the living room at my home. I began playing that organ just by imitating my kindergarten teacher and would sing as in my school class. I remember, I never had official piano training or other keyboard instruments in my early childhood. I did not know it at the time but I became able to play Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star by using both hands and by using certain harmonies such as tonic, dominant and subdominant in an arpeggio.

I was introduced to the violin when kindergarten class teacher brought her violin to class. I was so excited, and as soon as I went home on that day, I told my mother that I encountered and touched a real violin for the first time in my life.

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