Countdown to Japan

I'm sitting here contemplating all of the last minute things I need to do to get ready for my trip to Japan (t-minus 4 days and counting) and really just feeling like there's no such thing as "ready." However, even as I try to mentally check items off my to-do list I can't help but think about the process that got me to this point.

Several of my friends have made this same trip and told me that it's never convenient, it's never economically feasible, it's just something you decide to do. I decided that I wanted to meet and study with the man who created the method I find to be so successful at cultivating great people and great musicians. Selfishly, I know my playing will improve from even short term study with Mr. Takahashi, but I also know that I will gain new insights into the method and teaching as well.

Which leads me to the real reason for the start of this post. Following my studio recital in April my students presented me with a significant monetary gift to aid my studies abroad. I have spent over a month (unsuccessfully) trying to think of the appropriate words to express my gratitude - both for the money (which is a bigger help than most of them know) but also for the gesture itself, which was so important to me. I wanted to write cards to everyone who contributed, but I realized that I would keep saying the same things over and over and that seemed disingenuous. So, for better or for worse, this first posting is my thank you card to all the people who have understood and responded to my need to make this trip.

I take my job very, very seriously. It is a sad truth that the American music higher-education system employs orchestral musicians to teach students to become orchestral musicians and rarely focuses on pedagogy. I knew I wanted to be a teacher (and perform too) but not because it's a last resort but because I may have a chance of passing something truly meaningful on to my students. By coming together to support this trip (and really make it truly possible) my students and their families have given me the gift of knowing that I am doing something right!

So, here I go - say goodbye to my comfort zone. Double-check my toiletries and wonder how everything is going to fit in my suitcase. Matsumoto yuki no densha wa kore desu ka?