Pink elephant in the room? Oh wait, that's me...

As a white American female it is very rare to be in a room and feel uncomfortable. Especially since I went to public schools, I generally can feel okay in many different ethnic groups. Until today. I participated in Mr. Takahashi's tone class (modeled after Dr. Suzuki's teachings on tone and expression and Marcel Moyse's Tone Development Through Interpretation.) Not only was I the only American and the only flutist, I was also the only native English speaker in the room. Mr. Takahashi had me stand up and wrote my name on the board so they could all sound it out. That was the first time I blushed bright red, but it wouldn't be my last time today.

The students were all very nice to me, but I feel bad since they are making so many exceptions for me (like, usually you have to wait until the morning of to sign out a practice room, and they are letting me use the concert hall every morning this week). Space is extremely limited at the school and everyone's fighting for space most times (it's not unusual to walk into the student lounge and see someone fingering their way through their music). So to take up hours of time in a precious space seems to be an extravagance, but the one whose English was pretty good assured me that they "think you're special." Yikes! (Don't let any of them talk to my students!)

The class was very interesting... It was very telling to witness the Japanese propensity towards philosophy, especially as it applied to musical technique. American practicality versus Japanese philosophy - what a showdown. For example:

"Rhythm expresses performer's life activity, whereas time expresses the performer's soul"


However, for every statement like the one above, there were some that illuminated ideas in a different way and were more easily applied directly. For example, if you consider a good tone to be "violet" or purple, it's a mix of red and blue. Red = warmth and blue = depth. For a forte sound, you want red-violet, or to warm up the sound. In piano playing, if you use a blue-violet, then your softs will have more depth. Or more simply put - don't let your louds get metallic or edgy, and make sure your softs aren't thin or unsupported. Kind of a cool way to say it.

This is my "flute spa"... I'm getting to practice about the same amount that I did in college, except that also I'm getting three private lessons a week. After only two days I can feel myself getting back into shape, but old frustrations are still there - and new ones emerge as deficits are illuminated. It's wonderful to study with someone who has such a clear and direct line to the tradition of French playing that Moyse had, but it's also gratifying to hear some things that I remember getting yelled at about in college and to know that while my former teachers may have had a different background "all roads lead to Rome" (so to speak).