Life in the Land of the Rising Sun

Thursday, July 21, 2005

The Universal Language, pt. II

It's truly amazing just how international Seishin's music club has become...and is still becoming.

It's just shy of three weeks since that truly unforgettable visit of the Garfield High School A Orchestra to our school, and now we're scrambling to try to get the information and logistics needed to allow our own orchestra to go to Australia next March in honor of our new sister-school there.

Yesterday I got a surprise visit from a girl who graduated from Seishin in 2000 and is a talented pianist (and actress, I might add). Now that she has completed her B.A. in music at a fairly prestigious music college in Japan, she is getting ready to enter graduate study at the University of Indiana. She came to visit me to thank me for translating letters of recommendation written by two different teachers (who naturally used brutally polite Japanese, i.e. AAAHHH!!!). This particular student has already had experience studying overseas, having done short-term study abroad programs in Spain, Finland, and the U.S.. Now she is entering the world elite.

Today I got a surprise visit from two girls who graduated from Seishin in 2003 and were both sax players. They were both very enthusiastic members of the Flying Eggheads. (Heck, they were the ones that painted the box music stands!) One was lead tenor (and student leader of the band) and the other was lead alto during the same period. Now the tenor player (who now plays mostly soprano) not only has her own jazz combo that plays regularly in Tokyo, but she has been doing jazz session work for a number of different artists. Having already studied in the U.S., she's now getting ready to go to Spain both to study and tour with her combo. As for the alto player (who now playes tenor), she just got back from Finland, and she's getting ready to go to the U.S.. Our visit was conducted entirely in English, we me speaking at normal, native speed using ordinary slang. We mostly talked music.

After the two girls had left, when I went out into the hallway, I bumped into a young man who graduated from Seishin in 1998. He graduated from Tsukuba University with a B.A. in music a couple of years ago and is currently pursuing graduate study in Barcelona, Spain. He is rapidly becoming an authority on Medieval, Rennaissance, and Baroque music, particularly on the recorder. He also speaks both English and Spanish fluently (and has picked up a fair amount of Catalan, the language of Barcelona, as well).

It was freaky enough to see three former students without warning in the same day (after having seen another the day before). It was even more bizarre not having spoken a single word of Japanese the whole time. Even more amazing that they are all becoming musicians of international stature.

And then, after leaving the Tsukuba graduate, I ducked into the music office, whereupon Mr. Ogawa started talking to me about his plans to send his son to high school in Seattle (preferably Garfield) so he can study music with even fewer restrictions than he'd get at Seishin.

Perhaps I shouldn't be so surprised at all these former music club members going out into the world along with their music. After all, Maestro Ogawa himself studied clarinet at a music conservatory in Paris, and his daughter is in that fabled city now learning piano. If you have an internationally-minded music teacher, you're probably more apt to become an internationally-minded musician yourself.

Of course, having another music director who's a foreigner doesn't hurt, either. :-)

I won't complain. Internationalization is supposed to be my job. It doesn't bother me at all that the music route had been more successful than the English route. I'd rather do music, anyway...


  • Your experience meeting with past students is great and must be a source of pride and satisfaction in your work.

    I am (ahem) 54, and not only do still remember my high school music director, I am in touch with him by email. There were many years during which I could not find him, but I never forgot him. When the internet came along, I was able to find him again and thank him.

    My Jr. and Sr. years in high school revolved around the music department and he wrote a letter of recommendation which helped to get me into the college of my choice. Three other trombone players of my high school days are still living in the same area and even play in bands with him from time to time.

    I've always felt gratitude for his example and guidance as I am sure many of your students do toward you. It must feel tremendously gratifying to you to see them grow and succeed.

    I have no doubt you help the present group experience Australia and bring your internationalization efforts to new heights.

    They will never forget their experiences, or you.

    By Blogger Pandabonium, at 5:58 PM  

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