Mail Magazine vol.13

Kumiko’s “In Search of the Transparent Sound” vol.13

Prof. Sasaki’s lesson was always very stormy. No one could expect what would happen

or what kind of words he would throw to his pupil during his lesson. (He did not throw any

object, of course)

I don’t know how other pupils felt his way of teaching. As for me, I was always very tense.

I remember that his house was situated 5 minutes’ walk from Takadanobaba station when I

started taking his lesson. One day when almost 2 years had passed since then, he said to


“Improvise something on the piano”


I could not understand what he said.

Then he added,

“Anything will do. You can use the keyboard all the way from the left end to the right end!”

Timidly, hesitatingly I began to play the piano. Personally, it was totally at random.

When I was a little girl, I loved playing with a keyboard of the piano. I used to be absorbed

in playing with miscellaneous sounds. Sometimes I played with sounds in Beethoven style,

or Chopin style, and in other time, in Bach style.

When I was playing the piano at random, my mother wrote it down as a little tune. Then she

showed it to my piano teacher. I suppose that he was pleased to see it and praised me.

So my mother began to say to me,

“Try to make more music, Kumiko”

However, I hated being said so. Although I loved playing with a keyboard, something

clinked around my stomach, which made my heart rigid instantly when I tried to “make a


“I love playing with a keyboard. But practicing the piano is painful. Although I love playing

with sounds, thinking of composing on the piano makes me stiff and paralyzed”

“If you neglect one piano practice, you’ll need two more in order to catch up”

My piano teacher and my mother kept on saying so to me.

I know that they had a point now. However, in my infancy, such words made my heart and

body so stiff that I could not control myself.

Gradually, such a pain turned into a sort of inferiority complex.

When I try to make a tune, no joy sprang up in my heart. I enjoyed playing with a keyboard,

but it did not lead me to make a tune. I was stuck in a mud.

“There are so many great composers in the world. But I have no genius. It was wrong of me

to have thought that I could make music!”

It was when I was 8 years old that I gave up everything.

When I remember those days, it was the moment when a sense of deep self-hate and self-
negation were born in me.

Afterwards, I provoked an incident which led me to stop piano lesson. I will tell you about it

some other time.

As I had stopped playing with a keyboard since then, I was really embarrassed, being said “

Improvise! ” by Prof. Sasaki.

I could not say “no” to him because he was very strict and I was scared of him. And the

more, I was already not a child who insist a downright “no” without any logical explanation.

Timidly and hesitatingly, I pressed one key.

When I came to myself, a sound itself continued to appear, saying “It’s me who come out


Strangely enough, my “sound story” continued.

In a meantime, Prof. Sasaki said to me,

“That’s the way to go. But never stop halfway. Continue until it ends.”

“How long will it continue? Where is the halfway and where is the end?”

I had no idea.

My “sound story “ continued for a while and a veil of end fell naturally just like a pall of


“Well, ・・・ really,・・・”

I remember that I was puzzled. Prof.Sasaki said calmly,

“OK. That’s the way”

What he said was different from praise. In the bottom of consciousness, I felt a deep sense

of joy which is totally different from a sense of “good or bad”.

I have never been praised by Prof. Sasaki. Now I am in his place, teaching people. One

day, a lady who took my lesson regularly asked me,

“I have never been praised by you. Am I doing right or not?”

Well, I have not noticed it. Provably, she wanted my approval. But I do not want to judge

her if she is doing right as a superior.

Instead, I admire her not as a teacher but as a human being when she utters a wonderful

sound. I would say “Wonderful!” in such an occasion and share happiness with her. This is

my way.

A sound from one’s deep consciousness is a gift from it even if he does not know. My deep

consciousness reacts to such a sound, which makes me very happy.

Improvisation is a space where one weaves sounds from his deep consciousness which he

does not know himself.

I will tell you about it some time or other.

Thank you very much.

See you soon!

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