Dr. Haruko Kataoka (1927-2004) was the co-founder of the Suzuki method for piano. Born in Tokyo, she began the study of piano at age 6. In 1955 she moved to Matsumoto City and began working as Dr. Suzuki’s accompanist. She was able to observe his teaching, and research piano pedagogy according to Dr. Suzuki’s philosophy and method of teaching violin. She developed the repertoire for the Suzuki Piano Method, and served as Director of the Piano Department at the Talent Education Research Institute in Matsumoto, where she taught her own students as well as teachers from Japan and around the world.
After encouragement from Dr. Suzuki to develop a program where pianists could play together in the same way as violinist, she began holding 10 Piano concerts which involve the research and rehearsals of many students and teachers. Since 1993 teachers and students have traveled to Matsumoto to study and perform in the International 10 Piano concerts.(1)
Piano teachers have felt her influence worldwide. She also traveled to the United States twice yearly, where she gave master classes to teachers and students, in addition to bringing her own students to perform in Friendship Concerts and multi -piano concerts.(2)
For forty-eight years she continued to research and refine how to teach fundamental skills using natural techniques to develop ability and produce beautiful tone. Her own students are now teaching in Matsumoto Japan, carrying on her work there and teaching workshops in the United States. Her innovative ideas have fully implemented Dr. Suzuki’s philosophy that all children can develop musical talent if their ability is nurtured in a supportive environment.
- Video of students performing from the 10 Piano Concerts in Matsumoto.
- Video of Dr. Kataoka’s blind student Hitoh performing in Atlanta Area Suzuki Piano Association Friendship Concert in 1992.
- Sensibility and Education written by Dr. Kataoka contains stories of her childhood and teaching experience. She relates through these experiences the importance of recognizing and protecting children’s natural ability to learn through their senses. “Please don’t destroy the natural balance of children’s bodies and the natural sensibilities they possess!”
- How To Teach Beginners written by Dr. Kataoka is available for free to read directly online. It is an invaluable resource for teachers and parents. The main points of the pieces in Suzuki volumes 1 and 2 are discussed.
- Suzuki Piano Volumes 1-3. Dr. Kataoka recorded the piano literature for the fiorst three volumes of the Suzuki Piano method. These are the recommended recordings for those books.
- Piano Basics Foundation was founded to promote the teaching of Dr. Kataoka. The Piano Basics Foundation Newsletters are available for free online. They are a wonderful archive of articles Dr. Kataoka wrote for the Talent Education Institute, which were translated into English. Membership in Piano Basics supports the ongoing work of the foundation whose mission is “To facilitate, promote, and educate the public on the way of teaching and playing the piano taught at the Talent Education Research Institute in Matsumoto by Dr. Haruko Katoaka.”
- A Photo Gallery of Dr. Kataoka on this website.