How did you first hear about the Lighthouse; what do you teach and how long have you been teaching at the music school?
I came here as a piano student in 1982 on a 10-month Japanese corporate sponsored scholarship. At that time, George Bennette was the director of the Music School. He introduced me to John Sanfilippo who became my classical piano teacher. Mr. Bennette also introduced me to jazz pianist and teacher, Lance Hayward, who I studied with outside of the Lighthouse. In order to pursue my professional gigs, I needed assistance in transcribing music. Tony Falaro, Assistant Director of the Music School, helped me with this critical portion
Prior to 2005, I worked as a substitute teacher at the music school and then in 2006, I started teaching piano in the Saturday children’s program as well as teaching private jazz piano and music technology to adults.
What do you think is the number one issue for visually impaired musicians and how is it different than teaching musicians with non-challenging sight issues?
With children who have no sight, it is difficult to verbally describe where the hands should be placed. Because I’m a visually impaired person myself, I have to either touch the student’s hands or have them touch mine. It is a challenge. With sighted students, we have to provide different large print sizes. If they have no vision, we provide Braille music. Music always requires a lot of listening skills. Most of my jazz students play by ear.
Tell us about your career background.
I grew up in a small town in Japan and started playing classical trumpet at the age of 9. Later, I branched out playing all kinds of music (pop, Japanese music or old standard jazz tunes) I realized I needed more of a foundation, so I studied theory in Gifu Prefecture, which enabled me to write musical scores and arrangements. Because I studied arranging, I became fascinated with many instruments, but I primarily considered myself a trumpet player. After moving to Tokyo, where I started composing fusion music and working with band, I got a recording contract, which led to a ten-month scholarship and the study in the US at the Lighthouse Music School and Lance Hayward.
Regarding technology, it is something I have always enjoyed. I bought my first computer in the 1970s. In the mid-1980s I purchased a hardware sequencer and later, a software sequencer. Then I started to write a lot of jingles for a Japanese radio broadcasting service. Because of my connection with John Sanfilippo, I was able to teach technology at the Lighthouse.
In December 2012 and January 2013, I played solo piano concerts in Osaka and Tokyo, Japan.