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Clouds for Alma: Spring Concert 2015


On March 11ty 2016, our school had a spring koto concert. Our koto class worked on the piece ‘Clouds for Alma’ through December to March. At this concert, there were various level and ages who of performed which made the concert entertaining. As a reminder, March 11th is an important day in Japan, as we throwback to 2011, there was a 4.5 magnitude earthquake and a tsunami that happened in Tohoku. More than 10000 million of people died and has suffered from a huge damage. It’s been 5 years since the earthquake but The Japanese people still can’t never forget this event. I think this day was a great day to perform since it strongly showed a Japanese culture.

Reflecting back to my performance, I think I did an awesome job! This is because I focused on the level of the tone and I perfectly counted the melodies while I was playing. When I was playing this piece, I felt relaxed and I actually thought I was flying and watching the clouds. 

Firstly, I focused on playing the right strings and getting the music stuck in my head.  When times flies, I focued on thinking about the timing and speed ( piano and forte.) In addition, my main focus at the very end was playing the last movement  which is page 4 measure 774. I had struggled playing this because my hands didn’t move really fast and I always play the wrong string because my fingers get stuck.
Before the concert, I missed some classes on Thursday because I had cheerleading practice. Sadly, I couldn’t really practice as a group during March and I felt really bad. By this, I practiced at home a lot and listen to the recording because I didnt want to めいわくする.  I practiced more than an hour and keep on playing the same thing over and over again. My head was full of worries but A week before the concert, when I practiced with everyone, I realized I was able to play and synchronize with everyone and happily, I was able to play movement 4 perfectly. I was really really happy!!!!

To be honest, I think I took too much time to memorize the 4th movement since I was so forcued on movement 1 to 3 because I couldn’t play it perfectly. So next time I would like to memorize the piece at an earlier time. I realized it is really easy to memorize the piece first so that we can think about the tempo, the pitch, and syncniying with others. In addition, I learned that you can feel 安心. In a minimalist pieces, it includes a lot of repetition of patterns which are hard to keep track of and while playing we need to count, therefore it is hard to look at the music piece and count at the same time. All in all, I think  I shoud have memorized my piece ealier.

I think our group performance was successful because luckily, we were all syncronized and ended at the same time in movement one. Furthermore,  our dynamics enhanced the whole piece and I think everyone was listening to each other. I saw people having eye contact to each other and this tells me they were listening and being careful of not going too fast or slow. Our dynamics in movement two  were very soft, and the loud part were strong and clear.

Overall, I think I played really well and I am really sad that we cannot play this piece anymore since piece uses fingers the whole time and I have never played a piece that only uses fingers in this 5 years. But I am kind of happy at the same time that my hands will not have blisters and so on.  For me, practicing many, many times worked, because my fingers and ears would remember better and my hands just keep on moving. Also, practicing with the metronome as helped me because it gives you the steady beat all the way and you will know when you are fast or slow. I think, playing with the recorded music didn’t help me because it was really fast and I couldn’t hear myself playing.




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Over the winter break, my goal was to  play page 3 from the top until page 4 measure 13 very smoothly. I have some hard times finding the right string and using both of my hands at the same time. I will try and practice 3 times a week. If I success my goal, I would practice with a metronome or with a music. To reflect on my video I have recorded today, I didn’t successfully achieved my goal. I think this because there were still some places I get stuck on and finding the string. I feel like I do better in class more than playing it alone at home. I can feel the beat and I have a sense of me playing the right string more than at home. I can synchronize with others. To think positively, I do reckon I succeeded some of my goals at some part of the music. I think I got better at playing page 4 measure 11-13. The place where I need to use both hands and play 8 and 11 at the same time. Previously, I had struggles getting the beat and changing my hands to 8 and 10. Now I can play that part smoothly. In addition, in page 4  my left hand didn’t stop and I had my beat at the right tempo.

I think my practice strategies during the break was okay. I forgot my music folder in my friends backpack therefore, I didn’t have my music book. Even though I didn’t have one, I tested whether I can actually play the music with no music paper, and I did. To check myself if I was right, I listen to the music over and over again and Imagine myself playing.  I also hummed when I am bored. This strategies helped me with keeping the tempo right and moving my arms made me catch up than the previous video. To make this better, not just imagining myself playing I should play more and more when I have free time and ask my friends to play with me. This will also work on synchronization, teamwork and listening skills.


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My Goal until winter break


My goal in this semester and until winter break would be playing page 3 from the top until page 4 measure 13 very smoothly. I have some hard times finding the right string and using the both of my hands at the same time. I will try and practice 3 days in a week. If I success my goal, I would practice with a metronome or with a music.

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Warabe Uta reflection


This is my 5th year playing koto and I performed more than 10 concerts. Elementary through Middle school was memorable but I had some struggles and challenges performing at the concerts. I wasn’t nervous or anything, but I usually mess up while playing. I couldn’t performed my best best.  But this year in High school I performed really well. This is my first year playing koto in high school. Before going in this year, I was worried about not fitting in and I was worried about if I cannot catch up with the others because middle school level and high school level is different, but I chose koto because I love it so much <3 Well, my choice was right because I realized I am catching up with people and I am having fun.  On the other hand, I feel more comfortable.

We had a concert during October called “2015 NYC Tour Benefit Concert.’ This was our first performance this year as 7 girls in 9th grade. According to our teacher, it’s been so long that they had only a group of girls performing. I think I performed really really well because I had no mistakes. I memorized ” Warabe Uta” ( the song piece ) perfectly. I think I was well prepared mentally and performing it. Everyone was on the right track and nothing went wrong. Everyone was synchronized and put a lot of emotions into the music. I was relaxed and on the beat while playing and I put a lot of mood and emotions which I think made my performance amazing. 全力出しました!

Like I said before, I think my preparation was great. I did my practice log and even if there’s only 2 videos on my practice log, I actually practiced a lot outside of school. My mom was surprised that I practice more than the time when I was in middle school. I usually look at my music while practicing at home because I can be more focused about the dynamics, piano, soprano and so on. I think these are important in music because it evokes feelings. Thus, the audience feels relaxed and they might get  the message/story from a song. After our practice usually, Me, Kaori and Saya sing the melody that we like and this is how I check if I actually memorized the song. Also, if we walk altogether ( 7 girls) we all sing the song together. Having these moments outside of koto practice are important as well.  This year I realized this 7 girls got closer than last year. Last year koto was a huge member about 18 people in a group. Of course, everyone knew each other but we weren’t really close. We had our communications but when we perform, something goes wrong.  I reckoned this year group is really good  because when we set up koto’s we all ask if they need some stands and if one person it doing the stands job the other person gives out the color pencil or the turner. Everyone was very overwhelmed and supportive. I think now we are a one big caring koto group and a koto family. I can feel the love in the air. Everyone has their smile’s on no matter what, during our practice! XD To be honest, I didn’t learn a lot as a member of a group because I do cheerleading and cheerleading is a sport about teamwork and synchronization. I knew from the start that, if someone mistakes or stuck on a melody we all need to help them by playing the melody over and over again or making the tempo slower.

In conclusion, I think this performance was really inspiring and amazing. I accomplished my mental about playing the koto and I just need to play the koto again and again when I have time. My overall challenges what memorizing the “アイヌ”の 1st  row 1-4thmeasure. I think that was my hardest part to play and to memorize it.  In addition, it was also challenging how I needed to remember the part that is upbeat tempo or piano. Overall, I had a great time and I cannot wait until our next concert.

YIS HS Koto Ensemble at BankART Studio 2015



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