Studio Foundation

Piano Basics

What is Suzuki Piano Basics?

It is the technique Dr. Kataoka developed for teaching young children to play. Suzuki Piano Basics teachers are a smaller group within all the Suzuki Piano teachers. SPB teachers are serious and conscientious. Suzuki Piano Basics teachers may add other music to the Suzuki repertoire. But they do not stray from Dr. Suzuki's and Dr. Kataoka's basic principles of philosophy. It is the method of teaching Suzuki Piano as developed by Dr. Kataoka. It means the instructor commits to:

  1. Study and follow the techniques Kataoka developed.
  2. Continue to study and improve understanding of these techniques for a lifetime.
  3. Teach Suzuki to the best of her ability in the same way it was truly meant to be taught, includes Observations in the student's lessons and parental participation until the child becomes independent and responsible.
  4. Researching how to help students by improving role model demonstrations of the techniques with other like-minded teachers.
  5. To treat teaching as a serious occupation that affects future generations in the hopes of developing a better society. The aim is excellence with the goal of constant self-improvement.

Haruko Kataoka

"One of the world's leading authorities on the Suzuki Piano School" by Cathy Hargrave

Through her teaching and her personal trips to the U.S. and Canada, she spread the message of Shinichi Suzuki that children can learn to play more naturally and with better tone. In 1956, she travelled to Matsumoto to study with Dr. Suzuki, and was deeply impressed with the results he was achieving in teaching children to play the violin.

Dr. Haruko Kataoka (1927-2004) was chosen by Dr. Suzuki to apply his violin teaching method to piano. Dr. Kataoka played a significant role in the life of many Suzuki piano teachers and students.

Dr. Haruko Kataoka was born in Tokyo in 1927. She began her study of piano at the age of six with the late Yoshimune Hirata. In March 1945, Haruko Kataoka graduated from Sacred Heart Girls High School in Tokyo, and continued her piano studies with Haruko Fujita. She moved to Matsumoto in 1955, to serve as Dr. Shinichi Suzuki's accompanist at the Talent Education Institute, where she began to research piano pedagogy based on Dr. Suzuki's methods of teaching violin. She served as Director of the Piano Progam at the Talent Education Institute for forty years.

Beginning in 1972, Haruko Kataoka traveled abroad each year to conduct international workshops in the United States, Canada, England, Finland, and Australia. In recent years, she came to the U.S. twice each summer to teach for four weeks annually. Her work has spawned the formation of the Suzuki Piano Basics Foundation, an international organization dedicated to preserving her teaching.

Haruko Kataoka received the Arts and Culture Award from Matsumoto City in 1986. She was awarded an honorary doctorate from the University of Louisville, in Louisville, Kentucky in 1990. Dr. Kataoka published Sensibility and Education and How to Teach Beginners, in addition to pamphlets on piano pedagogy and numerous articles, especially in the Suzuki Piano Basics Foundation News. Her last visit to the U.S. was to the 10-Piano Concert in Sacramento, California in August 2003.

All who knew her realized that she was a selfless teacher who cared passionately about children and their education. She worked hard at teaching until the very end. She touched the lives of countless children, parents, and teachers.