This post came in from Herine last week while she was on spring break in Japan. In addition to being the cellist for 5HE, Herine is also on faculty at the Merit School of Music in Chicago’s West Loop, and over spring break, she traveled with 18 of the Merit Suzuki String students to Japan! Enjoy this blast from the other side of the work (although we’re glad to have her back in the rehearsal room)!
Ohayou gozaimasu! I am spending Spring Break in Japan with 18 students, fellow faculty, and a camera crew from the Suzuki Alegre Strings program at the Merit School of Music, attending the Suzuki Method World Convention in Matsumoto, Japan. After a 12-hour plane ride, we arrived in Tokyo for a two-day visit and outreach adventure. Here is a recounting of day 1.
Official Day 1 started with an amazing hotel breakfast buffet which included lots of fish and seaweed items as well as more traditional ones. I am astonished at how open-minded these kids are — for the most part, not at all finicky and willing to try new things! This was followed by a musical exchange at an elementary school, where the string orchestra at the school played us some “Welcome Music: ‘Loving You’ by Kenny G.” Our kids then performed their three Alegre pieces. We were informed that the Japanese students recognized the song, “La Granja” as a Japanese song called, “I broke my clarinet.” The Yamaha rep who was in charge of securing cellos for us got a particular kick out of this since he apparently plays the clarinet. The kids then played Eine Kleine Nachtmusik together, which was totally impromptu, and they did great. Afterwards they enjoyed snacks with each other in the lunchroom and our kids gave the Japanese students little gifts such as key chains and skittles.
Amazingly, the cherry blossoms are in full bloom — about a week early! — and we got to experience them in Ueda Park. Totally spectacular. We rode the metro back during rush hour which was insane. You wouldn’t believe how many people are on the train. They have professional, gloved train “pushers” to shove people into the cars!!! This was especially hilarious because we had sworn to the parents that nothing like this would happen on our watch. It was pouring rain so we ended up ducking into a Sizzlers (yeah….) just to get the kids fed with an all-you-can-eat salad bar and into bed. They started conking out on the tables halfway through dinner. There will be plenty of authentic Japanese meals to follow.