Introducing Robert Pace's Piano Teaching Approach to Japan


By Yoko Jimbo, IPTF Director, Japan

I originally came to the United States for research.  While in Manhattan I received a letter from friend in Japan suggesting to find that Dr. Robert Pace was very interesting and an important music educator.   
I found that he was a professor of music education

at Columbia University, Teachers  College,  I visited Columbia University and asked him if I could observe his class. He very kindly agreed.
When he came into the classroom, I was surprised.  He seemed somewhat angry.  At that time there were problems of young boys’ crimes.  They were not aware of what they had done. Dr. Pace said the boys could not be aware of their actions because their thinking and emotions were not connected in daily life. He said that the problem was one of today’s education.  Though schools teach a lot of good things that does not make connections between thinking and doing.  Actually thinking (the brain), feeling (the heart), and action (the body) -the three basic human elements are not synchronized.   Because teachers tell many good things but do not emphasize the connection of these things.
Then Dr. Pace’s lecture  moved to the main subject of music. In piano study we have to balance the basic human elements.  If practice engages only the fingers (technique) we may play piano but not music.  If we use only our brain, beautiful music cannot be achieved and without emotion we cannot follow our feeling.  Music education, especially piano study, is very important for coordinating the three basic human functions in our daily life. 
In my own experience my students and my many friends who studied music, were taught to play music nicely but mainly using our fingers only.
I asked Dr. Pace if I could study his Approach more.  I would like to introduce it to the Japanese piano teachers.  And personally I met him and told him I would like to introduce your books and your way of teaching to Japanese piano teachers.  But Dr. Pace told me somebody came to him and offered translate his textbooks in to Japanese.  I was very disappointed and I gave up taking care of his textbooks and introducing his approach to Japanese teachers.
But after I came back home I realized translation of textbooks will be first but how to use it is more important and difficult.  The ability to properly use the textbooks require more deep thinking.
Then I went back to Dr. Pace with  my writing promotion plan and showed it to him.  He carefully read it and he said “Your writing is very interesting.  Please do it.  Whatever you want to do.”
I went to Japan.
After I graduated from the Music Department at Tokyo University of the Arts,  I worked at the Japanese broardcasting company, NHK for 13 years then CBS Sony for 5 years.  Many of my friends work in the music industry field
Then I thought of Dr. Ebidsawa.
He was  president of Kunitachi College of Music.  It is the biggest music college and they have large numbers of students in Tokyo.  Piano study is a requirement of all students.  Teachers take care of  one student for 15 minutes or 20 minutes at a time.  Dr. Ebisawa thought it was an unsatisfactory situation and urgently sought to improve the situation at his music school.  I met him and suggested that he consider the Pace Method.  He became interested and I recommended that he meet Dr. Pace to learn more about his approach.
I arranged for Dr.Ebisawa to meet Dr. Pace.   Dr. Ebisawa came to New York.  The two gentlemen met and readily understood each other.
Dr. Pace came to Japan and had wonderful lectures.  He used Kunitachi students but the younger students sometimes don’t understand even rudimentary theory which Dr. Pace thought they should know when they play it.
Dr.Ebisawa planned to invite Dr. Pace every year.  But  the old professors of Kunitachi College could not understand this new direction in music study,  Dr. Ebisawa showed dormitory prepared for guest teachers like Dr. Pace.  But Dr. Pace went to Kunitachi.only once at that time.
I thought of promotion from other directions.  The next I met with an education field journalist.  I called him and met him for the first time.   He looked very intelligent and listened to me very eagerly and asked me to write about Dr. Pace’s approach.  People said usualy it takes so long until reader’s actuary appears in the paper. (not writer who is sual belong this paper)  Despiteet this article appeared
In following Sunday’s evening paper.) Many people inquired about the article and the journalist gave them my address.
I also met with the editor of Chuo Koron, a prestigious publishing house, who was very interested and carried my article titled “Japanese piano training is like teaching a dolphin to balance a ball.” The idea was that children were only being taught to imitate and repeat, and not to think.  I got so many letters from piano teachers. 
*We have to thinking and feeling then moving fingers.  When we piano study that we confirmed the importance of all hunan element.
Also I should have lectures for ordinal piano teachers  I organized a lecture in Tokyo and to my surprise many piano teachers came to listen. The room was full to capacity with over 100 people attending.  After a few days I could organize a ‘Pace Method Study Group.’ Dr. Pace authorized me to establish a branch of IPTF in Japan.
After this I had CM Sessions many times for wonderful teachers and after several years many new Pace Piano Teachers were fostered.  They also started to have CM Sessions to help me.  Also I opened my own studio in New Jersey.
The  professsors of Japanese main music schools wanted to krow more about Pace Approach.  Dr. Pace invited to Japanese music colleges.  He invied 8 Japanese famous conservatories to have lectures from Tokyo,  Osaka to Kyushu.