Mail Magazine vol.15

Kumiko’s “In Search of the Transparent Sound” vol.15

I remind lots of episodes during my young days under Prof. Sasaki. From time to time, what

he said differed from each pupil. Because he was thoughtful enough to give each pupil the

most appropriate words and experiences.

One day, he gave a big lecture at Asahi Seimei Hall in Shinjuku. I went to hear him with my

friends as I was interested in what he would talk to general audience

When I arrived at the hall, quite a few seats were already occupied. Considering that Asahi

Seimei Hall contains 650 people, I could say that Prof. Sasaki was well-known in the world

of music.

He started to talk about his method “to open an ear”. On the stage, there were some pupils

waiting to show their performances. In order for the audience to understand his method

well, Prof. Sasaki gave those pupils instructions to play the piano every now and then. His

lecture was full of new tips on the transparent sound. So I was absorbed in listening to him.

All of a sudden, Prof. Sasaki called my name, looking down over the audience.

“ Ms. Kumiko Nabeshima, are you here?”

I fairly jumped for surprise and bagan to wonder if I was asked to do something on the

stage on the day.

“No, he gave me no instruction, I’m sure.” I murmured in my mind.

But I had to go to the stage as he called me. He told me to prepare to play the piano.

Seeing me sitting on the piano bench, he said towards the audience,

“Ladies and gentlemen, tell me your favorite sound, please. Any sound is O.K.”

“Fa”, “Mi” ,“La flat”, “Si” ,“Do sharp,” “So”, etc.

One after another, they said their favorite sounds.

Then Prof. Sasaki introduced me to the audience and said,

“Now, Kumiko is going to improvise on the piano with sounds you gave me.”

“What!? No way ! I can’t do this!”

It was no use crying in my mind. I had to obey his instruction. When I was wondering how

to play, he came up to me and whispered,

“Use the keyboard from end to end”

In a great tension, I started playing.

I cannot even remember how I played.

Anyway I finished playing and came back to my seat. After my improvisation, Prof. Sasaki

resumed talking and his lecture full of insights had ended.

Afterwards, he said nothing about my improvisation. I was a little bit unsatisfactory, but

happy as he did not give me any rebuke.

Three years had passed since then.

One evening at around 7 p.m., I was about to pass the ticket gate of Odakyu line at

Shinjuku station.

“You are Ms. Kumiko Nabeshima, aren’t you?”

I heard someone calling me in a crowd. A woman came up to me in a very delighted way.

“Y…Yes. But who are you?” I was upset and answered hesitatingly.

She said,

“You played an improvisation on the piano almost three years ago at Asahi Seimei Hall,

didn’t you?”

“Yes, I did. But…anything wrong?”

I was afraid as if I was blamed. Then she said,

“I was very much moved by your improvisation! I cannot forget your play!”

Hearing her comments, I became all the more upset. Why was she moved? What was my

improvisation like? Nothing made sense to me.

Timidly I opened my mouth.

“Well, thank you very much.…and excuse me!”

I left her in a hurry.

Long, long after this incident, I told a friend of mine about it for the first time. Having heard

quietly my story, she said,

“What a terrible thing you did to her! I cannot believe it. I think that she needed a great deal

of courage to call you in a crowd. But you treated her in such a short and cold way! I am so

sorry for her.”

The remarks of my friend startled me. My selfish prejudice and my sense of worthlessness

ruined the sincerity of the woman who called me three years ago at Shinjuku station. I

regretted my blunt response to her from the bottom of my heart.

Now I am engaged in a job on sound and as a part of it, I give a piano concert of

improvisations periodically through a year. Still, I tremble with fear whenever I improvise

before an audience. However, once a first sound comes out of me, the path of sounds

appears ahead of it naturally. And sound stories unfold one by one. I always cherish a

hope to play improvisations before the woman who called me three years ago at Shinjuku


I am looking forward to feel the world which my improvisations are going to show me each

time. I imagine how lovely if the sound of my improvisations would deliver the seeds of

clover to each audience and they would grow up, making a clover field everywhere in his or

her heart!

On 5th

April, this Friday, I would appreciate if you could come and enjoy my piano concert

of improvisation.

Thank you very much for reading my essay.

See you soon. Don’t miss it!

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