"Struggles with the flute"

Still I am playing the flute

When I had seen the flute for the first time, I thought that was beautiful, attractive and charming without any reason. I wanted to hold it and found out what its sound was like.

Since the time 42 years have passed.

The flute was displayed at YAMAHA music shop in Kamiya-cho! My uncle, Takashi went to the shop. He said to me that the price was 3,700 yen and we would go there the coming weekend to buy it. I was very glad! At last the Sunday came. We went to the shop; however he said “Kanako-chan, I’m sorry! The amount which I told was wrong. The price is one digit higher. The correct price is 37,000 yen. Pardon me. It is impossible to buy it. Really, I'm sorry.” I went home with no flute. The dream was gone.

However, my parents promised me to buy a flute for me as the gift for the celebration of my graduation from elementary school in the coming spring.

I graduated from elementary school and the day had come at last. The instrument was made by Nikkan Flute. The instrument was contained in the case with the vertical. I opened the case. The instrument was made up of three parts. I tried to sound it in various ways; however it had no sound at all. I decided to go to Yamaha Music School. The name of my teacher was Ms. Hiroko Kikuchii.  The classes were held at a group. All of the students were adults. I learned " Baraga saita (Rose has bloomed)” . Do-do-do, Do-re, Mi-mi-mi, Mi-fa then I became unconscious. I fell on the floor. Five minutes later, I regained consciousness. And again Do-do-do, Do-re then I fell down. Again and again. The next song was “Chocho (Butterfly)“. So-mi-mi, Fa-re-re! I became unconscious. Painful! The flute was painful.

I entered Midori Junior High School in Hiroshima city. I joined into the brass band club. I finally became the member of the flute section However, without the chance to perform at all. I had to transfer to a school in Yamaguchi Prefecture. Our junk heap mini-car headed to our new home. The car stopped running just before arriving to Hofu city. The car was smoking. We abandoned the car and continued our trip by railway. Somehow we arrived at the new home. There wasn’t a brass band club in my new school, Yuda Junior High School. I almost thought that my dream had been over.

But I continued to play the flute, I didn’t know the reason.

At the house of Mr. Kajita, our teacher I listened to the record of flute music for the first time. The player was Marcel Moyse. The sound was like a violin. The sound was quite different from my own. That had strength and a core. I believed that the sound of flute was fluffy because I hadn’t heard any sounds of flute except for mine till the time. By listening to the music of Moyse, my skill of playing was improved. When I was in the first year of high school, I won the first prize in the student competition. Thanks to this, I appeared on television. I began thinking mistakenly that I would be a flutist. Original error 1

I went to the concert of a professional flutist for the first time. The player was Rampal, a famous French flutist. I went to the concert held in Hofu city together with my mother. I hadn’t heard the living sound of the flute in my life till the time. The sound of his flute sounded like Jari-jari, Shah-shah and I thought my sound was more beautiful than him. Original error 2

I decided to attend a music college. In order to have lessons by Ms. Kikuchii again I began going to her home in Hiroshima from Yamaguchi prefecture. She was severe. Because of train sickness (not car sickness) I always ran into the medical room of the station before the lesson, lay there for one hour and then went to her home. I was scolded by her due to the smell of the train. I couldn’t understand what was wrong. After all I was transferred to a high school in Hiroshima prefecture. I had had private lessons by Ms. Ririko Hayashi, however she died soon. In the senior year of high school I decided to go to Tokyo.

I passed the entrance examination to the Department of Education of flute of Musashino Music Academy. That wasn’t the Instrument department but education one. The only difference between the two departments was that the students of the education department would take the school curriculum too. The other conditions including the lessons of flute were exactly the same.

Away from my parents I went to Tokyo. I was 18 years old. I was happy. My Mentor was Mr. Takao Saeki. He was a person with gentle nature and his lessons began. But I began understanding that my flute technique was bad. All what I had learned and my confidence were misunderstandings. I was the poorest flute player among the students in the same year.  First I couldn’t play whole pieces by the flute. I made breathing impossible and almost turned to die. To be precise I could have continued to play completely if I had tried to play calmly without having any emotions. Playing with no emotion was what I didn’t want. When I had begun playing with emotion, which was what I had wanted to do, I couldn’t continue to play whole pieces by flute. In fact I was a crazy horse; however I didn’t understand that I was the perfect example of crazy horse at that time. I began realizing that I had been a crazy horse 25 years later. 

I kept playing the flute and made a lot of friends. I had a boyfriend. I graduated from college. My skill of playing the flute was not improved at all. While I had been student at the college, I recognized that there were fatal problems in my playing technique. I made up my mind and I started from the beginning. While my friends had been practicing flute sonatas and flute concertos, I was blowing “Mary Had a Little Lamb”. It was obvious that I wouldn’t be able to play well in the future if I continued to play in the same way. It was sad that a student of a music college was blowing “Mary Had a Little Lamb”. However; without any correction of my technique it was impossible to become a flutist. Eventually before my graduation I couldn’t achieve the correction.

I was taught one thing at the music college about the mind of a professional player: I should never talk of myself as a poor player. Even though you became feeling terrible during the play, even though you want to kill yourself because of your poor play, you should never say that you are poor. In the case of a professional player the product is the player itself. There is no merchant who is selling its products with the comment that the product is bad or rotten. The difference between professional and amateur is only one thing: absolutely not saying that I’m bad or poor. This teaching was very painful. After playing I always wanted to cry out loud. However I was patient of it and only smiled.

I went to a concert by James Galway, one of the greatest flutists. He was amazing. It was a quite different flute sound which I had never listened to. I became hooked on the flute. I eagerly wanted to blow on this sound. I believed that there was no meaning of playing flute with any other sounds except for this one. Even though I couldn’t turn to become a flutist, I would have liked to make this sound for my whole lifetime.

However I couldn’t make the effort in fact. Daily life for making living money didn’t allow me to have enough time for the practice for reaching the goal. I had to make money for paying the fee for my rental room, phone bill and food expense and so on. After my graduation from college money transfer from my parents was stopped. I began the part timer work at Japan Flute Association twice a week. Under Mr. Masao Yoshida, the chairman of the association, I worked for the teachers like Mr. Akira Aoki, Mr. Soichi Minegishi and others.   

The meetings ended at AM 3:00. I went back to my apartment in Ekoda at AM 4:00. But all the members united through flute. That’s a fun. Somehow, I got the work of teaching in music schools. But my skill of playing the flute was still not improving. I was frustrated. The work of teaching recorder was introduced by YAMAHA Instrument to me. It was a good deal to me who had no regular job. Thanks for the curriculum of the education department, I could play the recorder because I had chosen recorder as the second selection instrument at college. I turned to be the member of ACT Recorder Ensemble. The concept of the ensemble was having children listen to good live music. “Don’t you add the pianica as extra instrument?” This suggestion was made by YAMAHA, the biggest customer of giving orders to the ensemble. I was unpleasant of playing the pianica. But once I played the instrument the problem which I was having when I played the flute was immediately solved. I could control sound by playing the pianica. Even though I played the pianica as I liked to play, I never lost consciousness due to choking. Pianica was the only one instrument which was safe for the crazy horse to demonstrate the true nature. I could enjoy playing music as I liked in the case of pianica, that was totally different from flute. I played Csárdás with pianica together with my friends. In the case of pianica I could enjoy what I had wanted to play and couldn’t enjoy it by flute. I had many friends among the members of ACT. My work was spreading in the world. Then there was no time for achieving my goal. Again I went away from playing the flute.

I became 27 years old and I married.  He was my classmate at the flute department and I had loved him since the time I was 18 years old. But we divorced when I was 30 years old. I was very sad. It took a few years for coming back. I was working hard. I broadened the range of works such as teaching and playing the flute, recorder concerts and lectures. As the member of ACT I spreaded the locations of the work across the country and in foreign countires, such as Taiwan, Singapore, Malaysia. At that time there were only three days for me to take off in a year. I became healthy. I made money. On the other hand the time for practicing the flute for improving my skill was being decreased. The distance to the goal of the sound of Galway was becoming further and further. I was 36 years old.

I was forced to do matchmaking. He had three times larger face than a normal person. I consulted with my mother. She said that you should marry! The value of a person was not decided by the size of his face. He asked me to marry him and go to the US together. How should I continue doing the jobs which I have been doing despite my working territory was spreading? What should I do with the students? How should I spend everyday when now 362 days out of 365 days are filled with the works? Can I leave the members of ACT? Can I marry? This person? Finally I made up my mind and married the person who looked having a warm heart. I felt a turning point in my life. I was 37 years old.

I was living in Seattle. I was amazed that every meal could be eaten with no working. I could spend money as I liked. “Is this what marriage is really like? I can play the flute as much as possible. Does such an unthinkable, dreamful condition exist? “

I had a new flutist friend. We spent such a nice time. She was keeping a turkey named Henry and a pig in her garden for eating them in the future. They were very cute. Could she eat them? As I had wondered, later she accused herself that she couldn’t kill them. I never met such a great flutist till the time. My lifestyle changed after I met her.

I began keeping a cockatiel. One month later the cockatiel began saying “Koharu-chan”, which was the name given by me, in a high-pitched voice. Since then the cockatiel had turned to be my dearest daughter. Four years later, we found out that that was a male bird. My daughter turned into my son. When he was 11 years old, he died. The most tears came in my life.
One day after my graduation from the music college, the money from my parents stopped. Working was all that I could do to make money to live. Studying abroad was an unrealistic dream to me. I was not used to just studying. Now the desire was fulfilled. I began having lessons by Mrs. Zart Eby Dombourian, the player of piccolo and flute of Seattle Symphony Orchestra. My wish of improving the skill of playing the flute began finally. But still, I was poor. I excused myself considering that it was the natural result because I had been only working for making money and hadn’t been practicing. Putting exceeded power into mouth didn’t let me make proper sounds. The real practice has just begun from now! Again I was blowing “Mary Had a Little Lamb”. Four years later, I succeeded in power down and I turned to be able to play the flute a little. I was 38 years old.

My husband was a strange person. He didn’t make any claims to me. Even if I did something, he was smiling. What was strange above all: he loved music so much. He loved going to concerts, opera performances and CD shops in which he liked hanging around. He was incomprehensible. I didn’t know such person who loved music so much among my music friends. Living with Koharu and my husband, I haven’t had the experience of spending the time so calmly and gently. I was 40 years old.

We came back to Japan. Living in the US for four years had me have lost normal Japanese discretion. I wanted to know how much ability I could obtain in the US and whether my ability could be used in Japan.  I visited Mr. Masahiro Arita, a famous Japanese recorder player. His comment was “Are you a player of trumpet?” I went to Ms. Mari Nakano. Her comment was “Your sounds are so soft and fluffy. Be careful of shortage of blowing power”. Although my playing skill was improved with being forged by the severe instruction, I turned to be confused. Be more relaxed, put more power, be more relaxed, put more power•••• How should I do? What is the right way of playing the flute? I couldn’t understand. It was far from the aim of making the sound of Galway. I wanted to be the greatest flutist in the world. However… I never abandon my dream! I do my best! I was 43 years old.

Suddenly, my husband began saying that he would leave his company. Since he had been working for the office in the United States for four years, now he couldn’t be patient of working for the Japanese company having conservative business culture. Of course I agreed with him! “How should we do after resigning?” We opened a world map. “Let us go to Hungary and do something interesting. Prices of commodities seem cheaper. More than anything, there is excellent music! Yes! Let us go!” We decided to go to Hungary together. We went to Hungary and ensured that there was habitable and rented an apartment in Budapest.

Then we came back to Japan for the preparation of our moving. However; unexpected things occurred during our absence of a few months. The lawyer whom my husband had asked to establish his company absconded. At the same time thieves broke into our rental apartment. (The thieves stole an audio unit and the CD box of Beethoven’s nine symphonies! Truly the thieves were the people in the music country.)

After receiving the report from our acquaintance in Budapest we went to Budapest for the investigation of the rental apartment. On the way to Budapest we stopped in Thailand for a few days. I suffered the damage of a snatch there. I was deprived of my handbag by the snatcher. My husband tried to chase the bike of the snatcher but couldn’t catch him. For the worse, he tripped and bled. We had ended up going to the police office. Finally we reached the apartment in Budapest. After sitting on the sofas we switched on the TV. It was just the time when the airplane hijacked by the terrorists hit World Trade Center Building in New York. I made an appointment with a Hungarian flutist. Even in more than one hour he didn’t show up. I was informed by the introducer that he couldn’t come because he had had a car accident. Everything went backwards, worse than expected. Hungary had warned us not to come! Do not come! Inevitable, let’s give up… We gave up Hungary. We dropped our original plan and returned to live in Japan legitimately.

 My husband began working for a new Japanese company. I began teaching the flute to students and became an ACT member again. We were pulled back to the lives of typical Japanese people. Everyday we were busy, busy and busy. After three years I was having fifty students from age 5 to 80. I was a good teacher. The children were playing the flute lively and I was able to interact with the adults in mind through teaching flute. The children and the adults continued improving their skills so much. It’s a deep emotion! But as a good teacher I was consuming my energy… Despite the students were improving their skills of playing the flute I didn’t improve mine. I didn’t create the sound I wanted to play.

 Further seven years passed. I was fifty and my husband was fifty seven. Both of us murmured that it might be the time of escaping from Japan.  Yes!

This time is an exact new starting! I can play the flute anywhere! I improve my skill more and more! I never abandon my dream. We could have savings. We began the preparation of the moving.

We discussed about our concrete destination of this time. “How is Croatia? Let’s go to the city of Rijeka. Let’s do something there. How about making the restaurant menu in Japanese for Japanese tourists there? OK, we do it.” And my husband decided to leave the company.

We had found a second house the price of which was extremely low near Narita Airport and we bought it. We planned to bring our Home furnishings into the house. One morning, just before going to our new home in Narita for cleaning the inside of the house, my husband found an interesting message in a mail magazine. The name of the mail magazine was “Ügye”, which was managed by his acquaintance who was the member of Japan and Hungary Friendship Association. The article mentioned “Japanese staff wanted for a consulting firm in Budapest. The first condition is that the person loves Hungary!” My husband met all other criteria. Croatia and Hungary are next to each other. “In spite of the low income, isn’t it far better than making restaurant menu?” and we decided. Hungary, once we cancelled our plan to live there. This time the country called us to come and welcomed us. The interview of the president of the company was successful. The various procedures for moving to Hungary went on smoothly. Two month later we were in Budapest. When we hadn’t expected at all, the dream came true.  

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