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Suzuki Students Showcased In Mega Piano Concert

Steve Milne / Capital Public Radio

Piano students rehearsing on Thursday at the Sacramento Community Center Theatre for the Ninth Annual Suzuki International 10 Piano Concert. The performance will be Sunday, August 14 at 2 p.m.

Steve Milne / Capital Public Radio

About 200 kids from around the world have been rehearsing at Sacramento's Community Center Theatre for an unusual piano concert this weekend.

The Suzuki International Concert has been held in Sacramento every other year since 1999. The last one was in 2014. The concert features a series of 10 performers each on a piano, playing the same musical piece at the same time.

"We have this incredible 10 piano concert and we've rented grand pianos as you can see," says Linda Nakagawa a Suzuki piano teacher in Sacramento and the organizer of the concert. She says the performance is unique because the piano is primarily a solo instrument.

"The pianist rarely gets a chance to play together unless they do accompanying or ensemble work or duet work," says Nakagawa. "So what we wanted for our students is for them to play together the same piece. If it's a different piece it's not so difficult but doing the same piece takes a lot...you need a similar technique in order to be successful otherwise it just sounds like mishmash. And what we are really trying to achieve is that it becomes music, it breathes. It's not just everybody playing the notes."

Nakagawa says the Suzuki Method relies heavily on a student’s ability to listen. Before learning to read music, they're taught how to play by ear.

One of the students at the rehearsal is 19-year-old Anna Marie.

"I've been playing piano for about 15 years," says Marie. "It's fun and it's even more fun when you're playing with 10 other people on stage. It's really hard at the first rehearsal. But by the end it comes together and everyone knows how to play with each other. And it works out well, surprisingly."

Nakagawa says it's okay if none of the kids become concert pianists.

"What is more important to us is that we teach them how to play piano very well," says Nakagawa. "However, we want to teach them the importance of hard work, patience and responsibility. Maybe some will go into the field of music. But some will become doctors or lawyers or whatever. The most important is that they become good human beings, respecting each other. Hopefully, when we're working together this will instill some kind of respect and responsibility and humbleness."

The concert is this Sunday at 2 p.m. at the Community Center Theatre in Sacramento.


Steve Milne

Morning Edition Anchor & Reporter

Steve is the Morning Edition anchor for Capital Public Radio. He covers stories on a wide range of topics including: business, education, real estate, agriculture and music.  Read Full Bio 

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