The Words of the Tashiro Family

The inside story behind "21 Winners for Young Pianists, Beginning and Intermediate", for teaching piano to True Children

M. J. Yasuko Tashiro
December 1988

Left to right: Yasuko Tashiro, her niece Yun Shim, and Sun fin Nim relax after a lesson

After being in the church only one year, I found myself suddenly in the position of giving the True Children piano lessons. I soon found out that they have extremely high expectations in music. First of all, the songs must have a pleasing melody. Secondly, they must have a catchy rhythm. Thirdly, they prefer words written with the music to stimulate their imagination. I bought several children's piano books to start to teach them but they expressed dislike or boredom with the pieces. I was faced with a decision to try my hand at composing or to fail to arouse their interest in piano. Since it was Thanksgiving, I wrote "Gobble, Gobble" and "Turkey Hunting." They were a hit, so soon after, I wrote "Christmas Chimes" for Sun Jin Nim. When Hyung Jin Nim voiced approval too, this gave me a spurt to go forward to do more composing.

My next step was to think of a way to sustain this kind of momentum. I tried to think of their current interests, whether it was snow sledding or the event of Un Jin Nim and Hyun Jin Nim's trying out for the Olympics. I would always go to the music room 45 minutes before their lessons and start writing. I would let my fingers find a relatively easy pattern for both hands and then let my imagination take over. Surprisingly the compositions came quickly and easily. One of the ways in which Hyung Jin Nim would express his satisfaction with a piece was to suddenly bound up from the piano bench, raise up both his hands and run around the room two or three times. This was an absolute joy for me to watch. Sun Jin Nim, so demanding and critical of herself, would not be happy unless she was able to learn her piece quickly and play it well. I wrote "Victory March" originally for Kwon Jin Nim but instead Sun Jin Nim wanted to play it. She developed a wonderful rhythmic flair that really helped convey the spirit of the music. I was amazed how, with a few words of direction from me, she could capture the right feeling technically to create a full sound.

Mother and Shin Gil Nim at his 100-day ceremony in East Garden

One day, Hyung Jin Nim wrote on top of the page of "Caring," "I like this." When he was at the keyboard, he wanted to play it over and over in many different registers. Then came "Happiness" and his wanting to help me compose. Always, however, it seemed an awesome task for him to play something new and it was not easy for me to consistently write something different as well as a little more difficult than the last piece so that he would feel he was progressing to a higher level. Sometimes I would write something too difficult and it would be an uphill climb to gain back his confidence. In California, before I joined the church, Yun Shim, my niece, came to visit me. I wrote her a piece called "Fun in California." It was at a moment when inspiration was not forth-coming that I decided to let Hyung Jin Nim try it. With a little coaxing from me and some struggling, he managed to master it and soon he was playing it all the time.

Sun Jin Nim meanwhile was playing "Welcome" and enjoying the phrasing and lilt of the piece. She was always able somehow to catch the mood of the pieces. One day many months later, just before I was ready to submit the pieces to the engraver, she came over and said, "Auntie Yasuko, play all the pieces in the Intermediate book for me." This was a surprise to me since she had decided to set aside piano playing because of tremendous demands from her studies. I started playing and she became very excited, remembering the ones I had written for her, giving me her impressions, and changing titles. Of course, all her titles were superb and described the pieces perfectly. They are "Dewdrops," "Winter to Spring," "Young and Free," "Big Heart Santa Claus," "A Long Time Ago," and "Confidence and Sweet Dreams." When I played the last piece, "Snowflakes," to which she helped me write the words, she said, "This is my favorite piece and even though it's hard, it'll be something the students can work toward and then they can get a certificate when they finish the book."

Left to right: Yasuko, Jeung Jin Nim, Yeon Jin Nim, and Hyung Jin Nim on Children's Day, 1986

Now Jeung Jin Nim is taking piano lessons and enjoying Hyung Jin Nim's pieces. The first time she played "Turkey Hunting," I noticed she changed the rhythm to fit the words," He runs fast and furiously." Of course, she's just a beginner and I don't expect her to play 8th notes, which are fast notes, but it was so descriptive and so appropriate to emulate the turkey running away and she was so intense in playing it that I had to immediately change it. So this became a Jeung Jin Nim change. Also when the word "softly" occurred, she would play so quietly that you knew the keyboard could whisper.

It continues to amaze me how quick, true and definite all the True Children's responses are. I am thoroughly infected by their enthusiasm when I have been successful in writing something that is good. I also know that when I do something wrong and misjudge the pace of their absorbing what I give them, that I must immediately humbly apologize to them. By their expressions, I could see their heart change towards me. At first, going through the process of composing for them was an experiment; it turned out to be a constant challenge and demanded all my experience, knowledge and resources. Unification Thought talks a lot about trial and error, rethinking, redoing, re-listening, rehashing, constantly improving through self-criticism and constructive feedback My experience certainly stimulated this process.

Left to right: Hyung Jin Nim, Jeung Jin Nim, Yasuko, Shin Jeung Nim, and Yeon Jin Nim on Children's Day, 1988

Even though I didn't ever think I would publish children's pieces, I suddenly found the chance to do this when Parents gave me a gift of money one day. Mr. Peter Kim, my central figure, supported me and nine months later, 21 Winners be- came a reality. These two books can be shared with many children. With the dedication to Shin Gil Nim, representing the third generation, this became a means to express to True Parents my appreciation for their work on the earth to bring about a substantial new world.

The difficulties in publishing were many with Tom Miho doing the engraving despite his having been very sick, Narihata-san patiently doing the cover over three times to satisfy the printer, and the printer having problems with his workers and having to do the second book over twice. But when Father signed 21 Winners on December 8, 1988, and said, "Keep on composing," all the problems faded from my memory. Profound love, which Father exemplifies and talks about, sometimes cannot be expressed fully in words, but through music I can express a whole rainbow of feelings. I thank Heavenly Father every day for this gift and the enriching experience of being able to help the True Children. 

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