This article was originally published in the fall 2012 Harker Quarterly.
Upper school music teacher Susan Nace visited Tamagawa Gakuen in Tokyo as part of this year’s teacher exchange. The trip started in late June and lasted through the first week of July.
Nace taught classes to students in grades 8, 10 and 11. “I had a lot to share about vocal and choral techniques that were unknown to them,” Nace said. “I also shared some of my teaching materials.”
Nace found that the students were very receptive and eager to learn, and that the teachers “were very curious and interested in vocal pedagogy, as their choral teachers are instrumentally trained.” She was also impressed with how artistic the Tamagawa students were. “Everyone sings in a choir and takes art classes every year,” she said. “Each of the upper grades has its own choir, which sings major works. They have several large lecture/recital halls and music rooms in which to hold rehearsals.”
Aside from teaching, Nace also had many opportunities to experience the rich Japanese culture, visiting the famous Rikugien Garden and sampling many different foods, including “every conceivable way to eat tofu, conger eel, salmon roe, cockles and fish that I am unfamiliar with.”
The students even taught her a bit of Japanese. “One taught me to write my name in katakana so that I could sign her songbook!”