Violin Teacher, Composer
Sonoko has been teaching for over 16 years. Her philosophy in teaching stems from the core belief that anyone at any stage in their life is able to learn to play violin, and that every Student is special and vastly unique in their interests and strengths. Each lesson is specifically designed for the Student to be inspired and develop in technique and musicality.
Born in Osaka, Japan, Sonoko's love for music and Violin started at the age of 5 when she saw a Strings Quartet playing at a foyer of a famous historical hotel in Singapore. Sonoko then started violin lessons with Ps. Rupert Lim, and continued to study practical violin throughout her school years with Mrs. Masako White, gaining various local Performance Awards before moving to Melbourne to pursue further studies.
Sonoko attained her Bachelor of Music degree majoring in Violin Performance and Composition at the University of Melbourne in 2005. She was awarded the Catherine Grace McWilliam Prize for her final year. She studied violin with Tony Doheny, and composition with Stuart Greenbaum and Brenton Broadstock.
Sonoko has performed with the Victorian Concert Orchestra, and various chamber groups throughout her years living in Singapore and Australia, and continues to perform at various venues in Melbourne. Sonoko has taught violin to students from 3 years old to adults, many of which have been offered music scholarships and accepted into music specialist schools. Sonoko has also worked as a violin specialist and supervisor at a music shop and music school in Melbourne for over 9 years.
Sonoko continues to teach violin at her own studio in Blackburn. She is a Fully Accredited member of the VMTA (Victorian Music Teacher’s Association), and is currecntly undertaking her Master of Teaching and Suzuki Method training.
On Violin Technique and Pedagogy
We can all agree that having good technique is essential to produce a beautiful sound. There are so many things that a violinist needs to be doing correctly to produce that open, clear sound, and many may not realise this as they keep playing their pieces and eventually tiring out in frustration: “Why do I keep sounding so horrible? What am I doing wrong?”… And it's even worse when you’re facing this few weeks before your audition, concert, or exam.
It’s safe to say that all of us violinists (including myself) have certainly been there! Back when I was in uni I had struggled under pressure as I wasn’t able to play beautifully and at ease like the others. It forced me to revisit the reasons why, and how to make that beautiful sound. I have had violin lessons all my life as a student, and there were many great teachers who played beautifully and who showed me the techniques, however thinking back I found it difficult as a child to know exactly how to do it and why we do it in a certain way.
My teaching not only incorporates various tips and techniques but I will show you the how and the why of each technique, including how to practice effectively (i.e. quality not quantity), and what your focus needs to be to improve your current playing.
Teaching and me
If you asked the 'me' 15 years ago what I will be doing professionally, you would have heard a vague answer that related to music and technology - in short, I had no idea! I loved music and technology as it gave me a space where I could express myself completely and create my own 'world' of music that I could identify with.
So I was surprised to hear my mum saying to me one day during our casual conversation, "you know, you'd make a good teacher. I think teaching will be great for you". I replied somewhere along the lines of, "What? Teaching? Are you serious??"
Back then, little did I understand how my upbriging made such a difference to my interests and who I will become. My mother was a kindergarten teacher and my dad was an electrical engineer. Both of them love music - my mum played piano for her kids in class, and my dad loves classical music. I remember every Saturday mornings my dad would play a Mozart CD and it'll keep playing until the late afternoon. As a child I remember that I had listened to it so many times that I memorized the entire concertos, including the cadenzas.
As a kindergarten teacher, my mother's conversations always had some form of link and/or comparisons relating to education and teaching. If we were raving about an artist, she would read up on his/her background and upbringing and explain it all to us through her 'teaching' eyes. She would talk about her teaching days and education methods, and her experience dealing with children, parents and teachers.
Now I believe that teaching has become a part of who I am. I feel grateful that I am in this profession, and that I am able to make a difference to my student's lives in a positive way.
Why I Teach
It's past 1:00AM and I'm still up preparing things for my lessons. I'm tired, my mind is starting to melt and I start to count up the hours of sleep I'll get this time until I need to wake up for the next day. Days like this start to make me wonder why I teach and make myself go through such an intensive workload.
And then it hits me like it always does. I do it for that student. I do it for him/her because it will help them. I want to make things better for them so that they can achieve their goals, become a better violinist, and to instill the motivation in their hearts. I feel very priviledged to be able to teach. I do what I do, but my students give back to me so much more than what I can achieve by myself. It makes me strive to be a better teacher and a better person.
- To awaken and deepen the student's love, appreciation and sensitivity for music.
- To deepen the student's knowledge of playing the violin, and music/arts.
- To make a positive difference to the student's lives through good teaching methods
- To provide the student with something that they can continue to develop/appreciate throughout their life
- To create beautiful people through the learning of beautiful music.