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Teacher Spotlight: Kate Nir, piano

Teacher Spotlight:  Kate Nir, piano

Interview by Erin Cano, violin

Kate Nir joined MIC in 2000.  

What led you to become a Suzuki teacher?
Many years ago, a former campus director at MIC asked me if I would be interested in teaching Suzuki piano. I started taking teacher training with Diana Galindo, which turned out to be such an eye-opening experience. I learned how to teach children to play the piano musically and with physical control that was beyond my imagination prior to the training. Most of all, I was captivated by the effective ideas and methods through which parents and teachers work together to nurture children in their musical study and their personal growth.

What is your favorite piece to teach?
It is very difficult to choose a favorite piece since I love every stage of the learning process my students go through. I truly enjoy seeing beginning students learn to play the Twinkle Variations. Within a month of study, they play the piano with much higher self-esteem. I feel great joy when students master balancing techniques with Cuckoo. When students play Minuet with “style”, that’s the time I truly feel honored as a teacher. From there, it is an absolute joy and a sense of triumph to teach Romanian Folk Dance by Bartók, the last piece in Book 7, which is also the last piece in the Suzuki Piano Books. It is the Great Piece to celebrate their Great Achievement!

Which of your teachers inspired you the most? What aspects of their teaching have you integrated into your own style?
Mrs. Sanae Somada, my childhood piano teacher. She held high standards in making music and had a gracious attitude at lessons with all of her students and parents.  

Mrs. Diana Galindo, my teacher trainer. She taught me Suzuki pedagogy with integrity, extraordinary generosity, and awe-inspiring intelligence.

Do you play any other instruments besides the piano? If not, what other instrument would you like to be able to play?
I sing and direct a choir at the Trinity Community Church in Berwyn. If I were to play another musical instrument, I would want to be a percussionist.  Drum beats and dance rhythms have always fascinated me. That is probably another reason I love the Bartók pieces in the Suzuki books. They are so much fun!

What do you enjoy doing in your free time?
I love communicating with my children and family. When I am alone, I enjoy staying home, cleaning, cooking (eating too!), watching hummingbirds in my backyard during their season, and planning what I am going to do when I have free time (while losing free time by planning). But mostly, I love reading books by Terry Pratchett.

Kate (Kaoru) Nir

Piano Faculty (Suzuki)