Introducing Karen Nakajima

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We are excited to announce that local Delta Musician Karen Nakajima will be joining our faculty here at the Musc School starting in July 2018. We recently interviewed Karen about teaching and some thoughts about music and education in general.
1) How old were you when you started playing piano and trumpet?
I was five years old when I started piano lessons.  Apparently, I went to the piano at age 3 and plunked out a familiar tune by ear, and at that moment, my mom decided that I was going into piano lessons as soon as I was old enough!  For trumpet, I began in elementary band in grade 6.  I actually started band on clarinet though, but at every rehearsal, I would hear those trumpets and I begged my parents for a trumpet.  It didn’t take too long to convince them!

 

2) What do you like best about teaching?
I love being able to see those moments of understanding during lessons, where I can really see students thinking and grasping whatever concept is being taugh.  But even more, I just love sharing my love of music and passing that joy onto others.  I don’t expect my students to all become professional musicians, but I do hope they will always have a love for music.

 

3) What was one of your favourite moments performing in public?
My most memorable performance was performing Rhapsody in Blue on piano with the Capilano Wind Ensemble.  I had discovered that piece in grade 9, thought it was such an amazing work that I went out and bought the music, but got bogged down with the difficulty of it and put it back on my shelf. Five years later, I was asked if I wanted to play that exact piece with the Cap Wind Ensemble.  It was such an amazing opportunity with one of my favourite pieces!

 

4) Who is your favourite composer/musician?
That’s such a difficult question!  My top picks are Bach, Brahms, Gershwin, and right now, I am also currently very interested in the music of Jacob Collier, a contemporary musician.  I am also exposing myself to more jazz lately and very much like the music of McCoy Tyner and Bill Evans.  I listen to and play a very broad range of music, in different genres, with different types of ensembles and different instruments, so it’s hard to pick one favourite!

 

5) I know you have been teaching privately in Ladner for many years, but where else have you been working or teaching as a musician?  
I have spent the majority of my life in Ladner- I was even a student at the DCMS when I was in high school!  However, after finishing my Master’s, I had an amazing experience teaching English and music in Hamburg, Germany for one year at a high school, and playing trumpet in a brass choir.  (I love the musical culture of Europe!)  Once I was back though, I set up a home studio here in Ladner, but I do lots of other musical work as well.  I am an associate conductor with the Richmond Delta Youth Orchestra and lead their Junior Wind Ensemble.  I teach extracurricular elementary band at Cliff Drive in Tsawwassen.  I play piano for local school choirs and perform on both piano and trumpet for many different types of occasions, solo or with a band.  I am very excited to be moving my home studio to the DCMS and look forward to all the new opportunities that the school will offer to my students and myself!

 

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