When she was five years old, Masako was already composing and singing her own tunes, up on a tree in the backyard of her parents’ house in Tokyo, Japan.

She started taking piano lessons at the age of four, and had the privilege of being a student of Ms. Yuko Yamaoka, a legendary piano teacher who was a judge for the International Tchaikovsky Piano Competition in Moscow, and a vibrant and brilliant performer in her own right.

Ms. Yamaoka had a unique style in training her disciples. Sometimes she would have the student stand by the piano and express through body movement what the piece is about, even before actually starting on a new piece. Her belief was that you need to first internalize the music with your whole being and live it, so you will play from within, not just with your fingers.

In her daily practice routine under Ms. Yamaoka’s tutelage, Masako was to play everything, including the tunes she’d mastered, at an excruciatingly slow tempo.

Masako believes this training has helped her to learn to express subtle differences in nuance by adjusting the touch. It has also helped her ingrain each composition into her mind, heart and body, as well as not to have her fingers tumble up.

Masako prefers listening to musicians with a truly distinctive voice, regardless of music genre. Among her all-time favorites are William Ackerman, Clare Fischer, Prince, Earth Wind & Fire, and Arturo Benedetti Michelangeli. She listens to these artists year-round.

Starting to perform professionally at eighteen, Masako thinks she has worked in every music genre that she has interest in. But no matter what categories of music she happened to be working in, she was always composing tunes, exploring new ideas, and expanding her horizons.

As a little girl on a tree, Masako was looking up at Tokyo sky and singing her songs. Now she enjoys being inspired in the New England.

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