Densho Digital Archive
Densho Visual History Collection
Title: Kazuko Iwahashi Interview
Narrator: Kazuko Iwahashi
Interviewer: Martha Nakagawa
Location: Emeryville, California
Date: May 26, 2011
Densho ID: denshovh-ikazuko-01-0017

<Begin Segment 17>

MN: Now you also mentioned that Topaz had a music studio. Can you share with us what this music studio consisted of and what sort of activities took place there?

KI: It is very strange because a lot of people didn't know that there was a music studio except the people who actually went there, and even some of those people can't remember the details about it 'cause I was trying to find out more about it. And I have a feeling it was either at Block 1 or Block 2 down by the industrial section where all the big warehouses were. And it was a part of a block I think, of an actual block, 'cause I remember several rooms had pianos in it, but that's all I remember. One room I think actually had two pianos in it but then also I had... people were playing things like trumpets, stuff like that, but was while I was there practicing my piano or having my lessons. And whenever we had a recital, we did actually have a recital and I think those were held at the auditorium at the high school, Block 32, I think. I don't remember.

MN: So how many pianos were there?

KI: I think there was probably a total of about three or four. They weren't always... some were being used for actually giving lessons and some people... 'cause of course our own blocks we didn't have pianos so I had to go down there to practice. 'Cause I remember my girlfriend and I used to go, when we weren't having our lessons we would go on our off time and just go down there and practice.

MN: Where did these pianos come from?

KI: Donations, they had to be donated. Everything that was... even the books and stuff like that for schools, everything was donated.

MN: So these pianos were they the upright pianos?

KI: There might have been some that were kind of... did they have those short ones at that time?

MN: Are those the baby grands?

KI: Not the baby grands because the grand piano would still be large, but they're the short ones. What do they call them? They're not the full upright, they're about half the size so you don't get the volume, the longer strings you have on a piano the better sound you get. That's why the grand piano always sounds so good. But actually there were quite a few pianos in the whole, because I know the high school had to have one because the church was also held there, churches were held at that the Block 32 mess hall. I remember going there for church.

MN: Now these lessons, your piano lessons at Topaz, how would you compare it to the lessons you received at Berkeley?

KI: Probably about the same. I mean, they were qualified teachers. My teacher's name was Rose Ishimoto and she was from Sacramento. I often wondered what happened to her but I remember she was my teacher.

MN: Did you learn any new musical forms there?

KI: Oh, yeah, I became more advanced.

MN: Did you have any favorite pieces that you played?

KI: No, but that's when I first started to learn how to play duets, my girlfriend and I played duets together.

<End Segment 17> - Copyright © 2011 Densho. All Rights Reserved.