- M.M., Piano Performance, Indiana University
- B.M., Piano Performance, Ueno Gakuen University
Adjunct Professor, Piano
A strong soloist and collaborator, Manami Kawamura teaches courses on keyboard sight reading, collaborative piano, piano literature, and piano pedagogy, in addition to teaching applied piano lessons. An avid performer, she has performed recitals often at Biola, both in her days as a student and in her time here as a teacher. Alumna Briana Ung ('14), describes the way in which her studies with Ms. Kawamura have spurred her growth in many areas of her life: "As a teacher and as a mentor, Mrs. Kawamura has been to me an exemplary model of dedication, selflessness, and wisdom. My time with her has taught me how to pursue beauty and excellence – through the art of music and in my own life – which requires careful thought, sincere emotion, and a love for God that comes before all else. I have seen and experienced Mrs. Kawamura giving patiently and tirelessly of her time and energy, far beyond the call of duty, in order to help students develop their talents creatively and achieve high expectations. I have grown spiritually, emotionally, intellectually, and musically under Mrs. Kawamura's guidance, and I cannot begin to thank her enough for everything that she has done for me, to challenge and inspire me as a musician and as a Christian."
Education & Influences
Ms. Kawamura began her musical journey at a young age and studied in a specialized music institute in Japan that offered junior high, high school, and undergraduate programs for youth interested in pursuing music. Throughout the rest of her studies, she had wonderful teachers who provided the best instruction at each stage of her growth. One of the most influential teachers in finding her path was Jennie Wong, the Piano Department Coordinator at Biola while Ms. Kawamura was a student there. One of the Biola recruiters who brought her to the United States, Ms. Wong mentored Ms. Kawamura through the process of adjusting to American culture, helped her go to Indiana to study with Mr. Pressler, and eventually called her back to teach at Biola.
Ms. Kawamura considers it be a miracle that God opened the doors for her to study with Menahem Pressler, pianist of the famed Beaux Arts Trio and Distinguished Professor at Indiana University's Jacobs School of Music. "The first time when I heard his performance in a recital by the Beaux Arts Trio at UCLA, I immediately knew that he was the pianist that I was looking for and I had to study with. By the grace of the Lord, the opportunity was given to me at IU." . Ms. Kawamura considers him to be her most significant role model and continues to be inspired by his musicality. "His teaching is the most demanding, but the most helpful for each student's weakness and strength. He is faithful to the composition and reveals the depth and beauty of it. Every lesson was meaningful; everything he said made sense and gave me answers to long-held questions. I felt I was in heaven when he demonstrated music for me. I feel fortunate for being able to study from him even now in his master classes at Biola and many other places as a performer and as an observer. I still learn so much as a pianist, a musician, and a teacher, and as a person."
Teachers include Menahem Pressler (Biola's Artist-in-Residence), Karen Shaw, Jennie Wong, and Hisako Mizuno.
Ms. Kawamura's performing career began to take off while she was still in high school. Right after graduating from Ueno Gakuen University, she was honored to perform in the 52nd New Professionals Concert series sponsored by Yomiuri Times in Tokyo, which features Japan's top graduating music students. She continues to give recitals throughout Japan and the United States, and frequently performs in our very own Lansing Hall. In 2010, she performed Mozart's Sonata for 2 Pianos with Menahem Pressler when he came to visit Biola, and then in 2013 they performed the Schubert Fantasie for Four Hands. Profoundly affected by his teaching, she continues to be shaped by his influence as they have continued to collaborate. "My experience of collaboration with him was so special, especially [playing the Schubert]. After performing with him, I felt a part of his love of music transferred into my soul and made me love music even more than before. It was truly amazing that he could influence others with this degree of depth. I had never experienced this kind of influence in my life."
During her years at Biola, she has collaborated with other faculty members and performed with them both on campus and abroad. In 2005, she toured Japan with faculty members Robert Feller and Marlin Owen (include links to their profiles) to present master classes and recitals at an American Christian school, a Japanese high school, Tokyo Christian University (a sister school of Biola), and Ms. Kawamura's church. She is currently collaborating with Biola voice area coordinator Jeanne Robison (include link to her profiles) to present a Music at Noon performance in April. (include links to the event?)
Her life as a teacher began right after earning her B.M., when she taught general music at a public junior high school. When she went to study at Indiana University with Mr. Pressler, she received an Assistant Instructorship with a tuition waiver and taught private piano lessons as well as class piano for non-pianist music majors. Ms. Kawamura has taught numerous master classes for MTAC (Music Teachers Association of California) branches, Opus 119 (Irvine, CA), and Yamaha Music School Summer Camp. She has also been a judge for musical competitions for the MTAC and for the California Association of Professional Music Teachers (affiliated with MTNA). Her students at Biola and in her private studio have flourished under her teaching. In addition to winning numerous awards and competitions, some of her students at Biola have continued on to higher education at institutions such as:
Many of her former students are currently teaching and serving their communities with their gifts.
Having studied and taught music in two different cultures, Ms. Kawamura students the benefits she gleaned from her multi-cultural education. "Japanese and American educations have different emphasis and both are great. I learned technique, accuracy, and determination from Japan, and learned expression and self-confidence from America. Also, I taught in a Japanese junior high school, in Indiana University, and in Biola. All these experiences help me to teach with an understanding of students from different backgrounds."
Faith in Action
God's hand of providence is evident in Ms. Kawamura's musical journey. It was her pastor who encouraged her to come to Biola to pursue music as a vocation. His advice to audition for Biola Conservatory recruiters who came to Tokyo spurred her on to pursue her studies of music in the United States. Later on, God confirmed His plan for her to use ministry by sending her to bring beauty to the midst of a national disaster: "In January 1995, there was a magnitude 7.3 earthquake in Kobe, Japan, and more than 6000 people died. I wanted to visit and help some good friends and their family members who were living in the area. I went there and gave several free recitals during the summer 1995. I performed popular classical repertoire and gave testimonies. Some non-Christians said my performance was different from others probably because of my faith. I realized that I can evangelize with classical music. The experience confirmed my career as a Christian musician."
Ms. Kawamura has a long history with Biola which began with her two years of undergraduate work, during which time she received several awards and appeared as a soloist with the Biola Symphony Orchestra for the Honor's Concerto Competition. As a faculty member, she has frequently shared her music in Crowell Hall with presenting concertos with the Biola Symphony Orchestra, piano duos, chamber music, and accompaniment collaboration.
God also divinely orchestrated her return to Biola during the summer of 1990 as she was preparing to give her master's recital at Indiana University. Though she was thinking of returning to Japan, she was eagerly accepted a call from her former teacher Jennie Wong to become a member of the piano faculty at Biola. "After I started teaching at Biola, the Lord gradually showed me that this is the place I should stay," Ms. Kawamura recalls. She is blessed by the freedom that she has to share her faith with her students, and is grateful for the supportive community around her.
Having over 20 years of teaching experience, Mrs. Kawamura is a dedicated teacher who realizes that her work is subservient to the ways of an even greater Teacher. "I always tell my students that my goal is to educate them to become independent musicians so that they can use their musical talent fully to serve for the community and for the Lord. I also tell them that the Lord is the best teacher even though I try my best as an earthly teacher. They have to walk with Him through their practice and studies which should become the basic attitude for the rest of their lives."
Ueno Gakuen University