The Kuroyamas Share a Legacy
by Rhiannon Nachbaur of Award-Winning Fiddleheads Violin Studio
“Play for us mom,” little children danced around on their tip toes. Their mother opened a ragged black case and pulled out her much loved yet seldom played guitar. She strummed the same melancholy folk songs for her five children. Now raising a family of her own, the “middle child,” Sharon Kuroyama, has fond memories of music in her childhood.
“We would all break out crying because the songs were so sad,” says Sharon. “It must have been so funny to watch, five kids under the age of nine cuddled up sobbing together!”
Sharon says there was always music in the house and all family gatherings guaranteed an evening of singing with several guitarists. Though one brother took up accordion, the other children never learned to play an instrument.
“I admired the piano at church and wanted to learn to play, but how could I ask parents with five kids to buy a piano. I didn’t think they could afford lessons for all of us so I never asked.”
Her mother died at a young age, taking the beautiful music with her. “I wish I had learned the songs she sang,” she says. “Music became one of the things I wanted to do before I leave this earth.” Her list of life accomplishments included traveling, marriage, having children and going back to school. Her final item was to learn an instrument.
As if by destiny an opportunity presented itself while Sharon was on holiday at Disneyworld with her husband and two children. A Canadian fiddle group was performing at Epcot Center and invited volunteers to come to the stage. Sharon’s daughter, Alana, was chosen to move a bow across the violin’s strings while the fiddler did the fingerings.
Alana came back to the audience beaming and said, “Mom, I want to play violin.” When they returned from their holiday they began violin lessons and “were hooked.”
Learning violin together has been a great mother-daughter activity for the pair. It has also been challenging for Sharon. “It’s a humbling experience,” she laughs. “There you are with this 5-year-old and she’s playing better than you!”
Determined to stick it out and be a positive example for her daughter, she practiced rigorously. “Most adults don’t hang in there because they think ‘I’m an adult, I should be able to do this.’ When they can’t they just feel humiliated and quit.”
Sharon and Alana have been playing for five years and are becoming accomplished players. Alana recently won First Place for a violin performance at the Shuswap Music Festival. Both mother and daughter play in a violin ensemble, where Alana is a section leader.
Sharon is pleased that she and her husband, Alan, were able to keep their children “well-rounded.” In addition to playing sports, both children are learning music. Alana has taken up flute in her school band and Brett is taking drum lessons.
Though Sharon didn’t know it when she started violin, she is one in a lineage of violinists and has relatives throughout Canada who fiddle. The mother-daughter music connection is continuing through each generation and a tradition is being created.
A satisfying moment for Sharon came when Alana earned her First Place award at festival last month. She couldn’t help but think how proud her mother would have been: for both of them.