A month before her 7th birthday, Mary Jane Tashiro began piano lessons taught by a missionary who charged 25 cents for a lesson. After Japan attacked Pearl harbor on Dec. 7, 1941, the U. S. War Dept. ordered her family to leave their home to go to a relocation camp in Poston, Arizona. The 12 line of barracks included one that would be used for Sunday church. When the minister asked for anyone who could play the piano for the services, she raised her hand (11 yrs. old). This experience of playing the hymns required improvising. Listening to new songs sung by the minister and attempting to play them on the piano was invaluable and was a prelude to discover her passion for music.
In 1945 after the war was over, the family was allowed to relocate. They settled in Denver, Colo. Now a teenager, her involvement with a church continued where she played and composed simple songs for the children in her Sunday School class. Enrolling at the University of Denver, choosing a minor in music gave her an opportunity to study theory of music and a taste of composition which she found enjoyable and easy to do.
Three and half years later, she got married and had 2 children. They moved to New York and her husband bought her a most cherished 100th Anniversary Model Steinway Grand. Despite the fact that her children were 3 and 18 months old, She always managed to study with a teacher who required her to give one concert per year playing Baroque, Classical, Romantic and Contemporary music.
At 30 years old, a change of location to Los Angeles provided her with the opportunity to study with a teacher who taught her the invaluable Reflex Stroke. After her daughter and son graduated from UCLA, she decided to continue her studies to get her B.A. degree at the California State University at LA. When she was asked to be on the faculty (43 yrs. old), she gladly accepted. One day, she heard a pianist practicing a beautiful song with sounds that intrigued her. This was her introduction to EIS, Equal Interval System by Lyle (Spud) Murphy. With her knowledge in classical music and a strong sense of harmony, she knew immediately the value of EIS in composing and was able to tap into her innate abilities and feel excitement in creating new music.
With the completion of her 1st and 2nd books called Magical Moving Moments, the premiere of her works in Thun, Switzerland was given in 1981 by the English pianist, Jon Sivell. The newspaper, Der Bund, wrote, “The Magical Moving Moments were technically brilliant, melodically and rhythmically inspired miniatures, glowing with a lovely sensitivity and with a powerful and immediate impact.” This was the catalyst for more advanced music to come. As of this date, she has completed 72 advanced piano solos.
Her concern is increasing with the current interest in electronic music and pop music with young people wishing to quickly learn to play the guitar or electronic piano. This means that fewer pianists with enough skill will be able to read her music. The one practical solution was to start helping the young to learn music. The statistics say that there are one out of a thousand that are talented. Thus, her hope was to publish a children’s course that would attract the massive number of average level students. Everyone studying would surely be enriched through music studying. The task became easy when she had the children cooperate with her to be co-writers by speaking of their activities and offering titles to the songs. This proved to be a “surefire” way to catch even the dawdling students.
The final challenge was to present the format in a consistent, cohesive manner that the children could easily apply immediately to the keyboard and progress to the next step without confusion. She tested it with the children as well as 2 teenagers who could more easily verbalize their learning curve. They commented that after attempting to learn from other methods, they found that this method was the most logical and easy to follow as well as interesting to play. Parents were reporting they didn’t have to coerce their children to practice. Because there are 350 songs in the course to choose from, their note reading became solid, leading them to want to continue to the next level. This Piano Course starts with the 1st level and continues to the 6th level. After completion, their sight reading skills have become so good that they are able to play the classical repertoire without any problem. Her advanced level compositions would act as the sprinkling of “salt” to add zest to their repertoire. In 1990, she became a director for a young people’s choir which gave her the opportunity to compose 25 solo/choral works with piano accompaniment and flute obligato.
In the years from 2005 to 2015, she received 6 commissions to compose for various instruments as well as piano.
In 2017, she was asked to help a talented student who had extreme tension in his hands causing injury. Teaching relaxation through the Reflex Stroke with Follow Through has produced such good results that this technique needed to be extended through youtube. She feels that without communication through dulcet tones coming from relaxation, the music would not be able to reach the hearts of the listeners.
In 2019 after giving a performance of 6 of her compositions, two professional pianists, one who had played one of her works in 1984 as a 10 year old and the 2nd acclaimed by the critics as “admirably....in select company” have both requested to perform her music in their next CD.