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Toru Tagawa: Teaching students the "Orchestra Mentality"

Uniting students through sound to create a better world
Toru Tagawa has been an orchestra director at CDO High School since 2008.
Posted at 6:49 AM, Jan 29, 2021
and last updated 2021-01-29 12:29:50-05

TUCSON, Ariz. (KGUN) — Toru Tagawa has been an orchestra director at CDO High School since 2008.

His love of music, for the violin in particular, started when he was just six years old in Japan.

"And I love the sound of the orchestra. So I was hooked from that point on," he said.

Tagawa moved to America, pursued a degree in music, and launched a professional career performing in symphony orchestras.

He explained that conductors take a group of individual musicians to craft a united sound.

He calls it having an "orchestra mentality".

"It's kind of how society works in some ways," he said, "We make music performance together as a group and everybody in that group has to participate to make the product better."

So he strives for every single student to become a team player.

"And then contribute to the society. I want that orchestra mentality to go into the community," he said.

But achieving a united sound is more difficult during this pandemic.

His podium has moved to a different platform -- a digital one.

So he improvises during remote teaching.

Though still working to create a united sound, he's adjusted his teaching a bit.

"Two violins playing together it makes the sound so much better. And with online learning I can't give that same sensation, which is unfortunate," he said, "But they're learning individually. And I can listen to them individually."

Whether on a podium or in a classroom, working together or individually, Tagawa continues to stand out. He's now being recognized for his contributions to education and society.

And he also gives credit to his other team -- the team of teachers and administrators at CDO.

"We walk together to make the product possible," he explained.