Purpose of Seiha Conservatory / Courses and Instructors / Syllabus for 2016, Tōinkai

Purpose of Seiha Conservatory

The Seiha Conservatory was established in 1959 for the study of koto and shamisen. Applied music, Japanese music theory, music history (Japanese, East Asian, and Western), Western music theory and harmony, and other classes are available. The conservatory is open to all, regardless of school affiliation and age. The central course is a two-year programme; however, there is also a year-long preparatory course for entrance to the two-year programme, a general education course that is also one year in length, and a year-long special course designed for those within commuting distance.

Seiha Conservatory Address:

2 Sanai-chō Ichigaya
Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo 162-0846
Tel. 03-3260-3838

Public access:
Ichigaya St. on the JR, Yūraku-chō, and Nanboku lines.

Courses and Instructors

Instructors Courses
Obase Junko History of Opera, Western Music History
Kinoshita Aiko Applied Music Theory and Analysis
Saitō Harumi Sōkyoku texts, Japanese literature and language
Shimodaira Katsuhiro Japanese Music Appreciation, Noh Voice Production
Seki Toshihiko Japanese Cultural History
Tanigaito Kazuko Sōkyoku History
Tsukahara Yasuko Japanese Music History
Tsuchida Makiko Japanese Music History
Niwa Satono Japanese Music Theory
Steven G. Nelson East Asian Music History
Hagioka Shōin Japanese Music Appreciation (Yamada-ryū sōkyoku)
Hirai Takeichirō Composition and Harmony
Fujimoto Akiko Japanese Music Appreciation (jiuta sangen)
Maruyama Kazunori Western Musical Thinking

Applied Music Courses

Courses Instructors
Koto kumiuta and sōkyoku Nakashima Yasuko
sangen Okuno Ayame Nakashima Kazuko  
sōkyoku Gotō Sumiko Miyamoto Sachiko Shimoda Reiko
Takahata Mitoko Miyakoshi Keiko  
seventeen-string bass koto Miyamoto Sachiko Miyakoshi Keiko Tamura Noriko
General education course: sōkyoku and sangen Kakui Setsuko    
shakuhachi Kawamura Yōichi    

There are three courses of study available according to the student’s desires: the honka the two-year central course of studies, the yoka a year-long course of study in preparation for the honka, and the kyōyōka, which is year-long general course of studies primarily for those who interested in learning more, but have no desire to pursue a professional career.

The honka requires two years of study for graduation. There is also an entrance examination.

This programme is designed for those aspiring to be professional performers and educators, and for those interested in composition and musical theory, the honka also has parallel course of study known as music theory course. In order to produce superior musicians capable of performing as both soloists and ensemble performers, students receive in-depth training in each of the instruments. The conservatory aims to produce musicians capable of contributing and participating in a wide variety of musical activities. For those students who excelled in both applied music and their coursework, there is a third year of honorary study, the kenkyūka, which allows them to further pursue in-depth training.

The bekka is a special course that normally lasts one year, although it is also possible to extend this to two-year course. There is an entrance examination for this course of study.
The instrument chosen at the time of the entrance examination—koto, shamisen, seventeen-stringed bass koto, or shakuhachi—is considered as once subject, after which a second instrument is chosen as a second course of study. Students are also allowed to select and participate in five classes from the yoka and honka courses. After completing the bekka course, for those students who have excelled in their coursework and are interested, it is possible to enter the two-year honka programme as a transfer student the following school year.

The yoka preparatory course of studies is for those who are interested in entering the two-year honka. The classes are designed to provide the student with the fundamental applied music skills and basic academic knowledge necessary for entering the honka.

The kyōyōka is a year-long course of study that can be extended to two years. This course is primarily for students with technique equivalent with or greater than those who have been awarded their junshihan licenses. The courses are designed to improve and refine their musicianship. The students also receive koto and shamisen lessons, and may also take a total of four classes from those offered as part of the honka or yoka curriculum.

The cyōkōka is the course that can attend the class which I want to attend, and there is no entrance examination for this. People are encouraged to audit classes that are of interest; however, it is not possible to take instrumental lessons.


Seiha Conservatory Syllabus for 2016

class instructor time Class contents
Japanese Cultural History Seki Toshihiko Mon 13:00~
(every other week)
This class surveys the fundamental elements of Japanese culture from antiquity to early modern period. In particular, the cultural symbols of each period are examined through audio-visual sources, as are the creators of these works and their aesthetics and ideology.
Hōgaku Appreciation: jiuta sangen Fujimoto Akiko Mon 13:00~
(every other week)
This class exposes the students to jiuta vocal production and style as well as jiuta instrumental techniques. The students acquire an appreciation for jiuta through solo and ensemble works with koto.
East Asian Music History
(every other year)
Steven G. Nelson Mon 10:30~
Students are introduced to world music and instruments through videos and CDs as they explore the roots and musical qualities shared in different cultures and countries. The instructor also introduces the students to the instruments preserved in the Shōsōin Treasury.
Hōgaku Appreciation:
Yamada-ryū(every other year)
Hagioka Shōin Tue 10:30~
(every other week)
The students explore the Yamda-ryū repertoire through the Kadenshō, a collection of the Hagioka branch’s realisation of classical vocal works. Explanations of these works are provided as well as exposure to Yamada performance during class. Finally, the students learn one Yamada work, Aki no nanakusa to acquire an understanding of Yamada technique and vocal production, which deepens their understanding of Ikuta-ryū sōkyoku-jiuta practice
Japanese literature Saitō Harumi Tue 13:00~
This class pursues an understanding of Japanese literature through close study of one section of the Tale of Genji. The cultural setting and background are also examined.
Japanese Music History
(Semester 1, every other year)
Tsuchida Makiko Tue 13:00~
Having developed with a different background than sōkyoku, this class focuses on the history of the shamisen.
Sōkyoku texts as literature Saitō Harumi Tue 14:50~
This class explores the text used in sōkyoku kumiuta, and the literature upon which these texts were based—waka, classical tales, and more—to reach an understanding of the images composers hoped to create in their works.
(Semester 1, every other yea)
Obase Junko Wed 10:00~
Focusing on the libretti and musical technique, this class examines through video the changes that took place in opera from its origins with Monteverdi and the Baroque period up to Debussy.
Musicianship Kinoshita Aiko Wed 11:00~
This class introduces Western musicianship and theory. The students will acquire the ability to read Western scores and a basic understanding of Western music theory.
Music theory Kinoshita Aiko Wed 13:00~
This class introduces the fundamentals of harmony. There is also time devoted to instilling basic keyboard practice.
Analysis and theory
(once a month)
Kinoshita Aiko Wed 14:30~
One composition is analysed over the period of an academic year, and its structure and other elements are presented in a final report.
Japanese music theory Niwa Satono Fri 13:00~
This class uses a textbook on Japanese music theory. The students acquire a basic understanding of Japanese music theory through examining Western scores for Japanese instruments, an invaluable and practical skill for koto and shamisen performers
(Every other year)
Hirai Takeichirō Fri 14:50~16:20 The basics of Western harmony are explored in this class.
Sōkyoku history
(Every other year)
Tanigaito Kauzko Sat 13:30~
This class begins with the fundamental question of what the koto is as an instrument. It traces the development of the instrument from its beginnings as part of the gagaku ensemble to its liberation as an solo instrument.

2017 Curriculum

Japanese Music Appreciation: Music of the Noh Theatre
(every other year)
Shimodaira Hatsuhiro     This class explores Noh voice production through applied practice of Noh chant.
Western Music History
(every other year)
Obase Junko     Western music is connected religion, politics, philosophy, science, and daily life. The development of scores and instruments will also be explored through audio-visual sources.
Japanese Music History
(Semester 1 every other year)
Tsukahara Yasuko     The class is an overview of Japanese music history and traces the development of instruments and genres up to the present. This year, the class will focus on modern music.

(Every other year)

Hirai Takeichirō     Composition requires a free imagination as well as the preservation of predetermined principles. This class is designed for those with no experience in composition and provides the basic tenets of composition.


Application Guide

Entrance Examination for the two-year honka course.

The entrance examination for the honka is held each year on 24/25 March. This examination tests technical facility, scholastic ability, and also includes an interview. The composite score determines acceptance to the course and is announced the following 26 March.


Examination Contents

Japanese: Contemporary Japanese, Classical Japanese (Applicants will be tested on a section taken from the Tale of Genji.),History of literature
Music Theory:

  1. Basic Music Skills
  2. Music Theory
  3. Sight Singing
  4. Music Dictation
  5. Performance

Honka Music Theory

The first three subjects, A through C, are identical; however, C and D differ. C includes harmonic dictation and D is the composition of a small work. E is the performance on the instrument of one’s choice: koto, shamisen, seventeen-stringed bass koto, or shakuhachi.

Bekka Entrance Examination

The bekka entrance examination is held on 24 March every year, and includes basic music skills, writing skills, performance, and an interview. The composite score determines acceptance to the course and is announced the following 26 March.

The yoka entrance examination
The yoka entrance examination is held on 22 March every year, and includes basic music skills, performance, writing skills, and an interview. The successful applicants are announced the following 23 March.

Auditors: There is no entrance examination for those interested in auditing classes.

Entrance examination for recommended students
This examination is conducted every October for students with excellent marks who are presented with the Miyake Yoshirō and Michiko Scholarship.

The examination includes the following subjects:
 a. Japanese: contemporary and classical Japanese, Japanese literary history
b. Music: basic music skills, music theory, sight singing, melodic dictation, performance of one of the designated pieces. (This is designed for those students who have taken the Seiha jun-shihan and received an average score of 85%.)

The Seiha Conservatory also welcomes students who have been awarded he Agency for Cultural Affairs sponsored training program for upcoming artists residing in Japan (shingeijutsuka kokunai kenshū seido新芸術家国内研修制度), and students who have been awarded the Agency for Cultural Affairs sponsored overseas’ artists training program, the Kaigai geijutsuka shōhei kenshū .

For those interested in reviewing the entrance Seiha Conservatory’s examinations for the last three years are encouraged to contact the conservatory’s office directly. The office will also provide detailed information about the courses offered, questions about the entrance examination, application deadlines, tuition, and audition pieces.

Address all inquiries to:

Seiha Conservatory of Music
2 Sanai-chō, Shinjuku-ku
Tokyo, Japan

tel. 03-3260-3838



In 1967, the graduates of the Seiah Conservatory established a performance group, which, as of the present, has held 47 annual concerts.

Commissioned Works
Beginning with Makino Yutaka’s Cappricio in 1973, the this group has commissioned works from some of Japan’s fines contemporary composers including Nagasawa Katsutoshi’s 1977 Hida ni yoseru mittsu no bara-da, Nakashima Yasuko’s 1997 Jūshichigen no tame no kyōsōteki sokkyōkyoku, Yoshimatsu Takashi’s 2006 Subaru no mai: pureiadesu bukyoku-shū yori, and more.

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