The Touch of Music with Dr. Pianist, Makiko Hirata

Makiko Hirata plays piano using the arts for climate action.
woman sitting at the entrance of a van smiling with a piano (in the van) behind her

Makiko in her PianoVan bringing her music to the people on the streets. Northern California 2021.

Makiko Hirata was trained as a classical pianist from an early age. Now an international pianist and a recording artist with ten released albums, Dr. Makiko calls herself “Dr. Pianist” and is on a mission to use the arts for climate action and to promote the power of music to heal and unite. In this episode, Makiko shares:

  • Her perspective as a woman on her early training in classical piano and the personal questions she had to reconcile given the history of her art.
  • Her involvement as a founding member of Tempo, Music for Climate Action.
  • How musicians can serve as second responders during climate disasters.
  • Music as a tool to help mitigate the way people feel about pain in medical settings, especially in managing their emotions.
  • How she has shifted from being an  “Olympian pianist” mindset that uses her training for mastery to instead playing simpler pieces to better serve and resonate with her audiences.


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Woman in blue dress standing in front of a brown piano.

Makiko’s Bio:

An international pianist and a recording artist with ten released albums, Dr. Makiko Hirata is “Dr. Pianist,” on a mission to promote the power of music to heal and unite us. Her doctorate is a DMA, Doctorate of Musical Arts from Rice University. In addition to her concerts, she collaborates with neuroscientists to quantify the benefit of music and promote the power of music as an overlooked social resource through speaking engagements, workshops and writing. She is a US-Japan Leadership Program Fellow and a Coeuraj 2022 “Global Courage” Fellow.

Dr. Hirata has given recitals, lectures, concerto performances and outreach concerts in the Americas and Eurasia with ensembles and artists, such as the River Oaks Chamber Orchestra, the Pecs Hungarian Symphony Orchestra, conductor Leon Fleisher, and clarinetist David Krakauer. She has taught at New York University, Colburn Conservatory of Music, Rice University, and Lone Star College, and given master classes and lectures internationally. Dr. Hirata is a Shigeru Kawai Artist.

Woman on a bench gesturing behind herself to a piano installed in a van.

Makiko Hirata, pianist in her traveling Piano Van (Northern California)

orange graphic that reads Liner Notes

Musicolophilia by Oliver Sacks
Tempo, Music for Climate Action 
Dr. Lucy Jones, the Earthquake Mother
Paul Slovic, University of Oregon

Music Makiko plays in this episode:

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Episode Transcript:  Coming soon!

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