Mamiko Watanabe was born in Fukuoka, Japan and began studying piano at the age four at the Yamaha Music School. Her talent eventually won her a scholarship to attend the prestigious Berklee College of Music in Boston where she studied Jazz piano, Improvisation, and Composition. She was a semi-finalist at the prestigious Montreux Jazz Festival Solo Piano Competition in Montreux, Switzerland in 2002 and 2003 and has toured Germany, Italy, and Japan while performing with jazz greats such as Joe Lovano, Kevin Mahogany, Bobby McFerrin, Tiger Okoshi, and Phil Wilson while still in college. In 2003 she received the DownBeat Student Award in the Jazz Soloist Category before she made the decision to move to New York and expand her musical horizons.
Since then, Ms. Watanabe has performed in the 2010 Clifford Brown Jazz Festival, the 2012 Super Jazz Ashdod Festival in Israel and many other notable venues such as The Kitano NY, Blue Note N.Y. Sunday Brunch & Late Night Groove Series, The Iridium, Dizzy's Club, The Lenox Lounge, Blues Alley (in Washington, D.C.), The Kennedy Center, Victoria Theater (at the New Jersey Performing Arts Center), Joe's Pub and S.O.B.'s.
Ms. Watanabe has also released three (3) recordings to date; Her first, "One After Another" was released in 2005 and her sophomore release, "ORIGIN/JEWEL” in 2007. Her latest release, entitled “Mother Earth” was completed in 2010 and received excellent reviews from the writers of Jazz Inside Magazine, New York City Jazz Record and Jazziz Magazine.
Mamiko has given private piano lessons at St. Stephen's United Methodist Church in the Bronx for four years and recently began teaching the Jazz for Teen Jazz Program at Brooklyn Conservatory of Music.
She believes that any age and/level people can develop their musical skills and enjoy playing the piano. It is her desire as a teacher to help young students learn the fundamental techniques, develop both their reading skills and ear and most importantly, facilitate the acquisition of life-long learning skills. For adults, assistance on how to execute a particular piece of music one would like to play and the learning of different musical styles is also an objective which Mamiko feels is important in her role as a teacher.
Teaching provides an opportunity for continual learning and growth and it is her pleasure to share her knowledge in guiding students to express themselves through music.