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Posted by Ruth Miura, ESA Piano Teacher Trainer, SPAIN on 14 January 2021

I am writing with the sad news received today that Riitta Kotinurmi, my dear friend and colleague and ESA Piano Teacher Trainer living in Finland, passed away after a long battle with cancer on 15 November 2020.  
Riitta Kotinurmi 4

Riitta had a sense of infectious wonder and joy about life which kept her alive and active well beyond the diagnosis she received from her doctors when her cancer came back for the third time.  She organised a very successful European Piano Workshop in her home town of Mikkeli, inviting Teacher Trainers like Doris Koppelman (USA) and other European teachers and was active within the Suzuki community after she retired from the Mikkeli Music College where she taught for many years.

She was always present at all the major ESA Children's and Teachers' Conferences, and was invariably kind and positive about students and colleagues, teaching frequently in children's workshops around Europe (including for the British Suzuki Institute and the Lithuanian Suzuki Association) as well as training Suzuki piano teachers in Finland for many years.  She was a great storyteller and often regaled her Suzuki friends with stories about her first trip alone to the States to attend a Piano Workshop given by Dr. Haruko Kataoka. 

An example of Riitta's head-on approach to life was the time she organised a huge birthday party for herself in a concert hall in her hometown of Mikkeli shortly before sitting for her ESA Level 4 exam.  Too nervous to speak, she unceremoniously walked to the piano and sat down to play the entire Mozart Sonata K. 331 exam piece, reasoning that if she could play it to a large audience, she could certainly manage to do the same for three ESA Examiners! 

 As with everything else in her life, Riitta faced her health issues with courage, practicality and humour, accepting her diagnosis with serenity and enjoying to the utmost her three grandchildren.  She will be greatly missed by her friends, colleagues and former students, but remembered by them with fondness and a sense of gratefulness for the joy she brought into their lives. 

Ritta Kotinurmi was made an Honorary Member of the Finnish Suzuki Association