"All pain is subjective. It's how you perceive it," she said.
Midori eventually returned to the stage and took a teaching position at the Manhattan School of Music in 2001. She said moving to L.A. has provided her with a "new adventure" at this point in her career.
"I love my students — they motivate me," she said.
Each academic year, Midori teaches several USC undergraduates and graduates who receive private instruction on a weekly basis. Her teaching style, as with most everything else about her, is high energy — she interrupts often and paces the room. Her criticisms are often delivered with a smile.
Not many details escape her attention. In one lesson, she reminds a student that vibrato must continue after a note ends. She tells another student to stop grinding his teeth when he plays.
Her role as professor doesn't end at the campus border. On one recent December evening, she performed with three of her students at a treatment facility for ex-convicts and recovering drug addicts near downtown L.A. The informal recital is part of Midori's annual holiday tradition of performing at local correctional and mental health facilities.
She doesn't publicize these recitals, and she asked that the names of the institutions not be disclosed and declined to have a photographer came along.
Midori performed first that evening, playing a Bach Partita. The audience, all men, listened without interruption. Some captured her performance on their mobile phones. She and her students visited five local institutions this holiday season, including psychiatric hospitals.
"Just because you offer free concerts doesn't mean people will be eagerly welcoming you," she said. "I'm just appreciative that they're accepting us."
Midori still devotes a significant portion of her time to her three nonprofit organizations, all of which bring music to disadvantaged students or to impoverished areas of the world. In December, she spent a week traveling around Bangladesh as part of a quartet.
Her sense of social responsibility extends to the most seemingly trivial details, such as reminding her students to turn off lights when they leave a room to conserve energy.
Midori already has her eyes on a new commissioned piece for 2014, but she could not discuss it. During the next two months, she is scheduled to perform in Germany, Britain and Spain.
In between, she will return to L.A. for work and because, as Midori simply puts it, "It's where I live now."