—GOALS, PRACTICE and INSPIRATION–

I believe that inspiration, goals, consistent practice and self esteem
are the keys to progress in learning to play a musical instrument,
as well as to the development of a musician and a person as a whole.

—Inspiration:

 It is very important for a young student to be exposed to music and to see talented musicians perform.  You can attend  a piano recital at Carnegie Hall, Avery Fisher Hall or one of the events organized by the www.littleorchestra.org

I believe that inspiration is a driving force of all progress in a student’s work. Sometimes just one unforgettable concert can ignite a lifelong passion for music. Inspiration is a magical energy that can transform hours of practice into an enjoyable, reenergizing experience. I remember that at the age of fifteen I  was so moved by the performance of one pianist, that the following day I sat at the piano for twelve hours straight. I began playing at 11am and when I raised my eyes to the clock, it was 11 pm. I was so absorbed by work that I didn’t notice how twelve hours flew by.

Please see the attached list of some great pianists and violinsts whose recordings will inspire you. Also, biographical films about the lives of famous musicians can have a significant impact on students’ practice and progress.  Please see the list of movies below.

Finally, it is very stimulating for children to see their peers perform. A child can be inspired by the performance of someone they know in daily life (for example their classmate).  They would want to become just as good as that person.  Any performance on stage, whether it is dance, drama or a choir can enhance children’s desire for learning and creativity.

Goals:

In our piano class we hold PIANO RECITALS two times per year. Recitals provide students with a long-term goal and a sense of purpose. Students are expected to perform three or four songs which must be mastered technically and musically. During the concert students get a chance to experience a special moment on stage. That is when they can discover their creative abilities which can suddenly open up as a result of playing for the audience.

Self-Esteem:

If you have time, please read the article (that I am sure you are familiar with)

Why Chinese mothers are superior by Amy Chua:

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748704111504576059713528698754.html

The author of the article shares a peculiar cultural perspective of the Chinese model of education and focuses specifically on the student’s attitude during the process of learning to play a musical instrument.  While there is definitely something to learn from this method, I would like to summarize the teaching principles that I apply in my piano instruction today. These ideas have been formed during my years of education in Russia, travels in Europe and later studies in the United States.

I believe in a regular practice, hard work, perseverance and a postive pressure.  What I mean by pressure is  the overall high standards and the necessity to work toward a goal, such as performance at a concert.  A positive pressure is created through INSPIRATION, which can help students to excel without too much pain.  However, since inspiration might not always be there, the teacher has to be quite strict (as it forms student’s character) and must expect the student to be in prepared for every lesson.  Above all, it is very important for the teacher and for the parents to believe in student’s ability to achieve the results and to reinforce this faith into a student. This faith is a key to success and is often crucial to the formation of the young person’s self-esteem for life.  For example. when we choose a new piece, I make sure that the piece suits the student’s abilities, but at the same time is slightly about student’s current level.  Often students get intimidated by the new piece, but I promise that they WILL be able to play it, no matter how difficult it looks at first.  In the process of learning students might still doubt their abilities, but I keep believing in them until the end. When the goal is finally reached and the piece is mastered, students are very happy and proud to be able to play their piece with ease and grace! That is when their hard work is paid off and they can really enjoy the piano!

While some technical abilities might be lost with time as children will grow up and be busy with their lives, what I want them to retain is faith in themselves and a life-long love for music.

GREAT PIANISTS:

  1. Vladimir Horowitz
  2. Sviatoslav Richter
  3. Emil Gilels   (Beethoven)
  4. Van Cliburn
  5. Evgeni Kissin (especially Chopin and Rachmaninov)
  6. Martha Argerich (especially Chopin and Brahms)
  7. Andras Schiff
  8. Artur Rubinstein
  9. Marie Perahia
  10. Arturo Benedetii Michelangeli
  11. Glenn Gould (especially Bach)
  12. Helene Grimaud
  13. Grigory Sokolov 

Conductors:

George Solti, Leonard Bernstein, Yuri Temirkanov, Claudio Abbado, Zubin Metha, Sergiu Celibidache

Violonists:

Sophie Mutter, Joshua Heifetz, Yehudi Menuhin, David Oistrakh, Itzhak Perlman, Vadim Repin, Isaac Stern.

Cellists:

Jacqueline Du Pré, Yo Yo Ma, Mstislav Rostropovich

INSPIRATIONAL MOVIES:

  1. August Rush
    is a 2007 drama film directed by Kirsten Sheridan and written by Paul Castro, Nick Castle, and James V. Hart, and produced by Richard Barton Lewis.Deciding to run away to New York City, musical prodigy Evan Taylor begins to unravel the mystery of who he is, all the while his mother begins searching for him and his father searching for her.
  2. Amadeus
    is a 1984 period drama film directed by Miloš Forman and written by Peter Shaffer. Adapted from Shaffer’s stage play Amadeus (1979), the story is a variation of Alexandr Pushkin‘s play Mozart i Salieri (Моцарт и Сальери, 1830), in which the composer Antonio Salieri recognizes the genius of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart but thwarts him out of envy. The story is set in Vienna, Austria, during the latter half of the 18th century.
  3. Beethoven lives upstairs
    is a Canadian 1992 HBO Original Films TV movie directed by David Devine. Based on a vocal recording written and directed by Barbara Nichol, the film stars Illya Woloshyn as Christoph, a young boy who develops a friendship with composer Ludwig van Beethoven (Neil Munro), a boarder in the boy’s parents’ house. The film was shot in Prague in the Czech Republic and has been broadcast in over 100 countries in numerous languages and is used extensively in U.S. and Canadian elementary classrooms in music lessons.
  4. Shine
    is a 1996 Australian film based on the life of pianistDavid Helfgott, who suffered a mental breakdown and spent years in institutions. 

Documentary Films:

  1. The Art of Piano –Great pianists of 20th century  (1999)
    The Art of the Piano is a feature-length, 106-minute documentary that presents in refreshingly straightforward fashion a portrait of 20th-century piano playing. The format is simple: short segments on virtually all of the great pianists who have ever been captured on film, augmented by extracts from interviews, sometimes with the pianists themselves, or with later conductors and musicians of international stature, including specially filmed contributions from Daniel Barenboim, Sir Colin Davis, Evgeny Kissin, Gennadi Rozhdestvensky, and Tamás Vásáry. The narration by John Tusa offers an overview of piano music through the century, though the heart of the film is the great quantity of rare archive historic footage, with extracts from performances by Gould, Horowitz, Paderwski, Rachmaninoff, Richter, Rubinstein, and many others.
  2. The Art of Violin
    As also seen on PBS, this is a film written and directed by French violinist and film maker Bruno Monsaingeon who also filmed the Goldberg Variations performed by Glenn Gould. Compared to pianists and singers, the number of violinists who have made a unique impact are very limited. This film covered footages of about 20 of the greatest violinists of the 20th Century including Heifetz, Oistrakh, Milstein, and Menuhin. Other great players such as Elman, Francescatti, Kreisler, stern, Szigeti and Ysaye are also included.
  3. Jacqueline du Pre in portrait (1996) ( this is an incredible film, but mostly for adults)
    Jacqueline du Pré and the Elgar Cello Concerto, a documentary by award-winning film maker Christopher Nupen, explores the artistic personality of one of the finest performing musicians of the twentieth century, with the recurring theme of her special relationship with the Elgar’s melancholy Cello Concerto. The film begins with an account of what she did after the onset of her illness when she could no longer perform in public.
  4. Remembering Jacqueline du Pre  (Film by Christopher Nupen)
    This video can be an inspiration to all people, not just musicians. It is a dedication to Jacqueline Du Pre, the world famous cellist. It is a documentary but it is certainly not a documentary that you need only watch once- I have seen it over and over again only to be more moved and inspired every time.

Ballet on video:

  1. Stravinsky and the ballets russes (for older children)
  2. Tchaikovsky’s ballets in film:
    —Swan Lake ( with Makarova and Dowell)
    Nutcracker ( with Baryshnikov)
    Sleeping beauty ( with Rudolph Nureyev and Petipa, Paris Opera Ballet)
  3. Romeo and Juliet ( by Prokofiev with Nureyev)
  4. Carmen ( ballet)
  5. Cinderella ( by Royal or Bolshoi ballet)