Introduction: To music with joy
With children, we open and develop their talent. Some play classical. Some play jazz and rock. Others prefer to sing and accompany themselves on the piano. All receive out highly rated and professional training.
We choose music for every student individually so they enjoy practicing their favourite music.
Often pupils spend years playing the piano but cannot achieve fantastic technique because of wrong hand training, very stiff fingers and inflexible arms. All these things prevent their fingers from working properly. Through lack of correct posture and hand control, students fail to play music as written by the composer. In some cases, over-tense and stiff hands may lead to a professional disability of the hands. Our music school is the only one in the world that cures this condition, making playing comfortable and easy.
Our music school brings together the best features of the famous Russian Piano School. It is a perfectly developed system that removes any signs of over-tension in play and gives a deep, beautiful sound, which the Russian Piano School is famous for. Playing becomes free and pleasant, and technical abilities of the student expand.
Usually, when children prepare for a grade test they play nothing but their three compulsory pieces. They become bored with practicing and their sight-reading ability does not develop. In addition, their study of theory is very formal and separated from live music.
But the most important thing for children is to enjoy playing what they want to play. Not just the three compulsory pieces but perhaps ten or more pieces in different styles such as rock and blues. All these songs may be played while still accompanied by serious technical training. A compulsory requirement for musical growth is the study of harmony and solfeggio. These disciplines develop timing, hearing and sight-reading perfectly. When the training all works together it provides a professional basis for playing the piano. By the age of 14 our students can play a 30 minute solo concert by heart.
History of our Piano Method.
For those people who know a bit of the piano scene - they know the name of the famous American player Vladimir Horowitz. He, and many other musical celebrities, graduated from the great Russian Piano School. Rachmaninov, Skriabin and Prokofiev were not only genius Russian composers but also great pianists. Our teachers graduated from Musorgsky Music College in St. Petersburg, having had the privilege to take master classes from Ludmila Bogomolova, the well-known concert pianist from St. Petersburg. She was a soloist of the Glinka's Music Capella, while also having an extensive performance career as a performer. Our teachers and Ms Bogomolova have known each other for many years. She was a student of the famous piano teacher Smidt-Shklovskaya, who was a classmate of Vladimir Horowitz. Our teaching school is the same from which Mr. Horowitz and other celebrities graduated.
The heart of the matter is that the majority of people who play piano notice their technique does not improve after many years of practice. They cannot play the music they wish, especially fast music. This happens because their hands and fingers do not work properly, and are riddled with overtension. If a pianist plays many hours in a row with overtension, it can lead to the professional ailment of hands. When the hand muscles become too tense, it leads to muscle inflammation.
Smidt-Shklovskaya created a system of unique technical exercises for the piano. These exercises aid correct and comfortable play. Our teachers learned this system directly from the hands of Ludmila Bogomolova. This system is founded completely on Russian and world piano experience. Once utilised, the movement of the hands becomes comfortable, flexible, and pleasant. The overtension disappears. After a short period of using the exercises consistently, the technique develops quickly. And if a pianist had had pain in the hand muscles, this pain disappears. This system is unique in the world, treating professional illnesses in the pianists' hands.
The stereotype of the majority of amateur pianist is that the best technique is the ability to play scales quickly. But this is not the case. Piano technique comprises different ways to evoke sound, together with quick and flexible movements. Our students continuously acquire such moves. By the time they are 14 to 15 years old they can play solo concerts 30 minutes long, which is the level of a Diploma program (Prelude and Fugue by Bach, Waltz or Nocturne by Chopin, Sonata by Mozart or Beethoven).
Often children do not want to practice and they quit altogether. The slow progress disappoints them and the chosen pieces do not inspire them. Bad sight-reading is one of the basic causes of slow development. This happens because the theory is separated from the joy of live music. Musical speech consists of various elements: pieces of arpeggio, chords with their variations, intervals, and so on, in all keys. Music theory studies such elements. And when a prepared student reads music, he recognises these elements. Then, music is read by recognizable note groups, not note by note.
Solfeggio, as a branch of music theory, develops the ability to hear musical elements - and this is the most important aspect in the musical development of a student. For those who want to build a serious professional base, more intense solfeggio classes are available. Solfeggio comprises singing the printed music, notating, and distinguishing different musical elements by ear. We teach this constantly which is why our students start reading music very quickly, and are able to play not only three grade pieces, but a dozen. We teach solfeggio learning in parallel with technical development, and so preparations for grade exams take a few months as opposed to a full year.
The patient and continuous development of our students' imagination and interest in music, and our ability to find music that appeals to them, is the launching pad for their progress and further achievements. Judging by our students' high results, our work has achieved the highest professional level possible. The core of the art of piano teaching is in the ability to contruct an individual learning process for each student. Therefore we conduct teaching strictly on individual basis.
For example, one girl who was studying for Grade 2 in another local music school came to us in the middle of the school year. At once, we saw she was talented and had no need to play Grade 2 pieces. We developed a unique program for her. At the end of the following year she played at the Feis Ceol piano competition. She played pieces from the program for Grades 6 and 7. She finished 7th out of 55 participants, most of whom were older than her.
You can argue that the girl happened to be extraordinarily talented. That's true, but if she had continued studies in her previous music school, she would be in only in Grade 3. This demontrates the crux of the matter: the ability to see and help realise the potential of a student, the main talent of a piano teacher.
As another example consider an ordinary boy who was not enthusiastic about practicing. His mother wanted to develop the boy in appreciation, understanding and enjoyment in playing the piano. Not finding results elsewhere, she came to us for lessons. We very quickly determined the way to lead this student. And after the first lesson, he began practicing on his own. Now this student has been playing piano for three years with enjoyment.
There are many more real life examples. What all our students have in common is that they play willingly and with happiness. Each of our students played 2-3 pieces by heart at the last annual recital and the audience applauded them. Keep in mind that the 2-3 mandatory pieces are only one part of our music process.
At our regular recitals students play different music: classic, jazz, rock. We help in development of individual talents. For those who like singing we choose songs and teach pupils to accompany themselves; those who want to study jazz spend more time in on improvisation.
We have much experience in working with adults too, and the student composition of our school reflects that. Many adults dream of playing piano. And this desire to play becomes stronger as time goes on. Adults realise they want to do something for their soul, not just follow their daily routine of work, family, etc. And in the end, adults begin taking piano lessons because they cannot deny making their dream come true any longer. Our adult students are variously skilled: from very beginners to advanced.
Sometimes people start playing because they want to play their favourite music such as Christmas Ccarols, a rock song, or Moonlight Sonata. They try playing without a teacher and this leads to nonsense play and wasted time. They can spend two years studying one song, trying to play precisely what is written in the book, but fail while making the most basic mistakes. After a titanic effort, music is learned with serious mistakes. And at the end, they realise the song doesn't sound as it should, and they start looking for a teacher. At the first lesson we adjust the musical text to the individual level of our students, correcting their mistakes in the process. That is why only two weeks, instead of two years, are sufficient to learn the song.
Those who like singing want to accompany themselves. Some parents want to be able to help their children with piano practice at home and so they take lessons. Some want to be able to play jazz and improvise. Others want to prepare for music exams for grades and diplomas. Some music teachers come to us to increase their experience and learn more about our unique approach.
Our students successfully pass Grade, Junior, and Leaving Certificate exams. The level of preparation is such that in the Leaving Certificate exam, some of our students get the highest marks. We have students who have received Diplomas and Silver and Gold Medals from the Royal Irish Academy of Music. Of course, all students perform at their schools and adults play for their friends; we have music especially for such purposes. Those who prepare for the grade exams play a lot of different music, not just the mandatory three grade pieces.
Everybody is welcome. From beginners to advanced, those wishing to play classics and those who prefer jazz.
We help everybody and reject nobody. We organise regular concerts where children and adults play their favourite pieces (please see the News section for concerts and other events). If a student begins lessons in September, then by Christmas he can play certain carols with both hands.