Richmond Music School

37 Years of Service to the Community

Richmond Music School

Teacher’s Talk

Yuri Zaidenberg -Violinist/Teacher

Q1. How does it feel to be a teacher at the Richmond Music School after an illustrious career in the Soviet Union as a professor in a Soviet university? And now to be in the new world in a new city which only a few years ago was bush?
A. It’s absolutely wonderful, life in Canada and especially in these parts is so beautiful. In the Soviet Union there were greatly talented students with high work ethic. Together this produced some amazing results. Here too there is plenty of talent but the work ethic is not as strong.

Q2. What about China? We hear you were giving master classes there.
A. Yes I was in Xiamen, China where I taught equally outstanding students who were always practicing sometimes well into the night. 10 year olds play at ARCT level.

Q3. But they are hoping for a professional career in music
A. No, not at all. Most are learning violin because they are given the opportunity to do so.

Q4. Do you teach younger children here?
A. Yes, certainly. Especially if they have reached level 6 or higher. At the moment I prepared a number of students to audition for the prestigious Vancouver Youth Symphony Orchestra. This enhances their musical experience which is what we are trying to do.
The violin is one of the most beautiful instruments ever invented by man. Lucky is the youngster who is given this opportunity to learn. I keep up my own performances and I hope to spread the joy of music to my students.
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Sharon Kirk-Pianist and Teacher

Sharon has been playing, accompanying musicians and surrounded by music her whole life. For the past 10 years she has been a super teacher proven by the number of her former students who still play. She is now Director of the Piano Teacher Apprentice Program.

Q What’s your secret?
A. Well, you have to look at every student differently. All kinds of personalities and ages require different approaches For instance you don’t teach an adult and a 5 year old the same way.

Q After 4 years of lessons my daughter has lost interest in the piano. What can I do to get it back
A. There are a number of things you can do. The teacher can switch music books. Often it can create wonders and there are great books on the market for teenagers. You can also suggest they can surf the internet for a piece that she likes. She can print it and learn it. This is a frequent help.

Q I have just turned 65. I have no musical background but I would like to try piano lessons for a hobby. Is it too late to learn?
A. No Never! Learning an instrument keeps the brain functioning and gives the feeling of accomplishment to the new musician.

Q My son plays reasonably well but is now balking at playing at recitals. What can I do to change his attitude?
A. Introduce him to another student who plays an instrument, for example piano, violin, guitar, voice etc. Kids like playing together. It sounds good and it’s exciting. After that try the solo route again.

Q How do I know my child is musically talented?
A. Almost everyone has music talent to a degree. So unless they are given music lessons you will never know how talented. Even a little exposure in the early years can open up a lifetime of music pleasures.


Maria Goobar Voice and Choir

Q1. How old should my child be to join the choir?
A. 5 years old if he/she can read fluently -if not at least 6.  The class is a mixed age group up to 13 years old where each child would be singing in different parts depending on their age, skills and experience.  Some kids will be able to sing solo parts or be part of a small ensemble while others will sing with the whole group.

Q2.When do they meet?
A. Mondays. There are two groups: 3:45 to 4:30, and 4:30 to 5:15. You can pick whatever time is best for you (Depending on availability).

Q3.Do they ever perform?
A.Yes, about three times a year

Q4.How much does it cost?
A.It costs about $120 per year.

Q5.What can I tell my partner the value of a child singing in the choir?
A. It is a non-competitive activity in which kids can develop musical and social  skills.

Q6.What kind of music do they sing?
A. A variety of music including Christmas and spiritual songs in the first half of the year, and musical/movie songs in the second half of the year

Q7.Are there auditions or can anyone join?
A. Everybody is welcome.

Tatyana Kravsun-Violin and Violin Outreach Program

The violin outreach program is one of the prides of the Richmond Music School.

Q1. What is it?
A. It is a group of about 30-35 children divided into four levels according to their violin playing ability. The children learn to play together with immaculate precision and perfect intonation. No other program takes a new player in September and hears them on the stage in December!
There is an emphasis on practice and discipline and the goal is to achieve good results. This produces a musical treat for the audience. They not only learn from the teachers but also from one another. They are their own best motivators.

Q2. Where do you get the violins?
A. The violins are loaned free to the students while they are in the program.

Q3. Do they take private lessons too?
A. Some do but it is not mandatory. Naturally additional private lessons make them better, and faster. The main purpose is to introduce children to the thrill of making music together.

Q4. What is the ideal age to start a child on the violin?
A. Children mature at different rates but generally, around 5 years old is considered ideal. But later can be good too. It’s never too late.

Q5. You were a professional violinist in one of Ukraine’s professional Chamber Orchestras as well as being a busy teacher. What made you come to Canada and especially to Richmond?
A. The declining conditions of life in Ukraine together with the invitation of a friend in Richmond to help us get started was the push we needed to go.

Q6. What was your impression of Canada when you first got off the airplane?
A. I cried! It was so beautiful, the ocean, mountains, trees, flowers, sweet air, friendly people. Everything was so overwhelming. No wonder I cried. And fifteen years later I still feel the same way.

Q7. What are your plans from here?
A. Ideally, I would like to see the Violin Outreach Program grow larger with more children able to experience music. They will have this gift forever. The discipline and skill will also spill over to other parts of their lives making a happier well-rounded adult.

The Violin Outreach Program of the Richmond Music School is sponsored by the Gaming Commission of B.C.

Allen Stiles – Piano and Music Director

Q.  Long before you came to the Richmond Music School, people here knew you as Director of the musical productions at the Gateway Theatre.  Then you went with the touring groups Standing Wave and Joe Trio as pianist and keyboardist.  Where does teaching fit into all this?

A.  I am a passionate teacher and teaching for me has always gone hand in hand with my performing career.  Over the years I have reflected on the weaknesses of our Canadian system and resolved to make some changes in my own studio.

Q.  Will you explain that?

A. Well, for example why does Mary need music to play Happy Birthday at the Kindergarten or why does Jim need music to play Auld Lang Syne at the New Year’s Party?  Because they have either not figured it out themselves or they were never taught to.  The curriculum of the Royal Conservatory of Music is a typical model of today’s piano training.  Ten levels then the ARCT.  The levels consist of technical training, memory and acquaintance with the great piano masters.  All of which is good and provides a strong basis for the musician.  I have an ARCT and a Masters degree myself which stands at the basis of my own development but it is not enough.

Q.  Why not?  Isn’t it the way it has always been?

A.  Oh No!  The old masters could play anything by ear.  They could put accompaniments to melodies, improvise and find their way into wonderful new creations.

Q.  How do you go about then teaching and playing by the ear?

A.  First you ask the student to sing or prepare to sing his favorite song.  This involves the ear to listen carefully to every note.  Then he must pick the melody of the song out on the piano.  Same ear skills needed.  Next he is shown 3 or 4 chords that will act as a suitable accompaniment.  Eventually he has a first song by ear that will open up a whole new world of music sans paper.  You can do much the same on a guitar, earn a few chords and sing the melody.  This is nothing new.  Musicians have been doing this naturally since music’s very beginnings.  But by and large playing by ear and improvising have been pushed to the back in modern piano studies.  Reviving the skill will make may more young pianists keep the piano as their lifelong friend as I see in my own studio.

Q.  What about improvising?  Do you include that too?

A.  Improvisation is at the root of the musical compositions. It’s where everything begins.  A good ear, a good grip on harmony and a rhythmic ‘fall’  is what you need.  It can actually be thrilling at times!  Some of the most fun in my studio comes from our improvising lessons!  I highly recommend checking it out!