Maya – Student of the Month for March in Music Lessons

Teacher: Kristian Banatzianou

- How did you decide to play the piano?

I have always dreamed of playing the piano. It has been for a long time on my “to do” list. I just thought it was too late, that I have missed my last chance and that it wouldn’t be possible to learn it at my age. Well, it turns out I was wrong. I am very glad I found Music Lessons. I found out that one can learn to play even at my age.

- For how long have you been playing?

It’s been 6 months already.

- What happened during that time? What are your impressions?

I am surprised by myself because at the beginning I was not sure whether I could cope. I wasn’t sure whether I had talent. For me it looked almost impossible to be able to play two different melodies with each of my hands at the same time. But somehow I managed and that gave me motivation to continue.

- How often do you exercise and for how long?

I do my best to do it every day for at least half an hour or an hour. When I have more time during the weekends, I spend more hours playing (2 hours and sometimes even more).

I have the patience to do it and I don’t feel tired because I am always excited about playing. It just never feels like a boring chore and time flies. I have tried to play less, but I don’t get the impression of making any progress if I play less than half an hour a day. I am quite ambitious and sometimes I feel that I don’t progress as fast as I want to. However, I can already see some improvement. I see that I can play pieces that I never imagined that I would be able to six months ago. And some people play the same pieces after a year or even more.

- What else can you learn from playing the instrument? What are the other advantages?

I think that playing a musical instrument teaches you discipline. It teaches you to set yourself goals and reach them. It’s important to know that if you exercise every day for a certain time you can achieve improvement, it’s like setting benchmarks. Another advantage of playing and of music in general is that you can discover new things about yourself as a person: you can discover new talents and new sensitivities that you might have never thought you had before.

- You were already interested in classical music before starting to play the piano.What was the influence of this interest on you?

One of the reasons I wanted to start playing the piano is my love for classical music that goes back to the time I was 13. I especially love Mozart! He is my favorite composer. For many years I’ve been dreaming of the day when I would be able to play his music. Right now I am still at the point where I’m playing adapted pieces but at least I can play some of his easiest original compositions. I love Mozart’s piano concerts and when listening to them I like to close eyes and to imagine that I am playing them.

- What kind of instrument do you have at home? What similarities and differences do you find to the instruments here?

Like most other students I have a digital piano at home. The only thing it has in common with the grand pianos here is that it has 88 keys… and similarities end there. The differences to the grand pianos are enormous. The sound is different and the feeling when touching the keys is different, too, although the keyboard is designed to be quite similar to the real piano. Sometimes I have difficulties when I come to the lesson to adapt to the touch of the grand piano because I am used to playing on my digital piano at home and I make a lot of mistakes here even with pieces that I know well. I suppose that is a common challenge for all beginners: the change of the instrument can be quite confusing. But surely there are no two instruments that are exactly the same!

To be honest, though, one significant advantage of the digital piano is its volume control. So that when I decide to play after 11pm, which occurs very often, the neighbors don’t complain. ;)

- What do you think about your teacher?

I want to express a special gratitude to my teacher Kristian, especially for his patience because I am not an easy student. I am quite impatient! My ambition makes me want to improve fast and I often disregard the teaching plan and do my own thing, sometimes in a somewhat erratic manner. I want to be able to play everything right here, right now. That’s why I appreciate his patience. He makes his best to explain to me everything I ask him about because I have a strong urge to learn a lot of theory: I want to know what is major and minor, how the scale is constructed, etc. I think that this kind of knowledge also helps when listening because you become a more informed and conscious listener.

-You are a volunteer for the SM&RT project.  Tell us about your motivation to take part in it?

I was maybe the first one to join in. One day I saw the information on the МODO website and I liked the idea very much. That is something I can identify with. I do my best to help with everything I can. I really want this festival to happen because for me it is a very meaningful initiative. Such a project has never been carried out in Bulgaria before. I also like its educational aspect, which I believe is much needed at the moment. Sometimes, when going to a classical concert I also feel confused, not always knowing what exactly I am listening to. I think that if people get educated about it and they would see the point in going to classical concerts. Then they might also be able to understand what is the idea behind a piece.

- Do you play in front of your close friends?

Оh, that’s a painful subject for me… I don’t play in front of other people when I exercise. I аm not used to playing in front of an audience and at my first concert here I didn’t play very well. I knew my piece perfectly but the moment I stood in front of the audience my hands started to shake and I couldn’t hit the right keys. I found out that I had a terrible stage fright. Besides, I am a great perfectionist and I cannot handle it not to be perfect in something.

- What would you say to other people  who want to play an instrument but think it’s too late to start lessons?

I would tell them that the age doesn’t matter. It’s possible for someone to learn to play a musical instrument even at 20 or 30. The most important thing is the desire to learn and the motivation. When you are an adult, the choice is much more conscious and not like when you are a kid and you are often forced to play by your parents. It is true that the learning capabilities of adults might not be as strong as those of children, but, anyway, it is absolutely possible for adults to learn to play quite well.

- You are a person who learns a lot of languages. According to you, which one is easier to learn: playing an instrument or speaking a foreign language?

I definitely find it easier to learn languages.You study languages only with your mind and you don’t have to coordinate your mind, hands, and legs. Playing an instrument requires much more concentration. However, it is useful and it pays out, as I have read that it develops the brain, which then has  a positive impact on other spheres of one’s life and work.

- You also like to draw. Can you compare it to playing an instrument?

I really love to draw and I have been drawing and painting for many years. But I have always thought that music is a little more superior art. With drawing you have a tangible material to deal with, while music is so immaterial, only the vibrations of air (the sound waves) can cause intense emotional reaction – like magic!





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