Where were you teaching before coming to MACSA?
I was on the Piano Faculty at MacPhail Center for Music in Minneapolis. Incredible music school, the largest in the country. (MacPhail is a non-profit organization that serves 16,000 students.)
When did you discover your love of music?
When I was 3, I watched Swan Lake on TV and was absolutely hypnotized. I thought it was because of the dance at first and the ballerina’s dress, but more time passed and I was humming the music and completely forgot about the ballerina’s dress. Then, I found out my neighbor had a piano. So, I kind of bribed her to let me play on it while I let her play with my long hair (I hated letting anyone touching my hair, but in this case – I was getting a bargain ?). I learned to play every song I could remember by myself. Then it took me about 10 months to convince my parents to come with me to the neighbors’ home to play for them so I could then beg for a piano.
How do you juggle such a busy career with all of your different roles?
There were times and years when 24 hours were not enough for sure, but as of right now, things are easy. I’ve got all the time to focus on my students and my career. I reached the point of being needed as a mom only for emotional support. My son is 22 years old and studies abroad.
What’s something people would be surprised to know about you?
That I can live on French fries, feta cheese, cakes, cookies and chocolate.
What are your goals for the next 5 years?
To send as many students as I can to as many festivals, competitions and auditions. To play as many concerts as I can and to be as happy as I can.
What’s the best career-related advice anyone has ever given you?
A quote from Tom Lehrer (who is now 90): “Life is like a piano – what you get out of it depends on *how* you play it.”
Isn’t that a universal truth?
What’s your favorite memory as a musician?
Having my teachers being extremely proud of me. I owe my success and career to them. And they were not easy to deal with teachers, I must say. (One of them is the last student of the legendary Alexander Goldenweiser).
They all had extremely high expectations for all of us. (I was in a special music school. It was the national music school – where they will accept only 15-16 pianists every year from the whole country). And for any teacher, it isn’t easy to build a musician with moral values and a charitable music giving personality. I think they succeeded with me and I will be thankful to them eternally.
Is there anything else you want to add?
I started playing by myself when I was 3. I never stopped or considered any other career path. I feel it’s really hard for people to imagine how much dedication is required for this type of career – to become a pianist. That’s why I am extremely passionate about giving a chance to anyone who wants to play music to become as good as they want to be. I was fortunate enough to have the opportunity to perform on 3 continents and many countries. My teachers were amazing. It’s my time now to pass this incredible knowledge to the new generations.
Also, a fun fact I would like to add is I was accepted into MENSA when I was only 16. A classmate and I were the youngest members in the country at the time.