The pianist

Iryna Tsarenko pianist and western music teacher at International School of Hyderabad Photo: Nagara Gopal  

No matter what she is wearing, Iryna Tsarenko never misses to put on a bindi on her forehead. “My husband doesn't expect me to wear traditional Indian clothes but he insists that I look prettier with a bindi on,” she laughs. A pianist and music coordinator at the International School of Hyderabad, Iryna Tsarenko is a lot more traditional in many ways than most Indians.

Having grown up in the then Soviet Union, she says western classical music was always accessible to the common people. “In Russia, we believe that art belongs to the people and everyone was introduced to all forms of music. You go to any corner of Russia, you will find some musical event taking place. Opera singers, musicians used to perform for free,” she says. However, she adds that it has changed over the years due to the commercialisation of music.

Her tryst with the piano started when she was seven years old. With the help of a raised platform, she began playing the piano. After eight years in a music college, she got her doctorate in music. Marriage brought her to Hyderabad, Iryna now takes pride in teaching music to primary and high school students. Her students also gave a western music concert recently. “I don't believe when people say learning western classical music is difficult. Music can be taught in a fun way. I always describe the life of the personalities behind the music. When I narrate the kind of background Mozart and Bach came from and the challenges they faced, it always inspires my students,” she explains. With music travelling across continents, she also believes that fusion music adds new elements to the already existing musical genres.

“I start by teaching my students modern music from the Beatles and ABBA and slowly introduce them to the traditional classical western music. When they understand that there are elements of Gregorian and Baroque music even in modern music, they realise that classical western music is not so old fashioned,” says the pianist insisting that western classical music should not be considered such a lofty art. Having grown up listening to Lata Mangeshkar and Kishore Kumar songs and queuing outside theatre to watch a Mithun Chakraborty movie in Russia, Iryna says that Indians have a natural ability to music. “I love Indian folk music. It is full of life where as Indian classical music has a calming effect on me,” she explains.

“Music has a positive influence on students. When they perform well in music, they performance in academics automatically improves,” as Iryna believes in keeping music simple and accessible.

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Printable version | Dec 8, 2021 10:13:31 AM |

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