Arseny’s students start to play “four hands” with their instructor already during their very first lesson.
A few lessons later they are already able to play in public and compose their own pieces. A Sputnik correspondent sat down with Arseny Trofim at his school of intuitive learning aptly called “I Am Musically Endowed.”
Born into a family of geologists in northern Russia, Arseny started playing the piano and composing at the early age of seven. He sincerely believed that anyone could write music just like he did. Realizing that this was not the case, he wondered if there was a quick way of teaching adults to play and write music.
Here are a few tips he has generously shared with Sputnik.
Playing Piano With the Lid On is Self-Deception
“The first thing you need to do to get the hang of the piano is to remove the panel to see the strings, just like they do with a grand piano,” Trofim explained.
While the lid is usually left in place to muffle the sound, this makes it impossible for us to appreciate the inner and outer beauty of the instrument.
“Playing the piano without seeing the strings is like playing with gloves on,” Arseny emphasized.
Ear Training – Pseudoscience?
Arseny believes that the school of contemporary European music, which developed over three centuries ago, is all about the ability to play an instrument, not to compose or improvise. Appreciative as he is of the importance of technique, Arseny still believes that there is more to genuine music than just that.
“Artificial sol-fa (G-F) simply trains one’s memory and musical ear, but it doesn’t help you to understand music,” he noted.
“To teach music and say that there are just two tonalities out there – major and minor – is a crime. It is like telling a kid that the only emotions existing in our life are joy and sorrow,” he added.
During the lessons (10 primary level ones, followed by an advanced stage) Arseny teaches a combination of composition and improvisation to help his students to master what traditional schools decided to forget about. For example, his students learn 22 modes, including Dorian, Phrygian, Mixolydian, Lidyan and blues, all of which are completely ignored by traditional schools.
Try to prove to me that you are not musically endowed!
Arseny said that these days the art of music is perceived as something complex and out-of-reach, even kind of elitist, all because of the dictums imposed by the Catholic Church.
“It doesn’t matter how old you are when you start learning the piano. I have taught a one-handed woman to play it and my oldest student was 67. Both of them have performed in concert. I realized that you can play music even with your nose, everything else is just clichés,” Arseny said.
“People who are musically endowed by nature, like for example Armenians and Georgians, would never want to create a school of their own to tell others how to play and teach music,” he added.
Does the Traditional European School Kill the Musician in Us?
According to Arseny Trofim, if often happens that after receiving a diploma in music, people never play the piano again.
“The traditional school destroys the natural simplicity of what music is all about. Despite the breakthrough made by the late-19th century impressionists, who discovered that music is all about sensation, other people have turned it into technology where each element has its own name.”
When asked about his plans for the future Arseny admitted that he wants to teach a blind-mute person to play the piano. He believes that it’s just a matter of time. He hopes that his intuitive method has a good future.
He already has followers with one of his pupils, Gleb Andriyanov, already sharing his knowledge of the intuitive method with his own students.