"Good music teacher is the most important factor in learning piano. - I came to Australia with my music teacher." Alexander Gavriluk
Alexander Gavriluk arrived in Seoul on April 25th, 2002, for the second time. His first successful piano rectial in 2001 resulted in a number of Korean followers of his music. This time, his teacher Professor Viktor Makarov's master classes were held during April 24 - 26 at Sunhwa Art College. Young pianists at Sunhwa Art College and there teachers had a discussion about music with Alexander Gavriluk. (Students: Eunson Choi, Hanbyol Lee, Hyein Kwon, Music teacher: Yangsook Lee, Tutor: Soyong Choi.
Eunson Choi: How are you? You arrived in Seoul today. I think you will enjoy a diverse range of culture and cities while playing concerts around the world.
Gavriluk: I have had concerts in many different countries but I spend most of the time for practice and concerts. I seldom go out of the hotel. I think it will be a good chance for me to have some tours around the Seoul area while my teacher is having master classes.
Hanbyol Lee: I heard that you began to learn playing piano from Professor Makarov at the age of seven. Was there any special motive in your side?
Gavriluk: When I was seven years old, my mother recommended me to apply for a choir audition. At that time my mother thought that it was not desirable for a boy to play piano because you need to spend a lot of time for practice. She also believed that music education is very important.That is why I applied for the choir audition. At the audition I met my teacher (Professor Viktor Makarov) for the first time. Professor Makarov decided to teach me piano after listening to my piano playing. I learned choir and piano for the next two years then decided to concentrate on piano only.
Hanbyol Lee: What do you think about Professor Viktor Makarov as a music teacher?
Gavriluk: My teacher (Professor Makarov) is totally different from any other piano teachers in the world an one particular point. He prefers to teach young beginners from the beginning rather than accepting musically and technically developed students as his students. He always told us that through basic training and relentless practice make a good pianist rather than the musical talent of the student. That is why he offered to teach me when I was a seven year old boy without any experience of playing piano. My teacher thinks that master classes for music teachers are even more important than those for piano students. Most of the famous piano teachers do not prefer to teach young inexperienced students. But, Professor Makarov, believes that "a teacher who can provide good lessons to beginners is the best teacher." He thinks that it is a good learning process for teachers too. Following this philosophy he asked me to teach a few children from this year. I teach the children as an extension of his music lesson.
Hyein Kwon: Is Professor Makarov a very strict teacher? I want to hear more about his teaching method.
Gavriluk: When I was a beginner the main part of his piano lesson was like playing games. He triel to make me enjoy all the natural things such as mountains, fields, singing, and dancing. It was an integral part of his piano lesson. He taught me how to learn the music technique and music simultaneousiy: "scales" through "cat game," "pulling" technique through dancing. Of course we do not play games these days. I mainly play Horowitz studies to enhance my techniques and to warm up fingers. The two years we spent to prepare for the Hammamatsu International Piano Competition was the most difficult period for both of us. My teacher gave me hard times and I think, I also gave him hard times. We overcame the difficult period and prepared for the competition. As a result I won the prize.
Hanbyol Lee: I know that you are from Ukraine. Was there any special motive for you to choose AIM of Australia? Why didn't you apply for one of the internationally famous music schools as such as Curtis Music School?
Cavriluk: I came to AIM with Professor Makarov when he was appointed Head of Piano Department of AIM. I think a teacher is the utmost importance for piano students. In other words, the school is not that important. Australia is good for learning piano, wich its good weather and relaxed living environment. I am happy to be in Australia.
Eunson Choi: You learned from Professor Makarov for a Iong time. I think you would feel more like a family with him.
Gavriluk: I think Professor Makarov as my father and Mrs. Makarov as my mother. I came to Australia with Professor when I was fourteen. It was difficult because it was the firnt time I was separated from my parents. Mrs Makarov prepared all the foods I liked as my mother would back in Ukraine. She encouraged me to practice hard. I do not feel difficult now. Professor Makarov, arranged concert opportunities in Ukraine for me to meet my family there. I saw my parents and younger sister around twice per year. When I get permanent resident visa from the Australian government I wart to sponsor my 12 year old sister to come to Australia. She is also playing piano and I wish my sister can learn piano from Professor Makarov.
Professor Makarov treated us as warm as his own children. He would become a poet, a painter, an actor, a dancer and a magician when ne was teaching us. Professor Makarov learned ballet, drama, painting and singing when he was young. He always emphasized that it is a real art activity when you apply all those components to your music. In Australia, when he is busy with school activities my lesson time is often after 10 pm. 4 other students from Ukraine also live with Professor Makarov so we never have any moment without the piano sound in the house. Mrs. Makarov is also a pianist.
Hanbyo Lee: Have you ever learned from any other piano teacher?
Gavriluk: I have never had piano lessons from any other teacher since I started piano at seven. It is the same to all the other four students who lived with Professor Makarov until last year. When I become 18, I will move out and share rooms with my friends in other places. But I will continue to learn piano from Professor Makarov. I have never thought about changing my teacher.
Hyein Kwon: I think Professor Makarov may want you to learn piano from other teachers.
Gavriluk: I still think there are a lot more for me to learn from Professor Makarov. Unless he forces me to go somewhere else I will continue to learn piano from him.
Eunson Choi: You won Horowitz International Piano Competition (1999), Yamaha competition (1999), and Hamamatsu International piano competition (2000). What do you think about the competition?
Gavriluk: I began to have more opportunities of my own recitals and recordings after I won the Hamamatsu International and the Horowitz International. In some sense it is the quickest way of getting international recognition for your piano playing. I do not think it is a bad thing to do. But you need to participate in the competitions when you prepared for them sufficientiy. It is meaningless to go there just to get some experience.
Hyein Kwon: What is the optimum preparation period when you enter a competition?
Gavriluk: It depends on. In case of Hamamatsu International I started to prepare for the competition 2 years before the competition. For the last 12 months I used to practice more than 10 hours per day. Currently I am preparing for the 2005 Chopin competition. Professor Makarov emphasized that emotion and technique is not enough to play Chopin's music. It becomes possible to play them properly only when you fully understand literature, loneliness, pain and love. I included some of Chopin's pieces in this concert program which mainly consists of romantic pieces, I wanted to study Ballade no. 4 but Professor Makarov suggested no. 2. That is why I decided to play no. 2.
Hanbyol Lee: Does Professor Makarov always make the choice with pieces you play?
Gavriluk: He always discusses it with me sincerely. He allows my to play any piece I want to play in case of encore pieces. For example, I learned 4 new pieces for encores. Professor Makarov is sometimes worried about my music preference. When I practice Rachmaninov, I spend the whole day for the pieces. He scolds me for not playing any Chopin piece.
Eunson Choi: What is your most favorite music piece and who is your favorite composer?
Gavriluk: I think I may have answered differently last year. Last year it may have been Rachmaninov. At the last years concert I played complete Sonata's and Moment Musicaux Op. 16, but now I would say they are Scriabin and Prokofiev. I think I would love Bach forever.
Hanbyol Lee: Then, who are your favorite performers?
Gavriluk: Richter and Argerich. I don't think age is important in performing. There may be some people who are naive and immature even though they are old and experienced. On the other hand, a young performer may be able to play mature and high standard music.
Hyein Kwon: What is your plan after this concert?
Gavriluk: In June I will do recordings for Chopin and Dante of Liszt. I will haye to learn those pieces after this concert. In August I will perform with Warsaw Orchestra and I will have a concert in Tokyo in November this year.
Eunson Choi: Is there any advantage of playing Russian composers' pieces because you are a Russian yourself?
Gavriluk: To some degree…... (rest of this paragraph omitted: mostly technical things)
Hanbyol Lee: Are you planning to continue study further?
Gavriluk: I want to finish Bachelor and master degree. At the moment I am teaching beginners only but I want to teach more advanced students too. But I do not want to specialize in teaching as Professor Makarov. I want to continue to perform at the stage as long as possible. I think I have a lot more to learn to do so.