This is an article as a result of an interview with me at the lifestyle magazine "Indonesian Tatler Bambini", July 2010
Learning to Learn
Music learning has certain special aspects that parents need to understand, argues renowned Indonesian pianist and composer Ananda Sukarlan. Made M Nadera writes.
As a universal language, music learning is always high on the agenda of any parents. Yet while courses and extra lessons are readily available, many parents would value any worthy advice from world renowned pianist and music educator Ananda Sukarlan.
"As Shakespeare puts it, "Music is the food of love",Ananda volunteers,"And I would like to add to this famous phrase that like food, if it is instant, it is junk. Most familiar problem for students in Indonesia, especially those who have just started taking lessons for any kind of instruments, is their own parent, whocomes to the music teacher and frankly says, "I want you to teach my child, so that in six months or three months, he could play the piano brilliantly!. As the founder of Jakarta Conservatory of Music, every time there is a teacher complaining about this request, I would talk to the parents andtell them that I have been playing the piano for 30 years and there remain thousands of masterpieces that I have yet to master. There are just as many Rachmaninoff's, Sir Michael Tippets's and Beethoven's that I dream one day I would be able to play. How would you expect your child to master an instrument in six months?" he recalls the way he adresses the parent's concerns.
A renowned pianist and composer who have collaborated with a great number of Indonesian artists, Ananda Sukarlan spends few months in a year in Indonesia performing and teaching, amid his hectic schedule traveling for concerts and master classes.
"I am talking about classical music, or "musik sastra" in Indonesian, a new term that I created to avoid using the term "musik klasik" which is a much misrepresented term. For pop music, it can be mastered in, say, between six months to oneyear. Yet classical music isan art and art is definitely infinite. A painter can "finish" one masterpiece simply because that painting needs to be exhibited in a gallery, a composer"completed" his piece as he needs to start practicing for his upcoming concert,a musician needs to stop rehearsing as the date for concert is approaching and his rehearsing days are over. If he is given two more weeks he would be able to play that piece much better in a better interpretation altogether," he elaborates.
Choosing a music teacher, and deciding between choosing a performer or a music pedagogue can also be a dilemma for most parents, an issue that Ananda finds quite essential.
"A good perfomer is not necessarily a good teacher," he lays the rule of thumb,"sometimes a teacher who are not extremely talented in music can bea better teacher, as he has also struggled in understanding and resolvingtechnical problems, something that makes him aware on what method or technique available for children without enormous talents. The truth is, a talent like Mozart is truly rare."
"A good music school does not only provide lessons for the particular instrumentsbut also provides adequate insights and knowledge. There is supposed to be atheory class, history of music, composition analysis and individual sessions toplay the musical instruments. Education that only focuses to the acceptable technique is quite boring, such as the advice like "play this with relaxed wrist and alternating fingers number 3 and 4". In addition to this, they need to be made aware of what makes the piece ultimately fascinating, much in the same way I am still fascinated by the music of Beethoven and Mozart," he parts the essential elements that any good music school shoulddemonstrate.
The influence of pop music in today's internet age, that some people think might have made the classical music a casualty, has also been observed by the talented musician.
"It is not an easy environment these days, knowing that classical music is not originated in Indonesia. Government needs to play the role, providing subsidy at least, on the preservation of traditional music. Although I grew up playing European classical music, I need to emphasize that traditional music should become priority. Pop music is good as entertainment,but other art forms, which are not "pop" is also needed, as we are all human beings with expression, sensitivity and sensibility. The effectiveness of classical music for music therapy has been well proven and documented, for instance in reducing crime and violence in countries that activates classical music to the underprivilegeds such as in Venezuela," he enthusiastically comments on the importance of the music, "That's why me and my colleagues have established the Yayasan Musik Sastra Indonesia, a small contribution to the society, in trying the make them realize that music and arts is something that unites us as human beings, something that would help us balance our moral and intellectual standards. We need also to balance our right and left brain, even if we understand that we are born with different brain ability."
Ananda Sukarlan is very keen to advance the current classical music teaching in Indonesia and presides over some competitions to find the new talents.
"The are many promising young pianists, below the age of 20, and some of them are the winners of Ananda Sukarlan Award (ASA) two years ago. I am very excited to find the new talents that we would announce this July, as I believe thatthere are many participants currently studying abroad who will join the competition . There will also be the junior category in ASA, some of them already participated in my master classes last year. Their talents are tremendous," he concludes on the potentials of Indonesian young and upcoming musicians.