Helsinki, August 2020

A piano lesson

While most people love and enjoy music, the teaching of music to young kids might be challenging. How to engage a student to appreciate and understand the music? What tools and techniques to be used to keep the student interested and continuously grow with practice to perhaps a future professional?

 

Mindaugas Neverovas, a talented and recognized Lithuanian pianist and piano teacher living in Helsinki, a member of International School of Music in Finland, certainly knows the answer for these questions. 

I met Mindaugas couple of years ago through a common friend and I heard a lot of credits about his talent and prominence well before, but when I had a chance to listen to his piano performance live in the end of our photoshoot in Finnish Literature Society building, I literally cried. I felt so much of dedication and love in every touch on the keyboard, every produced sound was filled with aesthetic and elegance. He closed his eyes and played. His body was moving in the tact with music from slow relaxed touches to energetic throws. The air of the big spacious hall filled up with a beautiful classical music and I wanted him to never stop that play.

 

The idea to make a piano lesson story was born when I asked Mindaugas if he would be infested to make some pictures of his own piano performance. He agreed but proposed to invite a student as teaching is more important for him than his own performance, and it would showcase his own portfolio and help him attract more students through his social network portfolio. We made a deal, fixed the date and as a cherry on top of this cake was the place that Mindaugas had on this mind – Finnish Literature Society building. Besides it’s a historical architectural masterpiece, it was the only known place in Helsinki with a fabulous white grand piano. I couldn’t express more how excited I was!

The hall with grand piano is meant for concerts and events, but we were not ready to find those dozens of chairs piled up and blocking the area with piano. So before we began our session, we had to free the area sweating and laughing. As a photographer I knew from my experience this kind of obstacles might be a bummer but you need to accept it and have it fixed. After some time for exercise we finally started the the actual work. 

Eliot, the student, was experienced for this kind of exposure to the camera thanks to his parents lifestyle, so he didn't mind me bustling around with my cameras. I asked them to do their normal class which they have weekly as usual as possible, except that the place was different. They agreed on the topic they would be practicing today and the process began. 

 

It was touching to witness the intimate subtle connection between the teacher and the student. It also reminded me my own private piano lessons in the childhood, my female teacher and how kind she was to me and my mistakes. Mindaugas gently guided his student with care and rewarded with praise frequently. Elliot was trusting and repeated again and again with persistence until the right tune and pace was reached. In the end they performed together and it was so much fun.

 

The hour passed quickly and I think they forgot about my existence. It was more than a piano lesson, it was a lesson of trust and loyalty, love and kindness. I know that Eliot, tiny and almost not seen at the moment behind the huge beautiful instrument, will be devoted to music for his entire life.

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