Entrevista a Violeta de Gainza por Noam Ben-Zeev, Tel Aviv

Entrevista a Violeta Hemsy de Gainza del periodista Noam Ben-Zeev, a cargo de la sección musical- cultural del diario Haaretz de Tel Aviv.

El domingo 12 de abril Violeta fue invitada por el Conservatorio de Tel Aviv, a dictar una Conferencia-Taller, dirigida a los profesores de piano y otros instrumentos, sobre la Formación instrumental en la Pedagogía Musical actual. En esa ocasión, participaron tres niños israelíes ya iniciados en el piano, dos gemelas de 7 años, Mia y Gaia y su hermano Roi de 9.
Finalizada la conferencia, Violeta fue entrevistada por el destacado periodista Noam Ben-Zeev, del diario Haaretz, quien estuvo presente durante el desarrollo de la conferencia.

Diario Haaretz, Tel Aviv. 12/04/2009

Por Noam Ben-Zeev.

Last week Argentinean-born Prof. Violeta Hemsy de Gainza, a leading international figure in music education during the second part of the 20th century, visited Israel. De Gainza is a pioneer in her field in the Spanish- and Portuguese-speaking parts of the world, and is well known elsewhere in Europe as well. Her books – there are more than 40 – and her research studies, which have been published in journals covering all aspects of music education, have been translated into many languages and serve as an important source of information for people who work with ensembles, or who teach musicians, musical improvisation and theory, from early childhood through university.

De Gainza was one of the guiding forces in the International Society for Music Education, and has taught in countries on five continents. She has a modern way of thinking about musical education in a multicultural context, and, in one of the small rooms at the Stricker Conservatory in Tel Aviv, she demonstrated some of the principles of her method to an audience that included leading figures in the field of music education in Israel.

“A person learns to talk, to draw and to walk, not by means of lectures on theory and demonstrations with the help of a blackboard and chalk, and not through intellectual understanding,” said de Gainza in a conversation after her workshop. “It’s simply necessary to do it. To learn to talk and draw, there is no need for a teacher – just for interaction with the environment. And learning music is identical to this: Music is no different from language. We are programmed to learn it just like language because there are certain areas of the brain that are intended for this: Everyone has them, regardless of culture or formal education. The trouble is that music has been idealized and people have related to it as something sublime, sacred. This is correct, those aspects do exist, but at the highest and most advanced levels. We are tainted by these perceptions and we have to dispense with them.”

De Gainza sees the piano keyboard as an infrastructure for play – as a territory intended for a person’s communication with himself, or even between a mother and child.

“Nowadays when people approach the piano, they immediately think about how you are supposed to sit, how to hold your body, at what angle your hand should be, how to hold your fingers, place them on the keys and curve them – and immediately you are supposed to learn to read notes and know what the scales and intervals are. But there is no difference between the piano and any other kind of play: soccer, for example. How absurd it is to think about proper training, and instead of just giving the child a ball, starting with explanations of how to swing your foot and how to run and kick, and drawing up theories on the blackboard. Maradona became the genius he was because he played with the ball as a child; he bounced it, chased it, butted it and drew it to him like a magnet, no matter how far away from him it was. Music is first of all play, and generations upon generations have not let children play with music. They were not given the freedom of access to it. You have to invite the fingers to play, just as you invite someone to dance.”

Is thought not needed in learning music?

De Gainza: “Of course it is needed, always, and the more you progress, the more you need it – but it must not interfere.”

She also said that “music is a basic human right, and every child is entitled to learn it at school. Moreover, it is useful: Composer and music educator Zoltan Kodaly proved this at his musical schools in Hungary, where they researched the effect of music on other areas, [and] students had much higher achievements in mathematics and the study of languages. Only now, everywhere around the world, it is hard to institute reforms in the field. Neo-liberalism isn’t concerned with educating people but rather with money. It is a pity that they don’t know the extent to which education is such an easy thing: Building a skyscraper or directing a feature film – these are much harder than educating someone.”

De Gainza demonstrates on the piano some exercises she has learned from improvisations done by her students: There is a hand game in which one plays with the fingers between an outstretched thumb and pinky, imitations of sounds and music inspired by all kinds of styles. “This is improvisation, play, experimentation – and pure creativity,” she declares.

Indeed, “creativity” is a key word in her method. It is not enough, she explains, to develop it among teachers, as during the first half of the last century, but rather it should also be encouraged among children: “The 19th century developed the theory in musical education, the 20th century, the practical aspects of it, and now in the 21st century we need a new revolution that will combine the two and lead to critical thinking and imagination in instruction. We don’t need extensive research to this end. It isn’t research that is lacking – it’s wisdom.”

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