Inna Kogan’s Music School was established in 1989 to cater for a growing need, as I felt, for students taking private instrumental lessons to interact with others.
Receiving my first music education at a music school where learning music meant frequent public performances, group theory lessons, ensembles, exams and student competitions, I felt that this was a more enjoyable and effective way for young children to learn music.
Learning a solo instrument, especially the piano or any of the keyboard family can become daunting and even lonely after a while. Arriving in Australia after teaching for ten years overseas, I was very concerned about an unusually high ‘drop out’ rate among instrumental students, especially at high school age. This period, just as a student is approaching a higher level of playing, with much larger and more exciting repertoire to play, proved to be a critical ‘crisis’ age for local youth. That resulted in the discouraging fact that a high volume of young teenagers were quitting music before they really started enjoying it. Unfortunately, the level of performance skills gathered during the first two to three years is insufficient for anyone to retain this knowledge long-term, meaning that the above years were basically a waste of time (and money).
Two main factors seemed to have the biggest impact on this age group: an increased pressure from high school work and often insufficient earlier performance experience resulting in overrated nervousness and stage-fright, especially in the 10 – 16 year old age groups. I was very keen to prove with my students that with the proper approach to piano practice from the very beginning, including an early start and frequent public performances from a very young age, could help the later transition become very smooth if not unnoticeable.
Another emphasis of the school bases on my 30 years research into exploring student’s potential. I always strive to bring every student to his or her full potential. I encourage even the youngest children to think at their lessons and in their home practice, teach them to analyse their own work and evaluate their achievements. Here the atmosphere of a music school with its concerts, an occasional beat of a friendly rivalry and even a simple interaction on a weekly basis becomes very useful.
It is my first priority to give every student proper professional skills such as reading, counting and memory development from the very first note they play. Students that show an above average talent are then given choice and opportunity to move at a faster pace. Parents play a very important role in supervising and encouraging their children’s exercise routine and in attending lessons, if they wish to do so. They also play an important role in deciding on how much weight should be put on their child’s music activities.
Full course studies in our school include weekly individual lessons of either 30, 45 or 60 minutes, depending on student’s age and level, plus a 45 minute weekly group theory lesson. A part-time course consists of one weekly individual or group (when available) instrumental lesson. Although theory classes are optional, they are strongly recommended to be taken as soon as a student starts to learn music, as they are of a strong benefit to a well-rounded music education.
All teachers employed by the school are professionals in their field with tertiary qualifications and often second degrees. In my choice of teachers I place great emphasis on choosing the right type of people who genuinely love and care for children and are dedicated to their work. I am in constant communication with all of my teaching staff, sharing my expertise, helping with repertoire choices and gathering information about every student’s progress.
Public performances are strongly encouraged at the school through our monthly school concerts, active participation at local competitions as well as Trinity College and AMEB exams.
Inna Kogan, Principal