If ever I’ve seen and heard a full-blown affinity between a mentor and pupil, it’s conspicuously revealed in these two performances that are a harmonious blend of beautiful phrasing and fluid motions. And as the saying goes, “The fruit doesn’t fall far from the (learning) tree.”
The student, Daniel Mori, has been studying with Irina Morozova at the Special Music School/Kaufman Center in Manhattan since Kindergarten and now in fifth grade, he continues to grow and musically blossom.
To add to his accomplishments, he’s collected an assortment of competition honors that make his teacher and parents especially proud.
Such a well-matched mentor/student pairing is without doubt, a large part of Daniel’s growth.
But for a deeper understanding of Morozova’s approach to his studies, I’ve extracted a portion of my interview with her that took place in the Spring, 2012.
Q: One of your very young pupils displays unusual talent and musicianship. Can you share how you approached his studies from the very beginning of lessons with regard to technique and repertoire? And how has he advanced along?
“Daniel Mori, a 9-year-old student of mine, is just one of several excellent and promising students I teach. Although he is small and immature (even for his age), he nonetheless demonstrates a rare musical talent, a remarkable devotion to his piano studies, and incredible patience.
“I approached teaching Daniel about the same way I would approach teaching any other student.
“In the early stages I usually pursue three areas simultaneously: developing musical expression and imagination, reading notes, and laying the technical foundation. (We call it “building the house from bricks,” where the bricks are various technical formulas).
“We played very simple pieces, many of them duets (kids enjoy them as they sound like “real” music with a few notes in the student’s part). Daniel sailed through many of these easier pieces and I never wanted to skip important stages. Studying works of diverse musical styles, learning musical “vocabulary” of different composers and times has been an important goal from the very beginning. While not giving him “mechanical” technical exercises, I’ve introduced different types of technique, carefully choosing pieces and etudes.
“He started playing as a K-student and is currently in the 4th grade. His repertoire progressed from Mozart’s Variations on the “Magic Flute” and “In the Fields” by Gliere, to a Sonata by Cimarosa and the A Minor Invention by Bach, to Debussy’s “Le Petit Negro” and Chopin’s G Minor Polonaise, to the first movements of the F Minor Concerto by Bach and Mozart’s Sonata, K.545, to his current program, which includes two movements from Partita #1 by Bach, the first movement of Haydn’s Sonata XVI:45, and Chopin’s Nocturne in C# Minor. This list does not include many other pieces and etudes by Czerny, Berens, Loeschhorn, and Bertini that he studied.”
(*UPDATE: Currently a fifth-grader, Daniel is expanding his repertoire and accruing awards.)
Here’s an offering in the contemporary genre: