Helping to focus and develop social skills: Classical Music | Daily News

Helping to focus and develop social skills: Classical Music

Dr. Paul Cesarczyk at his workshop

He began playing the classical guitar when he was just eight years old. It comes as no surprise then that he performed at the prestigious Carnegie Hall when he was just a teenager. Years later, Dr. Paul Cesarczyk arrived in Sri Lanka, not only to perform, but to teach eager, aspiring musicians. He is pleasantly soft spoken but direct with his students, and his music – you can sample some on YouTube - reflects similar nuances. We caught up with him for a moment after one of his workshops, a day before his concert at the Russian Cultural Center, for a rapid round of Q & A.

Q: Classical music is not a popular music genre today. Why would you say it’s still important?

A: Classical music is actually a wonderful way to supplement standard education: there are notes that are written down, a methodology to it and it helps you develop skills. It develops focus, agility with your hands and if you’re in a band, even your social skills.

It’s something I believe can help with anything in your life.

Q: How do we revive classical music?

A: There are several things we can do. For one, there is media coverage, like this interview, which can really help. Secondly, when high level artistes perform at concerts, so people see the value in the music. And also very importantly, through one-on-one private lessons like at my workshops.

Q: Tell us about how you came to learn to play the classical guitar, and about your personal relationship with music.

A: Music is kind of everything, you know – it’s how I earn my living, how I communicate with people, how I interrelate, through education.

I was eight years old when I started playing the classical guitar, my father taught me, and I was actually six years old when I played the piano.

Both my parents were musicians.

Q: Sri Lanka’s art and music scene seems to be coming into its own now. Beyond entertainment, do you feel music can play a social role?

A: Definitely. Music is the ultimate social tool for reconciliation. It has a role to play in self diplomacy, and it reminds us that we are all interconnected – you and I might enjoy the same kind of music regardless of where we are from or our languages. And music does this better than images, because images require interpretation, but music goes directly into our emotions.

Q: During your stay, you’ve met members of the Guitar Association of Sri Lanka, and guitarists like Amaranath Ranatunga. Can you comment on the impression that Sri Lanka’s music scene has left on you?

A: I respect and admire Amaranath Ranatunga very much. I believe he is doing something difficult (teaching classical guitar at the University of Performing and Visual Arts) – he is a flag-bearer for classical music. I think he has planted the roots here. It has only been three rushed days here so I can’t really comment on the music scene, but I can say from my travels that Sri Lanka is extremely beautiful.

Q: Is there a key lesson you give your students who aspire to be classical musicians?

A: Every student has their own potential, and everyone is at a different level. If there is a trademark of mine, it is this – I try to help students achieve their potential, I don’t make them imitate me or someone else, but help them find their own potential.

Q: You have toured widely in Europe, Asia and America. What have you learnt, as an artist, from your experiences in all these countries?

A: Everybody wants the same thing. And that is, to be encouraged, and find beauty in the arts. There are some things classical music doesn’t do – it doesn’t feed people, or provide shelter or things like that, but it can change people’s minds. Music doesn’t change the world, but it changes people… And it’s people who change the world. So that’s what’s wonderful about it. 


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