San Diego MTAC

February 17, 2018




Irina Fisher - Piano

Hello Everyone!

I suggest that you read my page only if you believe that:
• People—not resumes—matter
• Personality, ideas, skills, and experience outweigh credentials, tenure, homes, and cars
• Teachers exist to shape the people of the future—not to entertain kids today or to please their parents

I do have credentials from the third-best conservatory in Russia, the Conservatory of Nizhnij Novgorod, and more than 30 years of teaching experience that authorize my work as a teacher. But over the course of my 20 years in the US, I have essentially reformed and reworked my teaching method into something completely individualized.

The reason for doing so was the attitude towards musical education I encountered here in the US. All over the world, professional or amateur musical education takes place in music schools—just as it was conceived in the middle of the 19th century—where students not only learn to play musical instruments, but also study many theoretical disciplines and music history. Here, however, these additional studies are considered unnecessary, so students take only private lessons with some “sides”: a smattering of theory and history delivered now and then, depending on the teacher. The concept of musical education in the US is wide-ranging, covering everything from “having some fun” to playing in competitions.

I do not accept this attitude, nor do I think that professional education, the way it exists today, really works. Over the years, I have experimented and thought about how to join together different strategies and meet different goals at the same time within a single private lesson—the only form of work available here. I believe I have found, at the very least, some sort of compromise.

Here is what I teach:
Music speaks its own language, and I teach it as a language—a system encompassing not only notes and other marks on paper, but also musical “words,” “spelling,” “grammar,” “punctuation marks,” and style. I teach students all these elements of language as part of a theory course, then as part of the “warm-up” (technical exercises) on the piano; thereafter, I help students recognize them in a new piece of music. Through the understanding of this language, we learn to understand the content of music. I closely tie each musical piece to its historical origin, to its composer and his life. I do this to make music as relevant as possible to today, so that my students can learn more from each composition.

I teach students to practice the right way, step by step, so that they can learn systematically and efficiently; judge what and how they are doing; and plan their work in the short and long term. We work as much as students can on high-grade piano technique, sound quality, and artistic presentation. To showcase the students’ latest achievements, my class holds three recitals a year. Upon request, I also prepare students for the annual CM exam and competitions. Please keep in mind, however, that all of this only works on a real piano—not on a keyboard.

The overall purpose of my work is to spread and propagate culture through musical education, setting high standards of musical performance among children of all ages. Not only does my teaching significantly enrich their education, but it also prepares them to become expert listeners of music in the future. Without knowledgeable and experienced listeners, the high musical tradition may die, regardless of how technically brilliant concert performers are.

There is one other goal I constantly strive to meet: in the course of my work, I deliberately target my students’ brains, attempting to achieve a higher degree of overall connectivity as a result. Through various types and forms of work, I really “plug” into children’s minds and guide them through the process of thinking, focusing, learning, listening, and judging. Language plays a very important role here, too, as we try to
verbalize and formulate everything we do together in my lessons.

It is a commonly held notion that talent is needed to successfully learn to play music and to do it well. But my experience tells me that many skills are learnable, and even with seemingly modest achievements in performance, students can still make large gains in terms of brain development in the course of lessons. Such progress mainly requires a desire to improve oneself, a learned ability to work hard, and a dedication to putting consistent efforts into maintaining this process.

Parents also play a huge role in music-based learning: without their participation, interaction, patience, and persistence, there are very few results. In my experience, it does not matter much whether or not parents have any musical experience themselves. Observing lessons and learning along the way will provide any parent with enough ideas and clues as to how they can help.

Since I prefer to have a short break after every lesson, I work only at students’ homes. Traveling teachers usually have lower reputations and attract less-gifted students than their counterparts who work from home. Indeed, I have a higher-than-usual share of talentless children and those with various learning challenges, from hyperactivity to a lack of focus, attention, or coordination.

But eventually, all of these children improve and learn to play music well. Given enough time to work with me, every student will, over the years, increase his or her IQ by a number of points. As for my reputation as a teacher, you be the judge: just ask the parents whose children have literally transformed into much brighter people as a result of our lessons.


To learn more, please contact me by phone or e-mail:
ph.# 858-678-8986