HAPPENED TODAY - On December 7, 1887, the pianist and composer Ernst Toch was born in Leopoldstadt

Ana Topalovic (2)

When and why did you come up with the idea of ​​giving online lessons via skype?
A student of mine was moving to Germany and she asked me if I would be willing to give her lessons via Skype. It worked great, even 8 years ago. Also, when I travel and give master classes I meet many students who would like to continue learning with me but cannot afford to come to Vienna. All this prompted me to start an online school and it brings me great joy ever since.

What are the advantages of this type of teaching and what are the limits?
There are many advantages: you can stay in the comfort of your own home, you don’t have to pay for expensive airplane tickets (2 of them), or for a hotel. The internet connection and simple equipment are nowadays working so well that I’m able to hear even very fine nuances in playing. And the other way around. Most of the smartphones are enough, you don’t even need to buy additional equipment. I have a flexible scheduling system and a very fair cancellation policy. It costs less than a standard masterclass or lesson. Everyone around the world is welcome.
The one disadvantage is that you still can’t really play together as there is a short lag. But I am very hopeful that it will be solved in the near future.

There are, in your opinion, compositions that, in any case, a teacher should include in the course of his students’ studies, or it is necessary to select for each student a different path suitable for strengthening weaknesses and improving the strengths of each one?
There is a lot of methods, techniques, etudes, practices we can use to make an individual program for every student. It is very important, the most important thing in teaching to respect and nurture the individuality of your students. That also means offering them a broad spectrum of repertoire and more than one solution to a problem.

Is it useful to participate in competitions during the study period?
Not often, but in some cases, yes.

When a student starts playing with other musicians, what are the difficulties to overcome?
Mostly our own ego. It starts being about the ensemble and the very difficult thing of combining originality of convincing performance with the sense of togetherness.

What are your musical projects for 2020?
I will perform some Beethoven with my duo partner, the accordionist Nikola Djoric and actress Chris Pichler; Start a new concert series; organize my festival in Vienna in autumn; perform my new solo program “Bachiana“, also some performances with the dancer Rosalie Wanka as well to teach in my cello Studio and organize class concerts.

Thank you very much for your helpfulness and kindness. Good luck with your musical dreams!