While she started taking piano very seriously when she was merely five-years-old, teaching may be in Inna Faliks blood as her mother also is a teacher of music. She at the Music Institute of Chicago and Inna at one of the most prestigious schools on the left coast, UCLA. She’s been there for the past four years heading up and teaching piano. Like the other women we’ve met this month who spend a lot of their time teaching music, Inna is also an artist, performing as a concert pianist and working in poetry as well. Golden Mixtape was lucky enough to sit and talk with Inna about her 20 year career, her love of Beethoven and more in the latest chapter in this series.
Kendra: Being Ukranian, when you came to the states – were there any cultural differences that in teaching methods you noticed right away?
Inna: I came from Odessa, former Soviet Union – I am Jewish and I speak Russian, so my particular brew is quite complex. I came as a ten-year-old, and was immediately immersed into the amazing studio of the renowned teacher Emilio Del Rosario. I was too young to be able to know such distinction. I also do not believe, today, in particular schools of teaching. There are just too many directions. Of course, at one time, one could clearly identify the Russian, German, French, etc. schools. Today known for its attention to quality of sound, relaxation, ease of playing the instrument, powerful technique. I am lucky to have had that as a child, and Emilio Del Rosario build on it with his incredible ability to inspire enormous discipline, and cultivate a desire and love for performance from the youngest age possible.
Kendra: On top of being a teacher, you’re also an artist. Your work has been called “poetic.” With that, is there a poem you personally have connect to?
Inna: I love poetry as an art form, and my long-running series, Music/Words, explores connections between contemporary poetry and music. Poets are invited to read their words between performances of pieces, or even movements. I grew up speaking Russian and knowing lots of poetry by heart. Boris Pasternak holds a special place in my heart. He was also a composer, and I recorded his piano works on MSR classics.
Kendra: Sticking with your performance aspect – In 2014 you released a record of Beethoven pieces. Has he always been your personal idol?
Inna: Yes, I feel very close to the music of Beethoven, and will always cherish performing, recording and teaching it.
Kendra: Can you explain how it feels to watch a student succeed because of the things you taught them?
Inna: A student will succeed not because of things I taught him/her, but because he/she has an ability to internalize those things and make them his/her own. However, to know that I have influenced students and have given the tools, inspiration, ideas, etc., to help them succeed is enormously gratifying and inspiring. It actually makes me a better pianist – and a better person.
Going off your ivory ways – if you had to make a mixtape of the best piano pieces to introduce someone to the beauty of the instrument, what five would have to be on it?
Inna: Chopin, Beethoven (get my disc), Rachmaninoff and Ravel (also get my disc of Ravel, Rachmaninoff and Pasternak, and of course any Back. And do not forget about new music. There is a huge wealth of talent and I love playing new music and getting to know new composers.