To watch him play is a delight – after all Maxim Rubtsov, the principal flutist of the Russian National Orchestra is a virtuoso. But to hear his thoughts on the benefits of music, its importance in education and life as such, is a different kind of pleasure altogether. Recently, we had a chance to do both – watch him perform during a one-of-a-kind masterclass at the British International School Phuket and sit down with him for a fascinating interview. Here are the results.
Maciek Klimowicz: Are kids a demanding audience?
Maxim Rubtsov: Actually, it’s much more interesting to play in front of kids than adults, as many of them hear this kind of music for the first time in their lives. It’s also way more difficult to spark interest in kids than in a prepared audience. You need all your charm and all your wits in order to play a piece – and deliver what you’ve got to say – in a way, that will let you plant the seed inside their heads and spark them to listen to other compositions or start learning to play. And that’s the main task.
The children actively responded to what you played and said on stage. Normally, at a classical music event, people are more likely to sit silently. Is such reaction possible at a proper concert for mature listeners?
MR: Of course, it is. Absolutely everything is possible because there is always a child inside of an adult, so jokes from the musician and teamwork with him is something audiences accept. The aim of any concert is to have fun, create great memories, spend time involved in something good and actually do something good afterward.
What do you hope the children will take home from this event?
MR: I would love them to keep the memories of this night. I would love them to remember that interesting stories can be told not only with words but also with sounds. I would love them to remember that classical music doesn’t need to be all serious and boring like an old dusty book one has to struggle with. I would love them to see that they can dust off that old book, open it and find amazing worlds waiting for them, colorful pictures filling their imagination so one simply cannot put that book down. You dive into it and you stay there forever.
And what did music give you personally?
MR: I started seriously studying music when I was 14, which is quite a conscious age. I discovered that I can produce really high-quality sounds with a musical instrument. I can open a score, read it and play, telling something very interesting. I just felt it and I must admit that “just feeling” is the only way this can happen. This moment in my life coincided with my entering a musical college in Moscow – though the decision had already been made before. But that’s how it happens in life: first, you make a step without thinking about it and only later the understanding that this is exactly what you should be doing, comes. I felt it when I was 14 and still feel it today.
Is there anything peculiar about the instrument of your choice – the flute?
MR: For me, the most peculiar thing about the flute is that it is the musical instrument that’s the most beneficial for your health. Even doctors recommend it to kids with asthma. It doesn’t even matter what piece you play; the very process will be good for you as well as your audience – any beautiful consonance of sounds cleans and improves the structure of our aura thus making us healthier.
At BISP, all students learn to play instruments. How much time should a child spend practicing in order to get self-development benefits, while avoiding overdoing it, which may make them hate music for the rest of their lives?
MR: The answer is in the question itself. Music is like nutrition. Everyone has their own taste, everyone has their own level of hunger. The most important thing is not to destroy the desire to study. It’s the teacher’s job to find an individual approach to each student and get them interested in music and asking for more. You need to find exciting stories and deliver them in the most interesting way. It’s all in the teacher’s hands.
What’s your impression of Phuket? Is it still just a beach destination, as many believe?
MR: My impression is deeper and more complex as I had a chance to see Phuket’s epicenter of knowledge and positive energy. I’m excited that such a place exists, because of the crucial role that education plays in our lives. This place is an example of education at its top level. And the fact that all students also learn music, makes it even better. Nothing can beat musical studies as a tool to develop one’s perspective and horizons.
Learn more at bisphuket.ac.th