Ear of the month – Selvadore Rähni

Salvador Rähni - Ear of the month - Meludia

Selvadore Rähni is an international soloist, chamber musician, former Principal Clarinetist of Kyoto Symphony Orchestra. He has performed all over Europe, Russia and Japan. Now head of music school at Tónlistarskóli Bolungarvíkur in Iceland, he uses Meludia with his students

How did you learn music? What was good or bad in the way you learnt?

I learned music first by ear as I started to play piano at the age of five. Then at the age of seven, I entered to music school to learn piano and two years later I changed for the clarinet.

For me, the most important is the teacher. A very good teacher brings the joy and motivation to the learning process and I am very blessed, because I had excellent teachers.

My big helper for keeping me motivated and developing fast sight reading was the amateur brass band, where I started to play saxophone as they had already clarinet players. I played in different brass bands all my childhood and “ironically” later when I was 16/17 years old, I won a clarinet audition to the professional State Brass Band “Tallinn”. I was told that I had a fabulous sight reading ability.

At the time there was no internet. You couldn’t listen how others are playing at your age or how world top players are playing the same piece that you are trying to play. When I started to learn music I did not even have a turntable. When I was 10 years old my father bought a vinyl player and managed to get some of pop music Vinyl LPs and 2 classical records. It was very hard to get these records in USSR times in Estonia. There was no vinyl shop in the neighborhood. Until I got 15 years old, the only vinyl records I had, were Brahms Symphony n ° 4 and Mozart clarinet concerto and I grow up with them. When I was 10 or 11 years old, my teacher took me regularly to the symphony orchestra concert. We had to travel 90 km by train and then back 90 km.

So I think I missed the internet during that time. I mean today’s children have a tremendous advantage, because the internet is the perfect helper and wisdom for those who need a little help when practicing at home. You can find almost everything you are looking for.

What are your best and worst music lessons souvenirs?

My best music lesson souvenir is that deep happy feeling, almost impossible to describe, which I had after every successful lesson toward the final stage of learning one piece. The feeling that you can play a piece of music very well, that you overcome all the instrument difficulties, that your teacher is happy with the result.

The worst lesson souvenir is the opposite. It always happened toward the beginning of learning one new piece. Also, I had bad feelings when I did not practice enough.

How did you train your ear?

I did not train my ear at home at all. We had solfeggio lessons just once a week at my music school and that was it. I do not remember that anybody told me: “please practice intervals at home!”

Luckily my father, who is an amateur musician played guitar, bass guitar, accordion, piano and sang, taught me to play some of these instruments at home a bit. It often involved playing by ear, especially on bass guitar.

How Meludia changed the way you teach?

Meludia gives me an opportunity to bring each student exactly to the level where she/he is. The best part is that all students can continue to practice their ears at home! I wish that I had that possibility, when I was a child.

Selvadore Rähni - Pupils playing at Meludia
Selvadore Rähni’s pupils playing at Meludia.

What’s your favorite exercise on Meludia? Which is the exercises you find the most difficult?

I love the micro melody exercise and the cadences.

Tonal perception in expert level is the most difficult.

In your opinion, what music education can do for our world?

Save the world! It is that simple. Music makes this world a better place to live. Everybody who learns music has, in my opinion, less tendency for bad behavior or criminality. I feel that classical music is therapeutic. Every time when I listen to Bach or other great composers, I want to be a better human being and in fact on that very moment I am a better human being! Isn’t that a wonder!? If it works on me, probably it works on others too!

We must remember that real art has nothing to do with being famous. When Bach died, he was mainly remembered as organist and a teacher not as a great composer! Today everybody knows that he is the one, the lighthouse for everybody else who wants to learn to compose.

More about Selvadore Rähni: www.selvadore.com

Enjoy an excerpt from Selvadore Rähni last recording, Brahms Sonatas Op.120:

Photograph by Páls A.Pálsson.