Finnish musician Eva Gräsbeck teaches how to play the violin with discipline and joy.
If you walked the corridors of GEMS World Academy Dubai on any ordinary day, you would here all kinds of toots and fiddles.
"Here, children can learn how to play instruments during school hours. That is a great investment from the school’s part", praises Eva Gräsbeck, Finnish musician and violin teacher.
She has about 20 small students to teach. In her free time she plays in NSO, the National Symphony Orchestra of the UAE, and in two other classical music groups.
"Many expat-violinists play in Dubai’s extravagant hotels, dressed glamorously. It's not quite my thing", Gräsbeck laughs.
Eva Gräsbeck comes from a line of well-known Finnish musicians. Her father Gottfrid Gräsbeck was a composer and a choral conductor. All of Eva’s siblings became musicians.
Only Eva tried to rebel.
"As a teenager, I thought I was done with it," Gräsbeck reminisces with a smile. "But I couldn’t quit playing music. It was already such a big part of me. "
Eva Gräsbeck’s instrument has always been violin. She took her first lessons at the age of 3.
When she was 19 years old, she met a top Russian teacher Olga Parhomenko, who convinced the young violinist to study in Minsk, Belarus.
After three years in Minsk, Gräsbeck returned to Finland, and completed her degree at the Sibelius Music Academy of Helsinki.
For the past 25 years she has played in the National Opera of Finland. Gräsbeck took a leave from her work when she moved to Dubai a year ago.
Gräsbeck feels that there are lots of similarities in teaching violin in Dubai and in Finland. Although in Dubai, students and their parents sometimes have greater expectations about the progress.
"Not everyone understands how much time and work it takes to learn how to play. You don’t become virtuoso in an instant", says Gräsbeck. "I'm really strict, for example, about holding positions, and I correct them continuously. I see quite a lot of error positions, and they are difficult to get rid of."
In addition to private lessons, many children play in school orchestras and bands. They play not only classical music but also lighter songs.
"In order to play fun music well, you need to know the basics. For example, you really have to learn your scales well", Gräsbeck says.
In her opinion, children benefit greatly from music.
"Studies show that music is of upmost importance in child's development," says Gräsbeck.
"For example, playing the violin develops motoric skills, concentration and ear for music. You have to keep the correct positions, and at the same time focus on producing a pure sound", she explains.
Nowadays, Gräsbeck sees the fineness of Finnish music education and musical life more clearly.
"In Finland, we take our children to music play schools as babies. Then they proceed to music institutes, that have top quality teachers", says Gräsbeck. "We have wonderful orchestras and chamber music groups, extraordinary musicians and terrific concerts. Everything is professionally maintained."
But there is something that should be exported to Finland from Dubai.
"For Finnish kids as well, it would be great to have the opportunity to play during school day. Children are tired in the evening."
Come to think of it, there are a couple of other things, too, for the Finns to learn from the people and culture of Dubai.
"We should learn better manners: how to greet everyone politely, how to say thanks more often, and how to encourage others", says Gräsbeck.
She thinks that in Finland people are often left without a praise.
"However, it’s something that everybody needs."
In Dubai people seem to work cheerfully and with a good self-esteem.
"I’m grateful to experience this kind of attitude. I feel like I’ve become a better artist.”