Pillow Concerts are at the end of their fifth season and while looking through the pictures and memories of our past concerts we notice that there is one face present in almost all of them – our absolute record holder for season 2013/2014 with not a single concert missed – Snejana Ivanova. We decided to invite her with her husband Temelko, and young Atanas at our MODO music house so that we can get to know better some of our most dedicated fans, which we unanimously chose as family of the month.
Snejana: Have I really never missed a single concert? Well, I always make sure to attend whenever I can.
Temelko: It’s strange that there wasn’t a concert at the times when we were sick. But I am certain that we missed one for sure, because we were there at the entrance but Atanas had a bad cough and we decided on not going in.
Didi: Which was the first Pillow Concert that you attended?
Snejana: I don’t remember. It was so long ago – a year and a half ago, maybe even more.
Didi: How did you find out about our Pillow concerts?
Snejana: As all parents nowadays, I too am very interested in the concept of early child development. I believe that music can, in a way, boost child development – be it classical, or some other type of music. So I started looking for different music activities. I was absolutely terrified by some of the ones I found. While doing my search for music centres on the Internet I came by the Pillow Concerts and Modo and we decided to try you out.
Didi: What do you like most about us?
Snejana: I like that there are no frowning old ladies, looking angrily at my child whenever he decides to get up and walk around. No one ever brings him back to me, looking reproachfully upon me that at the age of 18 months I haven’t taught him to sit at one place without moving for an hour. I love the small details too – children can draw and paint, and not just on plain white paper, but on note-shaped sheets. The kid really has a lot of fun and he loves the Workshop. There he can do some of the things, others not, but he is still having fun.
Didi: Which one is your favourite Pillow Concert?
Temelko: She’s been to more of them than me.
Snejana: The ones with non-traditional instruments. My favourite one is probably the Pillow Concert with flute, harp and marimba. I’d never seen a marimba with my own eyes before, and thanks to the Pillow Concerts I did. We see the piano everywhere, but not those non-traditional instruments. I like those concerts the most, because they are different.
Didi: Do you have any favourite music instruments?
Snejana: Atanas pays attention to the instruments that he doesn’t know if he has the chance to reach them. (after the Pillow Concerts, children can play on the instruments that have been part of the concert’s programme – note:Modo)
Temelko: I like the piano and maybe something a bit more electronic – a synthesizer. And the violin, as well, even though I can’t play. We have a guitar at home, too, but I am waiting for Atanas to grow up a little more and I’m planning for us to learn to play together.
Our conversation moves away from the Pillow concerts to music and its influence on people as a whole. Snejana and Temelko met at University, where they were both studying Informatics, and have been together ever since. They may seem as traditionalists at first sight, as Atanas was named after his granddad. However, they are very curious and open to try out new ideas.
Temelko: I usually have a bigger affinity towards music, because even though I am in the sciences, I’ve played the piano quite a lot. I love listening to music and we have a piano at home. I want my child to have some knowledge of music; it will give him a general cultural background. More or less music is also mathematics. After all, we are the people that would give him some advice and guidance in life, so that he can later decide for himself what path to take in life. I think it’s better for him to have more choices, than less.
Snejana: I wouldn’t insist on my child becoming a musician or learning to play the piano or any other musical instrument – if he wants to, that’s fine. I just want him to be an emotionally well-developed person – a good human. And all this really has an effect on him – I was nicely surprised by Atanas’s reaction when he found out that I couldn’t play the piano. “Mom, how is it possible that you don’t play the piano? Don’t worry, come, I’ll show you!’ – he said to me, pressing my fingers to the piano’s keys, playing the notes to a children’s song that he knows. It only shows that music has become a part of his life. We often listen to Vivaldi’s Four Seasons at home and he draws while listening. During the Spring movement he is very concentrated painting. However, when the picture on the computer screen changes and the Summer part begins, I hear him saying “Summer! Leave me alone!” There clearly is a point in doing musical activities.
Didi: Talking about musical activities, how did you found out about the Little musician?
Snejana: Atanas attended a study center, called Music Circle with Tsveti. When it stopped we found out that it already exists in a similar form. I want him to get to know different musical instruments, so we have most of them at home. Whenever his grandmas come to visit, he assigns each one of them an instrument and starts conducting them as Tsveti taught him – play louder here, play quieter here, etc.
Didi: Do you play together with him?
Temelko: For me playing the piano is a way to escape the reality, to relax. I try playing together with him sometimes, but I’m not the best at teaching. I just don’t have the patience to repeat the same thing over and over again.
Snejana: Atanas would always wait for a moment when his father is not at home to sneak in the piano room saying “Now I will play!”, and starts plucking the keys in a way, which would make his dad mad.
Temelko: I can always detect whenever he has played – he always leaves his mark.
Didi: And what is your opinion on the Pillow Concert travels that we are doing this season?
Snejana: They definitely have an effect. I couldn’t make it to the last concert and I sent them together. When they got home, Atanas told me that today the concert was about Poland. (The interview was conducted after the Chopin Pillow Concert- note: Modo)
Apart from the Pillow concerts, Snejana, Temelko and Atanas participate in The Little Musician Programme and were one of the first families to celebrate a Musical Birthday with us. At the end of our conversation, they wished us luck and advised us to start recording the concerts so that we can watch them again later and remember them better.
Interview by Didi Brankova, Pillow Concerts’ coordinator.
Photography by Minko Minev, Todor Atanasov and Hristo Boyadziev