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Musical Magic: Inside the mind of Phuket pianist Ivan Sharapov

Musical Magic: Inside the mind of Phuket pianist Ivan Sharapov

Beethoven once said, “Music is a higher revelation than all wisdom and all philosophy.” Bach’s view was that “Music is the harmony of God.” And all I have to say with my clumsy words is that music carries a magical power.

By Jill N Wells

Sunday 6 October 2019, 10:00AM

The afternoon we came across Ivan Sharapov at Lemonade Green Market, both my husband and I were lured in by his powerful music. It was what Phuket lacked, and it was such a delightful treat for the audience.

Ivan Sharapov is a talented Russian pianist, opera singer and graduate of Moscow State Tchaikovsky Conserva­tory and Moscow State University of Culture and Art. He first arrived in Phuket in 2015, deciding to take a warm break in paradise. After about three months, he realised that he was deeply attracted by the beauty, the pas­sion, the people and the diversity here. Moreover, he had his first student who wished to learn piano. The decision to stay and continue his musical career here was easily made.

Ivan’s schedule became marked up pretty fast, particularly with private piano lessons. He believes that, with abundant practice, everyone can play. Even though he didn’t speak much English when he first arrived here, he believes “when words end, music be­gins”. He demonstrates to his students and they understand each other. Mu­sic is an international language that speaks by itself.

In just shy of four years, Ivan has taught many students from different countries, including Thailand, Rus­sia, China, Japan, Germany, Italy and Belgium – like a mini UN. Each stu­dent – regardless of age or ability – is talented in their own way. They are ambitious and open to new knowledge and skills. The love of music unites them for further success.

Some of them have already received awards at international festivals and competitions. Through music lessons, many students have even overcome their embarrassment and fear of speaking in public or even just speak­ing in front of their classmates. Music lessons systematise thinking, improve reaction speeds, improve coordination and, of course, develop a sense of beauty deep in the students’ minds.

Plato used to say, “Children should focus on sports and aesthetic education when they are young. In this period, children should understand the ‘correct beliefs’ and discuss knowledge later.” This is exactly what Ivan is doing.

However, Ivan’s students always have to finish their home practice by sending him videos, while showing the news­paper of the same day. No matter how late, he always marks their progress and suggests areas of improvement af­ter watching and listening. One night, Ivan didn’t receive a student’s video, so he drove directly to the student’s house, knocked on the door and asked for his homework. Safe to say, since then, every­one submits their homework on time.

Besides teaching, Ivan yearns to per­form. His mobile piano is always with him; the only thing he needs is a socket. Once the piano is hooked up, the whole world is his stage. As he performs more and more, his reputation spreads by it­self. More olive branches reaching out.

But he has not forgotten to give back to the people who live, help and serve here in Phuket. Ivan has organised charity concerts at Mission Hospital, Vachira Hospital and Pakhlok Nurs­ing Home for seniors where he enjoyed playing classic music in the lobby for both the diligent staff and patients. He believes that “music is another method to cure”, just as Beethoven said “Music is the mediator between the spiritual and the sensual life.”

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Ivan has also shown his appreciation to the dedicated officers at Phuket’s Re­gion 8 Police Headquarters. He explains that “Music can ease anxiety, help relax, enchant the body and mind.”

In Bangkok, Ivan played a nine-hour non-stop music marathon in memory of His Majesty Bhumibol Adulyadej (Rama IX); a 10-hour non-stop music marathon in honour of His Majesty Maha Vachira­longkorn’s (Rama X) birthday; a charity evening of the Diplomatic Red Cross in Bangkok; and a concert in the Chula­chomklao Royal Military Academy. He has also held solo concerts in Bangkok, Kuala Lumpur and Singapore.

Besides human beings, Ivan was also pleased to bring the pleasure of music to our animal friends. With the help of Phuket Elephant Sanctuary CEO Montree Todtane, Ivan played classic pieces for the elephants living in the park. Ivan considers “Music is like a piece of gauze with a potion, gently wiping the wound that has never healed deep in anyone’s soul.”

As well as being a musician, singer and piano teacher, Ivan is something of a culture and art representative, bridging the gap between Russia and Thailand.

Music is more than the enjoyment of hearing. When it cultivates sentiments slowly and integrates into your own life, you will realise that music can heal the mind. Music allows lonely individuals to find names and definitions for their pain that they can’t find, for their joy and pleasure that they can’t describe. Music enables isolated individuals to open their own doors, go out and find the same kind, a sense of belonging. Music enables scattered and alienated groups to find links and transform into a spiritually connected community.

Individual human beings are scat­tered pearls, rolling around, while music and art are the delicate filaments, stringing pearls together to form a beau­tiful bracelet or necklace as a society. Civil society does not rely on imperial power or theocracy to strengthen its base, so art and culture becomes its most important binder.

In fact, Ivan says, “To develop one’s ability to have a good aesthetics taste, start with letting yourself learn to enjoy a wide range of different types of works of music. Feel the formation process of different artists’ creative styles, which helps appreciate art works better, that is far more meaningful than simply enjoy­ing a piece of work.”

Ivan believes that music should be played with passion; it should “strike fire from the heart of man and bring tear from the eyes of woman”.

For more information about Ivan, visit www.facebook.com/ivansharapovpianist

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