Alba is only student I can give the key to piano cabinet

Alba is only student I can give the key to piano cabinet

“Beginnings were difficult, but I didn’t want to give up, because I like it,” says twelve years old Alba Hoxha from Peja, answering my question on how she started to play piano. Alba was born visually impaired and has only about 30% of her vision. Her parents arranged treatment for her in Germany and Turkey, and a Russian ophthalmologist came to visit her here in Kosovo. Unfortunately there is no hope for improvement. She smiled the entire time during our conversation, while her restless fingers constantly searched for the black and white keys.

She is one of the students in the Special School for the Blind in Peja, which is supported by Czech Development Agency and People in Need. The school was equipped with new tools and pianos while teachers experienced training in new method of Brail music notation. A new music educational curriculum was created. None of this would have happened without the great specialists from Jan Deyl Conservatory of Prague. Now all fifteen students are able to improve their skills faster and more smoothly.

“Before that, we taught music like in regular schools and it was useless for blind children. We were focused mostly on theory and voice tone. Yes, we had some brail notes from Tirana, but it was old Russian Brail system, not as practical as yours,” explains Alba’s teacher Violeta Kurhasani, who has been employed here since 1995.

Ms. Kurhasani developed a special connection with her pupils and Alba expressed her gratitude to Ms. Kurhasani for teaching her how to play the piano. Her mentor praises Alba in return, “She is good student, very talented with good hearing and she learns very fast. When she hears somebody is playing from school corridor, she goes directly to the piano. She is the only student I can give the key to piano cabinet, because I trust her.”

Alba began learning piano in fourth grade and now she is in seventh. She practices for two and half hours three times per week. When the school chorus is singing, Alba accompanies them on the piano. After another five years in school she might apply for university. There is a Music academy in Peja too. We have hope that her dream of joining a bigger orchestra will come to true one day. 

Alba’s mother signed her up for the Special School for Blind in Peja because she knew that regular schools couldn’t provide her daughter with the same care and conditions. She said she wasn’t surprised by Alba’s interest in playing piano due her passion for music and singing since early childhood. “She always created rhythm with every item she touched,” Alba’s mother notes with wide smile. The family is now trying to save some money to buy Alba her own classical piano, but it’s very expensive instrument. So far she can train only on an electronic synthesizer. “It’s very important to her. Whenever she is upset or after an argument with her brothers, she escapes to play.”

Author: Pavel Bělíček