Production, arranging, vocal performance, songwriting and more: this is what the students of Nvak can learn from participating in the program, which is the brainchild of American Armenian singer-songwriter, Tamar Kaprelian.
Nvak is an annual music education intensive for gifted teens and young adults. During the entirety of the two-week program, Tamar and her friends- Grammy Award winning producer, songwriter, and guitarist of the world renown band Evanescence- Ben Moody- songwriter, arranger, and composer- Andrew Fox, will be staying in Yerevan to teach the Armenian youth what it takes to be a successful artist.
NEWS.am STYLE has recently taken part in one of Nvak’s lessons and we’ve had an insightful talk with the mentors of this project.
«When I was participating in Eurovision, I had the opportunity to come to Armenia several times; while I was here, I visited TUMO and realized the full-scope of untapped talent in this country. It was then that I realized that I wanted to start a project that would give back to the Armenian community»,-says Tamar.
This is a program for kids ages 12-22. Putting them together in one room forces them to learn from each other. It encourages collaboration- a skill that is crucial in any field, not just music. The instructors make it very clear, from the very beginning, that everyone is equal, meaning that the instructors expect to learn from the students just as much as they will learn from the instructors. According to Tamar, this is one of the most important aspects of the project.
«One of the main aims here is to bridge the gap between Eastern and Western cultures. What better way to do that than through art, and more specifically music. I think that it is crucial to bring instructors from outside of Armenia because it exposes the youth to people that are unlike themselves. Being in unfamiliar situations forces them to thrive in environments that are outside of their comfort zone. It encourages and fosters growth. I think that there are so many talent kids in this country, but they need the tools to be able to make their dreams a reality. I wanted to put together a team of smart, good people who are the very best at what they do. Each instructor brings something different to the table, a different skill, in the hopes that the kids will get a well-rounded experience».
Tamar says that Nvak is definitely going to be an annual program, but hopes to eventually do it twice a year. She is also in the process of turning Nvak into an arts foundation.
As for Ben Moody, he was impressed by the idea of the project even before Tamar had finished telling him all of the details.
«The first time she touched on the subject, I didn’t know much about what she was doing, but I said YES. After having committed, and she told me in detail about Nvak and what she hopes to do in the country, I was assured by my decision. I think what she is doing is fantastic, even brave» says Ben adding that students are really talented.
«These kids are really very grateful to be a part of this program. I haven’t been giving them much advice yet, but I want to say to them to keep loving what they are doing. This is one of the most important things».
We also asked Ben about his impressions of Armenia and Armenians. «Wherever I go, it seems like people are intrigued by my appearance. So, if I want to feel like a star, I can just walk through the streets of Yerevan»-he jokes. «Everyone seems to be very respectful; it’s cool to see that. Obviously, I am having fun with what I am doing. It is cool to come somewhere and feel like your time is not being wasted. I hope to be back again. I would like for this to happen every summer. I still have so much to do here».
Andrew Fox was also intrigued by the program from the moment that he and Tamar discussed the project back in the summer of 2015.
«She said, "do you want to do a program in Armenia?" And I said, “OK”. It was really that simple, because I knew that I will learn as much from my journey as hopefully they-the students- will learn».
Andrew, who is a sought after NYC music teacher, also spoke about the similarities and differences of Armenian and foreign students.
«There are a lot of differences and there are a lot of similarities between them. Here, the students tend to be more respectful, sometimes too respectful. That said, they also tend to be musically more literate».
Before coming here, Andrew also knew little about Armenia but now, like Ben, he is impressed by what the country has to offer: «Normally, when I’m going to a country, I do my research. However, this time around, I was so busy prior to the trip, that I didn’t have any time to do this. I was going based on the few things that Tamar had told me. Now, I am discovering so much. I think that more people should learn about the Armenian culture, because it is really something special. I have spent most of my time in the city, but we are planning to go outside the city and see more of the countryside, too».
We asked Andrew also to share with his main advice to his students. «My main advice to the students is to be creative and to say “Yes”. When I was young, there were a lot of things to which I said “No"; I regret that now. If you like music, you should find as much music as possible. And if you find a particular genre of music that you don’t like, you should listen to that genre. Find the music you love and listen to it, find the music you hate and still listen to it, find the music that bores you, find something interesting in it, because in music you can’t just have a simple career».
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