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Music and psychology that is how beauty shapes a good man

“My favourite musical instrument is the choir,” smiles prof. dr hab. Marta Kierska-Witczak, who was involved in the Lower Silesian Science Festival as a co-ordinator on behalf of the Music Academy in Wrocław some time ago.

However, the choir is not a ready-made instrument from the beginning. It needs to be taught how to play. So much so that the conductor's vision is tantamount to the feelings of a single chorister. A case in point is a pianist who translates her interpretative vision into the piano key as long as she has accurate skills. As far as I am concerned, I must build my instrument by myself. After that, I can take the choir into consideration, namely how a few dozen people react to my cues concerning the images of rhythm, sound or suspense, and finally my emotions count.” Prof. Kierska explains that it's her emotions that affect the final sound. “As well as being a musician, the conductor must partly be a psychologist and manager.

Not only does Professor share with the choir her two biggest passions: music and psychology. The former, as she claims, allows for the expression of her own feelings, which connects it with her latter passion. “Man has to learn how to communicate her emotions, differentiate good and beautiful from evil since being in beauty creates a good man,” she explains.

As it emerges, this statement wasn't meaningless during working for the Festival. Professor, upon request by the Rector, agreed to get involved because the educational value of such undertakings was close to her heart. “Just as a high school student, I was engaged in running classes of various sorts. They mainly referred to music. When I'm supposed to plan some activities for the kids and youngsters, I simply know what to do since I'm a mother of four children,” laughs Professor.

Professor highlights that thanks to music she is able to get through even to children who do not accept either arguments, awards or punishments. There was such a difficult bunch during one of the Festival workshops. They hurled sarcastic comments, which didn't help an instructor to run workshops. However, just as the instructor threw a folded piano wire across the classroom, every body was amazed and remembered that event for long. “A seemingly unusual wire,” smiles prof. Kierska.

Other workshops, engraved in my memory, concerned music therapy from a light-hearted perspective. Each of the young participants got a white cane and special glasses which enable them to see. Being equipped like that, they were discovering the world by means of other senses – merely by hearing and touch. Apart from looking for playing instruments, overcoming a small obstacle course in the form of chairs, they were walking along a thick line spread on the floor. Some other time, a teacher of music who concerned himself also with building old instruments such as hurdy-gurdies and fidels enthused a lot of students with his passion. “In my opinion, it's the most effective way to get through to young people. Through your own passion you can show another person something good, maybe better than she has seen so far,” asserts prof. Kierska. “When my son decided to have dreadlocks and started listening to hip-hop, I didn't fight it. I began simply showing him other possibilities – sometimes a guitar part which was more ambitious, sometimes a song with more interesting melody. After some time, he grew on reggae and jazz, later on classical music. I was shocked. Nevertheless, I was more shocked when he resolved to learn in my discipline – composition,” reminisced Professor.

Working on the Festival is not only about organising and running classes for children, but also collaborating with grown-ups, which turns out not to be that easy. “ It broke my heart when my colleagues, artists didn't want to take off their “cothurnus”and came to people during concerts. They thought it was enough to play music and leave the stage. However, the idea of the LSSF is quite different – your job is to bring science and art closer to people, show that music is fully accessible and attractive, that may be fascinating. It is necessary to speak to people, talk about what you play. Thanks to it, the concert is really alive. As a conductor, I had to learn a lot as well,” confides Professor.

Prof. dr hab. Marta Kierska-Witczak is a conductor, choirmaster and lecturer of the Faculty of Musical Education, Choir Singing and Church Music at The Karol Lipiński Academy of Music in Wrocław and director of the Department of Church Music. In the years of 1986-1990 she studied psychology at The University of Wrocław. She was a co-ordinator of Festival events on behalf of her university in 2008-2013. Recently she has been presented with a jubilee award from the Academy of Music for 25 working years.

Marta Bigda
Photos: The Karol Lipiński Academy of Music in Wrocław


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