Peachy & Imperfect: An Ode to My Students
Published on September 23, 2021, on Culture Feed From her native Armenia to Russia, to emigrating to the United States, Argine Safari...
I am an avid arts education advocate who believes in the value of high-quality arts education for all children, regardless of their background and abilities. My journey began in Armenia and took me through Russia and finally to the United States with my husband Tigran and our newborn daughter Beata. It has been a journey filled with many joys and challenges. My education empowered me and music was the thing that kept me going during hard times.
The importance of learning was instilled in my sister and me from an early age. My Mom taught me hard-working skills and perseverance, and my Dad always said: “You must educate yourself. Education is a treasure no one can ever take away from you.” And so it’s because of my parents and my amazing teachers who believed in me and inspired me to follow my heart, I have the honor of sharing my story with you today.
Growing up as young musicians, my twin sister Gisane and I spent hours practicing our instruments. Check out a picture of us from our early teen years below! Both our parents are physicists, but they recognized our musical talents from an early age. My dad played the piano and had a gorgeous tenor voice. I remember watching him play any piece of music by ear and thinking: I wish I could do that one day. We lived in a beautiful house in the capital of Armenia, Yerevan, and I don’t remember a single day without guests in our house. My sister and I constantly entertained our audience, playing musical selections of their choice, while Ricky, our Doberman Pincher, sat next to the fireplace and sang along. We didn’t think we would become musicians; we just followed our passion, encouraged by our parents. Today, my sister is a concert violinist and I cannot imagine doing anything else than teaching music. But teaching is my unexpected journey.
After immigrating to America, I worked numerous jobs, including being an insurance agent, an interpreter, freelance and church musician, conductor, director, arranger, and I even had a short stint as a financial advisor on Wall Street. It wasn’t until I had an opportunity to help a student get accepted into the school of her dreams after her father tragically died during 9/11 that I knew I wanted to teach.
One of my most powerful childhood memories is seeing the opera “La Traviata” with Placido Domingo and Teresa Stratas. I still get goosebumps during the last scene when Violetta dies in Alfredo’s arms. Verdi’s music is powerful; it moves me and fills me with awe and wonder. This is a feeling that cannot be compared to anything else; it’s the transformative power of music. This is the force that keeps me going, drives me forward, and makes me eager to share it with others. When my students walk into my classroom, eager to learn and share the beauty of music together, suddenly, all my worries disappear, and I feel impelled to share my knowledge and love for music with them. I cannot help but sing their praises for allowing me to give them the key—major and minor—to reaching the high notes of their own potential.
Visit https://www.pvhsmusic.org/choir to learn more about my amazing students, and watch some of the work we've done together here: https://www.youtube.com/c/PVChoir/videos
music was everywhere!