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Ranjani Peiris begins her day by walking with her husband at 5.30 in the mornings from the Galle Face Hotel end to Chaitiya Road and back. She is most certainly not qualifying for a walking marathon. By profession Ms. Peiris is a music teacher .
She gets up at 4.45 in the morning and her daily life consists mainly of music. She loves imparting her musical knowledge to young aspiring boys and girls.
"I try not to eat much and begin the day eating kurakkan string hoppers or pittu made with atta flour with just a little bit of coconut. Seeing my size, dont you think I need to diet?," she quipped jovially.
From 1 p.m. Ranjani begins her music lessons and has around six pupils a day. "A lesson lasts an hour or a little more with theory included. I use only a pen to mark weak points in timing, never a ruler as some do. After all, music is something to learn and enjoy. That is how I look at it. Both my sisters too are music teachers. God has blessed me with patience and so I seldom lose my temper. But I do take a dim view of pupils who come day after day for lessons without practising. This is most time-consuming and a hindrance to their progress.
"Most parents are anxious that their children should learn to play the piano. I wish some of them would show as much keenness in seeing that their children spend time practising.
"I start with scales but after August exams I make the children learn music outside their examination syllabuses. This widens their repertoire and adds variety to their playing.
"I do make my pupils repeat playing a particular part of a piece if they do not keep to time which is most important, and some pupils find it difficult to do so. I never get tired of teaching music daily for six hours. For twenty years I taught music at a government school at Pannipitiya.
"I dont think I could live even a day without music. It is the core of my being and soul.
"In the mornings I do supervise housework but I prefer to sit at the piano and play for my own joy and contentment.
"I am not boasting but I do thank God for His gift in letting me teach and play music. My son Ashan who is 22, has a degree in music from the Royal Academy of Music in conjunction with Kings College. He went there on a scholarship. Now he is doing his Masters in Music at Indiana, also on a scholarship and is also an instructor in music.
While he is majoring in music he is studying medicine too," Ranjani said speaking of the way in which she manages her music filled days at home and of her talented son.
Ranjanis capacity as a teacher was amply demonstrated by a bespectacled young boy Pulasthic Hewamanna who has come first in all his music exams from Grade One to Six. He captivated us with his rendition of Frederick Chopins Polonaise Militaire Op 40 No. 1. He played with feeling and showed a remarkable talent.
She is also on the Advisory Committee of the Trinity College of Music.
"I train my pupils daily for either Trinity College of Music or the Royal College of Music. I am totally committed and happy with my days work.
Teaching the young to play the piano you think, might be boring. But with me it is just the opposite. I find it all a worthwhile challenge," she says.
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