By Mary O’KEEFE
t is all about the music. At least for 8-year-old Eyla Najafi, a violinist who attends The Learning Castle in La Cañada Flintridge for her academic guidance and Classical European Music Academy Los Angeles (CEMALA) in Alhambra for her musical guidance.
Eyla began playing violin when she was 3 years old.
“It is a very classical instrument,” she said as the reason why she chose the violin.
From the beginning Eyla had the two ingredients it takes to be a classical violinist – talent and dedication. It also requires one other factor and that is support, which she gets in abundance from her parents and her instructor Magdolna Berezvai.
“My teacher challenges me,” she said. “I like to challenge myself.”
Speaking with Eyla one gets the impression that although Berezvai is the type of teacher who expects her students to be dedicated, it is not without fun.
“These are talented kids,” Berezvai said. “I make them work. I give them a system and if they follow it they will be good.”
Berezvai offers her pupils incentives. If they do the practice, they get musical points, which they can use like funds to purchase toys from the academy’s store. Berezvia said this teaches her young students discipline and return on investment.
Berezvai said the teaching begins slow and then matches the child’s learning pace. To be a soloist, like Eyla, however, the student must be ready. A soloist has to know the music and play from memory.
For Eyla, though, it is about the challenge to be better … to be the best.
“I had a friend who went to the violin for one day then decided ‘no, it hurts my shoulder’,” she said. “And it does hurt your shoulder but you get used to it.”
While Eyla could never be described as a typical 8-year-old, she is pretty much like other kids her age. She giggles at funny jokes, she is close to her family, has a lot of friends, loves her school and, although her favorite music is classical when performing, she listens to Radio Disney when she is just relaxing.
For someone so young, Eyla has an impressive resume. She has played at Disneyland, countless competitions at Universal Studios and recitals and recently performed at the White House.
On Dec. 20, the Children’s Chamber Orchestra performed at the White House as part of the holiday musical program for those touring the Capital. Eyla even had a solo, not her first and most definitely not her last.
“It felt pretty good,” Eyla said of her White House performance. “I felt comfortable.”
She and her fellow students should feel comfortable since they are used to performing at a number of venues including upcoming performances at a Lakers game, Disneyland and Sea World.
In 2014 the group went to Italy.
“Parents and students in the cradle of classical music,” Berezvai said. “We played in front of the Grand Canal in Venice.” The group, parents and kids six to 13 years old, were able to tour all over Italy, with several students playing solo pieces.
Eyla’s interests go beyond violin; although the violin is a big part of her life and her schedule, she wants to be a neurosurgeon – another challenge.
“And I just started taking piano lessons, [and] I want to learn the guitar,” she added.
So don’t be surprised if in the future this triple musical threat will be the first neurosurgeon to play Carnegie Hall.
For information on CEMALA visit the website www.cemala.com Students can begin learning at the Academy as young as 4 years old.