15 June 2021
“In Russia, it’s very important for everyone to learn classical music,” says Inna Kazakova. “Almost everyone has music education in some way.”
She and husband Andre opened Cayman Music School in 2010 after recognising a gap in Grand Cayman's music education. While private lessons were available at the time, there was no dedicated school offering a full music programme.
Andre and Inna’s shared creative passion brought them together; they first met while working at an opera house as professional singers. “He was also involved in some bands at the time,” Inna says. “Everybody knew him in the region.”
Both are professionally trained and accomplished classical musicians: Inna worked as a professor in Mordovian State University’s music faculty, while Andre pursued a business route.
Inna’s teaching experience and Andre’s business savvy made their current business partnership, an extension of their life partnership — natural.
They opened the first Cayman Music School in Industrial Park, then moved to Grand Pavilion before settling into their current Camana Bay location, which has been their home for seven years. The school started with 30 students and three teachers — Inna taught piano and vocals while Andre instructed drums and guitar. Now, their student population is up to 300 at any given time.
Having taken a step back from full-time teaching, Inna now oversees the school curriculum and instructor management, occasionally teaching higher level diploma students, while Andre runs the business and organises events.
“It’s very enjoyable to come to work," Inna says. "I don’t know how people sometimes come to work and don’t like it because I’ve never experienced that before. All my life I’m doing music, and I always enjoy it."
Contemporary music culture, though, can pose the occasional challenge. They both agree that it can be tough to motivate students to pursue the long and demanding route of classical technique when instant gratification has become the norm. “Classical music isn’t always fun to learn because it’s not easy,” Inna says.
The pride and validation that students and the Kazakovas feel when they succeed is worth the effort, she says.
“When your student grows, when they win an award or get into their school of choice, it’s amazing. You think, 'That’s my student!'”
If she hadn’t followed her passion for music, Inna says she might have been a lawyer. She completed a law certification with distinction and took courses at Harvard with great success.
“Sometimes I think I would have been making a lot of money as a lawyer,” she says, “but it did not seem to interest me more than music. For some reason, music stepped forward.”
This natural ability and drive toward creativity seems to run in their blood. Andre and Inna have two children — son Max who is a well-known drummer and DJ, and daughter Nicole, who played the vocal lead in "Matilda JR" in April for one of the performances at the Harquail Theatre.
This article originally appeared in the June 2021 print edition of Camana Bay Times.