DePaul University School of Music > Community Music > About Us > Faculty Profiles > Regina Syrkin

Faculty Profile: Regina Syrkin

Regina Syrkin has been with the Community Music Division for 17 years, almost from its beginning. During that time, her students have won prizes and received high honors in local, regional and state competitions including numerous gold medalists in the CAMTA Sonata-Sonatina Festival and winners in the DePaul Concerto for Young Performers. She continues to mentor some of Chicago’s most promising young pianists while playing chamber music and engaging in her favorite leisure activity, traveling all over the world.

Q. How old were you when you first started playing piano?

I was six years old. My mom was a piano teacher so I had no choice. Seriously.

Q. What did you study in school?

There were two schools, a regular school and a music school. At first they did not accept me into (music) school because the only thing I could sing was a Bb scale. I had a 45-minute piano lesson twice a week and an hour of solfege. Once I reached fourth grade they added an hour of musical literature and choir. We also had three recitals a year, but instead of cookies afterwards you got a grade. Parents were not allowed to listen.

Q. What did you do after your general schooling?

I attended four years of Musical College and five years of Conservatory. After I completed my degrees I went back to the college and taught for ten years before coming to the States. December 14, 1990. I started teaching for DePaul Community Music Division in 1992.

Q. What was your first impression of music in America?

The music scene in Chicago was great for me, it was so enriching. The repertoire in the concert halls and opera houses was much more broad. I saw a lot of musicians I never thought I’d hear. Very rarely would we have a chance to listen to foreign performers in Russia because they would not come to all the cities.

Q. How would you describe your approach to teaching?

I try to keep tradition alive. It has to be continued. I show my students how to work. It’s expected that they not only learn the piece but about the composer, the style, the technique; you have to study in depth and not always with the fingers. I try to find balance between different aspects: reading, technique, having fun, whatever it is. It’s important to choose the correct repertoire for every student. We discuss what’s difficult, I give exercises and we work on what the student wants to say. After understanding what the composer put in, you add from the inside of your soul, five percent of your own.

Q. Have you been able to keep up a performance career?

I don’t play recitals and concerts because I have a lot of students. I can’t see a way to combine both. Performing would occupy my whole mind and right now my mind is occupied with students and their progress and development. I do play in some chamber groups. I’ve worked a lot as an accompanist with string players and know almost the entire repertoire.

Q. Are there any composers in particular that you admire?

Prokofiev. He’s rebellious.​