Ruslan isn't a typical cello teacher. He certainly does teach cello, but the broad range of knowledge that he shares with us, his students, does not adhere merely to that title. He somehow connects every phrase in a piece to something far beyond the page, something that, though seemingly unrelated, helps the student to garner a better understanding of the music. As our perspective of the music transforms, our ideas about emotion broaden, perhaps very little and perhaps for a very short time, but it happens nonetheless. Ruslan helps us to experience (or at least get a glimpse of) the emotions that are intended to be conveyed through the music. Overall, though, my favorite aspect of Ruslan's teaching is the fact that he is pretty entertaining. I take lessons at 9 PM on Monday nights, so I'm usually about ready to nod off by the time I arrive. However, he keeps me awake with his strikingly descriptive analogies for certain phrases and stories about composers. I guess if teaching cello doesn't work out, Ruslan has quite a few options; with his intense imagery, he could easily be a writer. Or maybe a historian. But his love for music and the cello, clearly apparent in both his playing and teaching, will always override everything.

-- Margaret Zhou