Alexander – My kindergarten memory – Utdanningsnytt 4/2015

The hero in the kindergarten

For Alexander Rybak the parties were the best thing about kindergarten. Then he could get to be a hero.

Text to photo: Alexander Rybak didn’t only play in the kindergarten in Belarus, he also learnt to read and write.- I have always worked hard to learn things. That’s why I have succeeded, he says. 

Published in Utdanningsnytt 4/2015 and  21.12.2015. Text/photo: Bente Bolstad

– The parties! It’s the parties I remember best from kindergarten. We dressed up in costumes, we had a carnival and it was a lot of fun, says Alexander Rybak (29) who went to kindergarten in Belarus when he was one year old to five years old. In addition he went to a culture kindergarten.

Was the best

Everyone had to play an instrument at the culture kindergarten. Alexander started to play the piano, and he was rewarded because he was the best.

– As a prize I got the best mask , which I used at the carnival. And in the story we performed I got to be the hero. This was also part of the prize for the playing the piano.

Alexander Rybak facts utdanningsnytt 4 2015This autumn Alexander made his debut with a story he has written himself in the children’s book “Trolle og den magiske fela”. And it was namely with the fiddle that Alexander himself spellbound the audience when he as a 23-year-old won the Eurovision Song Contest with the highest score ever. Alexander has written both the lyrics and the music for the winning song.

Learned to read and write.

Alexander was born in Minsk in the Soviet Union in 1986. When he moved to Norway, the Soviet Union was dissolved and Minsk was the capital of Belarus.

In Belarus they learned to read and write at the kindergarten, and the discipline was totally different from the one Alexander experienced when he came to Norway.

– But I never felt that they were strict at kindergarten. I didn’t know anything else, Alexander tells.

The two first years were almost more play than at the kindergarten in Belarus.

The Christmas tree at kindergarten

Alexander says that he never knew what it was like not to do well in school. He was good at most things. The family couldn’t afford much they shared a few square metres with another family. Most people he knew lived the same way. In the narrow space there wasn’t room for a Christmas tree. But there was room at the kindergarten, and that tree was huge.

– I have good memories. There was lots of school, learning and some struggling, but then we had those amazing parties, like carnival and Christmas with a Christmas tree, reminisces Alexander.


It was a big change coming to Norway. The biggest difference was the discipline.

– I came to Norway and attended school after a while. Everything was so simple. I enjoyed the freedom in the Norwegian school. The two first years were almost more play than at kindergarten in Belarus, says Alexander.

He also learned Norwegian pretty fast. He still remembers one incident. The class was to read half a page of a book with short stories. Alexander thought the book was fun and finished the book by the next day.

The teacher got a bit cross because of it, particularly when he told the other children which stories were the most fun.

– I experienced getting scolded because I was too clever. In Belarus they emphasise the positive qualities and share them with others.

23- year-old Alexander charmed all Europe with his singing and fiddling when he won the International Eurovision finals with the song Fairytale. Photo: Scanpix

Everyone’s got a talent

After the Eurovision fairytale Alexander has amongst other things travelled around and held music seminars with children which finish with a concert where he plays and sings together with the children.

– Everyone’s got a talent. Some people have green fingers, others are good at running, some are musical. Everyone should be proud and develop their strong points, he says.

During childhood he got lots of opportunity to develop musically. In Belarus he went to music kindergarten where he learned music theory. In addition he had private lessons both playing the piano and violin.

The concerts that he’s had with children in the US, Sweden and Norway led him eventually to write a children’s book. “Trolle og den magiske fela” was released this autumn.

When the Russians don’t smile, they’re grumpy. When the Belarusians don’t smile, it’s because they are melancholic.

Open musical doors

– What can preschool teachers do to stimulate the musical interest in children?

– It’s very important to open musical doors at an early stage. To tell about different musical genres in a pedagogical way, through for instance reading my book, Alexander says smiling.

You have recently been to Belarus. What do you like the most about your home country?

– Belarus is a small country, it’s milder than Russia. We often say that when Russians don’t smile, they’re grumpy. When Belarusians don’t smile it’s because they’re melancholic. There’s much talk about it being a dictatorship. I should be careful commenting about politics. But everyone who has been to Belarus is surprised in a positive way. We have beautiful nature and gorgeous girls, says Alexander who nowadays is travelling between his two countries. He recently launched a girl’s band in Belarus, and he is having concerts with them later on.

– I feel more at home there than in Norway, says Alexander.

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