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#1422707 - 04/23/10 02:12 PM Russian School of Piano Playing
ElK Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 06/15/09
Posts: 4
Loc: ontario
Hello,

I am wondering if any other teachers have used the Russian School of Piano Playing (http://www.sheetmusicplus.com/title/4140069) books for their beginner students? I've been teaching for 5 years and have used Bastien, Piano Adventures and Leila Fletcher and have not been satisfied with the level of note reading of my students upon completion of those books. The Russian School books are translated versions of the books that are used in Russian music schools. When I first started lessons in the late 80s in Russia, that's the method book I had. You are expected to memorize note names and placements right away. Most songs are about 8 bars long, but the key difference is that there are no "positions". Each song starts in a different spot and the finger patterns are never the same. My biggest problem with Bastien, for instance, was that students would end up associating 1 with C, 2 with D, etc.. and were not able to move freely from note to note. Since starting to use this method book, I've seen amazing improvements in my students' sight reading. I now use these books exclusively for all beginners. Plus the songs are fun and have lovely melodies. At first I was concerned that because they are not familiar songs, my students wouldn't be as interested, but all the kids love this book and enjoy playing the songs. The last songs in book I are at the level of Grade 1 songs from the Royal Conservatory's Celebration Series.

Has anyone else used these books? What do you think?

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#1422716 - 04/23/10 02:18 PM Re: Russian School of Piano Playing [Re: ElK]
keyboardklutz Offline
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Great if you're into Russian folk music. Is Ode to Joy, Twinkle Twinkle or Kum Bah Ya in it? What about Little Brown Jug and Skip to Ma Lou?
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#1422741 - 04/23/10 02:47 PM Re: Russian School of Piano Playing [Re: keyboardklutz]
ElK Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 06/15/09
Posts: 4
Loc: ontario
no they're not, and i don't think anyone has missed them wink

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#1422782 - 04/23/10 03:53 PM Re: Russian School of Piano Playing [Re: ElK]
Elissa Milne Offline
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Registered: 01/11/10
Posts: 1337
Loc: Sydney, NSW, Australia
The music in those books is fantastic! I really love the pieces, on the whole - there is great material there.

As a method? Well, surely that's a student-by-student decision? I would think it would be seriously challenging for a 6 year old child of average intelligence and limited diligence!! And the other thing is that there would be nothing wrong with using these books alongside others.

I agree that some methods end up being C=1, and that's so tedious, apart from not assisting reading, but not every method works that way - most methods that have been released in the past 20 years go out of their way to avoid this.

Clavier Companion has been running a series comparing new methods, and that might be interesting to check out in regard to your concerns.

But the books you are talking about are filled with sensational music.
_________________________
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#1422791 - 04/23/10 04:14 PM Re: Russian School of Piano Playing [Re: Elissa Milne]
Betty Patnude Offline
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Registered: 06/11/07
Posts: 4896
Loc: Puyallup, Washington
ElK,

I looked at the link you gave and found the pieces to be intermedaite to late intermediate level with the high price of $24.95. I would not consider a volume like this for a young student beginning lessons.

I then went to sheetmusicplus and typed in "russian piano music" for which there were 511 responses; then I typed in "russian piano method" of which there were 47 listed.

I looked over a page or two of each results and found 2 Denis Agay edited books: "Joy of Russian Music" (Yorktown Press) and "The Young Pianist Library Book 1 A" which is a composite, not all Russian. But, these are not suitable for a rank beginner or for studying a Russian Technique, either. I do like Denes Agay's editing and selection over some of the others that were listed.

There are many albums of very early classical music covering many countries and eras that would be much more suitable for elementary introduction to classics for a young musician.

I very much like the "Russian 5" of composers and I appreciate the "Russian" approach to the piano. But, I'm not sure specializing like this is a good idea for a young child, and a beginner. Things need to be presented simply and understandably first - the literature you are considering is not simple in any way and actually has many dissonant sounds and emotions and I think an older, more musically experienced and "worldly" student would most appreciate the study of a country and style of music. Someone somewhat academic and geography oriented.

My thought would be to recommend a general education including children's songs and folk songs from many countries and even Disney music from the movies enters into an exciting program for youngsters. And, there are early classics written by the piano teachers of bygone eras and those composers who wrote technique studies.

And, it's possible for you to collect your own music choices for your students from free music in the public domain here in the US. I have done that and I use selections for the first 10 lessons while we are learning to count, read the music staff and to be keyboard oriented. These kinds of simple pieces get the students off to a good start. I choose from simplicity at first and then add teaching concepts one at a time and choosing music that represents the new learning objective. Perhaps you have or know some Russian folk music that could be arranged for a beginning student?

Please tell me if I missed something in what you linked us to. I just did not see beginner music there.

Betty Patnude

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#1422940 - 04/23/10 08:56 PM Re: Russian School of Piano Playing [Re: Betty Patnude]
Pogorelich. Offline
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I think those method books would work only for serious and talented kids.. They're great!
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'I want to invest my emotions only in music; it will never disappoint me or hurt me - it is a safe place to be.'

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#1422983 - 04/23/10 11:09 PM Re: Russian School of Piano Playing [Re: Pogorelich.]
Elissa Milne Offline
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Registered: 01/11/10
Posts: 1337
Loc: Sydney, NSW, Australia
They start off with seriously easy stuff, however - I'm not sure how you could think they were intermediate level Betty!! Five finger positions that don't move? Sounds like the second half of Book 1 of any standard method to me. I actually have these books and I can see how a teacher could use them, but I don't think they are for everyone, even though they are fabulous. Kids who don't practice would struggle, for instance!!
_________________________
Teacher, Composer, Writer, Speaker
Working with Hal Leonard, Alfred, Faber, and Australian Music Examination Board
Music in syllabuses by ABRSM, AMEB, Trinity Guildhall, ANZCA, NZMEB, and more
www.elissamilne.wordpress.com

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#1423046 - 04/24/10 12:47 AM Re: Russian School of Piano Playing [Re: Elissa Milne]
ll Offline
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Registered: 11/14/08
Posts: 1101
A little bit of an off-topic question from a non-teacher--

Would you recommend the series as maybe something progressive slightly more advanced students can sight-read through?
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I teach piano and violin.
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#1423081 - 04/24/10 02:01 AM Re: Russian School of Piano Playing [Re: ll]
keyboardklutz Offline
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I still don't get teaching American/English children Russian folk songs. No wonder we're nearly out of them ourselves. A few years from now it'll be an extinct genre - what the industrial revolution failed to finish, piano teachers will!
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#1423085 - 04/24/10 02:21 AM Re: Russian School of Piano Playing [Re: keyboardklutz]
Elissa Milne Offline
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Registered: 01/11/10
Posts: 1337
Loc: Sydney, NSW, Australia
I don't get why anyone thinks this is a book of Russian folk songs. There are loads of different composers represented. And it's genuinely easy - like any method book.

My criticism would simply be that it's not got a lot of *genuinely* contemporary music (that is, pieces composed in the past 25 years, say) for the good reason that it dates from the years of the Soviet Union.
_________________________
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Working with Hal Leonard, Alfred, Faber, and Australian Music Examination Board
Music in syllabuses by ABRSM, AMEB, Trinity Guildhall, ANZCA, NZMEB, and more
www.elissamilne.wordpress.com

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#1423086 - 04/24/10 02:27 AM Re: Russian School of Piano Playing [Re: Elissa Milne]
keyboardklutz Offline
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I'm going by the Amazon preview.
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http://keyboardclass.blogspot.com/


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#1423094 - 04/24/10 02:49 AM Re: Russian School of Piano Playing [Re: keyboardklutz]
Bart Kinlein Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/14/08
Posts: 715
Loc: Maryland
Quote:
I'm going by the Amazon preview.


Looking, looking...
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Yahama CVP-401
Will somone get my wife off the Steinway so I can play it!

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#1423102 - 04/24/10 04:22 AM Re: Russian School of Piano Playing [Re: ElK]
landorrano Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/26/06
Posts: 2469
Loc: France
Originally Posted By: ElK
Hello,

You are expected to memorize note names and placements right away.


I like it!

Are you using do-ré-mi nomenclature ?



Originally Posted By: ElK
Most songs are about 8 bars long, but the key difference is that there are no "positions". Each song starts in a different spot and the finger patterns are never the same.


I like it very much!

I do agree with Keyboardklutz, however, that it is a pity not to root your teaching in the students' musical ground.

You being Russian ( apparently ) you can surely use the Russian flavor of the music to great advantage. But for someone who is not, it is not the same story. Like with Bartok's little exercises, many teachers just don't get it.

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#1423106 - 04/24/10 04:37 AM Re: Russian School of Piano Playing [Re: landorrano]
keyboardklutz Offline
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Registered: 05/21/07
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Originally Posted By: landorrano
I do agree with Keyboardklutz, however, that it is a pity not to root your teaching in the students' musical ground.
Exactly. Piano lessons are a golden opportunity for children to explore their heritage, not to mention keep it alive. Again, this is what the industrial revolution did to us - took away our nature and sold it back repackaged!
_________________________
snobbyish, yet maybe helpful.
http://keyboardclass.blogspot.com/


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#1423111 - 04/24/10 05:01 AM Re: Russian School of Piano Playing [Re: keyboardklutz]
Elissa Milne Offline
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Registered: 01/11/10
Posts: 1337
Loc: Sydney, NSW, Australia
Good Lord, pity help all the children in nations without a decent print music publishing scene - MOST children in the world learn music of a culture other than their own when they learn to play the piano - so it's really a minority in any case who play the music of their own lives. In fact, I would say it's exceptionally rare - but there's enough in that issue for a separate thread.
_________________________
Teacher, Composer, Writer, Speaker
Working with Hal Leonard, Alfred, Faber, and Australian Music Examination Board
Music in syllabuses by ABRSM, AMEB, Trinity Guildhall, ANZCA, NZMEB, and more
www.elissamilne.wordpress.com

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#1423123 - 04/24/10 06:15 AM Re: Russian School of Piano Playing [Re: Elissa Milne]
keyboardklutz Offline
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Originally Posted By: Elissa Milne
- but there's enough in that issue for a separate thread.
Yes, but quite germane to this one. What songs have children always learned first? Those from their mother's lips. What do they learn now? Those from Sesame Street. Good for society? No, ultimately it leads to alienation ('cause none of us live on Sesame Street). And now you want to add foreign music? I don't think you appreciate what we've lost.
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snobbyish, yet maybe helpful.
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#1423134 - 04/24/10 07:02 AM Re: Russian School of Piano Playing [Re: keyboardklutz]
keystring Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/11/07
Posts: 11688
Loc: Canada
Originally Posted By: keyboardklutz
I still don't get teaching American/English children Russian folk songs.

This venue is international. The asker, meanwhile, is Canadian (Ontario). Therefore songs belonging to the native heritage of this country would include Mohawk, French, and English music, listed in order of who settled in the country first. Looking at our borders, you will find Russia on the other side of the North Pole, The United States to the south, and the Orient across the pond.

Western music, which is commonly the object of music lessons, is of European heritage (British, French, German, Russian, Dutch).

Meanwhile, when I open my window to the court yard, I see children playing together, absorbing each other's mother tongues so that you will hear "wallahi!", "salut, la!" and "ciao". The kids take their radios out and dance to the music. Some of it has an almost Middle Eastern flavour even though it belongs to popular Western culture. Meanwhile last night there was a party in the court yard and the music was from Eastern Europe, in a part that was heavily populated by the Turks. You could hear a blend of Western, Slavic, and Turkish flavours.

What single country is actually reflected in the music heard these days?

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#1423141 - 04/24/10 07:13 AM Re: Russian School of Piano Playing [Re: keyboardklutz]
Nyiregyhazi Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/24/09
Posts: 2464
Originally Posted By: keyboardklutz
Originally Posted By: landorrano
I do agree with Keyboardklutz, however, that it is a pity not to root your teaching in the students' musical ground.
Exactly. Piano lessons are a golden opportunity for children to explore their heritage, not to mention keep it alive. Again, this is what the industrial revolution did to us - took away our nature and sold it back repackaged!


Personally, I'd be more inclined to pity the kind of kids who have morris dancers for parents. Folk music can be enjoyable, but I don't see learning piano as being the place to push folk music on kids. If the tradition ought to be kept up, it ought to be done by mouth. That's more in the nature of real folk music. Perhaps it's a shame that it's dying out, but I don't think piano lessons are the place to revive that culture. It's just a case of using material which either interests them and benefits them or doesn't. If it serves good purposes, personally I don't care whether it's an English folk song, a traditional folk song from Kazhakstan or some newly discovered waltz by Mussolini.
_________________________
http://pianoscience.blogspot.com/

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#1423143 - 04/24/10 07:21 AM Re: Russian School of Piano Playing [Re: keystring]
keyboardklutz Offline
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Originally Posted By: keystring
What single country is actually reflected in the music heard these days?
And that's OK? It isn't in most communities. Like I keep saying we (English) had our music taken away so - just fill the gap with any(old)body's? Don't tell me the French Canadians aren't still steeped in and propagate French Canadian music. Culture is not arbitrary and should not be left to kids in the street. I'm with Plato on this one.
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#1423151 - 04/24/10 07:48 AM Re: Russian School of Piano Playing [Re: keyboardklutz]
Nyiregyhazi Offline
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Who took it?
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#1423154 - 04/24/10 07:59 AM Re: Russian School of Piano Playing [Re: Nyiregyhazi]
keyboardklutz Offline
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Not who, what - the industrial revolution. It ripped apart our communities. If you want to study English folk music you go to the Appalachian Mountains.
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#1423155 - 04/24/10 08:05 AM Re: Russian School of Piano Playing [Re: keyboardklutz]
Nyiregyhazi Offline
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I don't think that 'took' anything. It just fell out of interest.
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#1423158 - 04/24/10 08:07 AM Re: Russian School of Piano Playing [Re: Nyiregyhazi]
keyboardklutz Offline
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Same.
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#1423163 - 04/24/10 08:26 AM Re: Russian School of Piano Playing [Re: keyboardklutz]
Elissa Milne Offline
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This still misses the point that the content of the books under discussion is no less appropriate than the content of any other book currently available for this 'method book' purpose. And since we can't undo the Industrial Revolution at this point what do you suggest we do (as piano teachers) to right this terrible wrong, keyboardklutz? I find this a particularly interesting question as there was no culture of teaching the piano prior to the Industrial Revolution, so there's a bit of an internal consistency issue with a piano teacher even wanting the Industrial Revolution undone......
_________________________
Teacher, Composer, Writer, Speaker
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Music in syllabuses by ABRSM, AMEB, Trinity Guildhall, ANZCA, NZMEB, and more
www.elissamilne.wordpress.com

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#1423191 - 04/24/10 09:29 AM Re: Russian School of Piano Playing [Re: Elissa Milne]
keyboardklutz Offline
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Originally Posted By: Elissa Milne
I find this a particularly interesting question as there was no culture of teaching the piano prior to the Industrial Revolution, so there's a bit of an internal consistency issue with a piano teacher even wanting the Industrial Revolution undone......
Funny you should say that. The industrial revolution created a middleclass who demanded affordable pianos for their newly acquired pasttimes. One could easily write a book on the industrialization of piano pedagogy - it's not without scientific interest. But back to the point - do piano teachers have a responsibility to the culture they find themselves in? And yes, I am very much a Luddite.
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#1423204 - 04/24/10 09:49 AM Re: Russian School of Piano Playing [Re: keyboardklutz]
Elissa Milne Offline
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Originally Posted By: keyboardklutz
Originally Posted By: Elissa Milne
I find this a particularly interesting question as there was no culture of teaching the piano prior to the Industrial Revolution, so there's a bit of an internal consistency issue with a piano teacher even wanting the Industrial Revolution undone......
Funny you should say that. The industrial revolution created a middleclass who demanded affordable pianos for their newly acquired pasttimes. One could easily write a book on the industrialization of piano pedagogy - it's not without scientific interest. But back to the point - do piano teachers have a responsibility to the culture they find themselves in? And yes, I am very much a Luddite.
Ah, now there already are books about exactly that (piano pedagogy as an outgrowth and reflection of industrialisation) as well as books about the social function (as compared to the musical function) of piano pedagogy..... (love that kind of stuff).

And I'm with you that piano teachers find themselves with a responsibility to the culture they find themselves in (as much as one can have a responsibility to an abstraction of lived experience), but one doesn't need to reduce the possible musical influences on a child to those of the child's ethnicity in order to do that: here in Australia ALL culture is grafted, so the culture I have a responsibility to is a culture of melange and blend and beyond that needs to be determined on a student by student basis, and there are no books in all the world that fit that bill. So one uses excellent material and builds a cultural experience relevant to the student/child from the resources at hand.

But taking this further: the rhythms, the pitch patterns in method books - any method books - creates a cultural divide between the piano student's pianistic music-making experience and the music they are immersed in throughout their 21st century days. And I believe even more firmly that unless piano teachers start addressing this immense cultural gap we will find ourselves marginalised in the creative process of our culture..... (As I said, probably now bordering on getting waay off-topic!).
_________________________
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Working with Hal Leonard, Alfred, Faber, and Australian Music Examination Board
Music in syllabuses by ABRSM, AMEB, Trinity Guildhall, ANZCA, NZMEB, and more
www.elissamilne.wordpress.com

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#1423218 - 04/24/10 10:09 AM Re: Russian School of Piano Playing [Re: Elissa Milne]
keyboardklutz Offline
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Bartok did it for Hungary. Kabalevsky for USSR.
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#1423244 - 04/24/10 11:07 AM Re: Russian School of Piano Playing [Re: keyboardklutz]
DragonPianoPlayer Offline
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Is Christopher Norton doing it for America / modern popular music (American Popular Piano Series or Connections)?
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#1423249 - 04/24/10 11:14 AM Re: Russian School of Piano Playing [Re: DragonPianoPlayer]
keyboardklutz Offline
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No. Maybe for Birdland.
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#1423272 - 04/24/10 11:47 AM Re: Russian School of Piano Playing [Re: Nyiregyhazi]
jotur Online   blank
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Loc: Santa Fe, NM
Originally Posted By: Nyiregyhazi
Personally, I'd be more inclined to pity the kind of kids who have morris dancers for parents. Folk music can be enjoyable, but I don't see learning piano as being the place to push folk music on kids. If the tradition ought to be kept up, it ought to be done by mouth. That's more in the nature of real folk music. Perhaps it's a shame that it's dying out, but I don't think piano lessons are the place to revive that culture.


The kids I know whose parents are Morris dancers are pretty cool smile And I do know some. I know kids whose parents danced Scandinavian dances, as well as dances from all over the world, who went to college to study folk dance and music. All great kids.

But piano *is* a harder instrument to learn about it on in some ways. I have pointed out many times, as Elissa has, that music is much much broader than what can be reproduced on a piano, and, for me, it's pretty ignorant narrow to not at least acknowledge that in piano lessons, and to not acknowledge that piano isn't the be-all and end-all, much less the beginning-all laugh , of music or music theory.

That said, I sure have nothing against Russian folk music - I've danced a lot to that, too. And I play old English tunes, both for old English dancing and as Appalachian music, often. But folk music isn't everyone's cup of tea. I might bemoan the fact that people have lost their sense of where their music has roots (and our modern music *is* rooted in traditional music) but I don't know the roots of every subject, either. Life seems to move on.

Cathy


Edited by jotur (04/24/10 12:00 PM)
Edit Reason: corrected the "quote"
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