Monday, May 4, 2015

Russian Piano Technique

I studied with a Russian teacher almost all of my life that studied in Moscow Conservatory. I believe I found a good article that I feel like shows how Russians teach. 

Russian traditional way:

I call it “ aggressive” way. It is extremely demanding and almost threatening way. After such learning experiences many students stop to play piano at all.
In Russia (old USSR) we do not use the word “fun” regarding learning process( actually we do not use that word at all, there is no translation for “fun” in Russian language) . The piano lesson sound was nothing to do with “fun”. It was  strictly intellectual, more art-like activity for kids. We were very lucky back in USSR: almost every kid had opportunity to learn the piano at the local music school ( seven years of study).And it was  affordable for “middle class” family. Please keep in mind that I am talking about my experience until 1999. The country Russia is changed now and the way of teaching  and school and educational system changed too.
After many hours of practice (mostly pushed by parents) students forget what the meaning of the word “music” is. They question, “what piano playing  has to do with the music?”
While working in the Music school in Moscow, I got  a student  transferred from another teacher who was 7th grader and it was her last graduating year. When we met at the first time, Masha have stated: I will do my best to go through final exam, I will receive the diploma, I will present that diploma to my parents and after that I will never ever play piano again!  It was very very sad.. I am glad that I could help her. At the end of the year her attitude changed and after her graduation she thanked me with tears that I helped her to regain her love for piano again. It was very touching and rewording.
Here, in US, a few people (when they learn that I am Russian Piano teacher) jokingly asked : are you hitting your student’s hands with a stick?
I never faced or hear about such things myself back in Russia.. Also a few parents of my students would bring their memories about their piano teachers, when they were kids. Teachers were Russians, trained by Russians or from other European countries: Germany, England. Those teachers  used to hit hands with rulers. Again I never heard such stories from any of my friends, classmates, and colleagues while living in Russia (USSR) until 1999. So, if it was true, I can only say those teachers had no idea about pedagogy, child sociology, patience and compaction and they should not be teaching.

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