Lola Dzumanova/Yelena Zhurova

Traditions and Innovations in Music Theory Pedagogy in Russia (To the Question of Interaction of East and West)

Success of a system of musical pedagogy is contingent upon the combination of the traditional and the innovative. These proportions vary in different countries. A good examples are the Venezuelan  ‘El Sistema’ (a model by Hose Antonio Abreu) and the French pedagogy of revelation (‘Pédagogie de l’éveil’). Russian musical pedagogy also experiences the state of experimentation, although the tradition is not left in oblivion. In this respect the undeniable achievement of Russian musical pedagogy is the thee-step system, comprised of children’s school, pre-conservatory college and the institution of higher education.

The Russian system partially overlaps with the Western European and North American. In particular, there is an analogy between the Russian and the German two-step structure. The Russian system has been developed from the materials or the European traditions, such as Italian solfeggio, Dalcrozean rhythm, and Riemannian functional harmony. This paper presents two examples from the system of music theory pedagogy in Russia, the traditional teaching of harmony in pre-conservatory colleges and conservatories (by Lola Dzhumanova) and the innovative methods of teaching aspects of Theory of Musical Content in all three steps (by Yelena Zhurova).
Style-based study of harmony at the conservatories and universities is impossible without the solid training in classical harmony, voice-leading, part-writing and modulation, which in Russia is first given at pre-conservatory colleges (7-11th grades in the high school). The most important material—modulation and digression—is learned by writing and keyboard improvisations. An example of highly successful innovation in Russian system is the Theory of Musical Content (introduced in works of Kholopova and Kazantseva), the goal of which is to accumulate all the aspects of knowledge (musical and extra-musical) into a single interpretation of a musical work.