Leon Russianoff

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Leon Russianoff
Leon Russianoff
(1916-1990)
His life and teaching
Early years
Born in Brooklyn August 16,
1916
—  Early study with Simeon
Bellison
— 
◦  Principal Clarinet of New York
Philharmonic (1920-1948)
◦  Bellison Clarinet Ensemble
◦  Arranger/editor
— 
Mid-career study with
Bonade
Simeon Bellison
Evolution of teaching—early years
—  Began
teaching in late 1930s
◦  Many early students went on to study with
Bellison
—  Developed
new teaching traditions
◦  Performed with students
◦  Masterclass setting—students have lessons in
pairs
—  Teaching
style
◦  Gentle and kind, individual attention to students
◦  Adapting exercises/teaching for each student
—  1941: Stanley
Drucker begins study
Evolution of teaching—in his prime
— 
— 
1960s—great productivity
Notable students:
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Larry Combs (Chicago Symphony)
Michele Zukovsky (LA Philharmonic)
Stanley Drucker (New York Philharmonic)
Naomi Drucker
Laura Flax
Frank Cohen (Cleveland Orchestra)
Charles Neidich
Meets and marries Penelope Polatschek
Timothy Gallwey’s The Inner Game of Tennis
Begins to develop techniques that appear in his
method books
Evolution of teaching—the
Comprehensive Method
—  1970s:
Begins writing exercises, teaching
practices and compiling them into a
resource
◦  Students assist by transcribing notes/exercises
he developed for them during lessons
—  Method
published in 1982
◦  Began using with his students and notating
extra exercises, expanding ideas, etc in the
margins
Clarinet Method
— 
Two volumes
◦  Volume I: addresses basic clarinet
technique
◦  Volume 2: more advanced exercises
— 
Innovative format
◦  Text to explain exercises followed
by those exercises
◦  directions for mastery included to
imitate lesson
◦  Each chapter covers material for a
weekly lesson
◦  Contains extensive examples from
repertoire
Clarinet Method continued
— 
Three goals/sections for
each chapter
1.  Overcoming technical
difficulties
2.  Developing musical
instincts
3.  Repertoire to reinforce
technique and musical
intuition
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Scales
Etude/solo work
Orchestral excerpts
Trademarks of teaching style
— 
Produce thinking clarinet
players
◦  Teach how to identify issues in
playing and steps to fix those
issues
◦  Attention to detail
◦  Drilling concepts
Each student develops an
individual voice
—  Intuition and individual
expression guide your music
making
—  Kind, encouraging, supportive
teaching
— 
Individuality
—  Student
plays best when true to
themselves
—  Play what makes sense to them, not what
a teacher says
—  Always question what someone tells you
◦  If it is good why?
◦  If it could be improved, how and why?
Imprinting exercises
—  Counting
aloud
—  Fingering without playing
—  Watch and feel actions of fingers
◦  Rounded, relaxed, high or low on clarinet
—  “Now
forget everything you’ve learned
and just play.”
Repetition and drill, exercises
— 
Book 1
◦  Lesson 2: Fingers
◦  P9
— 
‘transform diligently
learned skills into
absolutely natural
actions and
responses’
More drill: Tone/pyramid study
•  Book 1
o  Chapter 4 p 41-42
Significance
—  Combination
of treatise and method book
to be used in practice room
—  Great legacy of teaching
—  Little documentation of his life and teaching
◦  No books
◦  No Wikipedia article
◦  3 DMA dissertations
◦  Last article in The Clarinet from1992, in memory
of his life
—  Passed
away suddenly before he could be
properly honored

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