Article by Judy Sherman from THE BDAA NEWSLETTER, The Official Journal of the Balalaika and Domra Association of America
Article by Judy Sherman from the BDAA newsletter, The official journal of the Balalaika and Domra Association of America

GREAT NEW BDAA RESOURCES:
Alex Siniavski's DVD and Bibs Ekkel's Books review by Judy Sherman

Article by Judy Sherman from THE BDAA NEWSLETTER, The Official Journal of the Balalaika and Domra Association of AmericaThis past convention made me more sentimental than ever before. I was thrilled to meet the newcomers, but, at the same time, was hopeful that they would somehow appreciate how far the BDAA has come. Many of us remember the pre-BDAA "old days", when we searched through dusty bins of Russian records in the US and elsewhere, hoping to find recordings we liked and could imitate. We'd put our tape recorders on the slowest speed, and try to painstakingly transcribe lyrics, melodies and chords. Balalaika techniques were only available to those who could travel to Russia or meet the few players who toured or lived here.

As exciting as all of that was, I was overjoyed to bring back a suitcase full of user-friendly books and recordings from the Madison convention. Paul Philips and Laurie Iudin -Nelson have created songbooks filled with jamming favorites that every beginner can use. The available selection of outstanding CDs is endless and our accessibility to virtuoso performers and teachers is amazing. In addition, if you have a DVD player, we may as well abandon the BDAA beginning balalaika class (and I can sleep in!). Alex Siniavski has made it possible for everyone to have private lessons in their own home with his wonderful "12-step program" for balalaika players, and potentially achieve intermediate (or, perhaps, virtuoso ?) level by the 2006 Akron, Ohio convention!

Has your balalaika technique become unmanageable? Alex's DVD, The Balalaika Tutorial, with its extremely useful downward camera angle... .imagine looking down from your own eyes to your right hand.. .can repair all the damage that years of playing without a virtuoso teacher have done. Using mainly Svyetit Mesyats (Bright Moon), Alex walks you through strumming, thumb pizzicato, pizzicato vibrato, double and single pizzicato, tremolo, rolls, combinations of techniques, tips for the left hand and learning tunes, and some fantastic cross-string scale and chord scale exercises. There's a charming ending to the tape, with Misha Smirnov, Alex's cohort and musician extraordinaire, playing a folk-style balalaika. Don't let the introductory demonstrations intimidate you. This DVD can be used by beginners. Remember, you can use the pause button. Alex makes it look so easy, but, of course, we all know the truth. I think this DVD should be in every player's collection. Yes, you can just watch it and enjoy Alex's magnificent playing, but, with your own balalaika in hand, it's an essential learning tool for improving your technique. Thank you, Alex and Misha, for creating this DVD! (it's available through www.barynya.com)

RUSSIAN BALALAIKA. 12 VIDEO LESSONS

Balalaika Tutorial on DVD by Alex Siniavski. Lesson 1. Strumming
lesson 1
Balalaika Tutorial on DVD by Alex Siniavski. Lesson 2. THUMB PIZZICATO
lesson 2
Balalaika Tutorial on DVD by Alex Siniavski. Lesson 3. PIZZICATO VIBRATO, THUMB VIBRATO, HARMONICS
lesson 3
Balalaika Tutorial on DVD by Alex Siniavski. Lesson 4. DOUBLE PIZZICATO
lesson 4
Balalaika Tutorial on DVD by Alex Siniavski. Lesson 5. SINGLE PIZZICATO
lesson 5
Balalaika Tutorial on DVD by Alex Siniavski. Lesson 6. TREMOLO
lesson 6
Balalaika Tutorial on DVD by Alex Siniavski. Lesson 7. Rolls
lesson 7
Balalaika Tutorial on DVD by Alex Siniavski. Lesson 8. Country Folk Balalaika
lesson 8
Balalaika Tutorial on DVD by Alex Siniavski. Lesson 9. Left Hand position
lesson 9
Balalaika Tutorial on DVD by Alex Siniavski. Lesson 10. LEARNING A SONG
lesson 10
Balalaika Tutorial on DVD by Alex Siniavski. Lesson 11. SCALES
lesson 11
Balalaika Tutorial on DVD by Alex Siniavski. Lesson 12. BASIC CHORDS
lesson 12

The Balalaika Tutorial on-line

Famous Russian balalaika virtuoso Alex Siniavski have released an online version of his best selling The Balalaika Tutorial DVD. You can get it at his website www.iBalalaika.com. Below you can see two samples - short intro into the course, and lesson 6 - tremolo.

Balalaika Lessons Tutorial DVD Intro

Watch this video on YouTube

Balalaika Lesson 6 - Tremolo

Watch this video on YouTube

The full list of Balalaika Lessons

1. Introduction 2. Tuning 3. Strumming 4. Thumb Pizzicato 5. Pizzicato Vibrato 6. Double Pizzicato 7. Single Pizzicato 8. Tremolo 9. The Rolls 10. Left Hand Position 11. Learning a Song 12. Scales 13. Basic Chords 14. The Folk Balalaika

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Balalaika lesson 2 - Tuning
Balalaika lesson 3 - Strumming
Balalaika lesson 6 - Double Pizzicato
Balalaika lesson 8 - Tremolo

Balalaika Duo, Trio, Quartet or Orchestra for hire

Balalaika Duo, Trio, Quartet or Orchestra led by Mikhail Smirnov is available for hire in New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Connecticut, and other states. All musicians are dressed into traditional Russian costumes. Musicians are playing balalaika, balalaika-contrabass, bayan, garmoshka, gusli, guitar, drums, keyboard, trumpet, sax, and violin.

Balalaika players, soloists and ensembles

Balalaika virtuoso Alex Siniavski from Philadelphia,  Pennsylvania
  Balalaika virtuoso Alex Siniavski from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

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  Balalaika Russian Dance and Music Trio - Russian Cossack dance, balalaika and garmoshka music from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

Russian Balalaika and Garmoshka Duo
  Russian Balalaika and Garmoshka Duo - Sasha Ressetar (balalaika), Mikhail Smirnov - guitar, garmoshka, vocals.

Balalaika contrabass Leonid Bruk
  Leonid Bruk - Brooklyn based contrabass-balalaika and bass balalaika player.

Kalinka Duo: Sergey Vashchenko-balalaika, Vladimir Kaliazine-bayan, Austin, TX
  Kalinka Duo - Sergey Vashchenko-balalaika, Vladimir Kaliazine-bayan from Austin, TX.

Sergey Vashchenko
  Balalaika virtuoso Sergey Vashchenko from Austin, TX.

 
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Russian Christmas Music Balalaika Album
Russian Christmas Music Balalaika Album

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Balalaika virtuoso Alex Siniavski and Mikhail Smirnov (guitar)

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