One of my Polish viewers who now lives in the UK didn’t believe that concerts on Grandma and Granda‘s day (near the end of January) are marked with concerts all over Poland, as she didn’t remember any from her school days.
The fact is that this piece of Polish charm was actually imported from the United States during the 1980s! It seems like the typical piece of socialism hangover, but the funny thing about Poland in the eyes of an Englishman is that a lot of things which we are tempted at first glance to write off to the Communist era actually has a completely different explanation.
That’s why you still see May holidays, Red plaques by buildings, military parades all over the place, grandparents’ day concerts and the habit of putting the water in the cup in restaurants without the bag – which I always assumed to be an East Europeanism until I got precisely the same in the States. Some of these things which the British would wave off as Sovietisms actually come from a totally different direction.
ANYWAY, this was Sophie’s first ever piano recital in front of a hall full of people. We thought she was going to be given a proper piano and not this joke of an instrument. Notice also how the music teacher doesn’t give any credit for the talents of the piano playing kids to their teachers (Sophie’s teacher is sitting with Irina and me in the audience cringing with the amateurishness of it all) as naturally there is nothing of the sort available in the State curriculum. The appalling song at the end about Warsaw being Chopin‘s city (which he dreamed of nothing but escaping, despite his liking for one girl there) which has been shoved out at kids in all the Warsaw schools just as a recorded karoke piece – although the sheet music is available on the internet just in case any Warsaw school music teacher can actually read musical notation. Some pieces were played by the music teacher not on the tape recorder, that fine baroque instrument, but on a guitar of which 1 of the 6 strings was absent and I think she knew a good 4 or 5 different chords.
I didn’t write all of this in the YT description and discussion, I’ve saved it for here as I like to give you a separate perspective on here, or why would you come? The videos are all on YT and some of you have already watched them once.
Please add your thoughts on musical education in schools, including answering the poll on what the government policy should be.
- Warsaw, Krakow … which is in pole position? (guardian.co.uk)
- Top trips in Poland (guardian.co.uk)
- Plaque row mars Polish commemoration of plane crash (reuters.com)
- The locals’ guide to Warsaw and Krakow (guardian.co.uk)
- Warsaw, Poland Part 1: Sight-seeing and The Gift of Communism (stevensirski.wordpress.com)