Several teenagers from Utah and Salt Lake valleys "fine-tuned" America's relationship with the Soviet Union.
Twelve students of local piano teacher Irene Peery had the opportunity to travel to Moscow this summer to study at the Gnessin Conservatory of Music for two weeks with the best Soviet pianists.Peery, who is also an instructor at Brigham Young University, said the experience was more than just musical for herself and her students.
"I don't think it drastically changed their playing ability, but at least now they know something more about the Russians," Peery said. "You can't help but become a more educated person by having an experience like this."
Even though her students may not have become better players because of the experience, Peery said they are better practicers and better people.
Christie Peery, Peery's 17-year-old daughter, said the best part of the trip was to "go over to Russia and see what it is really like and not what a lot of Americans think it is like."
Christie Peery said she has a lot of respect for the Soviet people, because they don't have a lot, but they have good attitudes about life.
"They like Americans from what I saw," she said. There are no hard feelings that come from the Soviets.
Irene Peery said her students "have a broader perspective and are more open to suggestion and change."
Trisha Fackrell, 13, from Vineyard, said the students got up every morning, practiced, then had a lesson. They usually have one lesson a week in America.
"It wasn't too stressful and I learned a lot," she said.
Fackrell said after the first two days, she wanted to go home. But, by the time they were supposed to leave, she wished they could have stayed longer.
"If I could get the money together, I'd go again," she said.
The differences in the culture were like night and day.
Peery said she and the teachers of the 48 other piano students, ages 8 through early 20s, from across the United States, wanted to have a master class - a class where a professor teaches a student in a classroom situation so others can learn from what is said.
The Soviets had never heard of this, she said. The professor prepared a one-hour private recital instead.
"We had to explain what a master class was so they could prepare one," Peery said. "They were just trying to accommodate us, so they hadn't asked questions."
Christie was one of four of the 60 students who were chosen to play for Bosh Kirov, a well-known Russian pianist from the Moscow Conservatory of Music.
The Soviets treat musicians the same way they treat Olympic athletes, Peery said. When they see a child has musical promise, they will put him in a music school and watch him very closely.
"The child may not have much food or clothing, but he will have a Steinway to practice on," she said. "It made me appreciate a little more what I have."