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A Review of

Learning to Move & Play Finger Cymbals
"The Easy Way"

by Libby

 

Although the box shows the title as Learning with Libby, the video is marketed under the name Learning to Move & Play Finger Cymbals "The Easy Way".

 

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Summary

 

Overall Rating: StarStarStarStar (on a scale of 1 to 5 stars)

This instructional video for beginning-level dancers teaches how to play finger cymbals while dancing at the same time. The instructor is Libby Prothero of New Mexico.

The video teaches several different rhythms to play on the finger cymbals, then suggests a step combination to practice with each.

As of 2011, this video appears to be out of print. This review remains online as a reference source for people who may be thinking of obtaining a copy through used sources.

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What Shira.net Users Think

 
1) How would you rate Learning with Libby?
Absolutely fantastic!
Definitely would recommend it.
Good enough to be worth the money, but not special
Disappointing, but had at least a little value
Nothing good about it at all
 

The above poll includes responses submitted since October 28, 2002.

Note: Shira has a policy against video producers asking their students, family, and friends to pad the votes, or campaigning for favorable votes through their web sites. Click here for detailed information about the policy.

 

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Fact Sheet

Subject Matter Playing finger cymbals while dancing
Recommended Dance Skill Level Experienced Beginner
Overall Rating StarStarStar
Production Quality StarStarStar
Content Value StarStarStar
Total Video Length 45:00 minutes
Time Devoted to Instruction 28:39 minutes (64%)
Time Devoted to Performance 13:34 minutes (30%)
Time Devoted to "Other" 2:47 minutes (6%)
Choreography? None
List Price as of 2002* $30.00
Price Per Minute as of 2002 71 cents
Price For "Other" as of 2002 $1.85

* Pricing information was current as of the date indicated above, but may have changed since then. Please contact the video producer for the most current pricing information.

 

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Description

On this video, Libby provides an introduction to finger cymbals for dancers who have had no previous experience with them. She focuses primarily on the practical issues such as how to put elastic on them, how to play them, and how to dance while playing them. There is minimal discussion of their history, cultural heritage, or role as musical instruments. Based on brief things she says in passing, Libby gives the impression that she knows something about these topics, but opted not to take the time to address them on this video.

The heart of this video consists of Libby presenting an assortment of finger cymbal patterns, each one accompanied by a corresponding dance move. For each rhythm:

  • Libby writes the structure of the rhythm on a chalkboard
  • She explains how it would sound.
  • She plays it on her cymbals.
  • She teaches a step combination that works with the rhythm she has just taught.
  • She puts the cymbals together with the steps at slow speed.
  • She then picks up the speed, and ends with practicing the rhythm to drum accompaniment.

This flows reasonably well. Her style of explanation is quite easy to grasp, and could be quite helpful to a beginning cymbal player.

Libby teaches skillfully. I'm confident that anyone working with this video would find it useful in learning to play cymbals while dancing.

The seven musical rhythms that she teaches using the above format include:

  • Gallop (also known as longa or threes)
  • 2 cymbal patterns suitable for Turkish 9/8 music
  • 1 cymbal pattern suitable for masmoudi saghir (a 4/4 rhythm also known as maqsoum or baladi)
  • 2 cymbal patterns for North African 6/8 music
  • 1 cymbal pattern for slow chiftetelli

After approximately a half hour of teaching, the video moves on to show a 13-minute performance that was done in the past by her dance company, Zamarost Troupe.

 

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Is It Right for You?

 

You Will Probably Enjoy This Video If

  • You are beginning belly dance student, but have been studying long enough to feel comfortable learning dance moves.
  • You have never played finger cymbals before.
  • You find it difficult to dance while playing finger cymbals, and need help learning to do both at the same time.
  • You need ideas on how to play with some of the lesser-used musical rhythms such as 6/8 and 9/8.
  • You teach belly dancing and need ideas on how to help students play cymbals while dancing.

 

This Video Probably Isn't Right for You If

  • You are already very proficient in playing finger cymbals while you dance.
  • You don't need ideas on how to teach cymbals to your students.
  • You're looking for something that teaches enough cymbal/dance combinations to create a dance to a full-length song.

 

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What I Liked, What I Didn't

 

What I Liked:

  • Libby acts as though she genuinely enjoys sharing what she knows.
  • The set is simple and free of distractions.
  • The instructional segment is well lit.
  • Camera angles are varied, but for the most part are reasonably appropriate.
  • With each rhythmic cymbal pattern, Libby teaches a move designed to coordinate well with that pattern. Her approach encourages novice cymbal players to start moving in time to the cymbals right from the start. I prefer this over the way many people teach cymbals: sitting or standing still while playing.
  • Libby often demonstrates dance moves with her back to the camera, which makes it easier for a novice dancer to imitate what she is doing.
  • At the end, the video shows addresses for two reputable vendors (Saroyan Mastercrafts and Turquoise International) who sell high-quality finger cymbals.
  • A teacher who already knows how to play finger cymbals may find this video useful for ideas on how to introduce cymbals to a class full of beginners.

 

What I Didn't Like:

  • Libby tackles too many different drum rhythms (baladi, chiftetelli, North African 6/8, and Turkish 9/8) and therefore provides only superficial coverage of each.
  • Although Libby uses arm movements with her step combinations, she doesn't take the time to teach them, and the camera work shows only fleeting glimpses of them. The video would have been stronger if the camera had shown more full-body angles to help users learn her arm movements.
  • Libby's choice of attire makes it difficult to learn from the video. She wears a shapeless red blouse loosely over the top of her hip scarf, which covers up her hip movements. On my television the vivid red blouse color bleeds over on top of the background behind her, causing the outline of her body to be fuzzy and giving me eyestrain.
  • On some of Libby's demonstrations, the cymbal playing's speed and quality are irregular. She does better when she has drum accompaniment.
  • The troupe performance at the end of the video is a major disappointment due to extremely poor lighting quality, video quality, and sound quality.

 

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Movements Taught

  • Sharp Hip Moves: 1 (9/8 basic)
  • Traveling Steps & Spins: 7 moves (step-push to side, walk, step-point, step-point-twist also called Basic Egyptian by some people, step-front-step with twist, side-to-side spins with hip lift, fellahin, step-together-step-flare)
  • Finger Cymbal Rhythms: 7 cymbal patterns (threes, 2 karsilama, 1 baladi, 2 6/8, 1 chiftetelli)

 

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In Conclusion

Learning With Libby might make a good next step for dancers who have learned basic moves from another video and now want to add playing finger cymbals to their skill set. It assembles the building blocks taught in elementary videos into step combinations, while at the same time adding finger cymbals.

Unfortunately, because this video tries to cover a large number of unrelated musical rhythms (masmoudi saghir, chiftetelli, 6/8, and 9/8), it gives each one only superficial coverage. These rhythms would never all appear in the same song, so it's difficult to take this material and put it to use. This would have been a much stronger video if it had chosen just one musical rhythm such as masmoudi saghir (also known as baladi) and then taught several cymbal patterns and combinations to use with that one rhythm. For a beginner who has just "graduated" from an introductory video, Learning From Libby realistically offers at most only a couple of step combinations and cymbal patterns they can put to use with the basic music they're using at this stage.

 

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Disclosure

I have nothing to disclose. I had never heard of Libby until a friend of mine who had purchased her video in the past loaned it to me, asking me to review it for my web site. I did phone Libby to ensure I had current price and contact information, but that was strictly a professional conversation.

 

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Where to Get It

This video may be out of print. As of 2011, I can no longer find anything on the web promoting it. The contact information below is from 2000.

Contact Information

Contact Libby as follows:

Angel Productions
Box 741
Cedar Crest, NM 87008

Phone: (+1) (505) 286-0755 (this is different from the one on the video package)
Email: dancinglibby@aol.com

 

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