violin pedagogy, how useful do you find it to be?

violin pedagogy, how useful do you find it to be?

In the "one way to look at fiddle playing" thread with the graphs and body capture links, a couple of people with classical training somewhere hidden in their pasts mentioned some technical things about bowing. I am learning fiddle late in life, and in a kind of scattered way. The teacher I have found is a great Irish fiddler who had a background of classical violin in youth, stopped playing much for a while, and then started playing sessions.

Some of the techniques from that pedagogy seem to get in my way, I just want to enjoy the tunes and the somewhat musical sounds I manage to get out on a good day, and have fun with it, and enjoy the company sometimes.

I’m far enough along that I can relax and just listen to myself, I know there’s a lot of room for improvement in technique, especially with bowing, would a dose of classical discipline help? Or just diving in and playing more and listening carefully (another recent thread)?

Mostly just a question for myself, I guess, if I don’t find it useful for improvement, I won’t keep it up. But sometimes there’s great opinion and advice to be had on here.

Anyone?

Re: violin pedagogy, how useful do you find it to be?

If you’re past the basics, a ‘dose of classical discipline’ probably wouldn’t help. But some lessons from a traditional fiddler probably would.

Re: violin pedagogy, how useful do you find it to be?

I find that there are bowing ideas that work really well and transcend musical genres. Dipping the wrist for string crossings, for instance, which I mentioned on that body capture thread. In this case, the only difference between classical technique and fiddle technique is when the concept is typically introduced to a learning fiddler—classical pedagogy tends to teach it later in the process. I don’t know why.

I played fiddle for several years, mostly self taught, before taking advantage of a chance to learn from a really stellar classical violinist and teacher at a university. I took two semesters of lessons from him, with the understanding that I would try whatever he put in front of me, and he would understand that I was going to apply what I learned to improving my fiddling (rather than veer off into becoming a classical violinist). That year of violin didn’t hurt me at all as a fiddler. I gained better tone production, more bow control, and a more relaxed left hand. I also learned three ways to produce vibrato and how to shift up and down the neck. Some of this stuff I use all the time, other stuff I rarely use. And I also know some fiddle concepts and techniques that classical players would shy away from.

The main differences I notice with students who come to me from the classical world are that they’re wedded to sheet music and weak on ear learning, and they’re much more accustomed to long, arm-generated bow strokes. When they want to learn Irish tunes, I get them using their ears more, and I show them how to use an inch of bow, keeping most of the bowing "as close to the stick" as possible (as opposed to big sweeping arm motions—yes, those come into play on long notes and multi-note slurs, but this is note-dense, fast-paced music, and short bows will get you further down that road).

All that said, you can play Irish traditional music and play it well with fairly straightforward "technique." You don’t need control at the frog, or full frog-to-tip lush tone, or vibrato and position shifts. Basically, all you really need to play this music is nimble, accurate lefthand fingers, and a steady, lively pulse in your bow hand. How you get that—your ‘level of technique’—doesn’t matter as long as the music comes out the way you want it to sound.

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Re: violin pedagogy, how useful do you find it to be?

I scratched away for years before realising my approach was not working. It was focusing on technique, simple scales, arpeggios, bow control,[[ just as I would as a piper ie; bag control]] etc that lifted my game up considerably. So thats what I advise…..

Re: violin pedagogy, how useful do you find it to be?

FWIW, I have yet to run across a student who wants to play scales and arpeggios. They want to play tunes. Even my classical violin prof back in college gave me tunes to play (mostly Bach)—he never asked me to play scales or arpeggios, or any other exercises. He taught using real music. That also seems to be the most widely practiced norm for fiddle music, too.

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Re: violin pedagogy, how useful do you find it to be?

The point is if the student wishes to improve, it is not sufficient just to play tunes, unless the teacher finds specific tunes that include arpeggios or octave jumps or scale passages.
The following tunes are good for practising arpeggios, Atholl Highlanders, Random, Heather Breeze.
For scales WinsterGallop,Rakesof Mallow,
for octave jumps: Idle Road, Miss Mcleods Reel.
teaching these aspects of technique through tunes is good for children, …BUT
Adults should be able to understand that practising scales arpeggios and octave jumps will improve their technique more quickly than playing tunes, even if they only do these exercises for 5 minutes every day.
Being a good teacher is not just about letting people play what they want, it is about making sure people improve.
I agree with piobagusfidil

Re: violin pedagogy, how useful do you find it to be?

Lord yes, my top guitar student was not keen on scales, until that is, I demonstrated the advantages …
As regards The fiddle and scales, well we’ve had this discussion before so I will just quote a fiddler who playing I enjoy and whose ability I respect….

<<What I would recommend to anybody who wants to learn is scales, scales, scales, scales. Over and over and over and over and over again until you go mad.>>

Re: violin pedagogy, how useful do you find it to be?

I’ve got almost 10 years of classical viola training. I was forced to learn scales, and playing them was a pain. The first few scales and keys helped teach bow crossing, intonation, and some simple shifting, but the upper level scales (single string octaves) were mostly a waste of time.

Best use of scales (for me) were simple ones that let me focus on simple bow patterns by playing the same scale differently with different rhythms. There were similar benefits to etudes. Not sure if that really has any real application in the fiddle world.

I second Will’s advice on bow control. The most useful are string crossing. That stuff is pretty much universal. Still, any decent fiddle teacher should have similar advice to a violin teacher, even if the violin teacher will teach it quite differently.

Classical ornamentation is completely different from fiddle ornamentation, but there is some overlap (more than some may think). Either way, it’s probably better to learn fiddle ornamentation straight from a good fiddle player.

Something to consider: There is more focus in the classical word about good posture to prevent health problems in the wrist and spine. I’m not a doctor, or a teacher, but that may be some violin pedagogy that may be useful to know.

There’s some good stuff here, which I’ve seen posted several places on the mustard:

http://www.toddehle.com/id69.html

Re: violin pedagogy, how useful do you find it to be?

"The point is if the student wishes to improve, it is not sufficient just to play tunes, unless the teacher finds specific tunes that include arpeggios or octave jumps or scale passages."

Funny, a lot of the best musicians in this music that I know tell me they’ve just played the tunes, no scales or arpeggios. My own personal experience also agrees with them. So your sweeping dismissal of the tunes rings hollow to me.

As has been said a thousand times here before, scales and arpeggios are good for genres where you improvise or build solos over a chord progression—rock, jazz, bluegrass, etc. For this music they aren’t at all necessary and may prove to be a distraction from the actual music and the technique and feel needed to play this music.

In my opinion, emphasizing scales and arpeggios in learning to play this music is bad advice.

mike, I recommend Todd Ehle’s video lessons to most of my fiddle students because he does such a good job of explaining techniques and nearly always includes several different ways to do something, or at least different ways to think about it. Lots of good basic technique in there. And I like that he usually suggests a tune for honing the technique.

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Re: violin pedagogy, how useful do you find it to be?

Aside from the fact that I am slightly miffed at not getting any slagging so far, this has been helpful. I would say educational, even. Thanks for your answers, you have given me lots to run with.

Re: violin pedagogy, how useful do you find it to be?

Keep in mind that if you go to a classical teacher, you’re going to end up playing classical music (however temporarily), which is fine, as long as you like playing classical music. I was much happier when I realized that all I really want to play is fiddle tunes. There are ways to improve your technique without going the classical route—-you just have to have an inventive teacher.

Re: violin pedagogy, how useful do you find it to be?

Will, I have not dismissed anything, I suggested tunes which use scales and arpeggios, please read my posts properly.
ALL music whatever the style is made up of scales and arpeggios.

Re: violin pedagogy, how useful do you find it to be?

There are tunes and phrases made up of interesting intervals, neither scales nor arpeggios. Thank goodness.

You and jig are advocating the practicing of scales and arpeggios. That’s simply not necessary for this music, and for some people may detour them from learning the tunes (and the techniques needed to play the tunes) that *are* this music. For that reason, I think it’s bad advice to offer on a forum dedicated to this music. Even more so for a forum set up for session players.

You may opt to use learning methods borrowed from formal music education, but lots of good and brilliant musicians play this music without going that route. And some formally trained musicians also skip the deliberate scales and arpeggios stuff in favor of actual music. That’s how the Suzuki method is designed.

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Re: violin pedagogy, how useful do you find it to be?

If you’re having trouble with your bowing, learning about classical technique might be somewhat helpful, depending on the problem.

But take it with a grain of salt. Classical bowing is very different from fiddle bowing. The basics have a lot in common, but advanced classical techniques are not going to apply well to fiddling in most cases.

The scale thing has been beaten to death here. I don’t think it’s particularly helpful or harmful. A quick search will give you more opinions on that than you’d want to read.

Re: violin pedagogy, how useful do you find it to be?

I think scales are useful from a theory level.

It’s useful when learning tunes by ear if you can narrow down tunes to a key, and you know why some notes fit where and why. Not to mention understand the limitations.

Knowing how to play every scale backwards and forwards, up and down, and all the arpeggios is overkill (for Irish dance music at least). However, I’d expect pretty much any musician to be able to know what major and minor scale is, and be able to play them in least a few keys (F, G, D, A, E) without much trouble.

If you are a hobbyist that just wants to play for fun, like full measure is, then spending a lot of time learning scales is probably not the best use of time, but completely discounting them probably isn’t fair either.

Re: violin pedagogy, how useful do you find it to be?

Not that anyone has completely discounted them here…. They’re just not necessary.

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Re: violin pedagogy, how useful do you find it to be?

…..For some people and some instruments….

Re: violin pedagogy, how useful do you find it to be?

The illustrious Todd Ehle, mentioned above, whose videos I would also heartily recommend to anyone who plays the violin, used to have a clip on Youtube of him playing — if I remember rightly — Farewell to Ireland, rather badly, under the heading ‘Friday Relaxation’ or some such, the implication being that anyone who had devoted enough time to the rigours of classical music would have no trouble knocking out a reel. I am not surprised that he took it down.

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Re: violin pedagogy, how useful do you find it to be?

gam, I recall that clip. It was dire. Ill-considered trans-genre fantasies are common among violinists. 😎

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Re: violin pedagogy, how useful do you find it to be?

jig, you’re right. Let me amend my statement to make it more precise.

Scale and arpeggio practice is not necessary for anyone who has a musical bone in their body with the aim of playing Irish traditional dance tunes to a high level on fiddle, whistle, flute, uilleann pipes, anglo or English concertina, button or piano accordion, piano, tenor banjo, mandolin, or bouzouki.

There is absolutely nothing wrong with knowing where the notes of the common (in this music) scales fall on your chosen instrument. But beyond playing through those scales a couple of times when you first get acquainted with said instrument, there’s also absolutely no need to keep practicing scales when instead you could be learning and enjoying actual tunes. (Amazingly enough, the tunes themselves happen to have all the same notes in them as are found in the scales, usually arranged in more interesting sequences).

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Re: violin pedagogy, how useful do you find it to be?

IMO they are necessary on certain occasions, just as practising properly is, practising is not just running through tunes, practising, correctly is about taking bits of tunes you cant play satisfactorily isolating the problem and rectifying it.
I agree certain tunes are useful as scale exercises[meggys foot northumbrian tune for example].
However i found for practising FIDDLE trebles,That using a half scale as an exercise starting on an up bow and then a down bow useful, I found this useful with the pick on the banjo too.
I also practised them in relation to a tune, taking the bar and practising it on its own.
IMO practising scales even for 5 minutes is beneficial, on the guitar i do it to improve my speed of picking, i generally use the blues scale, a good idea imo on the fiddle too.the advantage of scales over tunes is that you can concentrate on using weaker fingers, thus strengthening them.

Re: violin pedagogy, how useful do you find it to be?

I always eschewed practising scales for trad music (too many memories of being forced to play them at music school when I was a kid) and I tend to side with Will when he says that all the tunes contain those notes anyway so why not just play the tunes.
However I also agree with Wild Col Boy when he says that certain fingers need to be strengthened (my little finger for instance) and that certainly helps if you force the rigour of a scale or arpeggio or, as Will will probably say, a tune that uses fourth finger a lot. I now force myself to use fourth finger instead of an open string to keep my little finger active and to stop it sulking.

Another exercise I do is the first couple of bars of Kid on the Mountain to practise rolls. E, F# and G rolls in quick succession (and on the other strings too) are a good warm-up.

The thing that has taught me the most though is playing with good musicians (on whatever instrument) and listening to how they phrase things and build up the dynamics of the tune.

However since I started playing Gypsy jazz guitar I have found practising scales essential but that’s a whole different tradition.

Re: violin pedagogy, how useful do you find it to be?

I cant conceive its even possible to become a Piper without these fundamentals, anyone ever done it? , so for someone who has no experience at doing so, telling me , who has a lot of experience , that his advice based on a fantasy is good advice and my advice, based on my experience and standard works is bad advice. hmmm….. For the same character to declaim that advice to anybody who wants to learn is scales, scales and more scales is bad advice, coming as it does from a top trad player , yet his advice is bad advice? hmm…. Patsy Touhy said this ; three months is not an unreasonable length of time for a beginner to practice reading and playing the scale of D……
IMO very good advice which is directly applicable to any instrument, though perhaps easier ones require less time and harder require more time.

An assertion that because ‘some’ people can do something there for ‘all’ can, is ludicrous; ie ‘you dont need scales etc for this music’. Whether people’ need’ them depends on the instrument and the player and their different ideas of what we wish to achieve, so our routes will be different because were not going the same place.!!
There IS no one style, one rule, one path. There are many ways and some suit us as individuals better than others. Its that simple. We are all different so of course we will all gravitate towards different approaches and methods .


So Wiils broad assertion that >;practicing of scales and arpeggios. That’s simply not necessary for this music, << Is simply not true, it might be so in your experience, fair enough, but in mine its not.

I simply cant see the point in struggling for years to attain something and in many cases proceed to give up! when a simple structured approach can reap dividends in both the long and short term.
Isolate the technical issue
concentrate on that issue,
re-integrate into your music.

If you want to play music , without putting the time in , learning your instrument, how to make it sound good , learning the tunes,etc then best go put a CD on.πŸ˜‰

Re: violin pedagogy, how useful do you find it to be?

here is a scale exercise i find useful, part of the a blues scale
g ac d e g acdega, start on open g string then first and third fingers on that string, then open d, then first and third fingers on that string, then open a then second and third fingers on that string, then open e then second and third finger on top string then back down again.then do it again but replace the open d open a open e, with little finger this is very useful.
use a metronome while doing this and gradually increase your speed working with a click.
This will strengthen your little finger and is much more use than just waiting FOR the odd occasion when you use your little finger in a tune.
Will, your advice to ignore scales for irish music is imo not good,I have illustrated my opinion with an example.

Re: violin pedagogy, how useful do you find it to be?

I can conceive that it is possible to become a piper by playing scales and arpeggios and doing bag and bellows exercises only until you know where all the notes on the chanter are and can operate bag and bellows on autopilot. Once you can make an acceptable noise out of the instrument and aren’t frying your brain trying to figure out where the B is AND learn a tune at the same time, then you can just learn tunes.

Re: violin pedagogy, how useful do you find it to be?

Agreed. What about tight triplets? and cranns etc… you isolate them as technical exercises or just put them into tunes straight away? Once you have them, fair enough, once you can play the instrument, then scales could easily be seen as superfluous. But saying that some top musicians still practice technical exercises and patterns and the like as base maintainance. How individuals wish to approach their music is up to them and what we wish to achieve.
Can you conceive its possible to pick up the pipes and just play tunes? Without previously isolating technical challenges? Anyone ever done it?

Re: violin pedagogy, how useful do you find it to be?

When I had a practice set, I played tunes. I ran through a D scale three times (in about 30 seconds), found c natural, and then I started playing tunes.

The only "technical exercise" I did was to focus on managing my airstream (the bellows and bag) on long tones by playing Arran Boat Song slowly, a lot. That was on my first day.

But I was already playing flute and whistle, so the basics on uilleann pipes weren’t that different, other than what my elbows were doing.

So jig, I’ll concede that if a person can’t manage that, if they’re so desperately challenged by the mechanics of the pipes, then they’ll likely have to spend some time just trying to get a note out. If it takes a person three months to play a scale, I’d hazard a guess that they might be better off in another hobby, or at least on a different instrument.

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Re: violin pedagogy, how useful do you find it to be?

Wild Colonial Boy, I can get the same fourth finger work out from playing Music in the Glen in G, using my pinky for all those "e" notes in the B part (which is how many trad fiddlers play it). Or I can play any of a number of tunes in Gm and not play any open strings at all. Or I can add fourth finger cuts to all the third-finger notes in all the tunes I play. That’s a great way to shape up your pinky.

Again, you may choose to use scales, but they aren’t necessary.

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Re: violin pedagogy, how useful do you find it to be?

But you happen to have discovered the glen in g,having that use for the little finger,
But if you had not and before you knew that tune, you could have achieved the same effect buy playing the scale i mentioned for one minute every day that you picked up the fiddle.
I also use tunes for practising technique, but not just any old tune.
Scales are necessary if you do not have a list of tunes for specific techniques.
Tunes are only notes of scales jumbled up.
Scales and arpeggios are necessary , so is playing specific tunes for improving certain aspects of technique.

Re: violin pedagogy, how useful do you find it to be?

Well were not all geniuses like yourself will, why just yesterday I was reading about someone else who learnt to play the pipes in a day! amazing eh…….
However if Patsy Touhy reckons 3 months for a beginner, I wouldn’t argue. in fact Id go as far as to say that a lot longer could be justifiably spent on scales, arpeggios and technical exercises such as tight triplets cranns and the like. Then once these issues are dealt with satisfactorily then the tunes them selves will stylistically, present fewer obstacles.

Depends on how often you practice in a day after all. I mean a friend of mine spent ‘8’ hours a day for 2 yrs and has become a competent piper in that time. Impressive what a bit of dedication can achieve.

Same on the fiddle, sure scratch away if ye want but it isnt the only way and some people progress using different approaches and scales , isolation exercises etc are all standard’ tools’ recommended by top musicians, so thats good enough for me, it depends on what you want to achieve after all, and how long you intend to spend at it.
Besides I know that the ‘scratch away approach’ does not work for everyone.

Re: violin pedagogy, how useful do you find it to be?

You can keep making up weird scenarios for why scales are "necessary," and I can keep finding one easy exception to prove that wrong.

I get my fiddle students using their fourth fingers right away by teaching them tunes like Tommy Peoples (the reel in Bm), where the B part goes: |dfaf bfaf| several times. You would call that a D arpeggio. I call it a melodic phrase, part of a tune. Something I can learn and play at sessions everywhere.

If you want to practice scales, by all means, go ahead.

I’ve found that most people would rather play tunes and hone their skills that way.

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Re: violin pedagogy, how useful do you find it to be?

jig, not everyone who avoids mechanical exercises just "scratches away." Some of us are competent players who are asked to teach at camps and festivals.

All I’ve said here is that scales and arpeggios aren’t *necessary* for learning to play this music well.

Yes, it’s true that some folks are less nimble, coordinated, and musically adept. In all my years of teaching music, I find that these are the folks least inclined to practice mechanical exercises and the most likely to progress by playing actual music from the outset.

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Re: violin pedagogy, how useful do you find it to be?

Your saying that the least nimble coordinated and musically adept students are the folks least inclined to practice mechanical exercises?
Id agree with that but as to what will help them progress rapidly and satisfactory IMO is a focus on the fundamentals, the building blocks, the rudiments;
They are all tools you put in your box to use as and when, if you choose. Yes some times its possible to use a Rock as a hammer but how much better to have a hammer when you need it ?
Some jobs are too fine for a standard hammer, you need a pin hammer… Having the tools in your possession, the ability to do a technical movement rapidly with little to no conscious thought ie , the right tool for the job Goes a long way in creating any piece of art.
Paradiddles, cruanluaths, tight triplets ,scales, double stops ,particular patterns such as arpeggios, whatever, I found that concentrating on the instrument specific, technical issues presented in isolation, to be of fundamental use and importance for my own developement.

Re: violin pedagogy, how useful do you find it to be?

"Id agree with that but as to what will help them progress rapidly and satisfactory IMO is a focus on the fundamentals, the building blocks, the rudiments;"

If that actually gets a student working, great. If it doesn’t, there are tunes which accomplish exactly the same thing, and for a student who is motivated by playing something that sounds like a tune, those tunes are the way to get exactly the same effect.

You’re not arguing about rocks versus hammers, you’re arguing about which hammer to use, but you don’t actually have the project in front of you, so you have no idea which would be the correct one. It’s ultimately a matter of the teacher’s judgement, based on their reading of the student. A good teacher gives the student the right things to work on to become a better player tomorrow than they are today. That can be scales and arpeggios, yes, if that’s the right thing for that student. But it can also be scales and arpeggios in the form of well-chosen tunes, and if the student prefers to learn things that sound like tunes to them, then that will work better for that student and that teacher.

You’re basically arguing that the thing that worked once, for you, is the correct thing, everywhere, for everyone.

Re: violin pedagogy, how useful do you find it to be?

I’ve found that most people would rather play tunes and hone their skills that way.
but do they hone their skills?do they use tunes to practise or are they just playing through tunes?
Or. are they sort of people that mess up sessions by not being able to play without speeding up,
PRACTISING tunes with a metronome cures this,or along to a recording, playing tunes in isolation does not .
so Will it depends how you practise tunes, doesn`’t it, and using specific tunes to practise arpeggios and scales. playing any old tune,and not thinking about keeping steady and lilt is not good enough, it is those people who need a metronome, or need to play along with a recording or practise scales or arpeggios.Practising scalesand arpeggios for couple of minutes before you start tunes is agood way of warming up fingers

Re: violin pedagogy, how useful do you find it to be?

"Practising scalesand arpeggios for couple of minutes before you start tunes is agood way of warming up fingers"

Well, that’s one way to warm up the fingers.

Or you can simply play tunes.

Yes, you can go through the motions and learn nothing, but you can do that on scales or tunes. I’ve seen students glaze over on scales a lot quicker than they do on tunes. Most people do.

If the advice these two are giving here was coming from people whose playing was in tune, in time, and something to aspire to, then it might be worth considering. But we’ve heard these two play….

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Re: violin pedagogy, how useful do you find it to be?

"PRACTISING tunes with a metronome cures this,or along to a recording, playing tunes in isolation does not ."

Anyway, I have to disagree with you on this. Playing with another player is the key, so practicing with a recording is a reasonable second-best.
But if you’re speeding up or slowing down in the tune, the problem is that you’re not paying attention to the time. This isn’t fixed with a metronome, it’s fixed by paying attention.

Re: violin pedagogy, how useful do you find it to be?

It seems silly to go round and round on this with the same two posters whose own clips reveal their advice has not worked even for themselves.

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Re: violin pedagogy, how useful do you find it to be?

Yes, yes it does, Will.
It does indeed.

Re: violin pedagogy, how useful do you find it to be?

"Scales are necessary if you do not have a list of tunes for specific techniques. "

Ridiculous. Irish trad is an aural tradition: it’s best to learn to make the right sounds in context. Practicing certain tunes because they allow you to practice a certain techique used in those tunes is fine, but using scales is no substitute.

Learning to play trad by playing scales is like learning a foreign language by practicing the vowel and constonant sounds in isolation. You won’t learn pronunciation until you learn how to make those sounds in context.

"Besides I know that the ‘scratch away approach’ does not work for everyone. "

Yes, I’m sure that you do.

Re: violin pedagogy, how useful do you find it to be?

As a music teacher, I’ve worked really hard to help people overcome significant challenges. Some people have never paid much attention to pitch, intervals, rhythm, and timing. I’ve had students who say they’ve never danced, never sung, never even whistled a tune. Typically, they have never thought much about listening at all, so they can’t even tell me what sort of music they like. When they decide to learn a musical instrument, they have no context, no comprehension of the basic elements of musical sound.

I do spend a lot more time with such students crawling through basic skills, mechanics, and ideas. But I get them playing a simple, musical, enjoyable tune at the very first lesson, even if we have to leap frog over some basic issues (we can always come back to those later).

The scales-and-arpeggios approach advocated here is an extreme form of taking something apart, concentrating really hard on the pieces ("in isolation" as jig says), and then trying to re-assemble them into a whole. That might work for understanding the innards of a toaster or a wind-up clock, but it’s a peculiarly unmusical approach to making music, as though music is something that can be engineered from nuts and bolts.

Music theory—including notions of scales and arpeggios—came well after generations of music making.

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Re: violin pedagogy, how useful do you find it to be?

Will Harmon *teaches* irish fiddle playing. He’s also a damn fine fiddle player.

My own father taught irish fiddle playing. He didn’t use scales and arpeggios, yet he produced a good crop of well-regarded fiddle players, some of whom in their turn taught others who are also well-regarded players. And in all cases, their playing speaks for itself, which is more than can be said for some of the scale/arpeggio addicts.

So scales and arpeggios won’t do any harm - whatever floats your boat. But they are neither necessary nor sufficient for playing trad. There are so many routes into this music we all love. Don’t be put off by people who say otherwise.

Re: violin pedagogy, how useful do you find it to be?

Ah, that was back in the blessed days before the never-ending duet about how necessary scales and arpeggios are….

On that last old thread, I like JeffK’s admonition to play the drills inside the tunes, to not work them too much in isolation lest you end up unable to play the whole tune.

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Re: violin pedagogy, how useful do you find it to be?

"And immediately there fell from his eyes as it had been scales: and he received sight forthwith, and arose, and was baptized." (Acts 9:18)

"Hear now this, O foolish people, and without understanding; which have eyes, and see not; which have ears, and hear not." (Jeremiah 5:21)

Just a few reminders that one should get the scales out of their eyes so they can see, and open their ears so they can listen!

πŸ™‚

Re: violin pedagogy, how useful do you find it to be?

I should really stay out of this, but oh well… been a wee while since we had a scales and arpeggios row.

Playing rolls, triplets, backstitches, crans, whatever, in the context of a tune is substantially different than playing them in isolation. Sure, you’ll play them in isolation a wee bit to learn the mechanics but you won’t belabour it — you’ll start trying to integrate them into tunes and that’s when you’ll be properly playing them. They have to fit within — and indeed create — the rhythm of the tune. Can’t manage that without a tune!

Re: violin pedagogy, how useful do you find it to be?

LOL Al, very punny ;)

Re: violin pedagogy, how useful do you find it to be?

<<There are so many routes into this music we all love. Don’t be put off by people who say otherwise.>>

Exactly my point. A blank statement that because some people can do something simply does not mean we all can. So Whatever works for you. My point is dont be put off by people telling you they are not necessary, this might well be the case for some people, but not alI . We all have different circumstances and are different people.
Further more the approach I expound is also based on the teaching of top class musicians of many instruments
. As Kevin Burke said; his advice is to practice scales. OK it might not work for you.. fair enough , but why not try …. Dont discard it based on someone, posting on an internet board.

Also there is no substitute for playing music, technique is only of value in its facilitation of this. These exercises, cranns etc are supplementary practice, not instead but as well.

In my experience of studying with top fiddle teachers there has been a common thread…. technique….. Same as a piper, same as a guitar player.
Yes dont lose yourself in technique its only there to help, it has no value in and of itself, it is merely a tool to do a job.

Re: violin pedagogy, how useful do you find it to be?

piobagusfidil, well said.

Re: violin pedagogy, how useful do you find it to be?

Yes, fairly well said.

As you said, "supplementary," not necessary.

Posted .

Re: violin pedagogy, how useful do you find it to be?

Well it depends on the individual doesnt it? and what they wish to achieve, so there is no one size fits all approach because we all have different aims. So to say something is not necessary denies that individuality, suggesting that because some people can do something therefore we all can, thats false reasoning. We are not all gifted folk who can learn to play the pipes in a day.
Of course every piper starts off based on these principles I recomend, who plays a half set or a full set at first…anyone? . We start on a practice instrument designed to simplify the process of learning . Or a practice chanter for PM , where we isolate and practice standard movements and embellishments.
Same as recommended for fiddling, practice rolls in the scale as I was taught by the likes of Martin Hayes… .practice scales as taught by Matt Crannitch , Brendan Mulkere…etc etc
My approach is not some wild creation of mine. It is standard procedure….

Re: violin pedagogy, how useful do you find it to be?

Yes, jig, it’s true, there is no one size fits all approach. As everyone has been saying all along.

Re: violin pedagogy, how useful do you find it to be?

"who plays a half set or a full set at first…anyone?"

Yes, people who want and can afford a half or full set from the beginning.

Re: violin pedagogy, how useful do you find it to be?

No, u practise finger exercises and scales to warm up fingers, u don’t play tunes to get fingers flexed.
IMO playing tunes to get fingers flexed shows a disrespect for the music.

Re: violin pedagogy, how useful do you find it to be?

So, when your fingers become sore from playing several hours worth of tunes do you begin to play scales out of respect, WCB?

Re: violin pedagogy, how useful do you find it to be?

Ah …I said played, not owned. having a half set, or a full set, and playing it, tuning it,keeping it in playing order are a different story as you well know. How many pipers go round with regs? and how many play them…
The simple fact of the matter is there is not one piper in the wide whole world who would be foolish enough to suggest that a neophyte just picks up a full set and starts playing tunes on it regs and all is there?
Start simple, practice chanter, single notes progressing to parts of the scale and whole scales patterns arpeggios aiming for steady tone , good intonation etc etc its not rocket science. Same applies to any instrument. Slowly slowly catchee monkey
If you have access to a teacher in your instrument, go ahead get some lessons…. You can use the tools your given, not use them or modify them in any way you feel.

Re: violin pedagogy, how useful do you find it to be?

Why are you practicing scales on diatonic instruments?

Re: violin pedagogy, how useful do you find it to be?

To circumnavigate the conscious mind so that there is no gap between hearing a note and playing it or finding a note . So that the player can sing thru the instrument with out technical issues impeding expression. So that playing music is as natural as talking or eating. Some instruments and genres require a great variaty of scales Jazz, Classical , some require a small number but highly ornamented. Scottish and Irish pipe music .

Re: violin pedagogy, how useful do you find it to be?

I’m surprised you don’t recite the alphabet before beginning a conversation. πŸ˜‰

Re: violin pedagogy, how useful do you find it to be?

Sure I learnt to talk 40 odd years ago and of course the first sounds any one makes are not words they are goos and ga ‘s . baby talk . vowels etc pitch lip control etc etc just as in learning a new instrument you learn how to make the individual sounds then various patterns of those sounds. you dont see babys learning to talk using words with 4 or 5 syllables. no, slowly and naturally you build up a pallet of sounds, join them up in simple ‘words’ and phrases and as time progresses you can speak in sentences or play simple tunes, and be ‘understood’….

Piobagusfidil

My question above was intended as rhetorical. My surprised response, which followed, was intended as humourous.

Re: violin pedagogy, how useful do you find it to be?

I kinda knew that, but you asked! πŸ˜‰

Re: violin pedagogy, how useful do you find it to be?

"To circumnavigate the conscious mind so that there is no gap between hearing a note and playing it or finding a note"


If that is the goal, then surely you want a set of exercises which reproduces the sorts of note combinations that you find in traditional tunes, no? Scales exercise stepwise motions, arpeggios exercise motion across the chords, but there are plenty of other sorts of melodic motion that you want to be able to hear and play, without the intervention of the conscious mind.
And the exercise repertoire should mirror the frequency of those note combinations, so the most common combinations get the most exercise, while the least used still appear from time to time, no?

It seems to me that there is an existing set of exercises to choose from which produce exactly this result.

Re: violin pedagogy, how useful do you find it to be?

As far as "circumnavigating the conscious mind" goes, I thought there were drugs for that.

Re: violin pedagogy, how useful do you find it to be?

Jon, rather than consider the tunes as *exercises* perhaps JeffK has suggested a healthy compromise ~

"If you take a "piece" of a tune to use as an exercise, make sure you also practice it as part of the tune - learning it in isolation can make you "choke" when you play the tune itself. You have to hear it continuing on, not just by itself."

Re: Tune-derived fiddle drills
May 3rd 2002 by JeffK627
https://thesession.org/discussions/519#comment6983

Thank you, Will (H), for your earlier mention of this.

But, don’t we really *play* tunes in order to avoid *doing* exercises?

~ Rhetorical ~

Re: violin pedagogy, how useful do you find it to be?

"Jon, rather than consider the tunes as *exercises* perhaps JeffK has suggested a healthy compromise"

I’m just saying that if you need stuff to play, there are lots of tunes, and if you want to practice the sort of stuff that appears in tunes, then it makes sense to practice, well, lots of tunes.

I think it’s likely that any teacher listening to a student will pull out some section of a tune to focus on, but I’d rather have a student pay special attention to that part, while playing the whole tune, and not just obsessively gnaw at that one spot, playing the same two bars or four bars over and over again.

There have been times - at home, not in sessions! - when I’ve played a new tune for twenty minutes at a time, because I knew what I wanted to play next but when I got to the end I couldn’t hold the next tune in my head well enough to get to it. That to me meant that I had to play the new tune another time, so I went around again. I might have stopped and practiced the last four bars of the one going into the first bit of the other, and done that over and over. That might have been more efficient, but I’m not really looking to save time here. It’s not like I’m in any great hurry…

But as I’ve said all along: if you’re teaching, you have a responsibility to give your student what they most need. And where you exercise your judgement. If it gets your student a deeper understanding of the music, I’m for it.

Re: violin pedagogy, how useful do you find it to be?

Cheers, Jon! Thanks for the thoughtful response.
;)

Re: violin pedagogy, how useful do you find it to be?

"IMO playing tunes to get fingers flexed shows a disrespect for the music."

Tell that to Martin Hayes, then. He likes to warm up with tunes. Morning Star was at one time his go-to warm up tune.

I’ve never met a trad musician who warmed up with scales or exercises. Everyone I’ve ever played with—big names and otherwise—just plays tunes. Some leap right in, others play a set or two at an easy lope for starters.

Even the prof I took violin from at college—who had done a solo recital at Carnegie Hall—warmed up on actual pieces of music. Itzahk Perlman likes to play Turkey In the Straw before going on stage.

A lot of great players being disrespectful to music. You’ve got your Miss Manners job cut out for you!

Posted .

Re: violin pedagogy, how useful do you find it to be?

I’d also be curious to hear what full measure thinks of this discussion he started. Any advice at all here that he’ll take on board?

Posted .

Re: violin pedagogy, how useful do you find it to be?

"Even my classical violin prof back in college gave me tunes to play (mostly Bach)—he never asked me to play scales or arpeggios, or any other exercises. He taught using real music."

"Even the prof I took violin from at college—who had done a solo recital at Carnegie Hall—warmed up on actual pieces of music. Itzahk Perlman likes to play Turkey In the Straw before going on stage."

This may be true, but Perlman would have been playing exercises when he was studying under Ivan Galamian.
Galamian apparently believed in "suffering through exercises" in order to "liberate" a student enough to develop his/her own personality. Apparently, Paul Zukofsky’s first six month’s of lessons with Galamian were devoted to the A minor scale.

You may be confounding the issue by implying that playing tunes/music pieces instead of scales and exercises applies to classical music as well as traditional. With respect, your ‘violin prof’ is unlikely to have had a list of former students to match the late Ivan Galamian.
Warm up before recital for an experienced player is probably a different matter. I can’t see that it shows disrespect for a tune.
I’m not sure how regularly Perlman plays Turkey in the Straw before a gig though.

Re: violin pedagogy, how useful do you find it to be?

No, I wasn’t implying anything. Just pointing out that well-respected players in many genres have no problem with warming up with actual music, rather than scales. The assertion that it’s disrespectful is silly and insulting.

Obviously scales, arpeggios, and other drills are part of the classical regimen. But the technical demands of the repertoire are far more diverse than what you need to play Irish traditional music on fiddle. I would say he is the one confounding the issue. And then you, for putting implications in my mouth I did not say.

I can’t imagine why you stooped to comparing my violin prof (Walter Oliveras) to Galamian. There aren’t many college violin professors who would match up to Galamian’s track record. Should they all quit teaching? Honestly weej, you do apparently enjoy stirring the pot….

Posted .

Re: violin pedagogy, how useful do you find it to be?

"I can’t imagine why you stooped to comparing my violin prof (Walter Oliveras) to Galamian. There aren’t many college violin professors who would match up to Galamian’s track record. Should they all quit teaching? Honestly weej, you do apparently enjoy stirring the pot…."

I’m not stirring owt. I was pointing out that your anecdotal account of your ‘violin prof’ using pieces rather than exercises wasn’t really anything more than anecdotal, and not rule of thumb. By relating the anecdote, the implication was read into it (especially when you use phrases like "he taught me real music"). As fot the question as to whether college violin professors should quit teaching - well who’s putting implications into mouths? That wasn’t the point at all.

"Obviously scales, arpeggios, and other drills are part of the classical regimen."

Well, you’ve said it. Perhaps your college prof avoided giving them to you because you made it clear that you didn’t want to be a classical violinist - otherwise, your college prof was not adopting the "classical regimen".
You seemed to be mentioning his giving you tunes to play in the context of students not wanting to play scales and arpeggios. It appeared as though this meant students of classical music too. Thanks for clearing that up.

Re: violin pedagogy, how useful do you find it to be?

Cutting through some of this, here’s a bit of summary.
If you disagree, please fill out missing pieces or offer constructive correction.

In my opinion, as a teacher, I find:

…scales are useful for:

1) understanding music theory, chords, etc, providing a piece of the language of discussion of that subset of music which can be adequately represented on a standard western staff
2) one way of assembling a baseline understanding of one’s instrument, knowing where the sounds are
3) tying one’s instrument to the discussion of theory, chords, etc., mentioned in (1)
4) [fill in]

…exercises are useful for:
1) concentrated practice of typically problematic areas of instrument technique. Should focus on things which are both difficult on the instrument and likely to arise in the student’s actual playing.

…etudes/studies are useful for:
1) practicing performance of more extended pieces of music, while developing specific areas of technique. Etudes should be complete pieces of music, but are not necessarily played for their musical excellence.

…tunes are useful for:
1) In the Irish tradition, the material itself (tunes) can effectively serve all three of the above roles, if the teacher chooses to teach in this fashion.


Summary of the scales vs. tunes debate:

Since the understanding of theory is typically implicit rather than explicit in this music, extensive discussion of theory might be interesting but it is not strictly necessary, so scales are not necessarily critical at the early stages for the trad player as they would be for a classical player, and a player can be an excellent musician in traditional music and never play "a scale" as an isolated exercise. However, they remain a useful tool for understanding music, and if they serve the needs of teacher and the student there is no good reason not to use them.


Can we more or less agree on this?

Re: violin pedagogy, how useful do you find it to be?

Weej, of course it was anecdotal. I made that clear. At least it wasn’t a sweeping mistaken generalization, per other posters on this thread.

Posted .

Re: violin pedagogy, how useful do you find it to be?

Never mind all the stuff that relates to the original topic of the thread. I am still trying to figure out what is meant by "circumnavigating the conscious mind."
πŸ˜‰

Re: violin pedagogy, how useful do you find it to be?

yes, Jon, well said apart from this;>> In the Irish tradition.<< Firstly there is no one ‘Irish tradition, there are many many different facets and strands, different people have different approaches. Certainly in the piping world scales are considered a fundamental part of finding your feet on the instrument, traditionally. and certainly scales are part of the teaching method for the fundamentals of tone production, intonation etc for some Traditional Irish Fiddlers, not all clearly, but many.

Scales are not about theory , they are about practice. so your summery seems to be confusing a theoretical approach with a practical approach.
…and this;>>In the Irish tradition, the material itself (tunes) can effectively serve all three of the above roles, if the teacher chooses to teach in this fashion.<<

Once again it rests on an obvious fallacy, that there is one tradition and one way. There is not, and there are many ways. Whether tunes can provide everything a neophyte player needs depends entirely on the player, the instrument, if they have a teacher ! what their aims are, what they consider important in their playing etc etc etc. What their teacher can do ….There are many grey areas where any categorical statements become quickly unstuck.
The age and capabilities of the student for example, a 5 yr old will not respond in the same manner as a 50 yr old , a student with big clumsy hands whos never done any fine detail work compared to someone with Seamus Ennis fingers and who works as a jeweller…someone with no knowledge or experience compared to a master on a different instrument…. they will all require a different approach and respond to different stimuli.

I found scales and the like absolutely essential in my fiddling. and my pipering… fundamental, incredibly important and rewarding Not so for trad tunes on the banjo/mandolin….Whistle, well sure Id have done a bit, so for me, not so important. For guitar, to attain fluidity and knowledge of the neck yes very important , certainly i got an awful lot from scale and pattern practice, but for me, not much application in playing tunes in first position.

Re: violin pedagogy, how useful do you find it to be?

OP drops by to see how the info is piling up…still coming, after all this time: great! thanks, you all. much food for thought, from many directions.

Re: violin pedagogy, how useful do you find it to be?

I found scales useful for a lot of instruments but particularly the Guitar.
Once you get away from using open strings, I found I was able to play a tune as a pattern in many different keys,
The other advantage of not using open strings is that it is possible to play all the notes without an open string sounding much louder.

Re: violin pedagogy, how useful do you find it to be?

As a long time strings teacher who aspires to be a fiddler. I believe scales and arpeggios should be learned for the same reason we learn the alphabet before we learn to read or to count to ten before we add and subtract. They are the building blocks of our music. They are good for developing fingering and bowing technique and for developing the ear to play well in tune.
But I do not find it necessary to review the alphabet every time I pick up a book. There is a point where it becomes unnecessary
to drill them ad nauseum. Practice them only with the purpose of improving.

Re: violin pedagogy, how useful do you find it to be?

But we don’t learn the alphabet before we learn to speak - we learn by hearing others speak and copying them. Is playing this music more like reading, or more like speaking? I have met many people who play this music well without knowing any music theory, and vice versa.

Re: violin pedagogy, how useful do you find it to be?

I definitely did not learn to read by a prior acquisition of knowledge of the alphabet. According to my parents, that skill arose from watching with my father (when he wasn’t at a match) the football results being read out on BBC TV at around 5pm on a Saturday afternoon and matching the sounds to the words on the screen. The skill was reinforced by the arrival through the letterbox of the ‘Football News’ around 45 minutes later enabling me to reinforce my learning by enouncing "Nottingham Forest nil"! I was just four at the time and didn’t hit school and proper reading lessons for another six months or so.

In other words, sounds and images combined became my building blocks before I ever needed to practise construction via alphabetical rote learning.

This maybe explains why I instantly ‘hear’ the music in my head when scanning a score. It also explains why I find the treadmill of scales and arpeggios so unappealing.

Posted by .

Re: violin pedagogy, how useful do you find it to be?

@ just a person ;he said;<< we learn the alphabet before we learn to read,>> not;>> we don’t learn the alphabet before we learn to speak<<

Before we make whole words we spent a couple of years practising all sorts of sounds in various combinations , just like single notes progressing to scales on pipes or fiddle and eventually on to tunes.
We practice language specific sounds in fact so exposure to other languages as a youngster… my daughter is fluent in two languages at 3 yrs old.
Other languages hold very specific sounds, so Arabic for example has a sound we dont use in English . Pointless trying to express anything that uses that sound, without learning how to pronounce , just the same with technical concepts and words that refer to them.
So by practising a phrase, technical movement, paradiddle, scales patterns cruanluath, etc individually, we directly replicate the process of language acquisition.
First learn to use the vocal equipment and pronounce the sounds and understand their meaning, join them up into simple words, phrases etc untill we can speak in sentences and tell stories… ie ; tunes.

Re: violin pedagogy, how useful do you find it to be?

Will, are you simply unable to accept the premise that while some people might find the exercises beneficial because they like that sort of thing or learn best that way or whatever, many more find them pretty bloody useless? Two opposing ideas, existing simultaneously, in the same space. Like matter and anti-matter. Does that mean this post will explode?

Re: violin pedagogy, how useful do you find it to be?

And is there a Godwin’s Law-related theorem for Star Trek references?

Re: violin pedagogy, how useful do you find it to be?

Also, your theory of childhood language acquisition is bollox, not in the least because cognitive scientists themselves are having huge debates on the subject as we speak and are willing to admit that they themselves don’t know for sure. So you claiming you *know* how children acquire language skills as a basis for your argument about teaching trad….um…. ridiculous.

Re: violin pedagogy, how useful do you find it to be?

@TSS Anyone whose raised a few kids knows how kids learn to speak, not in detail what part of the brain etc , but the actual practical real day to day experience over a few years certainly gives one a good idea πŸ™‚

As regards the technical exercises and approach being important, essential or irrelevant, depends on the instrument , person etc. So for example if you want to play Piobaireachd, you need to know how to make the specific movements. you dont learn to do this as part of a tune, you learn note by note slowly, patiently, as part of scale exercises. I dont know of any other way. do you? anyone? Same with Irish ornaments, cranns etc , same process , in my experience it was the same process for the fiddle.
Others are free to recomend their approach, work away. 😎

Re: violin pedagogy, how useful do you find it to be?

"Anyone whose raised a few kids knows how kids learn to speak, not in detail what part of the brain etc , but the actual practical real day to day experience over a few years certainly gives one a good idea"


Nonsense walking. People have raised children since Adam delved and Eve span, or since Lucy walked and Calvin’s Madonna threw, or any way you slice it, for a hell of a long time, but it is only in this century that we’ve begun to have a real idea of how the process of language acquisition works. If naive observation were sufficient to solve the problem, it would have been solved a long time ago. It wasn’t. now, you might be better at naive than anyone alive, I wouldn’t doubt it, but observation is clearly not your strong suit, and your theory of language is, as Pauli observed of one of his colleagues, "…nicht nur nicht richtig, es ist nicht einmal falsch!"
Or, in English, it’s completely pants.

Re: violin pedagogy, how useful do you find it to be?

I remember when learning the tunes wasn’t rocket surgery.

Re: violin pedagogy, how useful do you find it to be?

Still isn’t. It’s as simple as anything. It’s the talking about it that’s complicated.

Re: violin pedagogy, how useful do you find it to be?

I like jig’s analogy to kids learning to talk by first playing with all sorts of sounds and syllables. What’s clear is that they don’t do it in any organized way that’s spoon fed to them by adults. We babble at them and they babble back. I’ve never known a parent who babbles phonemes in regular sequential order (as in scales and arpeggios). No, instead we do it randomly, juxtaposing unrelated phonemes against one another for the sheer fun of sounding out a range of things. We even mouth sounds that aren’t part of our normal native language.

Which is the same sort of "play" involved in learning this music by playing the tunes, rather than repeating the same sequences of scales and arpeggios over and over.

By 5 I was fluent in English and Italian, and I learned both languages through immersion. No one made me repeat strings of Italian phonemes and words—I just listened to Italian conversations and gradually joined in.

Thank goodness there’s still music that can be learned and played at the highest level without recourse to formal regimens.

Posted .

Re: violin pedagogy, how useful do you find it to be?

"We babble at them and they babble back."

In contemporary English-speaking communities and possibly some others, there is a fad of babbling at children. That’s not a universal habit nor is it obviously helpful to the child. I recall a number of reports claiming that in various parts of the world it is not the habit to address a child at all until the child begins to use language, until that point the child is simply trotted about the place, absorbing talk as they do, and eventually they begin to speak. Nothing in these reports (that I can recall, I got this stuff a number of years ago) suggested that these children were in any way delayed in their acquisition of language relative to European cultures, where addressing pre-linguistic children is more the norm.
In fact, it’s hard to see how presenting a child with a deviant case of the language they’re trying to learn, with depleted syntax and vocabulary and phonology, would be of any help to them. It seems clear to me that this is only useful in teaching them that there is an "imbecile register" that is used by adults pretending to be children, and they should ignore that register when trying to learn the actual language.

Not that this has a lot to do with scales, but if there are arguments from CLA, I imagine some facts might be interesting.

Now, there are some parallels that can be drawn. The simple fact of the matter is that CLA is an innate process of acquisition, not of learning. No child is taught their first language, nor do they ever learn it in any traditional sense of the word. They seek out language in their environment, and they chew up every bit of human vocalizing that they find, and they build a language out of it. As Will points out, this could not possibly be any further from "learn your scales, then learn the tunes". In fact, this is "listen to the tunes, develop a theory of music, then start spitting out your own tunes, and harmonies to other people’s tunes". And amazingly enough, in communities where music is practiced as a regular thing - something that everyone does, not something limited to professionals and weirdos - this is exactly what happens.

So the parallel seems to work, but not in favor of the notion of learning your scales in order to learn your music:
If a child grows up in a musical community, where music is a daily occurrence, it will learn music, specifically the sort that is around it all the time. Later on, if you like, you can teach it scales and things. If a child grows up surrounded by people speaking language, it will learn language, specifically the sort that is around it all the time. Later on, if you like, you can stuff its head with alphabets and things.


Easy reader version:
Yes, there is a parallel between learning music and learning language, but it directly contradicts the assertion that one must learn scales to learn music.

Re: violin pedagogy, how useful do you find it to be?

Which reminds me of the quip from Wilson Mizner: "There’s no use teaching people who need to be taught."

😎

Posted .

Re: violin pedagogy, how useful do you find it to be?

I think that scales and arpeggios are only important for getting to know the instrument, and hearing how the notes relate to each other. Practicing them in different positions because different positions demand different things(on fiddle, A in first position is easy to me, but G and C…. my first two fingers still don’t know how to get that close.) I say this to say that learning instruments and learning music are two different things that connect, cause you can’t learn one without learning something about the other.

Re: violin pedagogy, how useful do you find it to be?

No one has said one must learn scales to learn music. ?! so how can you contradict an assertion that was not made?

Kids make sounds goo, gahs, etc they develop this over the course of a few years. Learning tunes, IMO befor learning how to pronounce the notes, etc etc is like kids learning to talk by being taught whole sentences and poems when they dont have a clue what they mean or how to pronounce the words. Far better IMO to take 1 note at a time, practice the go gos and ga gas first then learn how the go gos become ga gas ! [ Michel Thomas Spanish anyone?! πŸ™‚]

Tunes are each a highly developed musical form. Form is great, but you need to get to form through formlessness. and eventually ’ hopefully]arrive back at formlessness after 30-50 odd yrs.

Scales are form, but very very simple form, and there is no requirement to join even 2 notes together at first. thats a developement. as are arpeggios etc on into tunes.

Yes I agree there are plenty of tunes that are , in some regards, simpler than scales, in some regards, but not all. So use these simple tunes of course.

Fiddlelearner just joined the thread, welcome, because your actually an interesting example πŸ™‚
FL been playing a year. were all very impressed by his progress. My suggestion is that for the first year or so he didsnt play any Irish tunes, he played scales and technical exercises and thats why he has progressed so rapidly. is that the case ?

Re: violin pedagogy, how useful do you find it to be?

Piobagusfidil: learning tunes before you know the notes isn’t like being taught whole sentences when you don’t know what they mean, because we already know what tunes "mean" when we start. By which I mean we can sing the tunes.

Fiddlelearner could already play piano when he picked up the fiddle. In my opinion learning scales etc or learning "one note at a time" at that stage might well hold you back. I think what you need to do WITH THIS MUSIC is to learn to sing using the instrument instead of your voice.

I could already play piano and guitar when I picked up the fiddle, I knew a bit of theory, scales and chords. But I learned fiddle purely by ear. I’ve been playing it for decades now, and I still haven’t learned the names of the notes on the fiddle, and when I first realised that, I decided not to learn them, just to see what would happen. Now I can pick up an easy Irish tune "on the fly", or instantly play a simple melody I’ve never played before (I did it with the Archers theme the other day).

The only problem I have noticed is that I can’t quickly tell other people what key I’m playing in, or that I’m playing a c# in a certain place. But I can usually give an accompanist an arpeggio of the root chord, or just play the relevant note to a fellow fiddler.

Posted .

Re: violin pedagogy, how useful do you find it to be?

Violamike: "It’s useful when learning tunes by ear if you can narrow down tunes to a key, and you know why some notes fit where and why."

Think about learning to sing a tune by ear. You don’t need to (explicitly) know anything about what key it’s in, or what notes fit.

Posted .

Re: violin pedagogy, how useful do you find it to be?

"In contemporary English-speaking communities and possibly some others, there is a fad of babbling at children. That’s not a universal habit nor is it obviously helpful to the child. I recall a number of reports claiming that in various parts of the world it is not the habit to address a child at all until the child begins to use language, until that point the child is simply trotted about the place, absorbing talk as they do, and eventually they begin to speak. Nothing in these reports (that I can recall, I got this stuff a number of years ago) suggested that these children were in any way delayed in their acquisition of language relative to European cultures, where addressing pre-linguistic children is more the norm.
In fact, it’s hard to see how presenting a child with a deviant case of the language they’re trying to learn, with depleted syntax and vocabulary and phonology, would be of any help to them. It seems clear to me that this is only useful in teaching them that there is an "imbecile register" that is used by adults pretending to be children, and they should ignore that register when trying to learn the actual language. "


There is indeed quite a lot of evidence that children acquire language without parents’ recourse to ‘baby talk’. Also that different cultures use different methods (Kaluli children in Papua New Guinea, for example, use the interaction of a third party rather than infant directed speech between parent and child). However, there is also much evidence that the particular interaction between a mother and child, with a modified speech form (in vocabulary, intonation and rate of delivery - "motherese") has a beneficial effect - at the very least that it is preferred by the child to adult directed speech.
A lot of this is covered in this paper:
http://www.elsevier.com/authored_subject_sections/S06/S06_345/misc/language_sciences.pdf
It seems there are several theories - but none suggest a structured approach - the equivalent of scales and arpeggios in music. Indeed there are fundamental differences in acquisition of language and acquisition or learning of music (not least the impetus of having to acquire a language or languages to communicate ones needs etc - though some might argue - and I’ve come across some who do - that they have a need to express or communicate through their music).
No doubt, exposure from an early age to a particular genre of music is going to introduce familiarity and with that a head start in learning to play that music, but as this is primarily about instrumental music (if you accept that the voice is distinct from an instrument), there is the issue of learning that instrument. It’s not something you are wielding as you leave the womb. The majority of those who take up an instrument do so when those neurons that come into play when acquiring languages have slipped or are slipping out of the door. Whether scales and arpeggios or just learning tunes, there is a modicum of structure applied in learning an instrument in order to learn to play.

"There’s no use teaching people who need to be taught."

When applied to the subject of acquiring language, this more than borders on the crass. The kind of attitude that resulted in the exclusion of those with language and speech delay problems, the profoundly deaf and others who did not attain linguistic and vocal capabilities at the same level of the ‘norm’.
Speech and language therapists, who deal with those with special needs might well take issue with such a numptie statement.

Re: violin pedagogy, how useful do you find it to be?

"No one has said one must learn scales to learn music. ?! so how can you contradict an assertion that was not made?"

If you’re asserting that learning scales is helpful to learning tunes, don’t restort to language acquisition for your evidence, because again the evidence there directly contradicts your assertion.

Your only plausible analogy in language is language learning*, which is an adult process, distinct from child language acquisition, and a notoriously inefficient and ineffective one. And to learn language badly and slowly, yes, we do often start with the alphabet and learn how to assemble the written representation of the word, or the naive perception of the sound.
So, for your analogy to work, you should say, "if you want to learn to play music slowly and badly, start by learning scales."

If you don’t want to say that, stay away from language, because that’s what the linguistic analogy gives you.

Re: violin pedagogy, how useful do you find it to be?

Pio, yes the first year i picked up the Fiddle/Violin, i knew one position. G in first position. After learning that, i was able to experiment and figure out how you would go about playing the other "keys". I just tried learning what songs(meaning songs) that i could. I learned about everyt song on Evanescences’ "Fallen" album. It got me more comfortable with the fiddle. But admitedly, that first year i tried learning violin, so i was playing a lot of crazy random stuff. I even tried some songs by Enya, but they were too hard. Either way, i ended up practicing scales and arpeggios. But i feel that my progress comes from knowing how to practice effectively, which is another prior knowledge skill. I feel that anyone picking up a new instrument should learn and practice scales and arpeggios. To me it’s easier with this music because you work in such a small range of keys.

Re: violin pedagogy, how useful do you find it to be?

"And to learn language badly and slowly, yes, we do often start with the alphabet and learn how to assemble the written representation of the word, or the naive perception of the sound."

That was all my high school Spanish classes. Unsurprisingly, my Spanish is pretty useless. It would have been far more effective to go to Spain and absorb the language, rather than memorize lists of irregular verbs.

Re: violin pedagogy, how useful do you find it to be?

Weejie - since I’m technically "at work" (in the sense that I’m in the office, on the clock, and so forth) I was only able to skim the throat-clearings of that paper. Looks interesting. I note this, however, from the statement of the research question:
——————-
I formulated and proceeded to test the following related
hypotheses:
(a) The CDS used by the mother with her child in this study will be quantifiably different in content and quantity from the language that other family members use with the subject.
(b) Though all functions of language may be present in the linguistic input to which the child is exposed, a specific subset of those functions, the interactional and regulatory functions, will dominate the interactions between mother and child and will be less prominent in the language uttered by other family
members.

—————-
This suggests to me that the author intends precisely to confirm that "motherese" presents a depleted language, aimed at expressing social relations.
I’ll try to read the article on my way home, but is this about right? If so, I don’t disagree that a language tailored towards teaching social norms could excel at establishing social norms. I just don’t see how giving a child this depleted language is helpful from the point of view of learning the language. Children are very good at learning complex linguistic structures: that’s what they’re for. The cross-cultural evidence clearly shows that they do fine in the absence of motherese, and the difficulties facing American early eduction don’t really point to a great benefit from the babble habit.

But, as I say, this is all in advance of reading the actual article. Maybe it’ll all become clear.

Re: violin pedagogy, how useful do you find it to be?

ok, but bernie, playing scales has nothing to do with theory, or reading, or even knowing the names of the notes. Its about teaching your mind and fingers where the sounds you want are and how to get them. Before trying to use them to make music.

Its singing through the instrument, but first you have to learn to speak/sing… how do kids do that? they make noises. lots of noises, not trying to make sentences , just exploreing the tonal pallet sand the ways of creating the sounds. then they join these sounds up…. not even in real words then some words… simple phrases .

Re: violin pedagogy, how useful do you find it to be?

there you go talking about "positions" again…
The term "position" on the violin means something different than shaping one’s hand differently for key of G or key of C… it means moving the whole hand up the neck, so play the g on the d string with first finger instead of 3rd…. for example.
It can be confusing for folks when "position" has a meaning, and you are continuing to use it in a different way.
1st position encompasses all keys, not just G. It’s when the note one step up from the open string is played with 1st finger. That’s all.

Re: violin pedagogy, how useful do you find it to be?

"It would have been far more effective to go to Spain and absorb the language, rather than memorize lists of irregular verbs"

Yes, very much so. As a second-best measure, I can suggest listening to books on tape, to absorb the rhythm of the language, and the phonology. Just as in music, getting the feel of the phrase is a great help to understanding it, and it makes washing the dishes much less tedious.
I also found it very helpful to translate fiction from the source language. Forcing myself to attend to the nuances of a well-made sentence helped me to internalize the language. I can’t think of a musical analogy for that one, unfortunately.

Re: violin pedagogy, how useful do you find it to be?

"Its singing through the instrument, but first you have to learn to speak/sing… how do kids do that? they make noises. lots of noises, not trying to make sentences , just exploreing the tonal pallet sand the ways of creating the sounds. then they join these sounds up…. not even in real words then some words… simple phrases "

This is pretty close to completely wrong, and your grammar and spelling are atrocious. Please limit your assertions to areas in which you are not entirely ignorant, supposing that you can find any.

Re: violin pedagogy, how useful do you find it to be?

<<It would have been far more effective to go to Spain and absorb the language, rather than memorize lists of irregular verbs.>>
Well TSS that might work for some people, but not everyone! If youve done it, then fair enough, but what gets me, is people who have no experience in a field, expounding their ideas based on fantasy, with zilch experience , while putting down people who have years of actual real life experience.
So has Jon actually lived in Spain/SA and did he the language that way? and if this worked for him is he suggesting that his recommendations can be applied universally?

Re: violin pedagogy, how useful do you find it to be?

a) I have not lived in Spain, and did not say I had. I can say that my German improved immensely after a year in Berlin - three years of classroom instruction taught me about the language, but I couldn’t speak it at all. A year in Germany, and I could hold a conversation.

For a broader sample than myself, all of the people I know who have learned languages well as adults have done it by immersion. There are a lot of people on that list, and they represent a lot of languages.

b) my Spanish is, I’m told, pretty good - I have plenty of opportunities to exercise it here in Somerville. We have a lot of Spanish and Portuguese speakers, and I use both pretty often, and have no trouble talking with folks in either lanuage.
I had a great deal of trouble conversing in Spanish after seven years of classroom instruction in junior high and high school, even though I got As all the way through. Since then, I’ve done a lot of both of the things I recommended - translation has become a bit of a hobby for me. I’ve never taken a lesson of any sort in Portuguese, that was learned entirely by reading and listening.

So yes, I did learn Portuguese by my second-best means, and I learned it well enough to use it in conversation with strangers. You might argue that I got the basics of Spanish in classroom instruction, but would say I only learned about the language there: I learned the language itself by the means I suggested. And my spoken German was acquired through immersion, in Berlin.

I think it’s clear that immersion can be applied universally. Walk down my street and you’ll find Greeks and Portuguese and Brazilians who have lived there for decades, all of them immigrants, all of them having learned English by immersion, from necessity.
My "second-best" is less likely to work universally because it lacks the spur of necessity, but I think that a motivated pupil will learn more by this method than by drilling their irregular verbs. All I can say for sure, though, is that it worked for me.

Re: violin pedagogy, how useful do you find it to be?

Your analogy also fails on the grounds that the cognitive abilities of a pre-linguistic child and that of an adult are very different. A better analogy is that of an adult moving to a foreign country and acquiring fluency through immersion in a second language. I think if your expat tried "baby talk" type sounds when trying to buy a pint of milk in the new language, he might very quickly experience his new country’s mental health services!

Re: violin pedagogy, how useful do you find it to be?

Cross-post with Jon!

Re: violin pedagogy, how useful do you find it to be?

Barring the nuthouse part, that was me in Berlin for the first month…

Re: violin pedagogy, how useful do you find it to be?

We’ve got to stop meeting like this…

Re: violin pedagogy, how useful do you find it to be?

Much of this recent dialogue (the piob part) reminds me of a good friend and his partner who spent almost a year attending language classes and using every book and tape under the sun before heading for their month-long-idyllic-holiday-cottage-retreat in, wait for it, one of the most rural Catalan-speaking parts of Catalonia.

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Re: violin pedagogy, how useful do you find it to be?

"This suggests to me that the author intends precisely to confirm that "motherese" presents a depleted language, aimed at expressing social relations."

I think first that it should be emphasised that "motherese" is not "cudgycoo" style baby talk, but more a form of language that is styled to the child. The prosody aspect, especially, is exaggerated rather than depleted. There is much repetition and suggestion that the child is more aware of a response to his/her own limited communication than through adult directed speech, and prefers CDS (IDS) and as a result is more attentive. The implication in is that CDS is crucial to development (though the evidence in Papua New Guinea and elsewhere suggests otherwise) I quote: "CDS is a crucial factor in the language development of children and that those unfortunate infants who received little or no normal linguistic nurturing face a harsh life".
It does admit, however, that more empirical evidence is required to form substantial conclusions.

Re: violin pedagogy, how useful do you find it to be?

Sure, you learnt to use your voice as a child! were talking about enunciation vowels, etc etc etc the basics. picking up the pipes or fiddle , IME as a newcomer means you have to go through the whole process of learning about your new voice, how sounds are made etc etc IMO attempting to play tunes, before you can even’ speak’ presents problems as a concept, because I spent years trying, it was only separating out these issues that allowed me to progress . IMO learning the mechanics of your instrument is a separate issue, its about learning to use a tool, what you want to make with your tool is up to you.

If Jon learnt to play the fiddle to a standard that satisfy s himself and others just by playing tunes, fair play to him. Perhaps if Id spent 30yrs at it It would have worked eventually But my technique limited the type and quality of the music I wanted to play, so I focused on that and the lessons learnt there were directly applicable IME, in learning other skills that require a technical base.

Re: violin pedagogy, how useful do you find it to be?

Joining late here. Craziness!!! Talking/playing tunes/scales/techniques,etc… Its all practice every time you do it. I don’t care what you call it. Given that 99.9% (yes, personaly probability) of this music doesn’t have any real technical difficulty, a challenge on multiple positions is good for all kinds of reasons. BTW, I would love to hear "The Mathematician" or "Belle of the Stage" played by someone that doesnt practice upper positions, triplet techniques,etc… Oddly, I’ve posted some technique related discussions here before, with little uptake. I would have thought the expansion of horizons would have been welcomed. Tunes arent good enough when you get it, you need to improve everything, not just breeze through tunes….

Re: violin pedagogy, how useful do you find it to be?

You’re talking like you view your 99.9% with no real technical difficulty as a bad thing, a thing that limits your ability to play. You talk like an acquisition of more technique helps you to express yourself. I think this is a fundamentally wrong way to play this music.

I think you should play with what ever technique you have. Making music within your ability. It’s not easy when you are starting, of course, but you should soon enough gain enough ability to play a tune well enough to express yourself. I think that if you are wanting to listen to and play tunes like The Mathematician, you’ve completely missed the whole point of it.

Posted .

Re: violin pedagogy, how useful do you find it to be?

There are many points and approaches, different strands of a wide traditio, catalysed by the different circumstances we live and play in.
Its all very well as an amateur to criticise the professional and vice versa. To survive professionally it means your competing against flash classical technique and players who will lay scorn on a scratchy Irish fiddler who plays solely in first position. Who is basically obliged to and of course enjoys the ability to play Canadian and Scottish fiddling often incorporate this kind of thing, fast and furious flash technically challenging tunes.and to be able to do this well, with panache, requires good solid technique and ability in more than first position.

But by scales Im only talking about Major, first position scales in G D A and C, then F . the modes are all done within this basic scale practice. arpeggios of the main chords, and various patterns, and particular phrases and parts of phrases.

Re: violin pedagogy, how useful do you find it to be?

aghg shoot the proof reader. here it is again hopefully making more sense. . ma culpa

There are many approaches, different strands of a wide tradition, catalysed by the different circumstances we live and play in.
Its all very well as an amateur to criticise the professional and vice versa. To survive professionally it means your competing against flash classical technique and players who will lay scorn on a scratchy Irish fiddler who plays solely in first position.
Canadian and Scottish fiddling often incorporate this kind of thing, fast and furious flash technically challenging tunes.and to be able to do this well, with panache, requires good solid technique and ability in more than first position.

But by scales Im only talking about Major, first position scales in G D A and C, then F . the modes are all done within this basic scale practice. arpeggios of the main chords, and various patterns, and particular phrases and parts of phrases.

Re: violin pedagogy, how useful do you find it to be?

Well, there’s the rub of it eh? To survive, one must compete.

Wholly inappropriate language that is simply quite the antithesis of anything to do with this music, professional or amateur.

Posted .

Re: violin pedagogy, how useful do you find it to be?

Christ, I’m slow tonight … You’re Jig aren’t you?

(or should I say … "your" jig … I’d have let you off that one the first time, but when it went through the proof reader … )

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Re: violin pedagogy, how useful do you find it to be?

jeez, I wish there were "like" buttons…

Re: violin pedagogy, how useful do you find it to be?

Weejie says: "When applied to the subject of acquiring language, this more than borders on the crass."

Agreed. I didn’t apply it to acquiring language. If you read it that way, that’s your misapprehension. I was thinking not of language but music and of a particular participant here who mistakes grinding on the basic mechanics for learning to make music.

Besides, of course it’s crass. It’s a horrible, broadly generalized insult. That’s how Mizner intended it. I was simply sharing.

πŸ™‚ (…since some people apparently need the hint when p*ss is being taken….)

Posted .

Re: violin pedagogy, how useful do you find it to be?

I want this on a full-wall poster, even if it is simply championing the obvious:

"You’re talking like you view your 99.9% with no real technical difficulty as a bad thing, a thing that limits your ability to play. You talk like an acquisition of more technique helps you to express yourself. I think this is a fundamentally wrong way to play this music.

I think you should play with what ever technique you have. Making music within your ability. It’s not easy when you are starting, of course, but you should soon enough gain enough ability to play a tune well enough to express yourself. I think that if you are wanting to listen to and play tunes like The Mathematician, you’ve completely missed the whole point of it."

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Re: violin pedagogy, how useful do you find it to be?

"Agreed. I didn’t apply it to acquiring language. If you read it that way, that’s your misapprehension."

As it directly followed Jon’s post on acquiring language - where he was pointing out that language isn’t taught, I think any apprehension of its intention that I had was well founded.

Nice try, however.

Re: violin pedagogy, how useful do you find it to be?

For what it’s worth, Weej, I took it as Will says he intended it. I even sent him a snide remark about the cretXXXX individual in question.

Re: violin pedagogy, how useful do you find it to be?

"For what it’s worth, Weej, I took it as Will says he intended it. I even sent him a snide remark about the cretXXXX individual in question. "

Ah well. I’ll just mark it down as another example of the difference between US and UK humour.

Re: violin pedagogy, how useful do you find it to be?

"There’s no use teaching people who need to be taught."

There are some situations where that clearly isn’t right. You occcasionally meet mostly-self-taught people who have adopted some technique or instrument setup that will never allow them to play fluidly or will physically damage them before they get very far.

These people do need to be taught. But generally the worse the problem the more resistant they are to the whole idea of being taught anything. Even by their own muscles going into spasm.

Re: violin pedagogy, how useful do you find it to be?

Jack, as I said above, that quote from Mizner is an over-the-top, curmudgeonly broadside, not meant to be taken as gospel. I posted it mostly in jest.

Weej, I’ll stick with my hypothesis that you were mistaken, thanks. 😎

Posted .

Re: violin pedagogy, how useful do you find it to be?

"Weej, I’ll stick with my hypothesis that you were mistaken, thanks"

Hypothesis?

I’ll admit that I mistook your ad hominem for a genuine comment on a post.

Re: violin pedagogy, how useful do you find it to be?

All your brilliant repartee aside, at least we agree.

Posted .

Re: violin pedagogy, how useful do you find it to be?

llig, I agree with you in your disapproval of piobagusfidl’s view of the session world as "to survive, one must compete." Treating sessions like some sort of dog eat dog struggle does take the fun out of them. Now, if you would just explain, since you feel that way, why you think it is appropriate to nip at all the new puppies that drop by this website… πŸ˜‰

Re: violin pedagogy, how useful do you find it to be?

I never nip at ignorance, only idiocy

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Re: violin pedagogy, how useful do you find it to be?

Talk of twisting words Al, I said nothing of the sort! I pointed out a factual difference between being pro and amateur, nothing to do with sessions, were talking about fiddle playing .

Re: violin pedagogy, how useful do you find it to be?

I’ll reiterate, It’s wholly inappropriate language that is simply quite the antithesis of anything to do with this music, professional or amateur.

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Re: violin pedagogy, how useful do you find it to be?

Oh what complete nonsense llig, who on earth are you to define, for us all, what is appropriate? What you wish to achieve in your music, is up to you.
For someone to come along and say this motivation is right, appropriate, and this not? That you, llig, is right and that anyone who disagrees with you is therefore, ipso facto, wrong? ! Balls.
A pro, playing in a pro environment, anyone in fact, competing , be in for a job, for the all Ireland or for the ladies hand, has to consider the abilities and level of the competition and up their game, to those standards, or lose. Thats the very nature of competition.
You or I , sitting with a few mates down the pub dont have to deal with these situations and for you set out to judge others because they dont conform to your narrow minded concept of appropriate or inappropriate? Give it a rest!

Re: violin pedagogy, how useful do you find it to be?

That’s right, llig, what on earth are you doing expounding your personal private opinions on an internet forum? Especially when you know full well that what you say is instantly transcribed into the Official Rules of Traditional Music, and transmitted to Designated Session Leaders all around the world - your intemperate remarks are gospel, didn’t you know? Now everyone is going to have to live by your rules forever! Are you happy now?

Because of you, people are going to have to play music as though the point were to play music, they’ll never have the opportunity of playing music as though it were a zero-sum game of winners and losers. People trying to use their fiddles to get laid will simply be unable to do it! Is that what you want? And professional musicians the world over just laid down their instruments - they’ll never be able to play again. Good job, jerkbait. Because of you, Tommy Peoples’ career is over.

I mean, just because what you say is reasonable and makes sense, does that give you the right to just, you know, say it? In public? On the Internet? When you know that any moron might disagree with you and get offended?

Come on, man - how dare you utter a declarative sentence?

Re: violin pedagogy, how useful do you find it to be?

(Sorry, everyone. I didn’t mean to take fidilbreaker’s posting literally. It just slipped out…)

Re: violin pedagogy, how useful do you find it to be?

tee he

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Re: violin pedagogy, how useful do you find it to be?

Jig …. so …. are you right? …. and I’m wrong?

Posted .

Re: violin pedagogy, how useful do you find it to be?

Michael, are you in competition with Jig?

Re: violin pedagogy, how useful do you find it to be?

it certainly seems that way some times. It’s irritating

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Re: violin pedagogy, how useful do you find it to be?

An alternative to jig’s notion that pros *must* consider their competition is the view that you don’t worry about what anyone else is doing and just do your own best. This approach is common in most individual sports—golf and ultra-running in particular. And I’ve heard it espoused by a number of professional musicians.

The "compete to survive" mentality is out there in the music world, but from where I sit, I suspect it’s responsible for things like Yngwie Malmsteen. My hunch is if you asked most traditional musicians, they’d scoff at the idea and suggest instead that you just "be yourself."

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Re: violin pedagogy, how useful do you find it to be?

Back to the OP; it seems a good answer for the following, "I’m far enough along that I can relax and just listen to myself, I know there’s a lot of room for improvement in technique, especially with bowing, would a dose of classical discipline help?" … tends toward *no* (or perhaps maybe, but only briefly & at the most basic level of a beginner becoming familiar with a new instrument) & *yes* regarding "Or just diving in and playing more and listening carefully …"

Fair play?

Re: violin pedagogy, how useful do you find it to be?

Classical technique and classical delivery of said technique are two different things. With adult students, those that want to play music (not "study the violin") have had some "aha" moments when given some tips on classical technique. Not etudes and scales, but using techniques with tunes. It helps to have an adult student that communicates what their desires are from the outset concerning what they want to get from a lesson.

Re: violin pedagogy, how useful do you find it to be?

Any example(s) of classical "aha" which makes sense in black & white & mustard, wyogal?

Re: violin pedagogy, how useful do you find it to be?

I did re-read piobagusfidl’s original comment, and he was not referring to competition in sessions, so I do admit, I did misquote him. That being said, this is not the first time he has spoken of competition in The Music, and as llig has said, in The Music, even among professionals, competitiveness does not have a place. One of the refreshing things about The Music is the lack of competitive nature among many of the greatest players, as seen when you play in sessions with them, in fact, just the fact that they enjoy playing with those of us who are less gifted.
(And Jon, that was a clever bit of reductio ad absurdum above.)

Re: violin pedagogy, how useful do you find it to be?

Wyogal makes a terrific point. Except it’s really just "good" technique; classical violin doesn’t have a monopoly on that. πŸ™‚

I show my fiddle students all sorts of "violin pedagogy" technique, from left hand position and posture to bow hold. I also show other options and explain the pros and cons of each. And I make it clear that there’s lots of wiggle room for individual differences (anatomical and expectations and priorities).

A particularly good "aha" concept is vibrato. I teach vibrato because it comes in handy on slow pieces, whether slow airs or waltzes from any genre, etc. But more importantly, learning vibrato helps students loosen up their hold on the neck. Some people have a hard time letting go of the death grip. Learning vibrato helps them relax the thumb. Even if they end up rarely using vibrato, the learning experience helps their left hand technique and makes it easier and more fun to play fiddle.

I also teach a lot of finger flexibility ideas in the bow hand. It’s not necessary for playing Irish fiddle, but it can help, particularly with short, quick bow strokes and string crossings. And it’s easy to put it in the context of real tunes.

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Re: violin pedagogy, how useful do you find it to be?

exactly, Will. πŸ™‚

Re: violin pedagogy, how useful do you find it to be?

examples: bowing details, whether it be the hold, flexibility, just drawing strokes perpendicular to the strings, bowing patterns….
left hand relaxation, placement of fingers, position of wrist and elbow…
a variety of things, really.

Re: violin pedagogy, how useful do you find it to be?

"An alternative to jig’s notion that pros *must* consider their competition is the view that you don’t worry about what anyone else is doing and just do your own best."

I’m bound to say that I’ve never run into a professional musician who felt that they were in competition with other musicians, musically or otherwise. I hate the name-dropping bit, but I’ve spent time with - played, worked, socialized, slept, or otherwise interacted with - many, many musicians who play for money. Whether it’s making their living, or supplementing the day job, in trad music and in all of the other genres, writing their own songs or playing traditional music or playing bar-room rock and roll or gypsy jazz, they have exhibited a striking willingness, even an eagerness, to get with their "competition". They coach and encourage starting musicians, they hire promising ones, they put good acts on the bill with them, they’ve passed gigs to me when I needed them, they play at the sessions with stark raving novices and they honestly love to play the simplest tunes with them, I could go one, but you get the idea.
They do this because any working musician who you’re likely to meet (ie, anyone who’s not spending all of their time in a private tour bus) is doing this because they love the music and they love the people who play the music. And they also do this because they know that others have done the same for them and will do so again, because that’s how this game works.

Musicians in the scenes that I’ve moved in are not in competition with anyone. They share the same ecosystem, and for the people at their particular level, there’s not any more they could make by getting rid of anyone else. It’s a tough go, making a living at it, but that’s not because of the musicians, it’s because there just isn’t that much audience. But the audience that there is tends to give any band they like as much money as that band can ask for - in terms of ticket sales and CD sales and what not - so if there were fewer bands doing what they do, it wouldn’t help them.
In fact, since a music scene can be viewed as a two-party platform, it wouldn’t make any more sense for musicians to think of other musicans as "competition" than it would make sense for android app developers to think of other app developers as "competition". It’s precisely the presence of many developers that brings customers to the android platform and to the android market, and it’s precisely the presence of a number of trad bands (or punk bands or gypsy jazz bands or whatever) that turns one affectation into a scene, and develops an audience.
Your trad band might have the best following in the world, but they’re not going to come out to hear you every Friday unless they’re really obsessed. So you actually want to have two or three other trad bands to keep them listening to the music in that pub, while you go away and make your fans miss you. If there were only one trad band in town, they’d starve. If there’s half a dozen, they might all make something like a living.

The same thing scales to the regional and the national markets as well: if there’s one Kevin Burke and he tours once a year, it’s hard to keep the audience interested. But if there’s a great trad fiddler in town every month or so, you’ve got an audience that’s in the habit of going to hear a concert by Burke or Keenan or Carroll or Hayes, and they can all make a living.
The same goes for recordings: nobody buys just one player’s recordings. If the music sells at all, there’s a number of people selling it, and if there’s a market for it, all of the players in that market benefit from the presence of "competition".

In other words, the idea of competition in this sphere is, in my experience, rubbish.
You’re free to disagree with me of course, but, put simply, I don’t think you know the business very well if you don’t understand this, and if you know any actual musicians you already know all of this in your bones.

Once again, like the language acquisition portion of the argument (sorry, Weej, I still haven’t read that article!) this is a long digression to address a more or less irrelevant point brought up by someone flailing desperately at justifying a point which they admit they do not actually believe, so it’s all probably pretty useless, but it is an excuse to dispel a strange and unfounded misconception, and that’s sort of fun. So thanks, fidilbreaker, for having so many unfounded misconceptions to dispel.

Keep ‘em coming. But do do you think you could learn how to compose a coherent sentence for your next post? Thanks, that’d be swell.

Re: violin pedagogy, how useful do you find it to be?

It may well be competition should have no place in music, that doesn’t mean that in reality musicians are constantly eyeing each other musicians to see who has a better instrument than they have themselves, who gets the better sound, who has more tunes, who is getting the nice gigs and who is getting more exposure on radio, in articles or on the web.

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Re: violin pedagogy, how useful do you find it to be?

um, no, musicians are not constantly each other to see who has the best, does the best.
I know some musicians do that, and I stay away from them.

Re: violin pedagogy, how useful do you find it to be?

I agree. Yes, we all know some musicians like that, but not a single one of them are any good.

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Re: violin pedagogy, how useful do you find it to be?

So people are saying theres no place for competition in Irish Music ? well thats debatable I agree but its certainly a generally accepted part of the tradition in the 21st C though of course we, as individuals might not approve! .

Re: violin pedagogy, how useful do you find it to be?

fidilbreaker - No, I’m saying - and some others seem to agree - that there is no basis for competition among working Irish musicians. Please re-read the post and try to absorb some of it. I know it’s hard, but I have faith in you.

Prof. - I don’t know the scene where you are, but over here my experience is that there’s no radio, articles, or web exposure to argue about. πŸ™‚ * 0.5

Re: violin pedagogy, how useful do you find it to be?

So your a working Trad Irish musician? or your relaying second hand opinions?

Re: violin pedagogy, how useful do you find it to be?

Well Jon, I for one have been baffled by that side of it for a long time. And I don’t care for it at all. But it’s there all right, mostly not in an aggressive sort of way but it’s there all right.

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Re: violin pedagogy, how useful do you find it to be?

Well that’s a long way from your "to survive one must compete".

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Re: violin pedagogy, how useful do you find it to be?

Mis -quoting again… sigh, what I said was this;

<<Its all very well as an amateur to criticise the professional and vice versa. To survive professionally it means your competing against flash classical technique and players who will lay scorn on a scratchy Irish fiddler who plays solely in first position. >>

In future lads, if you dont understand a point, just ask for clarification instead of twisting the words to mean something completely different and then tilting at your own straw man.

Re: violin pedagogy, how useful do you find it to be?

>>So your a working Trad Irish musician? or your relaying second hand opinions?

Why don’t you go back and review my answer from the last time you asked that, or the time before, or the time before that? Can’t you come up with some other non-response for when you have no answer to what’s said?

I don’t see how your corrected quote doesn’t claim that musicians see themselves in competition with other musicians. From my experience, they don’t, and in terms of simple economics, in the US, they have no reason to.

>>In future lads, if you dont understand a point, just ask for clarification

Your "clarifications" seem to fall into two sorts. Sometimes you change your mind and agree with the person arguing with you, and then you try to make them argue your former point. Other times you simply repeat what you said before, which is what they responded to, as you’ve just done.

I’m beginning to suspect that you’re a bit thick.

Re: violin pedagogy, how useful do you find it to be?

"Well Jon, I for one have been baffled by that side of it for a long time. And I don’t care for it at all. But it’s there all right, mostly not in an aggressive sort of way but it’s there all right"

Like I say, it’s not something I’m seeing, but we’re in different places. I suppose I wouldn’t be surprised to see this among groups trying to occupy a certain space in the market, which they perceive as a limited commodity. The market niche I’m thinking of is the touring concert band with a trip through the US. I don’t know which bands are trying to turn that trick now, but the first few tours, it must seem like a minefield.
But that’s a shot in the dark - would you say that’s where you see this attitude?

Re: violin pedagogy, how useful do you find it to be?

"The market niche I’m thinking of is the touring concert band with a trip through the US"

Sorry, I failed to edit that correctly. Let me try to improve it:

"The market niche I’m thinking of is the touring concert band from Ireland trying to establish a regular round through the US."

Re: violin pedagogy, how useful do you find it to be?

No, I was mostly not thinking of bands or market share although you’d see certain people playing a particular make of instrument at concerts because (and I quote that) ‘it’s the one to be seen with’ . It’s all silly stuff.

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Re: violin pedagogy, how useful do you find it to be?

Oh, that sort of thing. I get you now.
Yeah, I agree with llig on that - it’s childish, and I don’t know of any great players who have such small minds. There may be some, but I don’t know them.

Re: violin pedagogy, how useful do you find it to be?

My point was that players in small local sessions are not dealing with the same situations as a pro in an international market which includes virtuoso players of many genres.
This is the beauty of retaining amateur status, no pressure, amateurs are not obliged to teach what the student wants rather than what the student needs in the instructors opinion. So pandering to the student market happens in pro teachers, because if they dont, they lose their students and dont eat! Adding synths or doing xmas themes CD’s! and whatever is , sadly, seen as necessary in some areas of the pro market .

As far as Jons quote; ‘I’m beginning to suspect that you’re a bit thick. ” Thats a classic, He doesnt understand what im saying, but its ‘me’ whos a bit thick. Ahh yes Jon, that must be it. 😎

Re: violin pedagogy, how useful do you find it to be?

I’m afraid your last post was even more incoherent than usual. Try again. This time, try to decide ahead of time whether you’re talking about session players, teachers, performers, or what on earth you’re talking about, and see if you can’t stick with that decision all the way through.

Or don’t try again, that would be fine too. "Shut up and stop digging" is pretty good advice if everything you post just makes you look more imbecilic than the previous.

Re: violin pedagogy, how useful do you find it to be?

I’m amused that there is a complaint when I paraphrase "To survive professionally it means your competing." as "to survive one must compete".

(Assuming, of course, that you meant "you’re")

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Re: violin pedagogy, how useful do you find it to be?

Apart from they mean completely different things?! well yes! Just because your in a competition doesnt mean you have to compete, you could be a place man, just doing your time .
The fact that its a race, doesnt mean you have to run to win…if you want to go ahead! there’s more to a race than winning!

Thats the market place that as a professional you need to compete in; ie .to have a competitive price to succeed in business. You wouldn’t generally give jobs away to others altruistically would you? And if your product is not wanted you dont eat or the kids dont go to college ,. To survive professionally it means your competing against flash classical technique and players because they are in the market place too.

The Cornish tin miners went around the world teaching people how to mine Tin. Now there is no tin mine industry in Cornwall because they taught them selves out of business…….

Re: violin pedagogy, how useful do you find it to be?

So, you’re saying "A means not A"? That’s tantamount to asserting A & ^A, which is usually the point when the sensible people leave the room. It’s the logical equivalent of saying "Hey, have I shown you my perpetual motion machine?", or "Did you know 9/11 was an inside job?" It’s pretty much over at that point: the loonies gather in one corner and start splintering into factions, and the rest of us go for a beer.

(I think may be a "Russell violation", a parallel to the Godwin- anyone got a better name for it?)

Re: violin pedagogy, how useful do you find it to be?

It reminds me of that brilliant scene in One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s nest where they are playing pontoon in the wash room. Danny Devito has two kings and he keeps saying over and over, "hit me … hit me … hit me …"

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