What do you respond if someone who is extemely condescending about learning from dots asks where you learned a tune?

What do you respond if someone who is extemely condescending about learning from dots asks where you learned a tune?

I know someone in a session he would be a real nerd about wanting to know where you learned a tune. Nothing wrong with that but if you said you learned it from notes or even from o neills he would turn his face up and sneer and sometimes would say ‘I HATE that’ when other people said how they have used from notes.

He is very proud of the fact he can’t read music and thinks it makes him more authentic.

So how do you respond to such people who you already know would be very judgemental about you having learned from notes even though it was a great tune?

I do learn by ear when I can but often there aren’t videos for whistle in the key I want so in these cases I check out this site for tunes I had already heard and liked on youtube etc played on fiddle or such like to find out if there is a version written up in a key for D whistle.

I was thinking if they are going to be silly about it then might as well just make up some fable like a green giant bestowed it to me as I was walking through his lair in ireland once. Make it sound more ‘romantic’ like.

Re: What do you respond if someone who is extemely condescending about learning from dots asks where you learned a tune?

> So how do you respond to such people who you already know would be very judgemental about you having learned from notes even though it was a great tune?

I would have zero compunction about making up a story of some kind. One can start from the plausible: "I learnt it at a festival last year", or "I saw a video of Matt Molloy playing it on Youtube", progress through the mildly curious "It was on a Game of Thrones episode", "I heard a busker playing it in Greenwich", and so on to outright fantasy. "It came to me in a dream", "I heard it in the ocean waves", etc.

Perhaps the best of all, and one which brooks no further debate, is "my mother played it".

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Re: What do you respond if someone who is extemely condescending about learning from dots asks where you learned a tune?

Tell him or her politely to go away.

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Re: What do you respond if someone who is extemely condescending about learning from dots asks where you learned a tune?

Tell him you learned it from O’Neill’s which is more authentic because he wrote it down from the much older players whereas learning a tune from a living person would be waaaaay newer and their version is probably corrupted from the true, older version that O’Neill captured. I would like to see his face then!

Re: What do you respond if someone who is extemely condescending about learning from dots asks where you learned a tune?

So, it would be alright for him to learn the tune "by ear" from you even if you had originally learned it from the dots? :-)

Re: What do you respond if someone who is extemely condescending about learning from dots asks where you learned a tune?

I guess it would depend on whether this person played really well from decades of close listening to excellent sources, and whether you were woodenly sawing through a formula of notes you’d learned by rote.

Re: What do you respond if someone who is extemely condescending about learning from dots asks where you learned a tune?

Next time they play a tune, ask where they got it from. If they say a recording say " I hate that, the only way to learn is from some half deaf peat digger with his trousers tied up with string in a little black house on the Burren.
It’s not where you learn a tune that matters but your interpretation of it and a wide knowledge and feel for the tradition.

Re: What do you respond if someone who is extemely condescending about learning from dots asks where you learned a tune?

Tell him to mind his own business using as many expletives as you feel comfortable with.

Re: What do you respond if someone who is extemely condescending about learning from dots asks where you learned a tune?

Surely you heard it somewhere prior to learning it from dots? You can just name wherever you heard it first.

All other options seem a bit awkward to me..

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Re: What do you respond if someone who is extemely condescending about learning from dots asks where you learned a tune?

Tell him you don’t remember. He’s clearly not asking because he’s interested, only to claim some spurious superiority.

Re: What do you respond if someone who is extemely condescending about learning from dots asks where you learned a tune?

I’ll not "name drop" here but I once got a tune straight from a well known Irish fiddler at a certain European Festival while we were "making the curry".
He had just performed it at the weekend and it was a special tune composed just for the festival. I asked him if he could play it again and I recorded it on my "walkman" or was it mini disc…showing my age!
It’s a great wee waltz and, as far as I know, it hasn’t been recorded elsewhere. I still love to play it though.

A memory to treasure.

Re: What do you respond if someone who is extemely condescending about learning from dots asks where you learned a tune?

I’m with bogman…….

Re: What do you respond if someone who is extemely condescending about learning from dots asks where you learned a tune?

"He is very proud of the fact he can’t read music and thinks it makes him more authentic."
Who cares!
With a statement like that, it seems that he is an arrogant pig, no matter what the subject.
Tell him the truth and move on. You’re there to make music, not a shit fight.
If he has a problem how you learn a tune, remember, it is he that has the problem - not you.
You do not have to *make excuses* for the way you do things. Be true to yourself.

@bogman. I sort of agree. :)

JJ,PM. When does the rest of us get to look at this "great wee waltz"?

Re: What do you respond if someone who is extemely condescending about learning from dots asks where you learned a tune?

I might put it up some time but I’ll have to transcribe it "from my playing".

Actually, I just had a go at it. I’d forgotten some of it at first but it came back to me after one or two plays.

There was also a Phil Cunningham tune from around the same time but it’s here already… :-)

https://thesession.org/tunes/3013

Re: What do you respond if someone who is extemely condescending about learning from dots asks where you learned a tune?

"I was given a signed copy by the composer who wrote it out then and there for me." (Speaking of Phil Cunningham, a friend has just that!)

Or, "I wrote it myself" - here’s a copy.

Re: What do you respond if someone who is extemely condescending about learning from dots asks where you learned a tune?

Eh, I hardly remember where I got most of my tunes. Just say “I don’t know. There are so many tunes out there.” Or “god knows, maybe on YouTube?”. Or just tell him the truth. I don’t see why his opinion would matter all that much to you, unless you’re learning bad versions of tunes.

On a side note, check who posted what on the session. There are a few prolific and competent tune posters you’ll start to recognize pretty quickly. I can’t remember all of them but jackb and Jeremy and ceolachan spring to mind. They’re pretty reliable.

Re: What do you respond if someone who is extemely condescending about learning from dots asks where you learned a tune?

>Tell him or her politely to go away.

That is not so easy when they are the session runner!

>Tell him you learned it from O’Neill’s which is more authentic because he wrote it down from the much older players whereas learning a tune from a living person would be waaaaay newer and their version is probably corrupted from the true, older version that O’Neill captured. I would like to see his face then!

Yeah I thought the very same thing actually that it is very ignorant to think learning from ANY dots is automatically inauthentic when o’ neills is like the ‘source’ of acurate notation from the period. It is such a narrow view that they dismiss any notes off hand just because they are ‘on paper’.

Re: What do you respond if someone who is extemely condescending about learning from dots asks where you learned a tune?

Having said that I hadn’t been back to the session for a good while due to that kind of attitude tbh so I suppose the issue is moot. But I had been considering going back and that is what stirred me to write the post but it just reminded me of what put me off it in the first place :P.

It is a shame because that is the only place I knew of in my city which plays solely irish music as all the other sessions are english centered with only a couple of irish war horses drizzled in here and there.

Re: What do you respond if someone who is extemely condescending about learning from dots asks where you learned a tune?

Following on from the o neills comment- I read that o neill’s actually was the main learning resource even in Ireland when the music was all but dead and they were having the revival in the 50s or 60s as most of the lineage had been lost so they used o neill’s as their starting point.

Re: What do you respond if someone who is extemely condescending about learning from dots asks where you learned a tune?

Hit him with a Big Lebowski quote.
“Yeah, well, that’s just, like, your opinion, man.”

Re: What do you respond if someone who is extemely condescending about learning from dots asks where you learned a tune?

Re: O’Neill’s. I would seriously doubt that.

Re: What do you respond if someone who is extemely condescending about learning from dots asks where you learned a tune?

Having played mainly Scottish music previously, when I first took more interest in Irish music about 25 years ago I learnt a lot of tunes from O’ Neill’s. An old piper in Derry told me it was a very unreliable source if I was going to be playing with Irish people. I’ve always found since that that’s been the case.

Re: What do you respond if someone who is extemely condescending about learning from dots asks where you learned a tune?

>Tell him or her politely to go away.

"That is not so easy when they are the session runner!"

Then you need to ask yourself "why am I at this session ?".

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Re: What do you respond if someone who is extemely condescending about learning from dots asks where you learned a tune?

I would just give truthful answers but just not engage “Did you learn that from sheet music “ “Yes “ “ I don’t read the dots” “Wow” “ I hate O’’Neill’s” “Oh really”. You don’t owe him an intelligent answer.

Re: What do you respond if someone who is extemely condescending about learning from dots asks where you learned a tune?

What Kenny said. If you don’t enjoy a session (for whatever reasons, really), nobody is forcing you to come back. If it’s the only session in your area, this still applies.

Re: What do you respond if someone who is extemely condescending about learning from dots asks where you learned a tune?

Is this not a repeat of the very recent https://thesession.org/discussions/43442

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Re: What do you respond if someone who is extemely condescending about learning from dots asks where you learned a tune?

Just answer "I have no idea, and yourself, where did you learn it".

I wouldn’t advice learning a tune from dots without at least having listened to the tune somewhere, only the most experienced players can probably get away with that approach.

Re: What do you respond if someone who is extemely condescending about learning from dots asks where you learned a tune?

Hold your head up high and tell them the name of the book, page number, tune number, transcriber, publisher and ISBN number - they’ll probably have left you alone before you finish.

Re: What do you respond if someone who is extemely condescending about learning from dots asks where you learned a tune?

Actually, the best response is, "I got it from the fairies". :)

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Re: What do you respond if someone who is extemely condescending about learning from dots asks where you learned a tune?

"In my family, we grew up literate" usually works for me. When faced with the pompous butt who insists on defending his self-aggrandizing "authenticity" I assume my most condescending posture and congratulate him on overcoming his handicap. Yeah, it could be considered harsh, but it’s a lot better than what comes next should he persist.

Re: What do you respond if someone who is extemely condescending about learning from dots asks where you learned a tune?

How about, “your mother was whistling it in bed last night.”

Re: What do you respond if someone who is extemely condescending about learning from dots asks where you learned a tune?

Last time I said something like that it was to an orphan. I did not see that coming. It went poorly.

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Re: What do you respond if someone who is extemely condescending about learning from dots asks where you learned a tune?

Go full Neillidh Boyle. "This reel was composed by me. I almost forgot the notes, but fiddlers kept asking me about it and liking it very much. So I wrote it down. Did I mention it was written by me? One summer I was playing the fiddle in my room and then it came to me. So now I will play this reel, composed by myself for you…" Etc etc

Re: What do you respond if someone who is extemely condescending about learning from dots asks where you learned a tune?

Nobody has mentioned "Osmosis" yet. That’s how I learned loads of my tunes.

Re: What do you respond if someone who is extemely condescending about learning from dots asks where you learned a tune?

I would quote the rapper:

"It’s not what you look like when you doin what you doin
It’s what you’re doin when you look like you are doin what you doin"

Re: What do you respond if someone who is extemely condescending about learning from dots asks where you learned a tune?

How about making it into a drinking game with the other session players - every time he makes a predictable snobby remark about the dots/those who use them, everybody cheers and sips their pint?

Re: What do you respond if someone who is extemely condescending about learning from dots asks where you learned a tune?

Offer to help them learn to read.

Re: What do you respond if someone who is extemely condescending about learning from dots asks where you learned a tune?

As someone who clearly shares my genius-level social skills suggested way up the thread - try: "I don’t know" or "I don’t remember". Practise it in front of a mirror - you can do it!

Re: What do you respond if someone who is extemely condescending about learning from dots asks where you learned a tune?

I learn it from a book?

Re: What do you respond if someone who is extemely condescending about learning from dots asks where you learned a tune?

>Re: O’Neill’s. I would seriously doubt that.

Doubting thomas; I saw it on a documentary. They were saying that there was no1 else playing at the time and michael coleman was their main influence at the time which is what made most people’s styles the same for a time and the main resources were the american irish who were out there and came back to ireland and their recordings. Maybe they didn’t mention O neills but definitely the above.

Re: What do you respond if someone who is extemely condescending about learning from dots asks where you learned a tune?

I’d tell him to grow up. He sounds quite immature.

Re: What do you respond if someone who is extemely condescending about learning from dots asks where you learned a tune?

>"no1 else was playing at the time". A bit of an exaggeration there to say the least…

Re: What do you respond if someone who is extemely condescending about learning from dots asks where you learned a tune?

Maybe I have just been lucky for the last few decades of playing in sessions but I have never come across this behaviour before.
Some people read music some don’t, definitely no big deal and not something to get shirty about.

Re: What do you respond if someone who is extemely condescending about learning from dots asks where you learned a tune?

Tell him where you learned it. Why would you say anything else? You are not responsible for how he reacts, nor should you care. If the response is negative, tell him not to ask you anymore. Trying to reason with a fool is time wasted. So is trying be clever.

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Re: What do you respond if someone who is extemely condescending about learning from dots asks where you learned a tune?

Tell him you learned it from one of the books in your uncle’s Irish music collection, but you can’t remember the book name, as he has over a hundred of them.

Then suggest playing a tune (but you can’t remember its name), pick up a whistle out of your bag of 6 of them, and say, it’s in this key, as you cover whatever holes you need to play the tonic of that key, and hold it up to his face so he can see :)

Re: What do you respond if someone who is extemely condescending about learning from dots asks where you learned a tune?

P.m. me if you’d like one of my tunes: but it will be a musical score.

Re: What do you respond if someone who is extemely condescending about learning from dots asks where you learned a tune?

I’m with these on the thread that think you should just tell him where it’s from. These other answers are definitely creative, but why give him an answer to please him? Honestly, the way you write it in the OP, he sounds like a teenager. If you just beat around the bush with different responses, you’re just going to enable him to do it again, and again. To you and to others.

Re: What do you respond if someone who is extemely condescending about learning from dots asks where you learned a tune?

TW.
Correct.

Re: What do you respond if someone who is extemely condescending about learning from dots asks where you learned a tune?

Thanks Ailin, for being a voice of reason. I’m reminded of something my father used to say, "when you argue with a fool, know that there are two fools in the argument". Sometimes I forget that.

Re: What do you respond if someone who is extemely condescending about learning from dots asks where you learned a tune?

Fr. Jack said it best - "Feck off cup!"

Re: What do you respond if someone who is extemely condescending about learning from dots asks where you learned a tune?

You can say the tune came to you in a dream - which is a helpful non-answer. See "Garster’s Dream" from Shetland posted here, an excellent tune. Good morning.

Re: What do you respond if someone who is extemely condescending about learning from dots asks where you learned a tune?

It seems to me there are at least four possible reasons to ask "Where did you learn that?" and without knowing more it’s hard to know what’s going on.

1) "Hey, that’s an interesting version of the tune. Where is it from?"
2) "That was a crap version of the tune. What source is that nonsensical?"
3) "Your playing is pretty bad. I am trying to gently find out why."
4) "I am baiting you so I can express my superiority."

One of the dangers of learning from sheet music is that often readily available sheet music for a tune doesn’t correspond to the way the majority of the ITM world plays the tune. The classic, really blatant example of this is O’Neill’s setting of the tune "Julia Delaney’s" — if you learned the tune from those dots, your version will be about as different as two settings can be without being a completely different tune.

BTW, one thing I think gets lost from these discussions is that warning is completely valid for learning by ear, too! It’s one thing to learn from ear by listening to, say, Paddy Killoran recordings of a tune. It’s another to learn by ear from listening to Joe P American, who himself learned Irish music by looking at a blurry photocopy a few pages of O’Neill’s, skipping all the hard notes, and watching Riverdance three times. (Actually, it’s also true that "the greats" can have settings that diverge pretty commonly from the modern norm — but at least there you can usually shut people up by saying "I learned it from [say] Willie Clancy, so you have a problem with the way he played the tune?")

Re: What do you respond if someone who is extemely condescending about learning from dots asks where you learned a tune?

(all of which isn’t to deny that some session leaders are complete assholes.)

Re: What do you respond if someone who is extemely condescending about learning from dots asks where you learned a tune?

I have no tolerance for ignorant people, and you shouldn’t either. The fact that he can’t read music is not something to be proud of.

Re: What do you respond if someone who is extemely condescending about learning from dots asks where you learned a tune?

>> The fact that he can’t read music is not something to be proud of.

Nor is it something to be ashamed of… But it certainly isn’t something to give someone else a hard time about. I think Sol Foster’s post about the different reasons the question is asked is pretty spot on, and it sounds like Arthur’s antagonist is really just using #4 as a reason, and being a jerk. Don’t take it too personally… Or, if he’s that much of a jerk, see how he likes playing the session alone when he’s driven everyone else away…

Re: What do you respond if someone who is extemely condescending about learning from dots asks where you learned a tune?

When did not knowing something become a virtue? I don’t even necessarily mean in music. I feel like I see this more in my day-to-day. People take this weird sort of pride in not having taken time to learn something, or imply that it was some big waste of time that you did.

Learning things is good. Always. End of. There are great players who can’t read music, but they aren’t great BECAUSE they can’t read music.

Normally, I’d never give someone crap about not reading music. It’s a great skill to cultivate, but it isn’t all there is to music. It’s critical to train your ear, but pretending other tools aren’t available to augment that is just burrying your head in the sand.

If he wants to make it into a thing, you should make it into a thing. Give him a hard time about being only halfway educated, or offer to help him "figure it out." Start calling him "illiterate," from time to time. Say how music was important enough to you that you wanted to be able to do it both ways, and that you understand why some people might justify or make excuses because they can’t make the effort, don’t have the time, or couldn’t make it click, but you just weren’t willing to give up that easy. Point out that there are an awful lot of "authentic," musicians who didn’t get the opportunity to learn notation and would have jumped at the chance, if only to have access to so much more music. The dude lives in the age of the greatest access to knowledge in the history of the world and he’s got his eyes shut.

But DON’T do it around other musicians. I only recommend this course because if you’re going to condescend to someone, you should probably get a little in return. Everyone’s experience with music is their own thing and other players who can’t read shouldn’t be made to feel bad.

Honestly, I’d be willing to bet at least a little bit of his attitude is a cover for not liking that you have a skill he doesn’t.

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Re: What do you respond if someone who is extemely condescending about learning from dots asks where you learned a tune?

Arthur, you mentioned you are thinking about going back to the session. Are there positive aspects about the session which you enjoy & appreciate enough to make it worth the effort to return? Is the person who condescends you always making you uncomfortable or does he ever have anything positive (or helpful) to say about your playing?

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Re: What do you respond if someone who is extemely condescending about learning from dots asks where you learned a tune?

"When did not knowing something become a virtue?"

It’s not a virtue, of course. However, none of us can ever learn everything which is useful to know in this life. We don’t usually have time even to learn all the necessities.

If we are not consciously focusing on one particular aspect, we might be learning something else which may be just as beneficial. This guy might well be putting much more effort into learning the tunes "his way" which is commendable in itself.

However, I agree one shouldn’t brag about not knowing how to do something or be condescending as this player seems to be. You get this in many other areas of life, I’ve found, but such comments are often made as a "defence" or because of a feeling of inadequacy and those making such remarks are often quite insecure in themselves about certain aspects of their lives.

We’ve all heard comments such as "I’ve never been to University. It’s a waste of time" and so on. Many of us have also had the occasional moan about "academics" within the folk scene and, more recently, young musicians attending traditional music courses at University and so on.
Yes, there are some negative aspects with the above and it’s perfectly possible to provide a very worthwhile contribution to the music without formal education as traditional players and singers have always done over the years. However, most of our criticisms are usually influenced to no small extent by the "little green eyed monster" and it’s important for all of us to realise that there are many different approaches or ways to learn and succeed.

Re: What do you respond if someone who is extemely condescending about learning from dots asks where you learned a tune?

"It’s not a virtue, of course."

Which is exactly my point, yet for some reason it seems really popular to spin it as though it is. You have the whole anti education crowd in the states, and an awful lot of people choose snark over interest when you know something they don’t. I literally saw someone made fun of about a month ago for having "wasted time reading a book." I know we all have to prioritize. I’d love to learn the hurdy gurdy, but it’s just not in the cards for this go-round. Though if I did have the time, I’m sure I’d be better for it. What I’m definitely not going to do is give the hurdy gurdiers crap because more people want to listen to my instrument than theirs or something like that.

And yeah, I agree jealousy and insecurity is probably the primary motivator with all of it. That’s what I was getting at when I was saying it was cover. It’s easier on the ego to pretend you’re better off not knowing something than to say "damn, it’d be great to know about that, but that’s just not where my energy can go right now." Admitting that is disappointing as hell. I know I’m always shattered when I come across a new interest I want to sink some time into and realize I just don’t have it to give.

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Re: What do you respond if someone who is extemely condescending about learning from dots asks where you learned a tune?

Hello, Rhaco. Welcome to the session dot org.

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Re: What do you respond if someone who is extemely condescending about learning from dots asks where you learned a tune?

Kick ‘em squarely where it counts.

Re: What do you respond if someone who is extemely condescending about learning from dots asks where you learned a tune?

Mr. Eskin why are you posting comments like that?

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Re: What do you respond if someone who is extemely condescending about learning from dots asks where you learned a tune?

Since I learned to read music but can also play “By Ear”, if I’ve heard a tune and like it then I’ll look up “The Dots” in O’Neills first and then play it in the style from which I heard it.

Re: What do you respond if someone who is extemely condescending about learning from dots asks where you learned a tune?

Because this is a ridiculous topic. The guy who is condescending is a jerk and bully. Just walk away and don’t engage him.

Re: What do you respond…?

Thank you, Mr. Eskin.
Ben

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Re: What do you respond if someone who is extemely condescending about learning from dots asks where you learned a tune?

you’re never going to change him. However to get your jollies just say: Lovely tune, isn’t it. I’ll send you a copy if you wish. And then go away.
Sylvia Miskoe, Concord NH USA

Re: What do you respond if someone who is extemely condescending about learning from dots asks where you learned a tune?

"It came to me in a dream."

Re: What do you respond if someone who is extemely condescending about learning from dots asks where you learned a tune?

Tune transcriptions are notoriously shorthand affairs, and often reflect one regional style of playing. If a player starts a tune at a session and they themself only know the tune from a written sheet, well… I would say that’s ‘generally’ not a good idea.

It’s good to get inspiration from sheet music. But there’s also regional variation in ornamentation, lift, and lilt.

If a player is enough of an authority on those things to introduce a fresh interpretation of a tune to a session, they’re probably ready to lead a session.

So, not knowing the OP’s skills and style and just inserting myself as the the one to introduce such tune, I might read the session leader’s question as a veiled critique of my playing.

Before I started taking lessons from Eileen Ivers back in the 1980s, I auditioned for her with a couple of tunes I had learned from O’Neill’s. I finished and looked up for approval, and she said

"Wow. That was fast."

Fortunately I saw the humor in her kind choice of words, she didn’t send me packing, and she studiously parted me from my wrecking ball ways.

Re: What do you respond if someone who is extemely condescending about learning from dots asks where you learned a tune?

Thanks AB,

I’ve lurked forever, but for some reason this topic got the blood boiling enough to create a login. Still, I hate that my first post was a wall of text rant.

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Re: What do you respond if someone… asks where you learned a tune?

Cheers, Barry. You bring up helpful & valid points about this topic. I find myself considering questions such as the OP’s in a similar way to yourself. i.e. ~ ‘…not knowing the OP’s skills and style and just inserting myself
as the the one to introduce such tune, I might read the session leader’s…’
However I am aware of recent & earlier posts from Mr. Gondolor. So, I want to be clear. His previous comments & replies effect how I imagine the scenario as described by Arthur in his original post (sorry to be
discussing you in the 3rd person, Arthur).
Just as an example here is a reply from 4 months ago which might bias my thinking about how to respond
to Arthur’s question(s) now. https://thesession.org/discussions/42977#comment859017
"Re: Are you still learning good general skills when learning tunes…" posted December 10th, 2018

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Re: What do you respond if someone who is extemely condescending about learning from dots asks where you learned a tune?

Just say, very condescendingly of course, "well I can do it either way."