Teaching through ABC format or other formats.

Teaching through ABC format or other formats.

I would be really interested to know what written format most people on this site use for teaching. The ABC format used throughout this site, another version of ABC, tonic solfa, some sort of number system, sheet music or something else.

Re: Teaching through ABC format or other formats.

For teaching traditional music (Irish, Scottish and other) and monophonic early music, I teach by ear. If I do use paper, I hand it out at the end of the workshop or lesson — ordinary staff notation, maybe an arrangement, with notes and links to recordings and videos that I think will help students. Usually this is for workshops rather than individual lessons, as I often will not see the students for several months or even years.

Playing from ABC is an interesting party trick, and not unuseful, but it was developed to easily transmit alpha-numeric musical notation over the internet in the long-ago days before easy and ubiquitous graphics formats. (I remember those days, green letters in black screens, and even keypunch cards. And we walked uphill to school. In the snow. Both ways. )

Re: Teaching through ABC format or other formats.

A good question, I’d like to know myself and applaud you for asking. I suspect that the best system is the one that’s been used for centuries, the score. (Note: I’m talking about a crafted score and not the shorthand we get on various sites and books, useful as it can be). It seems to me that that’s the one that contains the most useful information. I used it when I taught bass and it seemed to work for understanding interval and theory.

Now the cynical part of my being is leaking out of every pore. I really hope that this question will not deteriorate into yet another cluster of arguments between the "learn/play" by ear school and the proponents of literacy. We’ll see.

Re: Teaching through ABC format or other formats.

I’m old school, standard notation but the software I use(Melody Assistant) allows the creation of TAB for various stringed instruments and tunings with one click so I often add that to my transcriptions.

Re: Teaching through ABC format or other formats.

On a few occasions I’ve emailed a link to TheSession (if there’s a setting that is very similar), sometimes I jot down the ABC, sometimes I add a PDF of the score. But in most cases I don’t use any kind of written music, and they don’t even record. We’ll go through the tune next time anyway.

Re: Teaching through ABC format or other formats.

ABC format was designed to minimise bandwidth required to transfer score. Because it used standard ASCII characters was email / SMS friendly (also ZIP-tastic). PDF or TIFF/JPG of scores were 100X larger files.

It is still common for teachers writing on board to do ABC for classes - at least in ITM circles and usually without the digits indicating the note duration.

Because the notes are "data" - they are more easily stored in a database - and it would be easier to write software to process (transpose, search, compare, analyse). It is also much easier for a human to edit (simple text editor) versus specialised software and fonts for music rendering.

Re: Teaching through ABC format or other formats.

From the perspective of some students (well, at least one, me) being told that a note is, say, a B is more about which note to play than the melodic or harmonic context that may be more apparent in score.

And even more apparent in what I hear the teacher play. So I am happy with text rather than a score if my ears are the main source of information.

Re: Teaching through ABC format or other formats.

I am very much like Tracie, in that I teach exclusively by ear. I am always happy to transcribe the particular setting of a tune that I taught and give it to a student as either ABC or staff notation, but it is always an afterthought. And I am always sure to stress the point that people play tunes differently, and that what I taught was just my setting of a tune. I will often play them several different versions of the tune after they learn it so that they can get an idea of how other players have interpreted it.

But students usually bring recording devices (since almost everyone seems to have one in their pocket these days), and to be honest, it has been years since anyone actually asked me for notation after learning a tune. Part of that may be that they can just hop on this website and get it themselves (and I have a few students who will show up for the next lesson having obviously looked up a different setting than I taught and used that instead of my setting - which is fine unless it clashes with what I taught).

Re: Teaching through ABC format or other formats.

Yvonne, are you asking specifically about teaching tunes, or about how music teachers use notation for teaching music?

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Correction

“[ABC] was developed to easily transmit alpha-numeric musical notation over the internet in the long-ago days before easy and ubiquitous graphics formats.” I beg to differ. I remember Micho Russell writing tunes out in ABC for kids — one of whom was my daughter — as a mnemonic device. This was in the early 80s, before any of us dreamed of sending music via the net. Micho would teach kids (anybody, probably) for free, in O’Connor’s, in Fisherstreet, Doolin.

Re: Teaching through ABC format or other formats.

I don’t teach, but I had never seen ABC until I came to this site, by which time I had been playing for 30 years.

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Re: Teaching through ABC format or other formats.

I concur, David. Tracie’s post regarding ABCs is a creative, anachronistic narrative of dubious historicity.
;

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Re: Teaching through ABC format or other formats.

According to wikipedia: "ABC notation was in widespread use in the teaching of Irish traditional music in the late 1970s and most probably much earlier than that."

Re: Teaching through ABC format or other formats.

Two different forms of "ABC" being discussed here at cross purposes. There’s the "ABC" system devised for use in computers, such as is used to transcribe tunes on this website, but a teaching system was in use in Ireland - [ still used today, as recently as 2 years ago in Ballyvourney ] - which is quite different.
Yvonne the original poster here is most likely not referring to the system devised by Chris Walshaw.

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Re: Teaching through ABC format or other formats.

> devised for use in computers

Chris Walshaw originally created his notation for writing down tunes on paper when he didn’t have staff ruled paper to hand, and only after amassing a collection started to digitise it (and I think it was a while before anyone came up with a means of typesetting it).

Whether Chris had come across similar notations previously or invented it from whole cloth I don’t know, but it seems to me to be the kind of thing that gets invented in multiple times and places due to usefulness.

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Re: Teaching through ABC format or other formats.

From "abcnotation.com" : "When: Since its introduction at the end of 1993 ……. "
I still have in my possession written Irish "abc" notation given to me at a flute class at the Willie Clancy week in 1981. "The Mist Covered Mountains" and "Gorman’s" reel, if you’re interested.

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Re: Teaching through ABC format or other formats.

Geraldine Cotter’s PhD thesis from the University of Limerick describes a form of ABC used by Frank Custy to teach tunes in Co Clare in the 70s/80s and some of which were published as a book in the 80s.

Re: Teaching through ABC format or other formats.

A friend was in Ireland in 1995 and was taught a handful of tunes through ABC (I have copies somewhere). In the early 1980s, I had a keyboard. The music in the accompanying booklet was presented in a form of ABC, e.g. DDDEGBBDDDEGADDDEGAAAABGEG

Re: Teaching through ABC format or other formats.

Given that this entire site is driven by "formalised" ABC notation as defined by Chris Walshaw and that the OP specifically references same… it might not have been a big stretch to fall into the trap of assuming that this is what we were discussing :-)

"Informal" ABC as an aide-memoire to a "known" tune has been around donkeys years without any indication of time signature, note lengths, bars etc. with perhaps a loose indication of phrases by grouping of letters and octave differentiated by tick/apostrophe instead of upper/lower case. And neither F nor C ever had a # added or removed unless to add a superscripted "n" for the less commonly used naturals.

We had an amusing side discussion in a workshop with Kevin Crawford regarding whether a tune was just "shown" (played and learn by ear) or properly "given" (ABC on the board).

The general teaching practice appears to be to get students heads up from the sheets asap in the learning cycle and to hear and play. I suppose this skill is beneficial in that once honed you can learn on the fly at a session which was probably how a lot of early repertoire was transmitted. The oral/aural roots and emphasis remain a strong component of the teaching of ITM.

Most students seem to be able to read plain-old ABC. Very few (other thank geeks like myself!) like reading the formal ABC. Formal ABC is easy (for a trained person) to read and edit and as input into a typesetting program to produce nice PDF or jpg/tiff scores.

Re: Teaching through ABC format or other formats.

Well, our original post from Yvonne did mention both "the ABC format used throughout this site, [or] another version of ABC" so I’m not sure where all the chaff is coming from.

Anyway, to answer the OP: when sharing a tune with another person, the written format I use is regular old sheet music usually a .pdf generated from an ABC transcription (I use EasyABC). I find ABCs really useful for personal use — easy to search and modify etc — but in my experience the people who want a written format prefer a standard score.

For fretted instruments I have sometimes provided tablature made in TablEdit.

As for as other, non-written ways to teach a tune, I will sometimes record myself and provide an mp3. Other times I’ve recorded a video with Quicktime so the other person has both audio and a visual reference.

Re: Teaching through ABC format or other formats.

SourceForge is really (REALLY!) dangerous nowadays. Unwanted "add on" installs with apps (whether malware or not) and devious browser add on installs etc. I really feel it is now past the zone of risk/reward as a source of software. Such a pity.

Unfortunately there are still quite a lot of high quality utilities which are still homed there and need to be moved to another location where the downloads won’t be subject to platform deceptions to augment with adware/malware or basically anything other than the thing you went to get.