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Music teachers?

Eve Goldberg 17 Apr 09 - 05:40 PM
Mooh 16 Apr 09 - 09:36 AM
Eve Goldberg 16 Apr 09 - 01:33 AM
M.Ted 15 Apr 09 - 09:45 PM
Eve Goldberg 15 Apr 09 - 06:53 PM
Peter T. 15 Apr 09 - 05:49 PM
M.Ted 15 Apr 09 - 05:30 PM
bet 15 Apr 09 - 02:54 PM
Eve Goldberg 15 Apr 09 - 02:45 PM
Eve Goldberg 15 Apr 09 - 10:04 AM
Peter T. 15 Apr 09 - 07:31 AM
M.Ted 15 Apr 09 - 01:36 AM
The Sandman 14 Apr 09 - 12:24 PM
Eve Goldberg 14 Apr 09 - 11:18 AM
Jack Campin 14 Apr 09 - 10:43 AM
Peter T. 14 Apr 09 - 10:30 AM
Eve Goldberg 14 Apr 09 - 10:20 AM
M.Ted 14 Apr 09 - 12:40 AM
Eve Goldberg 13 Apr 09 - 09:17 PM
Peter T. 11 Apr 09 - 07:58 PM
Eve Goldberg 11 Apr 09 - 03:17 PM
The Sandman 11 Apr 09 - 10:08 AM
Eve Goldberg 11 Apr 09 - 01:25 AM
Peter T. 10 Apr 09 - 07:59 PM
Eve Goldberg 10 Apr 09 - 07:16 PM
Sttaw Legend 10 Apr 09 - 01:29 PM
Mooh 10 Apr 09 - 08:52 AM
Bruce MacNeill 10 Apr 09 - 08:23 AM
Eve Goldberg 09 Apr 09 - 07:50 PM
Claymore 08 Apr 09 - 01:43 AM
Eve Goldberg 07 Apr 09 - 02:20 PM
Don Firth 06 Apr 09 - 02:46 PM
Stringsinger 06 Apr 09 - 11:33 AM
Peter T. 06 Apr 09 - 10:55 AM
Eve Goldberg 06 Apr 09 - 12:20 AM
Don Firth 05 Apr 09 - 08:15 PM
Bruce MacNeill 05 Apr 09 - 04:13 PM
Eve Goldberg 05 Apr 09 - 01:45 PM
GUEST 05 Apr 09 - 07:55 AM
AllisonA(Animaterra) 05 Apr 09 - 07:41 AM
Tootler 04 Apr 09 - 08:32 PM
Peter T. 03 Apr 09 - 10:30 PM
GUEST,Guest from Sanity 03 Apr 09 - 09:33 PM
Mooh 03 Apr 09 - 09:03 PM
Bruce MacNeill 03 Apr 09 - 06:01 PM
Little Robyn 03 Apr 09 - 05:19 PM
Eve Goldberg 03 Apr 09 - 04:42 PM
Bruce MacNeill 03 Apr 09 - 02:40 PM
Mooh 03 Apr 09 - 02:05 PM
Eve Goldberg 03 Apr 09 - 01:26 PM
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Subject: RE: Music teachers?
From: Eve Goldberg
Date: 17 Apr 09 - 05:40 PM

Agreed, Mooh!

I think many people have a reaction to playing scales or doing other technical exercises because of bad experiences they've had in the past, and that's why I don't use them much in my teaching -- because I'm usually trying to help people get over their music-making phobias, and trying to make the music as accessible as possible.

Having said that, learning scales can really help solidify many things for guitar players, so I would never rule them out.


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Subject: RE: Music teachers?
From: Mooh
Date: 16 Apr 09 - 09:36 AM

"The study of scales will solve a greater number of technical problems in a shorter amount of time than the study of any other technical exercise." Andre Segovia...and who am I to argue? The problem for instruction of scales is the unimaginative ways they are presented to students.

I've never, honestly, lost a student due to scales. I insist on them as a part of the warm-up regime. Every lesson starts with at least a couple (chromatic, majors, minors, pentatonics, and whatever) which takes but a minute or two, and very often I will instruct a student to play the scale in the key of the piece they are to play next, in order to acclimate themselves to the sound and feel of the key. Making ascending and descending exercises, rising and falling by intervals within a scale, makes them good fingering and ear training (and head understanding). They are the foundation of improvisation (jamming sounds better to some students), composition, and playing by ear. They are also good for finger discipline, interval recognition by sound, sight, and feel, fretboard memorization, and they are a good vehicle for practicing articulation devices like hammer-ons, pull-offs, slides, etc.

Naturally, your mileage may vary.

Peace, Mooh.


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Subject: RE: Music teachers?
From: Eve Goldberg
Date: 16 Apr 09 - 01:33 AM

Different people have different ways of learning, different ways of teaching, and different ways of understanding and connecting musical ideas. It seems that learning scales has been very effective for you.

For some people, including Peter T. and myself, exercises like scales are not effective. Probably, as a teacher, it's good to have the flexibility to be able to teach using scale exercises or by using other methods that transmit some of the same information.


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Subject: RE: Music teachers?
From: M.Ted
Date: 15 Apr 09 - 09:45 PM

All the chord forms are built on scale patterns. and when you play a bass run it follows the scale pattern. Beyond that, you use a scale form and the fingering that goes with it when you play a melody.

If you practice your scales up front, it is simple and fast to learn a new melody. If you don't, you end up working out the fingerings at the same time you're trying to learn a new tune, and you won't have the tune down till you've learned and polished the fingerings.


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Subject: RE: Music teachers?
From: Eve Goldberg
Date: 15 Apr 09 - 06:53 PM

Hi M.Ted,

I think scales are helpful, but I don't agree that you can't play the guitar if you can't play scales. That's my only point. I think you can learn a lot and play a lot successfully without ever playing a scale.

And yes, some of the things I'm talking about are related to scales (or scales are related to them), but you don't NEED to be able to play a scale in order to accomplish them.

You are right that when you are playing bass runs or a melody, you are using the notes in the scale, so effectively you are learning scales, but in the context of playing a melody. (As opposed to learning the scale divorced from the chord structure and melody that you are working on.) So really, we are talking about learning the same thing, just differing on which direction you approach it from.


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Subject: RE: Music teachers?
From: Peter T.
Date: 15 Apr 09 - 05:49 PM

I didn't mean to insinuate that scales weren't important, and worth learning at some point. But fun? (I had a math teacher who used to say that solving algebraic equations was fun, but 2x=199.8 percent of the population would disagree).

yours,

Peter T.


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Subject: RE: Music teachers?
From: M.Ted
Date: 15 Apr 09 - 05:30 PM

Also respectfully, Eve--you have to use scales to do all of those things that you mentioned--and if you can do all of those things, playing the scale itself requires minimal effort.

When I began teaching guitar, I contacted a number of people that I had known over the years who stopped playing, to ask them why. The all gave the same answer--they were no longer were interested in the music that they'd learned to play, and didn't know the to move on to anything else.


As for PeterT--playing scales is a hobgoblin for a lot of people, but it is easy and fun


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Subject: RE: Music teachers?
From: bet
Date: 15 Apr 09 - 02:54 PM

Neat to know we've a lot of elementary teachers out there. I retired from teaching elementary music in Colorado, 30++ years, got put back to work teaching music when I came to Alaska. I am no longer teaching music in the school but have moved on to reading.
I have taught privately but prefer the schools. I've taught beginning band, strings, choirs, recorders,penny whistles and of course general music in the classrooms. I love having the kids perform! I no longer do private lessons.
Keep up the great work you are all doing. bet


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Subject: RE: Music teachers?
From: Eve Goldberg
Date: 15 Apr 09 - 02:45 PM

Did I say that? "necessary for...needs." I need some help with my English!


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Subject: RE: Music teachers?
From: Eve Goldberg
Date: 15 Apr 09 - 10:04 AM

Hey M. Ted,

I have to respectfully disagree. I think it depends on how you are going to play the guitar. If your goal is to be able to sing songs and strum or fingerpick along, you can go very far without ever playing a scale. You can even learn to play melodies, improvise, and compose tunes without playing scales.

On the other hand, for learning how to play lead guitar, scales can be very very helpful.

I just don't think they are necessary for every guitar player's needs.


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Subject: RE: Music teachers?
From: Peter T.
Date: 15 Apr 09 - 07:31 AM

The reason I never learned to play the guitar for forty years was the fact that teachers tried to teach me the scales. I hated learning scales, and my suspicion is that it takes a certain kind of mind to enjoy them -- there is a kind of pleasure in their repetition, but they can seem frustrating and pointless when you are thirteen and want to just get out there and play. One of the great things about the guitar is that it can give you all these chords with so little effort.

I'm not against scales; I'm just saying that there is a difference between something being the foundation, and it being the first thing you teach someone. It looks as if "foundation" means you start with that; but I think it is a misleading analogy. In a perfect universe of course, one would start at A and go to Z; but that is not how the perverse human mind works....or mine anyway. Or did when I was thirteen.

yours,

Peter T.


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Subject: RE: Music teachers?
From: M.Ted
Date: 15 Apr 09 - 01:36 AM

"Goodnight,Irene", if it hasn't been mentioned.

When I was learning to play the guitar, my father asked me to play a scale. I went into that same line about playing chordal accompaniments, etc, and he said, "If you can't play the scale on a musical instrument, you can't really play it." And it's true. The scales are the basic, bottom line.


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Subject: RE: Music teachers?
From: The Sandman
Date: 14 Apr 09 - 12:24 PM

micheal row the boatashore,go tell aunt rhody


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Subject: RE: Music teachers?
From: Eve Goldberg
Date: 14 Apr 09 - 11:18 AM

Thanks for the suggestions, folks, keep 'em coming!

And Peter, thanks for reminding me about the songs with intervals. I know I have a list of those somewhere. The ones I remember off the top of my head are (these are ascending intervals, I think there are different songs for descending intervals):

Minor 3rd: "Greensleeves"
Major 3rd: "Oh When the Saints"
Perfect 4th: "Here Comes the Bride"
Augmented 4th: "Maria"
Perfect 5th: "Twinkle Twinkle"
Minor 6th: "Go Down, Moses"
Major 6th: "My Bonnie"
Octave: "Somewhere Over the Rainbow"


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Subject: RE: Music teachers?
From: Jack Campin
Date: 14 Apr 09 - 10:43 AM

One neat little tune that only uses the left hand on a descant recorder: "Veris leta facies" from Orff's "Carmina Burana" (start on A and the range is G to d).

"The Big Ship Sails on the Eely-Ally-O" has only one note more, a sixth from F# to d.


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Subject: RE: Music teachers?
From: Peter T.
Date: 14 Apr 09 - 10:30 AM

Cockles and Mussels. Five Hundred Miles. Yellow Submarine. (Anything Ringo sings is within five notes, if that).

Something a voice teacher of mine did for me which was really, really useful, was to give me familiar songs where the first two notes spanned intervals. For instance, Somewhere Over the Rainbow (an octave), and so on, 6ths, 5ths, etc, (can't remember any other tunes exactly now). Really gets that hard interval stuff into the brain (of course my brain is now a sieve, but you get the idea).

yours,

Peter T.


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Subject: RE: Music teachers?
From: Eve Goldberg
Date: 14 Apr 09 - 10:20 AM

I think I have a pretty good methodology that I'm using with her. We are sometimes using the notes on the guitar to get her starting pitch, or to remind her how high a particular note is, but since she's more interested in accompaniment than single note playing, we are mostly focussed on playing the chords.

When we work on the singing, we put down the guitars and she sings back to me. I find it's much easier for students to match another human voice than an instrument. The only problem is if your voices are in very different registers, as they usually are if one of you is a woman and one is a man. I have one male student that I work on singing with, and I use the guitar more with him because of that issue.

But I'm still interested in songs that have a limited note range. Any thoughts?


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Subject: RE: Music teachers?
From: M.Ted
Date: 14 Apr 09 - 12:40 AM

I suggest that you teach your student play the notes in guitar chords one at a time and match the pitches with the voice. The next step would be to pick the melodies out of the guitar chords and to match them with the voice. It will seem a bit messy at first, but it will start to fall into place, and it will improve both the singing and the guitar playing.

Of course, this only works if the guitar is in tune;-)


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Subject: RE: Music teachers?
From: Eve Goldberg
Date: 13 Apr 09 - 09:17 PM

Thanks for the link to the Dylanchords site, Peter -- looks like there is a lot of useful stuff there.

Another question for you all:

I'm wondering if other teachers have suggestions for melodies that use a limited range of notes. I'm working with a guitar student who has a lot of trouble singing in pitch. Most of the lessons we now spend part of the time working on the guitar, and part of the time working on singing.

Right now we're working on "When the Saints Go Marching In" which only has a range of five notes. Anyone have other suggestions for songs that use a small range of notes?


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Subject: RE: Music teachers?
From: Peter T.
Date: 11 Apr 09 - 07:58 PM

Dylan's wbsite is nice, but not very useful. The real site to go to is:

http://dylanchords.info/

This is Eystrom's site (actually an illegal mirror site) -- the original was the one I used for a long time. This is the site that gives you the actual chords Dylan used (not the piano transcriptions crap) in his songs, including the different tunings. Plus his essays are interesting.

There is a similar Joni Mitchell site which is a model of what this kind of thing should be.

It reminds one that the hypocrisy of the major music producers is unending: there is no published version of these most helpful chord patterns. They continue to repackage these pianized piles of junk.

yours,

Peter T.


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Subject: RE: Music teachers?
From: Eve Goldberg
Date: 11 Apr 09 - 03:17 PM

Some resources I have used include:

Ken Perlman's "Fingerstyle Guitar" - a really good instructional book which goes from very simple fingerpicking to pretty complex ragtime arrangements.

Happy Traum's book of fingerstyle guitar arrangements -- I can't remember the title at the moment, but it's a re-issuing of two books that he put out way long time ago. It has arrangements of lots of Mississippi John Hurt, Mance Lipscomb, Rev. Gary Davis, etc.

One book that was very helpful when I was just starting to teach absolute beginners was "Country and Blues Guitar for the Musically Hopeless" by Carol McComb (at least I think that was the title -- my brain is on vacation today!). It was a very funny, accessible, how-to-play guitar from the very beginning that was put out by Klutz press. It came with a couple of cassettes. What I liked was how she boiled things down to very simple principles, gave people some great songs to practice, and made it very fun.

There's an old beginning guitar book by Earl Robinson that also gave me some great ideas. I think I picked it up used at a yard sale or someone gave it to me.

I also have various songbooks like "Rise Up Singing," "The Folksinger's Word Book" and books of artists like Hank Williams, The Beatles, etc. They come in handy!

And I also do consult the internet. When a student comes in asking about learning a particular song, I can quickly find words and sometimes chords, which I can cut and paste to make a songsheet with chords. And if I don't know the song, we can often find something on YouTube or other sites that have streaming music, so that I can help them create an arrangement. Sometimes I will buy a song from iTunes paarticularly because a student asked to learn it and I want to be able to consult the original closely.

Recently I discovered Bob Dylan's website has all his lyrics with links to recordings that you can listen to. Very handy, since his songs come up a lot in lessons.


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Subject: RE: Music teachers?
From: The Sandman
Date: 11 Apr 09 - 10:08 AM

yes,I do.


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Subject: RE: Music teachers?
From: Eve Goldberg
Date: 11 Apr 09 - 01:25 AM

Were we speaking of the Beatles?

But who cares, the book sounds fascinating -- maybe it would be available through one of the used book websites?

Eve


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Subject: RE: Music teachers?
From: Peter T.
Date: 10 Apr 09 - 07:59 PM

Speaking of the Beatles, by far the best and most entertaining music theory book I have ever read (actually I have reread it three times) is Dominic Pedlar's "The Songwriting Secrets of the Beatles" -- a terrible title for a book, and it is unobtainable in North America, but it is brilliant. It originated in a series of articles in a guitar magazine, and it was so well received that he turned it into a book. It takes the reader step by step, using Beatle songs, through 700 pages and deep thickets (tritone substitutions and so on, by the time you reach page 500). If you have students who are saturated in the Beatles, this is the book to get them hooked on music theory.

yours,

Peter T.


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Subject: RE: Music teachers?
From: Eve Goldberg
Date: 10 Apr 09 - 07:16 PM

Thanks for posting that info, folks!

And just to clarify, I wasn't so much asking because I was looking for particular information, I just thought it would be a nice way to continue the discussion about teaching.


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Subject: RE: Music teachers?
From: Sttaw Legend
Date: 10 Apr 09 - 01:29 PM

Hi have a look at this thread some of you may be interested in coming along music training sessions


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Subject: RE: Music teachers?
From: Mooh
Date: 10 Apr 09 - 08:52 AM

Eve...I intend to post a bibliography to my FaceBook site when I get time, but in the meantime here's a few from my shelves:

Total Guitar (Terry Burrows),
The Guitarist's Bookshelf (Amsco),
Totally Intersctive Guitar Bible (Thunder Bay Press),
The Guitar Book (Pierre Bensusan),
The Guitar Grimoire (several volumes),
The Guitar Cookbook (Jesse Gress),
The Complete Accompaniment Method For Guitar (Mel Bay),
Scales And Modes In The Beginning (Ron Middlebrook),
The Book Of Six Strings (National Guitar Workshop),
Mickey Baker's Jazz Guitar,
Jazz Guitar (3 volumes)(Jody Fisher),
Music In Childhood From Pre-School Through The Elementary Grades (Campbell and Scott-Kassner),
The Singing Book (Bunch and Vaughn),
Beginning Fingerstyle Blues Guitar (Berle and Galbo),
Mastering The Guitar(several volumes, Mel Bay),
Jazz Guitar (Jeff Schroedl),
Metal Lead Guitar (2 volumes, Troy Stetina),
Total Rock Guitar (Troy Stetina),
Fiddlers' Fake Book,
The Guitarist's Chord Book (Peter Vogl),
Chord Chemistry (Wise Publications),
Mel Bay's Guitar Journals (8 or more volumes)
The Real Little Classical Fake Book (Hal Leonard),
A Modern Method For Guitar (Willliam Leavitt),
Guitar Tunes For Children (2 volumes, Usborne),
Music Theory (Hal Leonard),


*Plus a slew of other books from various method books to hymn books to band/artist books to style specific books to instrument specific books to books of intros and themes to magazines like Guitar Player, Sing Out, Guitarist, Bass Player, to websites like The Mandolin Cafe, The Banjo Hangout, The Telecaster Forum, The Canadian Guitar Forum, The Mudcat Cafe...

Peace, Mooh.


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Subject: RE: Music teachers?
From: Bruce MacNeill
Date: 10 Apr 09 - 08:23 AM

Eve, did you look at Will Fly's links posted earlier in this thread. He has a pretty good teaching materials style on his website which includes demonstration both in slow motion and normal speed, diagrams, tab and standard notation. He can cover a lot of information in a short time.


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Subject: RE: Music teachers?
From: Eve Goldberg
Date: 09 Apr 09 - 07:50 PM

I'm curious where people go for teaching resources -- books, recordings, websites etc. Places to find good teaching songs, lyrics, chords, arrangements etc.

Are there other teachers who have resources on the internet, or a particular instruction booke you have all your students use?


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Subject: RE: Music teachers?
From: Claymore
Date: 08 Apr 09 - 01:43 AM

Actually I have used the autoharp to teach both guitar and banjo. Now to be clear, I teach a folk-style of fingerpicking as opposed to the bluegrass or clawhammer style since in adapts to all three of these instruments.

I have adapted several autoharps to my style of playing, and each contains the circle of fifths in the first row, the relative 7ths in the second row and the relative minors in the third row. I convert two of the flats on the twenty-one chord harp (Ab and Eb to Bm and F#m) and explain the picking and listening to the chords, pointing out that all of the notes you need are "here".

The second thing is to find out what key the student is most likely to sing in and that is usually two related keys such as C/G or D/A. However even if its F/Bb or the like I go immediately to the capo to get them in a key they feel comfortable in, as well as chording that is comfortable, such as D/A with modals in Em and Am. This will encourage them to continue even if they stop the lessons and later pick them up, (in which case the autoharp comes back to me).

One of the first things I try and leave with them with is a custom molded set of plastic finger-picks, which I do with a microwave and a mug of hot water. This speeds them up and allows the feeling of the picks "being strange" to quickly disappear, and the autoharp allows the concept of rolls and chord changes to work together. They have a concept they can work on until the next week.

(I am a retired instructional manager of vocational studies from a local Job Corps center and I only have three students, which is all I want since I don't need the money. 60 students... whew!)

The third is the concept of barred chords. I try and teach only three finger chords using the last three fingers, leaving the index to create the barre. I also go straight to "hanger" chords which, given the instrument, and the size of the students hands, may allow a student to make an A chord with a barre across all FOUR of the lower strings with a hanger (little finger) on the fifth fret. Its a much fuller A, and allows the student to go to barred D's etc. Try it 3 frets up for that Bb, 5 frets up for the C and 7 for the D.

I teach the barred forms of an original E, Em, and E7, D and D7, A and A7, B7, Am and only one form of the diminished chords. Don Firth is correct about the bass runs, and I add one more thing. I use tenor guitar chords (the bottom four strings) for the banjo as it allows them to crossover immediately and has the added benefit of allowing key changes with only the switch of the fifth string under a rail spike or a 5th string capo. (Added hint: use a violin Suzuki fine tuner on the other end of the fifth sting to fine-tune the string in a hurry).

Finally I usually meet my students at one of the jams in the area, and I try and insist that they attend as often as possible as it
inspires them to learn at least three new tunes by the next week, even if they don't execute it perfectly. In most of the jams they will only get a chance to pick three tunes, and it helps them learn quicker if they have to start three of them over the course of an evening. (It also teaches the essential jam/session etiquette).

Thanks to others for the above input; new techniques make it more interesting for both the student... and the teacher.


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Subject: RE: Music teachers?
From: Eve Goldberg
Date: 07 Apr 09 - 02:20 PM

Woah! 60 students in a class. That's big! I don't know if I could do that.

Even with small classes, I usually like to break up students into groups based on their level so that I can give a little bit more individual attention.

And Don, I agree with you about simple accompaniments. I think if you can't pull off an arrangement smoothly, you need to either work on it until you can do it smoothly (including singing the song at the same time!), or simplify the arrangement. I'm a big believer in keeping it simple. As a performer, I feel like I want people to be focusing on the songs and the singing. The guitar playing should support that. As I've gotten better and better, I'm able to carry off more and more complex accompaniments, but my main concern is for what is going to serve the song.

So, bringing it back to teaching, I often find with students who have more experience that I have to back them up a little bit and simplify their arrangements. I work at getting them solid on a very simple accompaniment before we go on to more complex things. Again, for me it's about being able to put the song across.


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Subject: RE: Music teachers?
From: Don Firth
Date: 06 Apr 09 - 02:46 PM

I've never tackled more than twelve people in a class, and during the workshop at the 1964 Berkeley Folk Festival, when Bess Lomax Hawes mentioned that she was currently teaching classes of sixty people at a shot, I sort of sat there with my jaw slack.

That two-hour workshop was most educational. I stuck pretty much to the lesson plans that Barry Olivier had given me, which is not really different from what Bess Hawes talked about, but I sure gained a lot of insights and information from that workshop.

For myself, I tend to stick to pretty simple accompaniments. I've had several years of classic guitar lessons and when I have a good tail-wind, I can play some pretty hefty classic pieces, full-blown concert stuff. But—for song accompaniment, too much razzle-dazzle can distract and detract from the main point, which is the song. I find that good ol' "Burl Ives basic," or something like what Pete Seeger called "the lullabye lick" in his "Folksingers' Guitar Guide," maybe with a bass-run or two, is just about right. One can get some nice sounds merely by being judicious about which bass notes you play rather than just alternating randomly.

I once worked out a very flashy classic guitar accompaniment for "The Wraggle-Taggle Gypsies" that I quickly discovered was too dang complicated to play at the same time I was trying to sing the song! So I backed off to something a lot simpler.

Anybody see B. B. King on PBS's "Soundstage" a few nights ago? He had a couple of guests with him, one of whom was a guitarist who could play about thirty notes per nanosecond! Most impressive! King didn't play anywhere near as fast and flashy as this fellow did (you felt that he could if he wanted to), but every note that King played was important. And just the right note at that point. An object lesson there.

Don Firth


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Subject: RE: Music teachers?
From: Stringsinger
Date: 06 Apr 09 - 11:33 AM

i think that the best classes in folk music for guitar were taught by my friend Bess Lomax Hawes who really started the guitar/banjo/fiddle class in groups in Boston in the Forties.


The key was this for me:   Simple, straightforward folk songs, accessible, easy to play and sing and meaningful. Bess mainly taught three chord songs with Burl Ive's "um-plunk"
and had up to 100 students in a class who kept taking her class over and over even when they got better playing their guitars.

Folkies often miss the forest for the trees when they get too virtuoso (sometimes boring)
and forget the roots. Bess knew as much (if not more) than her brother Alan about folkmusic.

Frank


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Subject: RE: Music teachers?
From: Peter T.
Date: 06 Apr 09 - 10:55 AM

I once gave a lecture on Great Teachers to a university group of professors, and pointed out that my greatest teacher never made it past grade 11, and said things about professors (including me) that would have curled their hair. One thing I mentioned was that a great teacher is very reverent towards his or her tools. The example I used was the time Rick Fielding said to me that it was time I got a better guitar. We had all kinds of discussions about guitars (I knew, and know nothing about types or makes of guitars), including the time I pointed out to him that his guitar was a combination of speaking stick (First Nations baton that moves around a circle) and teddy bear and lover, which he liked. I'm sure he had heard all that before. And the only time we ever really had a fight was over a guitar (that's a story for another time).

Anyway, he said it was time I got a new guitar, and I knew that this was his lifeblood, hanging around guitars, so we got into his guitar and went to a neighbourhood shop (not the 12th fret) and after about two hours of banging around, we settled on one that was pretty pricy, but not outrageous. It was second hand, and needed a little work on the neck, so I left it there, and we went on our way, chatting about this and that. That night, around one am, my telephone rang, and it was Rick, and he said, "I feel so awful, I've been fretting about this all day, ever since you left, I can't sleep, I think I recommended the wrong guitar. I have to get your money back." He went to the store the next morning when it opened, and talked them into giving me my money back.

It was very like him. But what I took from it was not about guitars, but about being careful about your tools to the point of obsession. In my case it is most often books, sentences, words. I advise all my students to buy the best dictionary they can. A real dictionary, not the Internet. Some of them think I am nuts, others take my advice. The best students.

But in a weird sense, the opposite is also true. I remember once fussing about how hard I should be playing, and Rick said, "Er, Peter, it's supposed to be played. It can take a lot. The important thing is playing it full out. After all, it's just a piece of hollow wood we're talking here."

There is something about learning from your tools, letting them teach you, that we all have to learn over and over again, and while I knew that before in a way, it was one of Rick's lessons.


yours ever,

Peter T.


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Subject: RE: Music teachers?
From: Eve Goldberg
Date: 06 Apr 09 - 12:20 AM

Hey Doug,

I love the approach -- it kind of sounds similar to my approach, just coming from a different angle.

In terms of recruiting new students, I find it helps to be out there doing a bunch of things. I get students from the choir I used to be involved in, from the Toronto song circle, from the workshops and classes that I teach, and from performing. It used to be that I had personal connections with all my students. And now I'm finding that people are hearing about me second and third hand, or even finding me on the internet. Sort of like I've reached a critical mass where my name is getting around. I do absolutely no advertising -- I keep thinking I should, but at the moment it doesn't seem I need to.

Whenever I send out newsletters to my mailing list about performing, I always include a short item saying that I have some slots open. Whether or not I think I could fit people in -- it just keeps the idea floating in their mind that I teach.

And I agree, teaching is VERY satisfying!


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Subject: RE: Music teachers?
From: Don Firth
Date: 05 Apr 09 - 08:15 PM

In the first class in the beginning ten-week folk guitar course, after showing my students a couple of different ways of holding the guitar securely, I started them with the right hand and got them going on open strings by having them play the low E string with their thumb, followed by their index, middle, and ring fingers on the 3rd, 2nd, and 1st strings respectively. First individually, one at a time, then thumb followed by all three fingers together. One-two, one-two, thumb-fingers, thumb-fingers. When they had that down (usually takes no more than a few minutes), I had them repeat the fingers: One-two-three, one-two-three, thumb-fingers-fingers, thumb-fingers-fingers. So we've covered a two-beat and a three-beat rhythm in what I tend to refer to as "Burl Ives Basic" (Burl rarely did much of anything more complex than this, and it's perfectly adequate for a lot of songs).

Once they have this down, I taught them a D major chord and had them do the same right hand patterns, but this time, alternating the thumb between 4th and 5th strings. Then on to A major. I found that some people did have a little trouble with this at first, but they were soon able to change back and forth between the D and the A. When that went smoothly (more or less), I had them add the right hand, all doing at two-four, then a three-four.

It's always pretty hesitant at first, but they seemed to pick it up pretty quickly.

Then, I passed out song sheets with the words and tunes to "Go Tell Aunt Rhody" and "Down in the Valley" on them, with the chord changes written in. Any two-chord songs would have done, but I found that most people already knew these two songs, or were, at least, acquainted with them enough to learn them quickly and easily.

I sang the songs for them, then we all sang them together. There was lots of hesitation and stopping and starting at first, but it's amazing how fast they picked it up. A week of practice and it would be duck soup!

The key of D might not be the optimum key for everyone's voice, but the range of both songs is sufficiently limited that most people are able to sing them in D. The following week, I opened their options by teaching an E major so they could sing the songs in A if that suited their voices better. (Now they have three chords)

As the classes progressed, I added a chord or two each class, along with right-hand variations (broken chords, arpeggios, a little thumb-index, thumb-middle rolling pattern that could eventually lead to alternating bass or "Travis-picking" styles). And I added a new song or two each evening.

Now here's the sneaky bit: as we went along, I would teach them bass runs from chord to chord. This slyly gets them practicing scales without calling them "scales!" Then, the question of "Which chords go together as families? And how do you know what chords to play and when to change chords?" I pass out a copy of the Circle of Fifths and explain how it works and ties everything together systematically. Also, at this point, I give them 7th chords (D7, A7, G7, etc.), and explain when and why to use them.

With the Circle of Fifths, we're into some basic music theory. But—I don't tell them that I'm teaching them music theory because lots of people think it's much more complex than it really is and their eyes tend to glaze over if they know that what I'm teaching them. But when I explain the Circle of Fifths, a lot of people's eyes light up and they say, "Oh! So that's how it works!"

By the end of ten weeks, I have a class full of people who can get around reasonably adeptly in C, G, D, A, and E, along with Am, Em, and some in Dm. I show them what bar chords are and explain their use a bit, but I don't really get into them until the intermediate class, which is in the next ten weeks. By the end of the first ten weeks, they know about a dozen songs, and most folks are starting to learn songs on their own.

Although I've made a few of my own modifications, how I teach the classes is pretty much what I learned from Barry Olivier and from the workshop with Bess Lomax Hawes.

I found that after the beginning and intermediate classes, a fair number of these folks wanted to continue with private lessons. I taught several hundred class students althogether, and I was gratified to see that some of them went on to play and sing professionally, some eventually taught guitar, and one of my beginning class students went on to take some classic guitar lessons from me, and he eventually become one of the mainstays of the folk music community in this area.

Teaching can be a very satisfying activity!

Don Firth


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Subject: RE: Music teachers?
From: Bruce MacNeill
Date: 05 Apr 09 - 04:13 PM

I totally agree, Eve. Before I started teaching the 2 girls I met with them and their parents and among other things tried to find out what they meant by "Learn to play the guitar". I demonstrated several styles, including accompanying songs and was floored when the younger girl said she wanted to learn classical, and neither of them wanted to accompany themselves singing. Since they're church going folks I had assumed they wanted to do the singing at church thing. Wrong. So, I went with the Mel Bay classical course for the younger one and the regular Mel Bay course for the older one and so far they're both happy with their progress, as am I. They show up for lessons having actually practiced their assigned pages. Now, it's only been a couple of months, and if they did decide to want to learn to play chords for someone to sing to, I'd do that. We'll see what happens.


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Subject: RE: Music teachers?
From: Eve Goldberg
Date: 05 Apr 09 - 01:45 PM

Bruce, I find most of the students who come to me basically want to be able to play songs with their friends and family, or for themselves. Or they want to be able to break out a guitar at a campfire. So I have always focussed on learning songs and how to accompany songs effectively.

I always tell students when they are beginning, you don't have to be able to do much to successfully accompany a song. You need to be able to:

1) make the chords
2) strum in rhythm
3) change the chords at the right time, while keeping the rhythm

If you can do those three things, you can accompany a song. The rest of what you learn on the guitar adds variety and interest, can underscore meaning, make things sound beautiful, etc. but you don't NEED to do those things in most cases. That helps students gain confidence that they can do it and allows them to focus on the basics at the beginning. Of course with 99% of students you quickly move past that stage, but it's a good starting place.


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Subject: RE: Music teachers?
From: GUEST
Date: 05 Apr 09 - 07:55 AM

Can't resist....

A tutor who tooted a flute
Was teaching two tutors to toot
Said the two to the tutor
Is it harder to toot
Or to teach two tutors to toot?


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Subject: RE: Music teachers?
From: AllisonA(Animaterra)
Date: 05 Apr 09 - 07:41 AM

Amen, Tootler! The train of thought leads me to remember that the last school I taught in, a wonderful community of learners, decreed that all teachers must post their classroom rules in a prominent place, ideally devised by the students. Since I taught all 350 of the students, the list would have been impossibly long, so we would spend a few minutes the first session of the school year brainstorming what behaviours would work best to make the class function. At the end of the week, I invariably posted this:

Be safe
Be kind
Try your best
HAVE FUN!


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Subject: RE: Music teachers?
From: Tootler
Date: 04 Apr 09 - 08:32 PM

I am not a music teacher, but my career was in teaching - I taught engineering in higher education for most of my career.

I had three guiding principles for most of my career. These were


  1. Respect your students

  2. Believe in them and

  3. Encourage their own self-belief



One book I read; "Freedom to Learn" by Carl Rogers had a profound effect on me. While I did not agree with everything he said, his ideas had a profound effect on my approach to teaching. In particular my own approach became very much one of encouraging students to find things out for themselves. Things you have found out for yourself, you retain better.

You can get a flavour of Carl Rogers ideas here


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Subject: RE: Music teachers?
From: Peter T.
Date: 03 Apr 09 - 10:30 PM

I don't teach music, but have learned a lot from watching music teachers teach, art teachers teach, and my own university colleagues. My experience is that it is the being of the teachers that is the most important -- how they live in the world they teach from, no other way to say it than that. The classic Hasidic story is of the disciple who travels around the world just to watch the rabbi tie his shoelaces.

I was once in Chicago, and spent the morning with the Cambodian patriarch of Buddhism, a tiny giant of a man, and what I remember is one moment when I asked him what the most important thing he had to say about Cambodia was, and he bent down and touched my knee -- and what I learned from his translator was that he meant that his country was ravaged by land mines and amputees who needed all the help they could get. There was something in the way he did that that was a thousand volumes of Buddhist teaching.

yours,

Peter T.


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Subject: RE: Music teachers?
From: GUEST,Guest from Sanity
Date: 03 Apr 09 - 09:33 PM

Being a musician(as with other things), we are, or should always be both students, and teachers! When I get musicians in the studio, or even just play, I always try to impress on them all, that not only should they learn their instrument, but learn EVERYTHING there is, that they can, about sound engineering as well! Also with that, is ensemble playing, and blending, as well as mixing!! Those of us, who have done lots of engineering in studios, know that the personality make up of, let's say a drummer, is completely different, than lets say, a vocalist, or drummer. This is an extremely valuable tool, when final mix down is being done.!!! There is always something more to learn, in more aspects, than just playing your instrument!! To quote a reasonably well known fiddler, who is amazing to watch her play, when asked "How can you do all that?"...she replies, her standard reply, "Practice, practice, practice!" ...Along with that, is learn, learn learn!!


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Subject: RE: Music teachers?
From: Mooh
Date: 03 Apr 09 - 09:03 PM

Attracting students (reprise).

Networking via participation in local music events like musical theatre and little theatre, music festivals, free concerts (the sort small towns like to do in municipal parks), art festivals, tourism promotion, busking, show-and-tell sessions in elementary schools, church gigs, self-promoted gigs, and the all important hanging out in the music store thing. Having one's picture in the local paper doesn't hurt, neither does online socializing via FaceBook, Twitter, various forums, etc.

I haven't needed to and won't unless the economy really tanks, but moving into elementary schools to get easy access to a revolving door of young students has helped a lot of instructors, particularly those without a studio of their own.

Peace, Mooh.


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Subject: RE: Music teachers?
From: Bruce MacNeill
Date: 03 Apr 09 - 06:01 PM

I can see that Eve. Someone on Mudcat somewhere stated that any song can be played with one chord but I didn't think much of it at the time. You make a good point of motivation and a way to get to it quickly especially if the student's intent is to sing and use the guitar for accompaniment.


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Subject: RE: Music teachers?
From: Little Robyn
Date: 03 Apr 09 - 05:19 PM

About 15 years ago I was asked to teach a young lad how to play Northumbrian pipes. There were no books/tutors at a basic level available here in NZ at the time and the simplest tune in the piper's tune book was Chevy Chase, so I started writing out nursery rhyme type tunes (in the key of G) and gradually wrote my own tutor.
After a few years the lad was a reasonable piper and we played duets and busked downtown at Christmas time.
The tutor has basic instruction, fingering charts, notes about the care and maintenance of pipes, tips on do's and don'ts, and tunes varying from very easy up to NSP standards and a few duets.
I don't teach anyone now, the lad has grown up and doesn't play pipes any more but my tutor is used by the NZ Northumbrian Piper's Society, when new players hire a set of pipes. A copy of the tutor is included so they can go away and learn the basics by themselves, in the privacy of their own home.
Maybe one day my granddaughter will learn to play my pipes, using my tutor - but she's only 3 at the moment.
Robyn


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Subject: RE: Music teachers?
From: Eve Goldberg
Date: 03 Apr 09 - 04:42 PM

The very first lesson with an absolute beginner, I teach an A chord. I feel like this is the easiest chord to understand spatially and you don't have to stretch your fingers very far.

And then, we sing "Swing Low" using the one chord and doing a simple strum on the beat with our thumbs. Obviously, "Swing Low" is usually sung with at least two chords, and sometimes many more. But, it actually kind of works with the one chord.

Usually by the end of the first lesson, I can teach them an E chord as well, and we sing a two-chord version of "Swing Low."

You can also do this with "Old Blue." But in addition to that, there are some bona fide one chord songs. I have just found one that I'm planning to start using, called "Every Day," a traditional song that ukulele whiz James Hill found in a collection somewhere.


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Subject: RE: Music teachers?
From: Bruce MacNeill
Date: 03 Apr 09 - 02:40 PM

Well, Eve, I didn't mean any heavy music theory for beginners, just what the notes are and there's no note between E and F, B and C, level theory.

So here's a dumb question but you got me here, give me an example of a one chord song? I can't think of one. Neither of my students expressed an interest in singing when I asked so I hadn't thought much aboout it but I'd use it if I thought it would motivate them.

Can you get them to even hold the strings down in the first lesson? I always got, "That hurts!" to which I'd answer that in music there's a saying that "You got to pay your dues" and this is the first payment but it will get better in a week or two.


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Subject: RE: Music teachers?
From: Mooh
Date: 03 Apr 09 - 02:05 PM

Attracting students? Word of mouth, mostly. Students tell students, parents tell other parents, friends tell friends, teachers tell teachers, and they all tell each other. Referrals from respected members of the community has helped me too, like school teachers, lawyers, cops, business people. Gigging gets folks asking for lessons. A poster or two and some business cards at music shops. I don't have a website anymore, but I do use FaceBook extensively.

Peace, Mooh.


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Subject: RE: Music teachers?
From: Eve Goldberg
Date: 03 Apr 09 - 01:26 PM

Wow, great to hear about everyone's experiences!

Bruce, I like what you said about students needing to understand WHY they are doing something. That's why I tend to get students playing songs right away, in the very first lesson, with a one-chord song. And from there, almost all my teaching is done through using songs to learn new techniques. I find learning songs motivates students a lot more than practicing exercises.

If I give students an exercise, it's always something that directly applies to a song they are learning. And I don't get into much theory at all until students start to ask me about it, or until I feel like it would help them to know some basic chord theory.

Mark, you mentioned that it's harder to attract students in this economy. Are others having that problem? I haven't noticed it yet. Anybody have any tips for attracting students?

Eve


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