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Music Teaching Tips....again.

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Rick Fielding 13 Mar 00 - 11:53 PM
Crowhugger 14 Mar 00 - 09:46 AM
Rick Fielding 14 Mar 00 - 10:33 AM
Amos 14 Mar 00 - 10:38 AM
Rick Fielding 14 Mar 00 - 10:45 AM
Crowhugger 14 Mar 00 - 10:59 AM
Crowhugger 14 Mar 00 - 10:59 AM
GUEST,Frank Hamilton 14 Mar 00 - 11:18 AM
Sorcha 14 Mar 00 - 11:33 AM
catspaw49 14 Mar 00 - 11:47 AM
Night Owl 14 Mar 00 - 11:53 AM
Night Owl 14 Mar 00 - 12:06 PM
Peter T. 14 Mar 00 - 12:12 PM
Sorcha 14 Mar 00 - 12:23 PM
catspaw49 14 Mar 00 - 12:25 PM
Amos 14 Mar 00 - 01:08 PM
Rick Fielding 14 Mar 00 - 01:43 PM
GUEST,Neil Lowe 14 Mar 00 - 02:35 PM
Peter T. 14 Mar 00 - 02:52 PM
Little Neophyte 14 Mar 00 - 03:00 PM
Little Neophyte 14 Mar 00 - 03:23 PM
Peter T. 14 Mar 00 - 03:45 PM
M. Ted (inactive) 14 Mar 00 - 04:42 PM
Mary in Kentucky 14 Mar 00 - 05:23 PM
Sorcha 14 Mar 00 - 05:34 PM
Crowhugger 14 Mar 00 - 09:43 PM
Crowhugger 15 Mar 00 - 08:20 AM
Peter T. 15 Mar 00 - 08:39 AM
Mary in Kentucky 15 Mar 00 - 11:44 AM
Crowhugger 15 Mar 00 - 12:30 PM
Rick Fielding 15 Mar 00 - 12:48 PM
Rick Fielding 15 Mar 00 - 12:53 PM
GUEST 15 Mar 00 - 01:11 PM
GUEST,Neil Lowe 15 Mar 00 - 01:17 PM
GUEST 15 Mar 00 - 01:20 PM
GUEST,Neil Lowe 15 Mar 00 - 01:30 PM
M. Ted (inactive) 15 Mar 00 - 01:38 PM
Mary in Kentucky 15 Mar 00 - 02:59 PM
Rick Fielding 15 Mar 00 - 04:08 PM
MK 15 Mar 00 - 04:33 PM
Jim Krause 15 Mar 00 - 04:43 PM
Crowhugger 15 Mar 00 - 04:44 PM
Mary in Kentucky 15 Mar 00 - 05:08 PM
M. Ted (inactive) 15 Mar 00 - 05:15 PM
Rick Fielding 15 Mar 00 - 06:46 PM
GUEST,Neil Lowe 15 Mar 00 - 10:11 PM
Rick Fielding 16 Mar 00 - 12:02 AM
Mary in Kentucky 16 Mar 00 - 07:08 AM
Crowhugger 16 Mar 00 - 07:31 AM
Little Neophyte 16 Mar 00 - 08:05 AM
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Subject: Music Teaching Tips....again.
From: Rick Fielding
Date: 13 Mar 00 - 11:53 PM

After reading (hopefully for the last time) all the silly GG stuff, I thought I'd try to do something positive, and since vacuuming the basement involves work, and re-learning the Damned Wild Colonial Boy et al for St Paddy's Day, is even MORE work, I've settled on this, which will probably give me nothing but enjoyment.

Had a great chat with the over-worked Peter T. after the radio show tonight and among the many things we talked about was learning music.

So here are my first couple of tips:
If you're a rank beginner, and learning on your own, grab a clock with a second hand, and time yourself while running through your chords. (this works best if your "game oriented". For example: If you're learning C, F, and G7, see how long it takes you to strum once per chord. If it takes, oh say, 15 seconds to complete the three, try for 14 next time, then 13 etc. If self-competition is not your thing, don't mess with this, but I've seen it work very well with some.

A mandolin is a lonely instrument to learn from scratch on your own...just too thin and tinny until you've got a handle on it. Get a friend to tape a simple rhythmic chord pattern (G,C,D) over and over again on guitar (couple of beats per chord). Ask them to make it at least 5 minutes worth (as slowly as you need) and then just play along with it until it gets boring.(that means you've learned to play the chords in time) Do it with the Barre chords..that'll slow ya down. Once you've got a few tapes like that and have learned a few chords you can go back to the first tape and start tryin' to play scales (or simple melodies) over the chord pattern.

Any tips?

Rick


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Subject: RE: Music Teaching Tips....again.
From: Crowhugger
Date: 14 Mar 00 - 09:46 AM

No tips, Rick, but a question:

How would you suggest going about choosing an approach with a student who could read music and play an instrument 30 years ago and now wants to get back into it? He learned totally by reading and he liked the idea of starting with learning to play by ear so he doesn't need music.

So, apart from exploring his current musical interests and goals, how might one design a "curriculum" ... I suppose ways of checking his listening skills are high on my list of need-to-knows. I think. I've only every taught music in bits and pieces to friends. This one'll probably be a real student, you know, lots of plans, hardly any practise, I'll pay next week. **BG**

Seriously, though, I think he IS serious. And his wife thinks he's bonkers, but what does she know? My husband can take her on as a student, teach her how to be encouraging and supportive whilst living with scronk and discordance. He's a self-taught expert! ;-)


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Subject: RE: Music Teaching Tips....again.
From: Rick Fielding
Date: 14 Mar 00 - 10:33 AM

One good way of reviewing a person's ear skills is to put on a CD (or tape or record) of songs that only have three changes (1,4,5) and see if the person can follow along. Being able to hear the simple 3 chord pattern is crucial. If they're shakey on that play something with two chords like Skip to My Lou and see if they make the changes at the correct times.

Once they're comfortable with a three chord pattern, start adding a chord (like the "2") until they get comfortable with it. The order I use to get people "hearing the changes" is 1,4,5,2,6,7(b7) and 3. Afterwards I start on the minors. This can take a matter of days (rarely) weeks or months.

I've worked with a lot of folks who played years ago and now have more time to practice. Usually they can afford better instruments now, which REALLY helps the process.

Rick


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Subject: RE: Music Teaching Tips....again.
From: Amos
Date: 14 Mar 00 - 10:38 AM

Scronk!!! Ring that bell -- Crowhugger has coined a Needed Neologism! The sound of a student musician. Scronk!!

Teaching aspiring folkies who play by ear is a lot easier when they already know what keys and scales are. My experience is amateur only, but FWIW, the easy path is teaching them the mantra of I, IV, V (tonic, subdominant, dominant notes in a normalized scale) and give them a couple of groups of chords -- D, G and A are easy starters. Then show them four or five songs built on those chords and they're off and scronking.

This gives them plenty to work on, training fingers to press right and learning to change chords rapidly. They can build on that to other keys.

Once they're rolling along that line, you can show them some right-hand stuff like alternating a bass note with a three-finger pluck - bumTY bumTY -- and for the left hand teach them to use a 7th chord and a second chord. By this point they can play against dozens of songs just using this much.

'Course this is theoretical -- you don't mention what you're going to teach him -- if it isn't basic folkie guitar, I withdraw all the above! :>)

A


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Subject: RE: Music Teaching Tips....again.
From: Rick Fielding
Date: 14 Mar 00 - 10:45 AM

Something came up in little Neo's thread that I thought I would mention here. I have a big mirror in my teaching room. I often practice while staring at it...nope it's not vanity, just seems to make the practicing go better, and definitely gets you out of the habit of staring at your fingers. Met someone once who must have done a lot of practicing while lying in bed.....well, there WAS a mirror on the ceiling!

Rick

P.S. Course the most important tip of all is: MAKE TIME FOR PRACTICE EVERY DAY. Even if you have to substitute it for Seinfeld re-runs.


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Subject: RE: Music Teaching Tips....again.
From: Crowhugger
Date: 14 Mar 00 - 10:59 AM

Amos, Withdraw not thine wise words. I'm one of those lateral thinker-types, can apply pretty much anything to pretty much anything else. Pretty much.

Rick, I appreciate the suggested order of chords...I'll be able to take his interests and sequence them for maximum success as early as possible. I know he has a good ear - he can diagnose mechanical things quite accurately without looking inside. So I have already convinced him that he has the basic ability to listen and we'll just work on applying it to something different.

I'm quite excited about this opportunity. It'll be a lot of fun figuring out how to get this all to flow. After 25 years in the workforce, I decided that when I grow up I'm going to be a musician. So this is a chance to see how I feel about this particular niche of teaching.

Rick, I was thinking of going back to VERY basic listening...go outside and ask what he can hear. Anything I hear (which is every damned thing) that he doesn't mention, I can mention. Then on to recordings the same way. With discussion about foreground vs background vs can't decide. This is my idea of an early assessment tool. Whatcha think? (I like being outside is probably part of it, but IMNSHO noticing sound is everything in making music regardless of the genre or instrument.) I guess I'm geared towards teaching music; the instrument is just a handy tool.


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Subject: RE: Music Teaching Tips....again.
From: Crowhugger
Date: 14 Mar 00 - 10:59 AM

P.S. I'll be back in a while. I have to...guess what? Practise!


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Subject: RE: Music Teaching Tips....again.
From: GUEST,Frank Hamilton
Date: 14 Mar 00 - 11:18 AM

Crowhugger, I have a suggestion for your friend. If he reads music pretty well, have him write out for himself little arrangements or single-string notes that he hears in his head and then play them. This is a valid jazz-link for getting trained musicians to improvise.

Frank


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Subject: RE: Music Teaching Tips....again.
From: Sorcha
Date: 14 Mar 00 - 11:33 AM

While we're here, this is sort a related, I think. I am baffled by all the requests for chords.....Don't most "folk-style" songs generally follow the I,IV,V (VII) type progression? I understand that sometimes there is a weirdness chord in there, but even I can pick up a melody line and hear it in my head, and choose a key. I can't necessarily get it out of the fingerboard w/o someone to follow, or sheet music, but I can hear it and get close to the key.

When I tell my group what key I am in, they can ALWAYS find the chords, even if they don't know the song. If there is a question about a weirdness chord (i.e--and F#m in an A tune) we just play that section about 3 times while they discuss it, and settle on a chord.

So I guess, my question is, if they know the melody line (it is not usually asked for), why don't they just choose a key and use those chords?
I did not put this in a new thread, because I do not want anybody to think I am slamming them for being stupid--I'm not. Maybe these people are just rank beginners, but it doesn't seem so. Thanks!
Sorcha
PS--I watch other people's hands all the time, helps me keep my place, and follow accompnists chords, and fake most of the ones I don't know.


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Subject: RE: Music Teaching Tips....again.
From: catspaw49
Date: 14 Mar 00 - 11:47 AM

I understand your point Sorcha......and you're right. I often don't get it either. If its something with a very odd pattern, more complex. etc....sure. Probably everyone has struggled through a "What the hell is that?" song every now and again.....But we do get a lot of requests for 1-4-5 songs and perhaps it relates to Rick's point on hearing the changes somehow. I've always wanted to ask, "Can't you hear it?" but it does sound demeaning and I get into enough hot water without inviting more...so thanks to YOU for bringing it up.

Spaw


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Subject: RE: Music Teaching Tips....again.
From: Night Owl
Date: 14 Mar 00 - 11:53 AM

Rick, I am REALLY excited that you started this thread and am hoping it will have some longevity here. While reading the postings so far, a flood of questions went through my brain one of which is.....do you have any tips for improving recognizing, by ear, what the "funny" chords are that come up in a tune? I can hear them there, but other than basic chords and the relative minors, can't find them. I learn best by listening and watching others. Wondering if more reading music theory is the only option.


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Subject: RE: Music Teaching Tips....again.
From: Night Owl
Date: 14 Mar 00 - 12:06 PM

Sorcha and Spaw...took me so long to type my question I missed both your postings. "F#m in an A tune" is EXACTLY what my question was. When the fiddler I play with wants to try a new tune.....I ALWAYS have to ask if there's anything funny(weird) in the tune. We end up doing the same as you described....


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Subject: RE: Music Teaching Tips....again.
From: Peter T.
Date: 14 Mar 00 - 12:12 PM

Sorcha, speaking as a proto-neo-whatever, the few times I have been in a group I have been struck by the total panic that strikes me, and the paucity of information available as to what is going on. (Thank God Rick is an information giver as a teacher!)

Novices are like people on those swingy bridges you see in jungle pictures. They have almost no information, the song is rolling, and they are desperately trying not to do anything stupid. I think there is a "sink-or-swim" mentality or something that keeps knowledgeable people from giving novices anything more than the least signpost. Or assuming that you will pick up the process as you go along ("The only way to really learn, you bastards" as John Wayne remarked on the beach at Guadalcanal). This ignores the fact that there are 5 or 6 horrors going on at the same time, which induces frozen panic. #1 horror is that you are in a group, which means you have no control over the time or rhythm. #2 horror is that you might be asked to lead a song, at which point you forget every song you have ever heard, beginning with Freight Train. You are sitting there WHILE ANOTHER SONG IS GOING ON trying desperately to remember anything about Freight Train in case you are put on the spot. #3 horror is that you are strumming away on a song you have heard a thousand times, and you realize that you know nothing about it. You are out on the swingy bridge and below you are crocodiles. How did I get into this picture? #4 horror is that you are strumming away on a song you have never heard, and you have no idea where this is going. #5 horror is that in the middle of Joe Star's performance you are going to plunk a D#diminished flat 5 when it should be a C chord. And everyone will know you are a fool. And so on. That you remember your right hand strums and your left frets is a major victory. This form of introduction to the "fun of playing with others" may be utilitarian over the long haul, but in the meantime, telling people that the chord here is a D7 when, if you know the key it should be obvious, is a bonus extra for those of us on the jungle bridge. Give them everything they ask for, and more, please!!!!!!!!! Mollycoddle them!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
yours, Peter T.


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Subject: RE: Music Teaching Tips....again.
From: Sorcha
Date: 14 Mar 00 - 12:23 PM

LOL, Peter T! Yes, I understand completely! Even tho I have played with these people for about 14 yrs, and we can often read each other's minds, we do get newbies and we do try to tell them the chord changes. And I do the same thing with any new group I am in! *PANIC* I always play "X" in D, and they want me to do it in A?! My suggestion for weirdness chords would be to 1) ask what key are you in? 2) ask the lead player, what NOTE is that? Then, 3) try to figure out what semi-related chords might have that note in them, and go from there. In Celtic tunes, the chord is often a sharped relative minor. Blues? Don't ask me!


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Subject: RE: Music Teaching Tips....again.
From: catspaw49
Date: 14 Mar 00 - 12:25 PM

No Peter, that's not what I meant. Your point is well taken and I feel much like you do....I think a lot of us do. I was referring not to a group, but a request for chords HERE on songs that are straight 1-4-5. Rick's point on ear training seems to be appropriate to this.

Spaw


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Subject: RE: Music Teaching Tips....again.
From: Amos
Date: 14 Mar 00 - 01:08 PM

I make a practice when I'm with a group of goodhearted amateurs who don't have a lot of time behind the nut of yelling chords out in the middle of a song even tho' it disrupts the lyrics a bit. Depends on the nature of the group and the event. Ithink there are many folks out there who learned a few chords, but who are either through inexperience (see Peter's marvelous post above) or authoritarian learning trauma (don't get me started) believe they have to be told the musical steps. Some student musicians never get to the "create" end of the spectrum at all, because they are drilled into reading it only, and get the idea they have to get a map before they're allowed to go anywhere. I weep for them. I think these are the two sources of "Does anyone know the chords to Red River Valley?".

I strongly urge all more experienced hands to treat such requests with kindly forebearance. I recently took the trouble to send the three chords (you know which three) to "Blow Ye Winds" (well, there's a second in there also)to a nice guy out in the wilderness who had dropped a request on a thread and never came back. He answered the email within an hour and was purely delighted that he had gotten the help, because the song had been haunting him for months. Now he's going to practice the prescribed three chords and get some joy out of it. Well worth the small trouble of sending him an email.


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Subject: RE: Music Teaching Tips....again.
From: Rick Fielding
Date: 14 Mar 00 - 01:43 PM

Couple of really good points made. What to do when you're in a jam session and you "PANIC"! You have no idea what chords are being played and you just go blank. Well that's God's way of tellin' you yer out of yer depth (AT THE MOMENT!!!!) Don't sweat, don't bust a blood vessel, and DON'T Play! Just listen. When the song ends...YOU start the next one. Make everyone follow YOUR chords. Don't worry for one moment that it will be too simple for anyone to be interested in. Yeah, it involves a little gumption to emerge from a situation where one minute you feel like yer screwing the rest up to boldly initiating the next piece, but that's what creating your own comfortable environment is all about. After the session get someone to jot down the chords to as many songs that you couldn't follow and do some woodsheddin'.

Over the years I've found that there are two kinds of musicians. Those who WANT to improve and those who stick to what they learned at the beginning (generally those are the ones who stick the same three chords into everything whether more are required or not). Just a few days ago a guy came into Mudcat saying "Stop analyzing music you wimps, just kick back, down a few brews and play!" Well, he's got a point...and chances are I build bookshelves with the same skill he plays guitar.....but I think learning to play it "right" is fun, and if you can budget a little time each day to practice technique (not just sing songs) you'll find it as rewarding as I have.

There have been times that I was sitting in with experienced jazz players and felt exactly what Peter did. Didn't have a clue where some of the chords went. Sweat-City!

Tip: Most professional flatpickers use VERY heavy picks (over 1mm.)

Rick


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Subject: RE: Music Teaching Tips....again.
From: GUEST,Neil Lowe
Date: 14 Mar 00 - 02:35 PM

As I-IV-V is so prevalent, I can usually pick that out in a song, unless the order gets reversed. I-IV is pretty easy to distinguish - I-V for some reason is harder for my ear to pick up. Any more complicated than that and I have to use the method of humming along with the mystery chord. I can usually pick out the root note. Then I stop the music and match the hum to the root note on the guitar. If it's a major, minor, major or dominant seventh, or occasionally a ninth I'm home free, as these are the variations with which I am most familiar. The complicated ones (the ones WyoWoman refers to as having everything including the kitchen sink thrown in)...it's time to get out the toys. Record the chord in question, freeze its occurrence, and move my fingers around until I match the chord note for note. Then, for me it's important to give it a name other than "that weird #4%^ chord." I go to a chord finder program, punch in the notes and see what the program comes up with. I'm not particularly concerned if the name follows standard protocol - I just want something to call it.

My unorthodox method for discovering the "lost" chords.

Neil


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Subject: RE: Music Teaching Tips....again.
From: Peter T.
Date: 14 Mar 00 - 02:52 PM

Rick, you are out of your mind. (You wanted criticism!!!!)

Right. You are in a jam session, and you have no idea what is going on. They are playing in Eb, with occasional shifts into C#m to keep themselves amused. You are sitting there thinking: BASS NOTES ARE ON THE THICK STRINGS NEAR YOU and/or MY GIRLFRIEND SAID PHOTOGRAPHY, BUT OH, NO, I HAD TO PICK GUITAR. Guys are sitting there with over 1mm flatpicks, suitcases like Jackie Gleason hauls around in The Hustler, callouses on their hands like clubfeet, and what does Rick advise? "You start the next one...."

You are in the ring with Muhammed Ali. When he hits you, lean into the punch.

I mean, really.

No. The real answer is: when the first song is over, go to the bathroom and look at yourself in the mirror, fall down upon your knees and say: "Elizabeth Cotton, wherever you are, please help me. If you help me, I will move to wherever it was Albert Schweitzer helped lepers and played Bach organ works in the depths of the African jungle where no one except lepers could hear him for 375 kilometres in any direction". Then, as you are coming back into the room, buy everyone beer.

Wouldn't it be a good idea to get all those people who hate being in groups together for an evening, and do the old 1,4,5 thing, and give them pointers on how not to panic. REALLY SLOWLY!!!!!! I mean, if it works in group therapy. I guess people do this sort of thing in summer workshops. Anyway. Did I mention that in group sessions the songs are moving forward into an open temporal void, and that there are lyrics, and everything happening at once????? I guess I did. "You start the next one." Jesus!!!!

yours, Peter T.


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Subject: RE: Music Teaching Tips....again.
From: Little Neophyte
Date: 14 Mar 00 - 03:00 PM

'The Lost Chord', that could be the title of a really great screen play Neil.

You know, what I have to say will probably be overlooked because it has been said so many times, yet it is the simple truth. If you practice every day, you can accomplish many great things.
It is not a rocket science, it is hard, dedicated work.

Beginnerly Speaking
Little Neo


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Subject: RE: Music Teaching Tips....again.
From: Little Neophyte
Date: 14 Mar 00 - 03:23 PM

Peter T., if you have taken on something that is over your head, maybe it is best to just accept it. It sounds like a wise idea to just listen to the other players and come back in when you can. You are letting the group know by stepping out and just watching, that you are having some difficulties. They will understand. I bet they would feel more at ease if you felt more at ease too.

Little Neo


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Subject: RE: Music Teaching Tips....again.
From: Peter T.
Date: 14 Mar 00 - 03:45 PM

No, Little Neo, I think making THEM panic is a better idea. Perhaps one should spend a year in Africa learning that ONE song that it took Rick 2 hours to learn for his new album, as opposed to his usual .0000001 seconds. Arrive early, get that song in first, and then fake a massive stroke. (joke, joke!)

yours, Peter T.


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Subject: RE: Music Teaching Tips....again.
From: M. Ted (inactive)
Date: 14 Mar 00 - 04:42 PM

As usual, am late into this--I have a slightly different approach than Rick--My reckoning is that most of the songs that people want to learn use one of about four chord progressions--so for a start, I teach them them these chord progressions and how to recognize them--

I try to teach my students how to keep a good solid beat, above all else, and I teach them how to keep from dropping the beat, even when they don't know, or muff, a chord change--

I also teach them how to count each beat and measure--that way, even when they don't know what chord to play, they know a)when the part they don't know is coming, and b)how far they are from the part they do know--0

Also, I tried to teach my students to always learn the melody cold--first to hum, then to sing, and last, to play, even if they aren't going to ever actually perform the melody, so they know where the song is going all the time--

For students who wanted to learn lead and melody playing, I just opened up my Band-in-a-Box program, typed the chords in(or picked a song that was there) and recorded it on a 3-minute endless loop tape--(One of these days, I am going to get a CD burner, and then "Fageddaboudit")

All of this should be past tense, because I don't teach anymore--


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Subject: RE: Music Teaching Tips....again.
From: Mary in Kentucky
Date: 14 Mar 00 - 05:23 PM

To quote Rick again (because I happen to agree)**chances are I build bookshelves with the same skill he plays guitar.....but I think learning to play it "right" is fun, and if you can budget a little time each day to practice technique (not just sing songs) you'll find it as rewarding as I have.***

It's usually easier to teach a beginner, regardless of age, than to have to undo bad habits and attitudes. Three basic objectives for all ages:
1) theory, ear-training and skill exercises
2) follow a "method book" for systematic skill advancement
3) do fun stuff: pop songs, write own songs, seasonal music, etc.

*** For theory, ear-training and exercises:
Separate the keys and root chord of each key into groups according to similarities. (I'm not sure how this translates to the guitar.) Teach a multikey approach from the beginning. Much of this can be done by "sound" and "feeling" without getting into theory. On the piano this is:
group I : C, F, G (all white keys on piano, 1 sharp, 1 flat)
group II : D, A, E (black note in middle for root chord)
group III: Db, Eb, Ab (white note in middle)
group IV: B, F#, Bb ??????? (I've forgotten!)

Anyway...become familiar with all keys.
Play the "Mary Had a Little Lamb" chords (I and V7) in all keys. Play "Mary Had a Little Lamb" in all keys. (not only does this teach hearing the chord changes, but on the piano the melody is all in the 5 finger position.
Play the Hanon exercise (like a scale but no thumb under-type stuff) in all keys. Vary the exercise for legato, staccato, phrasing, speed, etc.
Write your own song using the "Mary Had a Little Lamb" chords. Nursery rhymes fit nicely. Or write a Halloween song using minor chords...or a Chinese song using only black notes. Older students may prefer some of the 2 or 3-chord folk songs.
Then there are the "Saints Go Marching In" chords, I, IV, V7. This melody is also nice on the piano because it is mostly in the five-finger position.

***As far as a method book...find one that has songs appropriate for the student's age and interests.

***Fun stuff...whatever the student likes...current pop, commercials, Christmas songs, blues style, or Ray Charles style, or cowboy style, etc.

Motivation is different for every person. Some suggestions:

I like the idea of using tapes to play along with. Ensemble playing is probably better, but just not always possible.

Kids (of all ages) like to improvise. They can add a big chord, special ending, counter melody or harmony.

Some good singers can do a talking blues kind of song with minimal instrumental skills.

Use a practice book to write down assignments and check off practices. I always told my students that the hardest thing about practicing was going to the room where the piano was, and sitting down.

For young students:
Stickers seem to work real well with young children. Marvin Hamlisch says his Mom's cookies kept him practicing. Parental involvement seems to be very important for most kids. If Mom or Dad have a favorite song, the kid will work hard to learn it. Also, they love to prepare something special for Grandma's birthday.

For Adults:
An adult learns everything extremely fast the first year (or rather 6 mo or less). No matter what approach, they are like a sponge and progress rapidly thru the initial knowledge aquisition phase. But then...other life priorities seem to intefere when they hit their first plateau. There seems to be a very steep learning curve the first 6 mo or year, and then a plateau where the skill level has to catch up. Young kids usually have no choice but to stick it out. Teens and adults need a different kind of motivation to get thru this plateau. It seems the only ones that continue are the ones who somehow get involved in performing or in music-making as an active part of their lives. Sometimes just awareness of this plateau will keep an adult going. I like to talk about Jonathon Livingston Seagull for the joy of perfecting skills...or the baseball player perfecting his swing...or playing Mozart...any kind of game, like Rick said. Just push through this plateau of improving skills.

For right-brain folks:
"Feel" the hand positions when playing a song.
Imitate the teacher without having to read notes.
Memorize a song by just doing it over and over.
After a song is learned using your strength (right brain), go back and work on reading notes as you play a song you already know.

For left-brain folks:
Read the notes first in order to learn a song.
Play the song from memory concentrating on phrasing and expression.
Play with others or with tapes. This forces the left-brained person to KEEP GOING. Make sure the song is easy for them.
Memorize a song cognitively first by being able to start anywhere in the song and verbalize the notes or the key.

Oh well...gotta go...life calls. Thanks, Rick, for a nice distraction to an otherwise sh***y day.

Mary


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Subject: RE: Music Teaching Tips....again.
From: Sorcha
Date: 14 Mar 00 - 05:34 PM

Earth to Peter: Unless they are a professional band, most "groups" are very tolerant of those of lesser time, skill, technique, what ever you want to call it. YES, start the next one, even if it's dumstoopidsimple. EVERY BODY has been a beginner or slower at some time even the Great Gods of Music! Calm down, take a chill pill, and RELAX! If all else fails, stop, look very closely at your fingerboard as if checking for minute flaws there that caused the mistake. If this is not enough, check all other equipment: picks, capos, pick ups, mikes, etc. At least it will get a laugh. I have done it many times. I know it is hard to realize, but at least 90% of the people don't know you made a mistake, and the others don't care! (I know you do!!) Just keep going! *BG*


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Subject: RE: Music Teaching Tips....again.
From: Crowhugger
Date: 14 Mar 00 - 09:43 PM

Mary in Kentucky, Thank you. You've provided some very solid guidance. I'm looking forward to a long, luscious browse through the Royal Conservatory Bookstore's adult method section.

As for fun-sing groups, I'm with you, Amos: shout it out even if it's a bit disruptive of the lyrics. Usually only makes a mess of one verse because the more experienced players either don't need it or pick it up quickly, then less experienced players follow them. I'm not usually playing guitar in such situations (there are always plenty of guitars so I've taken to bringing my cello, more rarely, banjo), so I've become accustomed to having to call the chords. It's not too hard to get the hang of. Just one more thing to practise, and I found it took very little work to keep track of the words while tossing out chord names. Tip: Ballads give newbies lots of verses to get the hang of it, then there's a warm fuzzy feeling of accomplishment at the end.

BTW, Amos, I don't think I can take credit for inventing "scronk" - I'm not sure, but I think I heard it somewhere. Besides the first 6 months of my cello lessons.


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Subject: RE: Music Teaching Tips....again.
From: Crowhugger
Date: 15 Mar 00 - 08:20 AM

Rick,

Thinking about what you said about learning mandolin, what about picking out fiddle tunes? Long ago one afternoon, in anticipation of a jam with too many guitars and almost as many banjos, I decided to "learn" mandolin. That is, figure out where most of the important notes were in the common keys. Aside from a scale or two, I went for things like the Irish Washerwoman, I's the B'y, and it wasn't tinny or unpleasant at all. It was quite fun. It took about 3 hours to get to where I'd be able to keep up with the 3-to-6 chorders expected that evening. It was fun. I already had a lot of musical background, maybe it was a particularly nice mandolin...and no one complained about one less guitar or one (very) amateur mandolin player.

But what do you think of my basic notion of using fiddle tunes to get a feel for mandoin? Certainly the tuning is conducive to that.


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Subject: RE: Music Teaching Tips....again.
From: Peter T.
Date: 15 Mar 00 - 08:39 AM

Mary in Kentucky, do you have any piano tips for dealing with the monster problem of the left hand having to do one rhythm and the right another? Apart from doing it a hundred times slowly to a metronome. That works for one tune, and then I am back where I started. I have never been able to crack that -- rubbing the head and patting the stomach is easier. It certainly seems easier on the guitar, maybe because the hands are at completely different angles to each other. yours, Peter T.


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Subject: RE: Music Teaching Tips....again.
From: Mary in Kentucky
Date: 15 Mar 00 - 11:44 AM

Peter T.,

...just a few quick thoughts.

1) yes, just play it over and over.

2) when playing two against three...it really helps me to be able to learn it first "cognitively" and COUNT the fractions. But I have counting ingrained because I learned it first. After you've pounded out the fractions and counted out loud, just let the finger memory take you through it smoothly. There is much more going on here with right and left brain, and I really don't fully understand it. Just do whatever works for you.

This is like playing a round with each hand playing a melody line. I have to learn it "vertically" matching note to note, and can't really "think through the melody line" or follow phrasing.

Gotta go.

M


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Subject: RE: Music Teaching Tips....again.
From: Crowhugger
Date: 15 Mar 00 - 12:30 PM

Peter T., For a love-hate exercise in separation of left and right hand, have you tried "Boogie Woogie Hanon"? It starts slowly with the concept of left and right doing things more differently than you'll often find in pre-grade VIII piano. Then as you go progress through the book, the timing becomes more and more insane. It probably won't have the precise counter-rhythms you need but I've found it to be an excellent tool for separating the left and right hands. There ARE times when, for me at least, things go better when the one hand doesn't know what the other's doing. As long as they both know when the next measure begins.

The beauty of this method is the gentle separation, time-consuming, mind you, (daily 10-20 minute work-out: probably a few months) of each hand's "thinking" and on the way by, playing boogie-woogie is a WHOLE lotta fun. And there's the side benefit of transposing the exercises, presented in the key of C, to whatever keys work best for any fellow-jammers. You'll be a hit with blues players because of the similar 12-bar pattern, especially with the most basic exercises -- E,G,D,A gives those future Eric Claptons lots of room to fool around. Playing with trumpets or reeds? Transpose to F,B-flat etc.

IMHO of course. CH

P.S. There is also "Blues Hanon" which I recently bought but haven't checked out yet...voice and cello lessons and choir gobbling up my time, plus an occasional open mike and song circle...


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Subject: RE: Music Teaching Tips....again.
From: Rick Fielding
Date: 15 Mar 00 - 12:48 PM

God (as you perceive him/her/whatever) bless all of you!!!

I looked for this thread ten minutes ago..couldn't find it..saw the "GG" thread still prominent, and lost hope for humanity! Realised it's my eyesight that sucks..humanity Rules!(to quote young Mbo)

Marvellous suggestions, every one totally valid and hopefully useful to all of us.

I Always use fiddle ideas for teaching mandolin, Crow.

Peter, Peter, Peter....get a hold of yourself (well your guitar neck actually). Lie down on the couch and let's take you through that horrendous experience.

"Right. You are in a jam session, and you have no idea what is going on. They are playing in Eb, with occasional shifts into C#m to keep themselves amused. You are sitting there thinking: BASS NOTES ARE ON THE THICK STRINGS NEAR YOU and/or MY GIRLFRIEND SAID PHOTOGRAPHY, BUT OH, NO, I HAD TO PICK GUITAR. Guys are sitting there with over 1mm flatpicks, suitcases like Jackie Gleason hauls around in The Hustler, callouses on their hands like clubfeet, and what does Rick advise? "You start the next one...."

So they're playing in Eb? Okay, calmly put that ol' capo on the third fret..hit a "C" chord...yer playin' with the big boys now! Oops, lookout! they've gone an hit a C#m to amuse themselves...ummmm, maybe not...it's probably a "Cm" (unless they're playin' Duke Ellington). Well just hit a garden variety "Am". Ummm, ummm, good. Can't find the ol' bass notes? Just think "Bass...near belly. Treble...near testicles"! Works every time (unless you're left handed!)

OK, now let's deal with that girlfriend. She only suggested "photography" 'cause she wanted you to send pictures into the Fox network, so she could go on the next "Do You Want To Marry a Millionare?" But hey, by now she's probably aware that only washed up stand-up comics with fake bank balances would be in her future, and surely an eco-conscious actor/author/mudcat icon/guitarist, is a much better deal...right?

Startin' to be a brighter picture now eh? Lemme tell ya about those BIGGGGG flat picks that the calloused guys are usin'...just get that smooth fluid hand motion goin' with yer medium Dunlop, and watch those gals smile! They'll be beggin you to "start the next one!" How 'bout "Scarlet Ribbons"?

Rick


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Subject: RE: Music Teaching Tips....again.
From: Rick Fielding
Date: 15 Mar 00 - 12:53 PM

Quick question (don't want Joe to see this, cause I promised him I'd learn how to do stuff like this months ago!)

In order to use the paragraph from Peter's post, I copied it..pushed control/copy...brought it into my post, pushed control/v...okay fine. How do I make it come out in italics, so it looks different from what I'm writing? Thanks.

Rick


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Subject: RE: Music Teaching Tips....again.
From: GUEST
Date: 15 Mar 00 - 01:11 PM

Rick,

Before you hit "Submit" and after you've pasted it into your post, put a "<", then an "I" then a ">" just before the passage you want to italicize. No spaces, and leave out all the quotations. That was just for illustrative purposes.

When you reach the end of the passage you want to italicize, put a "<" then a "/" then an "I" then a ">" Again, no spaces, no quotations.

The real html wizards can put all those symbols together to show you how the command actually looks. I ain't a wizard, obviously. But it should (if this works) look like: <"I"in here> at the beginning ..then <"/I"> to close.

Neil


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Subject: RE: Music Teaching Tips....again.
From: GUEST,Neil Lowe
Date: 15 Mar 00 - 01:17 PM

<I>...italicized text.....</I>.

Let's see if that worked. If it did, that's the way it should look.


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Subject: RE: Music Teaching Tips....again.
From: GUEST
Date: 15 Mar 00 - 01:20 PM

well....the last part of it did.


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Subject: RE: Music Teaching Tips....again.
From: GUEST,Neil Lowe
Date: 15 Mar 00 - 01:30 PM

<I>...text to be italicized...</I>

Like this (hopefully)


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Subject: RE: Music Teaching Tips....again.
From: M. Ted (inactive)
Date: 15 Mar 00 - 01:38 PM

Rick, your advice to Peter was as knowledgable, clear, and cool headed as any one could want--and I have already added it to my virtual music book--

However, if the guys Peter was with were playing an Eb and dropping down to C#m, (it would generally really be called a Dbm in that key), they were probably playing a Greek, Armenian or Klezmer tune in what is sometimes called a Hijaz scale--it is pretty much a major scale with a flatted second and flatted sixth step, and quite a popular scale--used in such favorites as "Miserlou" and "Fiddler on the Roof"--

If you accidentally find yourself among such folk as play this sort of music(it is a very popular scale)-- another chord that will come in hand is E major, or E7, (which would be considered Fb for these arcane purposes), and you can actually do very well just bouncing from the Eb to the Fb or Fb7 whenever you feel a chord change-- it even should fit in instead of the Db minor--

Also, the key often is D (alternate chord being Eb or Eb7) so the might have just been out of tune that night--


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Subject: RE: Music Teaching Tips....again.
From: Mary in Kentucky
Date: 15 Mar 00 - 02:59 PM

...hmmmm...I'm still trying to figure out how Neil got that italics post to appear that way!

I agree with what Crowhugger said: things go better when the one hand doesn't know what the other's doing. As long as they both know when the next measure begins.

Practice hands separately until the playing is "rote" or that you rely on "finger memory." Then throw them together making sure they play simultaneously when they should, usually when the next measure begins. I had to learn "Walking in Memphis" this way. Sometimes you may even need to simplify the left hand and just play the notes that are simultaneous with the right hand. It's really fun when you can just let go and see if the hands end up at the same place at the same time. I'm reminded of Star Wars (the first) when Luke had to just let the Force take over.

Crowhugger--for your adult student, when you go to the bookstore, check out the Bastien materials. James and his wife (forgot her name) have a lot of materials for adults. James also wrote a book titled, "How to Teach Piano Successfully." There is also a popular paperback, "How to Play Piano Despite Years of Lessons" which has some easy-to-understand theory and some real nice suggestions for playing by ear.

If your student already learned to read notes, I think it's a lot easier to begin playing by ear. It seems to be much harder to do the opposite. My mother-in-law can do wonderful things by ear, but when she tried to go back and read notes, it always sounded horrible. That's why I like to see beginners ingrain the ability to count as they play. If it's there from the beginning, it doesn't seem to interfere later. And eventually, when the rhythm is difficult, the ability to count and play enables you to do more complex things.

As Rick said initially, and I quoted in my first post:

chances are I build bookshelves with the same skill he
plays guitar.....but I think learning to play it
"right" is fun, and if you can budget a little time
each day to practice technique (not just sing songs)
you'll find it as rewarding as I have.

That's just MHO, I could be wrong.

Mary


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Subject: RE: Music Teaching Tips....again.
From: Rick Fielding
Date: 15 Mar 00 - 04:08 PM

Seriously confused about italics now....but Catter Tony Burns will be coming for his lesson tonight and I'll get it straight from the horse's mouth.

Wow, Ted, I doubt if the jammers that were causing Peter's stress were up on their Hijaz scales (I was there). Especially since we were playing southern mountain tunes! More likely he was just so discombobulated at the thought of his girlfriend's photographs that he misread the "Cm".

Actually, I was thinking of a "Mood Indigo" change (probably not the "book chord") but realize now t'was the "4m" that I meant. Hopefully when he gets home from teaching today, he'll get a bit of a laugh from our efforts folks.

Rick


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Subject: RE: Music Teaching Tips....again.
From: MK
Date: 15 Mar 00 - 04:33 PM

(minor thread creep...please forgive me)

Rick, remind me to get you to show me more ''universal'' chord shapes and positions that can be used up and down the fretboard, when I see you later tonight.

(..while I think of this..)


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Subject: RE: Music Teaching Tips....again.
From: Jim Krause
Date: 15 Mar 00 - 04:43 PM

I am speaking as a fiddler who is always looking for good guitar accompaniment. I have run into more guitarists at jam sessions who can't for the life of 'em hear the IV chord in a tune as simple as Soldier's Joy. I know that in music theory the IV chord is considered unstable, or moving. I remember some years back playing at a contradance in my hometown. It was OK in those days that if you walked in with an instrument case, you got in free. BUT you had to play, and play more than one dance, too. In walks this kid with a guitar case, cocky attitude and all. I humor him. I struck up Soldier's Joy, as I recall, saying to the kid "Three chords, no tricks," meaning it was a fairly straightforward tune. He didn't get it. Next tune was someting equally simple, "Liberty", I think. Not a clue. Meanwhile he's beating the tar out of his box, while some of the other musicians are trying to show him the ropes. Having about all I can take, I call out for the third number "Over the Waterfall" knowing the C chord is gonna leave him in the dust. It works, the kid packs up his axe, and disappears. The point? If you can teach your guitar students to play three chords to Soldier's Joy for a contradance, you have a real guitar player.


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Subject: RE: Music Teaching Tips....again.
From: Crowhugger
Date: 15 Mar 00 - 04:44 PM

Yo, Rick,

"Just think "Bass...near belly. Treble...near testicles"! Works every time (unless you're left handed!)"

...or female!

:-)


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Subject: RE: Music Teaching Tips....again.
From: Mary in Kentucky
Date: 15 Mar 00 - 05:08 PM

...thought of another tip...Rick, this thread won't die...

Soddy reminded me of the ol' V7 chord trick. I would tell kids to play a V7 broken chord from the very lowest bass note all the way up the keyboard to the highest treble note...then leave it unresolved!...should drive Mom crazy.


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Subject: RE: Music Teaching Tips....again.
From: M. Ted (inactive)
Date: 15 Mar 00 - 05:15 PM

Sorry--I was only trying to help--


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Subject: RE: Music Teaching Tips....again.
From: Rick Fielding
Date: 15 Mar 00 - 06:46 PM

Crow, I've got it...Bass near breasts, treble near tights!

Rick..Gotta go teach.


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Subject: RE: Music Teaching Tips....again.
From: GUEST,Neil Lowe
Date: 15 Mar 00 - 10:11 PM

Mary in Bluegrass....

Type &lt; for <
Type &gt; for >


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Subject: RE: Music Teaching Tips....again.
From: Rick Fielding
Date: 16 Mar 00 - 12:02 AM

Back to teaching tips. Seems like a small point but I think it's very helpful to use a strap even when you're sitting when learning guitar (other than classical) banjo or mandolin.

You know those little foot stools that classical players use.. they're actually quite useful when learning steel string as well.

Rick


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Subject: RE: Music Teaching Tips....again.
From: Mary in Kentucky
Date: 16 Mar 00 - 07:08 AM

<THANKS!>

Let's not tell Rick this.


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Subject: RE: Music Teaching Tips....again.
From: Crowhugger
Date: 16 Mar 00 - 07:31 AM

Awww, shucks, Mary i.K., no metaphorical apple for the teacher?

'Bout straps: anything to free the mind and body to pay attention to the hands. I have a very hard hardshell case and have been known to use the neck of the closed case for a foot rest. Not qite the right angle, but far better than nothing. To Members of the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Hardcases: No comment. Please turn off that camera. I said, no comment! ;-)


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Subject: RE: Music Teaching Tips....again.
From: Little Neophyte
Date: 16 Mar 00 - 08:05 AM

Well Rick, all I can say is, thank god you have never used a strap on me.
Is that because I do my homework?

Little Neo


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