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#19 wes williams

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Posted 09 March 2017 - 03:20 PM

Ross,

The thoughts expressed by Geoff and Peter are not personal 'pet peeves'. They have been repeated by many prominent musicians over at least the past twenty years, and for all instruments in ITM. You've been a member on these forums long enough to know this.

 

Susan,

You've said "My main goal is to become a better concertina player" but it's difficut to know what 'better' might mean exactly to you. Do you want to be able to play in 'faster' sessions, or do you want to be more confident in your playing, or do you want to gain more expression in your playing, or learn to get 'inside' the tunes and make them your own, or what?

 

If you are tending towards the starting 'OR's in that sentence above, then Noel's workshop is probably your best bet, but if you are tending towards the later 'OR's then the Catskills is probably more in your line.

 

Whatever you choose, good luck and enjoy yourself!



#20 SusanW

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Posted 09 March 2017 - 04:34 PM

Ross,

The thoughts expressed by Geoff and Peter are not personal 'pet peeves'. They have been repeated by many prominent musicians over at least the past twenty years, and for all instruments in ITM. You've been a member on these forums long enough to know this.

 

Susan,

You've said "My main goal is to become a better concertina player" but it's difficut to know what 'better' might mean exactly to you. Do you want to be able to play in 'faster' sessions, or do you want to be more confident in your playing, or do you want to gain more expression in your playing, or learn to get 'inside' the tunes and make them your own, or what?

 

If you are tending towards the starting 'OR's in that sentence above, then Noel's workshop is probably your best bet, but if you are tending towards the later 'OR's then the Catskills is probably more in your line.

 

Whatever you choose, good luck and enjoy yourself!

Hi Wes, I do tend to be in the starting "Ors". I want to get faster and more confident. Once I can do that, then I can work on expressing them my own way. Thank you.



#21 Peter Laban

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Posted 10 March 2017 - 06:52 AM

The thoughts expressed by Geoff and Peter are not personal 'pet peeves'. They have been repeated by many prominent musicians over at least the past twenty years, and for all instruments in ITM. You've been a member on these forums long enough to know this.

 

 

Thank you, Wes.

 

 

Getting faster is not a skill you can obtain by attending a class. A class will hand you the tools of the trade, the nuts and bolts that make the music you want to play work. A class may (if you're lucky) inspire and help you form ideas on what to do with your music. But after the class, you go home and put what you have learned into practice. And it's there you learn to play.

 

Over time I have taught and have had people come to me with the notion I was going to turn them into accomplished players. I have always been clear that I can't do that, that it's up to them to do that. All a teacher can do is hand the tools, plant seeds, help nurture ideas and approaches but the task of putting it all together in a meaningful way, that's the students job. And, as Jackie Daly always puts it, it's dark and lonesome work.

 

As I said earlier, nobody can make the choice which class to attend  for you. You know your own situation and aims and goals and all that best.  I do think Noel Hill is very good at  analysing a student's playing and putting across what is (or what he thinks) right or wrong and he's also very adept at putting across what he wants you to do (I took my young son to Hill two weekly class for three years).

 

I know more than a few very fine players who feel he opened up the concertina for them by teaching way to go across the rows but these players appreciated the tools given to them and moved away from the style he taught them. I believe that's a good way to go about it, use the tools you're handed to accomplish or develop your own musical ideas. If you have strong stylistic preferences , for example you really want to play like Mary McNamara, it would in my mind make perhaps more sense to take some lessons with the player of your preference (or someone stylistically similar).

 

From my own point of view, I think one can take too many classes, at some point the time comes you have to learn think for yourself, but the company of musicians and the churning around of ideas  can offer inspiration to take home and work on for another while. It is listening and taking inspiration from other players that will help you form your own musicianship, and in my experience I have learned more from extensive listening to (recorded) music and  being in the company of musicians who had the music I was striving to learn, than I could have any class. Again: tuition will hand you the basics and this helps identifying and analysing what is going on in the music you're listening to. Putting it all together and make it work, that's really the job each of us will have to do on our own.


Edited by Peter Laban, 11 March 2017 - 03:57 AM.


#22 wes williams

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Posted 10 March 2017 - 09:26 AM

Peter,

I can't disagree with anything you've written.

 

Susan has already attended one of Noel's workshops, so will have picked up the basic ideas of 'across the rows'. But these workshops are fairly intensive, and you can't expect to come away having learned everything - and remembering it all. So maybe a 'refresher' for Susan might be the best idea, so anything she's misunderstood gets straightened out, and any 'bad habits' she's picked up get sorted. But as you've said, improvement is something the player has to do, and no workshop will ever provide a miracle leap in ability without a lot of effort from the player as a follow up.



#23 Peter Laban

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Posted 10 March 2017 - 09:32 AM

Can't, in turn,  disagree with that Wes :)



#24 beryl

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Posted 10 March 2017 - 03:20 PM

I consider myself an intermediate concertina player and have taken a couple of classes at CIAW. A major problem for me is that all the advanced players take both the intermediate class and advanced class in order to have classes with a well known player (i.e. Edel Fox, Caitlin NicGabhann). That means there are > 20 people in the class which requires the instructor to basically lecture and play tunes to record for later practice. It does not allow for the instructor to give any individual feedback or spend time demonstrating ornaments,etc or other items that would be helpful for an intermediate player hoping to improve. I have given this feedback to CIAW but nothing changes.

 



#25 Jack Campin

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Posted 10 March 2017 - 08:01 PM

Maybe booking a few private lessons might be more effective?



#26 SusanW

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Posted 11 March 2017 - 11:19 AM

I consider myself an intermediate concertina player and have taken a couple of classes at CIAW. A major problem for me is that all the advanced players take both the intermediate class and advanced class in order to have classes with a well known player (i.e. Edel Fox, Caitlin NicGabhann). That means there are > 20 people in the class which requires the instructor to basically lecture and play tunes to record for later practice. It does not allow for the instructor to give any individual feedback or spend time demonstrating ornaments,etc or other items that would be helpful for an intermediate player hoping to improve. I have given this feedback to CIAW but nothing changes.

 

That's very helpful information, Beryl. Thank you.



#27 SusanW

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Posted 11 March 2017 - 11:22 AM

I really appreciate all of your comments. As of now, I have decided to do another class with Noel. I got so much out of my first class and expect to do the same this time around. For me, it was money and time well spent. At some point in the future, if time and circumstances permit I will also attend a CIAW or something similar.



#28 Bruce McCaskey

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Posted 15 March 2017 - 11:18 AM

I came to this thread late but I think you've made a good choice for your interests.

I have always been intrigued by the big New York event. I've watched lots of videos from there, read online accounts and talked to other concertina players that have attended. About ten years ago I planned to attend and had my reservations all set up but a work commitment came up just a week short of the event so I couldn't go and I lost the attendance fee I'd paid too.

I don't know if others have mentioned it, but I'm under the impression that logistics and transportation are big factors when one attends Irish Arts Week. I'm told that because of the distributed nature of the event locations you really need a car (or know someone there with one) to get around and that parking can be an issue at some locations. Finding a room convenient to the event can also be difficult if you don't make arrangements well in advance.

I've always thought that I'd go to IAW primarily for the diverse experience of being in the thick of all the different things going on. I'd take concertina classes with someone too, but the instruction would be secondary to the spectacle of the people, instruments, sessions and late nights.

I've attended concertina workshops with a number of different people in various settings over the last fifteen years and while they all offered good instruction, Noel Hill's stand out as the one the offers the most insight and opportunity for personal development in a short period of time. Of course, it's a much more focused experience at a Noel Hill camp, people socialize and enjoy themselves, but it's all about the concertina.

#29 Lawrence Reeves

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Posted 15 March 2017 - 05:01 PM

Susan, based on one thing you mentioned, I think the following. Go to Feakle Festival and work with Mary MacNamara. It is only 3 days, but in a place that is peaceful and the tunes at a pace that are magical. Mary teaches an adult class. After or before consider ringing a few teachers around Clare for a private lesson or 2 or 3. By the time you add up accommodations and airfare plus the modest tuition at most Irish workshops, you would only spend the same or maybe 10 percent more than the Catskills. Once in the southwest of Ireland you could arrange lessons to be intensive as you mentioned you enjoy, take in the relaxed nature of the Feakle festival, and the way Mary teaches. 



#30 David Levine

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Posted 16 March 2017 - 02:29 PM

Hi Susan - Message send to you--  I live in Hopkinton, New Hampshire. I've been playing Anglo concertina since about 1990 and before that the English concertina. I also play fiddle and flute.  I have taken a few classes with Noel and they're great. I wrote a  small tutor based on his teaching. It's pretty dense and compact but several people have liked it. https://concertutor....a-la-noel-hill/
Noel approved it. If you'd ever like to get together for a tune give me a call (603 843 5543) or send me an email (davylevine@gmail.com).  No charge, of course. Just for the fun of it.
Best,
David


#31 SusanW

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Posted 16 March 2017 - 02:57 PM

Susan, based on one thing you mentioned, I think the following. Go to Feakle Festival and work with Mary MacNamara. It is only 3 days, but in a place that is peaceful and the tunes at a pace that are magical. Mary teaches an adult class. After or before consider ringing a few teachers around Clare for a private lesson or 2 or 3. By the time you add up accommodations and airfare plus the modest tuition at most Irish workshops, you would only spend the same or maybe 10 percent more than the Catskills. Once in the southwest of Ireland you could arrange lessons to be intensive as you mentioned you enjoy, take in the relaxed nature of the Feakle festival, and the way Mary teaches. 

That would be a dream trip for me, Lawrence. I'd love to take a class with Mary. Maybe someday. For now I have to stick with regional classes.



#32 SusanW

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Posted 16 March 2017 - 03:05 PM

 

Hi Susan - Message send to you--  I live in Hopkinton, New Hampshire. I've been playing Anglo concertina since about 1990 and before that the English concertina. I also play fiddle and flute.  I have taken a few classes with Noel and they're great. I wrote a  small tutor based on his teaching. It's pretty dense and compact but several people have liked it. https://concertutor....a-la-noel-hill/
Noel approved it. If you'd ever like to get together for a tune give me a call (603 843 5543) or send me an email (davylevine@gmail.com).  No charge, of course. Just for the fun of it.
Best,
David

 

Thanks David, I just emailed you. When I first started playing I found your tutor and printed it out, it is very helpful. Thanks!



#33 Peter Laban

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Posted 17 March 2017 - 07:38 AM

I'd love to take a class with Mary. Maybe someday.

 

She was out in the Catskills some years ago wasn't she?

 

The Concertina Cruinniú  is another option, cheap flights during the winter and pleasantly uncrowded, a wide range of teachers to:  Jacqueline McCarthy, Edel Fox, Hugh Healy, MAry MacNamara, Jack Talty, Cormac Begley, Claire Keville, Caoilfhion ní Fhrighil, Liam O'Brien  and Francis Cunningham

 

It was on last month so perhaps next year? One woman flew over from Tokyo this year to attend, that's dedication for you.

 

DSC_6506_small_zps2bqpsjoo.jpg

 

Roisín Broderick & Noel Battle
 

DSC_6443_small_zpsucd9u5wn.jpg

 

Michael Tubridy &  Gerald Haugh


Edited by Peter Laban, 17 March 2017 - 07:49 AM.


#34 ceemonster

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Posted 20 March 2017 - 04:52 PM

I have not found workshops terribly useful for technical learning, and probably would never have attended even one had I not fallen for a ton of bricks for a musical tradition/instrument/style with NO master musicians in my instrument in geographic proximity to my habitat.  I went to workshops for a while just to get the time in the same room with the master players who were my own touchstones, and found it really valuable, despite the fact that I find the workshop setting really annoying.   YouTube is helping a lot with this for folks, but really being in the room with that person---It does work a magic and helps get it into your bones.   

 

2 of my own touchstones remain Dympna O'Sullivan and Mary Macnamara, and I was fortunate enough to spend several days running with each of them at different festivals---Lawrence already threw in some of my own 2 cents on that one.

 

Mary's classes BTW are very crowded.  As in, like 2 dozen grownups both times I attended.  But she handles it very well---There is discussion and demonstration for everybody, and then people are loosely divided into groups.  But all groups stay in the class with Mary the whole time, in one big circle.  (There is none of this sending people away to "learn from each other" while the teacher focuses on one group--a total waste of Irish music-learning travel money if ever there was one).    If your group is sidelined, you are still in the big circle, just not playing---you are watching, listening and tapping along while Mary leads the tune and plays with the group she is focusing on.  And it is just about all, with Mary leading, so there is a master at the helm and you are hearing the East Clare music and rhythm as led by a master. 

 

So at 3.5 ish hours daily for a few days running, that is a good chance to get some of the East Clare swing and rhythm intaya.  I think if you don't have it close to hand where you live, as much as you can spend a bit of time with players whose style you really admire, it can be really valuable for some period of your development. 

 

RE crowded classes in the Catskills---Ha, my experience was that the advanced classes were clogged up with intermediate-at-best individuals who grossly overstated their skill level because they just had to be there with such-and-such teacher.

 

I do have to chime in with Geoff and Peter here.  I went to the Mrs. Crotty weekend in Kilrush the last year it was an official festival event (there is one sad loss, btw).    And during the official concert, they packed the bill with local exemplars of that same, patented style.   It was very boring and dreary, no fault to the young players.  It's just tiresome to listen to.  However, it was kind of spoken of by the sponsors/emcees as just the last word in incredibleness.


Edited by ceemonster, 20 March 2017 - 05:00 PM.


#35 Peter Laban

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Posted 22 March 2017 - 09:51 AM

I went to the Mrs. Crotty weekend in Kilrush the last year it was an official festival event (there is one sad loss, btw).    And during the official concert, they packed the bill with local exemplars of that same, patented style.   It was very boring and dreary, no fault to the young players.  It's just tiresome to listen to.

 

This, the subject of style and ways of learning, is perhaps worth exploring, although maybe  not on the current thread.

 

The same thing occurs occasionally at the Willie Clancy recital, I remember thinking after the most recent one that it was a good one (overall) and I enjoyed it on the night, but some years we went  home before the last player  came on, not able to take any more of it.

 

The thing is, the concertina is well suited to producing  what I call 'typewriter music'. My wife has in the past responded to that particular concert by saying  things like all these men were playing notes while the women were playing music. While I don't think the lines are that clearly drawn it sums up to an extend what the problem is.

 

I believe a degree of tuition is a good thing (see above) but the difference with musicians of former generations as  I see it often, is that most of the great ones I have met, were mad for music and were mad to hear and play it.  Music was in their heads and on their minds and they used their instrument to bring that out, whatever way they could. Which is a distinctly different angle from first learning the techniques in order to get at the music, and get at it in a prescribed/taught  way at that.

 

Reminds me of the man selling concertinas out of one of the empty shops  during the Willie week one year, he kept giving out to me that Kitty Hayes had come into the shop earlier and tried some concertinas 'She has it all wrong. She doesn't know how to play the concertina properly..' and that sort of thing. He laughed away my response that she played lovely hearty music, whatever way she got it out of the instrument. It had to be a certain way to be right for him, anything away from that norm wouldn't do at all. I suppose he was 'taught'.


Edited by Peter Laban, 22 March 2017 - 11:29 AM.


#36 Rod

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Posted 22 March 2017 - 03:25 PM

The very best performance comes from the head and the heart and cannot be ' taught '.



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