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Noel Hill Concertina School


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#1 viejomc

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Posted 09 February 2008 - 08:50 AM

I was wondering if some of you who have been to a Noel Hill Concertina School could give me an idea of what to expect for beginner, an intermediate, and an advanced player. I've been trying to play for the past 18 months, but have had no formal training. I would probably fit in the sub-category of "beginner with well-established bad habits."

I have registered for the school south of Cincinnati this July and I'm looking forward to meeting some of you there. I play a Tedro Standard C/G Anglo.

Gary McLarry in southeastern Oklahoma

#2 m suzanne

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Posted 09 February 2008 - 09:45 AM

Gary, I am a beginners beginner and owned my concertina less than a year and went to the Oregon music camp of Noel Hill.
I feel it was well worth it. It has started me on the right track and helped fix the horrible habits I had picked up in a very short time.
I came home with plenty of tunes to work on, a new direction with my music and an entusiasm to keep me playing.
Everyone there was very supportive. I had such a great learning experience I signed up for the following year before I went home.
I highly recommend it. In fact enough so that it got me to actually try and figure out how to reply to your posting!
Have fun and enjoy!
Suzanne Wright, Tacoma, Washington.

#3 CaryK

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Posted 09 February 2008 - 04:25 PM

Gary, I was an 18 month beginner when I went to the school in Cincinnati two years ago. It took me most of the week to unlearn my old fingering habits and develop better bellows control. By Friday I was just starting to get the hang of it when we had to leave. But it left me with tunes and techniques to practice and my abilities increased significantly because of Noel's instructions. I was floundering before, but I had a methodology to work with and lots more confidence. My playing has much improved. Noel and the other students were all very supportive, not to mention extremely friendly. The Cincinnati venue is great also. I can't get there this year, but I'm planning to attend my 2nd class from Noel in the Catskills this year. Good luck.

#4 Michael Reid

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Posted 11 February 2008 - 01:10 AM

Gary, one piece of information about Noel's classes that might be helpful (from a two-time attendee): You will get the most out of it if you can read music. Noel will give out a tune in the morning and have you work on it for the afternoon session. He will, of course, record it for everyone in addition to handing out sheet music, but if you have to learn it from your recording you will spend a lot of practice time backspacing your cassette recorder (or its digital equivalent) when you could instead be working on the techniques he is teaching.

Just to be clear, my point is not to denigrate learning by ear--I learn most of the tunes I play that way--but to note (heh) that sheet music can be a valuable tool in the workshop setting, especially when the workshop is oriented toward teaching technique rather than tunes.

#5 geoffwright

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Posted 15 February 2008 - 03:53 PM

I spent a long time going to workshops and relearning each time.
Arriving at Noels, I was thrown into the advanced set so had to learn his method on the hoof in a morning. Even as a very able musician, I found it one hell of a challenge - he is quite a hard taskmaster and doesn't let anyone slack - he can always see one person using the bellows the wrong way in a group.
I haven't had time to visit since, but he left me enough hard tunes and ideas for a good eighteen months or two years further study and practise.
His method is very logical and although he did break his own rules by the second day he always gave a good reason to do it - those are the many little tricks of easier fingering to pick up.
All in all, a great time - hopefully going 2009.

#6 RP3

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Posted 25 February 2008 - 09:05 PM

Gary,

I'm an eleven year veteran (victim) of Noel's School. Micheal's comment about the benefits of being able to read music used to be accurate but are not as important now. When I started back in 1996, Noel did teach some very hard tunes -- even to early players like myself. It's hard to memorize a three part tune and so reading sheet music was an important way of dealing with the challenge. In the intervening years, both the students and Noel himself have grown in their abilities. I believe Noel has become much more astute in selecting tunes that match the abilities of the three different groups in the school (beginner, intermediate, and advanced). So with these advances, the need for sheet music is much less. Noel will encourage every student to try and learn tunes by ear but he won't be a tyrant about it either -- except maybe with his advanced students, and even they get cut a little slack too, if needed.

As one who resisted going without sheet music, I must admit I was a real idiot to be so insistent on having the paper in front of me. When you learn from hearing, your ears and brain pick up so much more information than is on the paper. Try it, you'll like it.

One other important point, IMHO. Don't expect to absorb and have everything you're taught planted firmly in your mind or your fingers by the end of the week. I have found that the tunes given out over the week (two per day for Monday thru Thursday and more or less on Friday) will keep you occupied all winter. It's not that these tunes are so hard; there's so much that you can learn to add to them: chords, ornaments, drones and the like. So bring a good recorder with lots of media and batteries. Absorb what you can during the week, and dive back into your recordings once you get home and you'll have a treasure of material to keep you busy during the cold months.

Best regards and I'll see you at the Midwest class.

Ross Schlabach

#7 Paulette

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Posted 07 March 2008 - 10:55 PM

I was wondering if some of you who have been to a Noel Hill Concertina School could give me an idea of what to expect for beginner, an intermediate, and an advanced player. I've been trying to play for the past 18 months, but have had no formal training. I would probably fit in the sub-category of "beginner with well-established bad habits."

I have registered for the school south of Cincinnati this July and I'm looking forward to meeting some of you there. I play a Tedro Standard C/G Anglo.

Gary McLarry in southeastern Oklahoma


Hello Gary,

My husband and I are down in Texas, near austin. We both went to the school for the first time last year. We loved it and plan to go again next year
. If you want to call for a chat, we can tell you all about it. 512-796-4014

Paulette

#8 eskin

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Posted 27 March 2008 - 06:49 PM

I can summarize my experience at Noel's workshops as follows: :-)

Arrive
Eat
Chat
Sleep

Wake
Eat
Lesson
Practice
Practice
Practice
Eat
Lesson
Practice
Practice
Practice
Eat
Practice
Practice
Practice
Practice
Sleep

Wake
Eat
Lesson
Practice
Practice
Practice
Eat
Lesson
Practice
Practice
Ibuprofen 400 mg
Practice
Eat
Practice
Practice
Practice
Practice
Sleep

Wake
Eat
Lesson
Practice
Practice
Practice
Eat
Lesson
Practice
Practice
Practice
Eat
Practice
Practice
Concert
Sleep

Wake
Eat
Lesson
Practice
Practice
Practice
Eat
Lesson
Practice
Practice
Practice
Eat
Practice
Practice
Concert
Session
Sleep

Wake
Eat
Goodbye

Practice for two years
Repeat


I can't say enough good things about Noel's workshops. I'm so glad I first attended when I was just starting off playing.

Edited by eskin, 27 March 2008 - 07:20 PM.


#9 McIsog

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Posted 27 March 2008 - 09:22 PM

I can summarize my experience at Noel's workshops as follows: :-)

Arrive
Eat
Chat
Sleep

Wake
Eat
Lesson
Practice
Practice
Practice
.
.
.


Now that is funny!!! How long did it take to type that in? And would you have typed differently Before taking the class? :lol:

Dan

Edited by McIsog, 27 March 2008 - 09:23 PM.


#10 eskin

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Posted 28 March 2008 - 07:56 PM

Before I first attended the NHICS Tilikum in Oregon, I had no idea what to expect. I play several other trad instruments and have attended workshops at the Swannanoa Gathering and Augusta. I really enjoyed spending a week with a fairly small group concentrating on just one instrument, but was expecting to have a bit more sessioning in the evening, in my two times I've gone to NHICS there really were only two or three of us who were also involved with our local session scene, which I found a little surprising.

The food at Tilikum was universally good and quite plentiful, and the rooms sparse, but comfortable. I had the luxury of a private room.

Noel keeps you busy all week, at the higher levels with two tunes in the morning, two tunes in the afternoon, you are expected to be able to play them from memory by the next class. I highly advise buying a recording device that can slow down tunes, such as many of the Sony and Panasonic voice recorders, or bring a laptop and use a program like Transcribe to slow down and loop Noel's playing. That's what I did the last time I was there, recorded the classes on an Edirol R09 recorder, transfered them immediately to a laptop and use the laptop for practice. I prefer to learn my tunes from recordings and not the sheet music that Noel would make available, I think its a much more effective way to pick up Noel's rhythm and techniques.

My only suggestion, if you are sure you are going to attend, is have someone who has previous attended go over his basic fingering with you, otherwise you are going to spend the first two or three days going absolute crazy re-learning the instrument from scratch, as Noel is very specific about the fingerings you should use, and he will correct you if you don't follow his system. I've spent a long time thinking about how and why Noel came up with his fingerings, why certain notes are on a push, some on a pull, how he does his substitutions, and I can see how it provides for maximum efficiency both in terms of speed, phrasing, and putting important notes on a pull vs. a push (such as c-natural, a very important note on the Uilleann pipes). These days I play completely using the fingerings I learned at his workshops and I'm glad I learned them early in my playing.

Cheers,

Michael

#11 McIsog

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Posted 28 March 2008 - 09:51 PM

My only suggestion, if you are sure you are going to attend, is have someone who has previous attended go over his basic fingering with you, otherwise you are going to spend the first two or three days going absolute crazy re-learning the instrument from scratch, as Noel is very specific about the fingerings you should use, and he will correct you if you don't follow his system. I've spent a long time thinking about how and why Noel came up with his fingerings, why certain notes are on a push, some on a pull, how he does his substitutions, and I can see how it provides for maximum efficiency both in terms of speed, phrasing, and putting important notes on a pull vs. a push (such as c-natural, a very important note on the Uilleann pipes). These days I play completely using the fingerings I learned at his workshops and I'm glad I learned them early in my playing.

Cheers,

Michael



Is the fingering system copyrighted, patented or otherwise protected intellectual property? Or can you just tell me what it is?

Dan

#12 eskin

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Posted 29 March 2008 - 01:14 AM

My only suggestion, if you are sure you are going to attend, is have someone who has previous attended go over his basic fingering with you, otherwise you are going to spend the first two or three days going absolute crazy re-learning the instrument from scratch, as Noel is very specific about the fingerings you should use, and he will correct you if you don't follow his system. I've spent a long time thinking about how and why Noel came up with his fingerings, why certain notes are on a push, some on a pull, how he does his substitutions, and I can see how it provides for maximum efficiency both in terms of speed, phrasing, and putting important notes on a pull vs. a push (such as c-natural, a very important note on the Uilleann pipes). These days I play completely using the fingerings I learned at his workshops and I'm glad I learned them early in my playing.

Cheers,

Michael



Is the fingering system copyrighted, patented or otherwise protected intellectual property? Or can you just tell me what it is?

Dan


Dan,

Actually, Noel has everyone sign releases that limit how we can share his info. That is why I suggest getting together one on one with someone who is familiar with his fingerings because I wouldn't feel comfortable posting it on an Internet forum.



#13 eskin

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Posted 29 March 2008 - 07:59 PM

Speaking of Noel Hill, I've been working on his version of "The Morning Thrush", posted my recording of the tune in the tunes message board.


Cheers,

Michael

Edited by eskin, 29 March 2008 - 08:23 PM.


#14 McIsog

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Posted 29 March 2008 - 10:04 PM

Actually, Noel has everyone sign releases that limit how we can share his info. That is why I suggest getting together one on one with someone who is familiar with his fingerings because I wouldn't feel comfortable posting it on an Internet forum.


Michael,

'Noel has everyone sign releases'

This is why I will never take a Noel Hill class. I'm just not into 'secret' techniques. I want to share any 'tricks' I learn along the way. You pay a bunch of money to attend and learn a technique - then you can't share it. Shhh its secret... Doesn't matter how good the trick is. Alchemistic music techniques are well umm too old school for me. :o

Dan

#15 eskin

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Posted 30 March 2008 - 01:09 AM

Actually, Noel has everyone sign releases that limit how we can share his info. That is why I suggest getting together one on one with someone who is familiar with his fingerings because I wouldn't feel comfortable posting it on an Internet forum.


Michael,

'Noel has everyone sign releases'

This is why I will never take a Noel Hill class. I'm just not into 'secret' techniques. I want to share any 'tricks' I learn along the way. You pay a bunch of money to attend and learn a technique - then you can't share it. Shhh its secret... Doesn't matter how good the trick is. Alchemistic music techniques are well umm too old school for me. :o

Dan


Its not so much that you can't share techniques, it that you agree not to sell or redistribute, either in hard or soft copy, the written materials Noel gives you at his workshops, and that includes his scale fingering and ornament charts. I can show my friends how to play all I like one-on-one, I just can't package up Noel's information and sell it to them or give them photocopies. I really hope that Noel will eventually release a tutorial book and instructional video so this sometimes awkward situation can be put to rest. It does make it somewhat complicated, for example, to teach a workshop at a festival while staying within my agreements, I'm always suggesting to new players to attend his workshops, and when I have handouts, they generally are just tune notation. If Noel had a instructional book out, I could sell a copy to every new concertina player I run into who is just starting out or has an interest in the instrument. Not that there are that many in SoCal, but still...

Edited by eskin, 30 March 2008 - 01:15 AM.


#16 Ken_Coles

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Posted 31 March 2008 - 06:48 PM

Yes, the current situation is awkward, but teaching concertina is pretty much Noel's sole livelihood (thanks to the sort of agreements that used to be common in the music industry, he doesn't make anything off his first four CDs, unless you bought them directly from him). He is a single parent raising kids. For now, this is how he chooses to guard the enormous amount of work he put into the teaching methods he has developed. I suspect the day will come when this situation with be different, but until then I certainly respect his right to impose these conditions.

I didn't feel too good the time someone ripped off the detailed outline for a college course I had created through many half-sleepless nights in my first teaching job and reused it without my permission or any compensation to me. My students paid to take the course, but my colleagues did not pay to reuse it by teaching it and claiming it was their own. They were too lazy to create their own course or to pay me a consulting fee for the work I did - I was paid to teach their students for one year, not to create a curriculum they could and did use for years after I left (they had a faculty member supposedly in my specialty already who was completely nonproductive). The college's lawyer told me the order of presentation and extra lessons, demos, field trips etc. constituted as a whole a creative work I could defend legally (should I choose to squander the money doing so). I have been a lot more careful since then. I know this isn't the same thing, just that I understand where defending one's work comes from. There are many capable concertina teachers out there. Some of them, like Father Charlie Coen, don't have any fingering system or any advice to you about how to finger but still can teach you amazing playing ideas, so you can take your pick. Whatever you do, happy concertina playing!

Ken

#17 eskin

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Posted 31 March 2008 - 10:03 PM

Yes, the current situation is awkward, but teaching concertina is pretty much Noel's sole livelihood (thanks to the sort of agreements that used to be common in the music industry, he doesn't make anything off his first four CDs, unless you bought them directly from him). He is a single parent raising kids. For now, this is how he chooses to guard the enormous amount of work he put into the teaching methods he has developed. I suspect the day will come when this situation with be different, but until then I certainly respect his right to impose these conditions.

I didn't feel too good the time someone ripped off the detailed outline for a college course I had created through many half-sleepless nights in my first teaching job and reused it without my permission or any compensation to me. My students paid to take the course, but my colleagues did not pay to reuse it by teaching it and claiming it was their own. They were too lazy to create their own course or to pay me a consulting fee for the work I did - I was paid to teach their students for one year, not to create a curriculum they could and did use for years after I left (they had a faculty member supposedly in my specialty already who was completely nonproductive). The college's lawyer told me the order of presentation and extra lessons, demos, field trips etc. constituted as a whole a creative work I could defend legally (should I choose to squander the money doing so). I have been a lot more careful since then. I know this isn't the same thing, just that I understand where defending one's work comes from. There are many capable concertina teachers out there. Some of them, like Father Charlie Coen, don't have any fingering system or any advice to you about how to finger but still can teach you amazing playing ideas, so you can take your pick. Whatever you do, happy concertina playing!

Ken


Ken,

I want to be absolutely clear, I have the greatest respect and admiration for Noel and absolutely keep the agreements I've made to him, even if it gets complicated sometimes.

I'm trying to decide if I want to change up this year and attend the NHICS east coast workshop instead of Oregon, was wondering if there were more session players at the east coast than the west. I was looking forward to staying up late most nights playing in sessions when I was at Tilikum but quickly realized that not everyone who plays anglo is as much of a session slut as I am. The only session we had at NHICS Tilikum last year was the one I hosted, and even that only had a few players. :-)

Cheers,

Michael

#18 McIsog

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Posted 31 March 2008 - 10:29 PM

Ken, Michael, (Noel),

If Noel published Irish Concertina methods and techniques in a book and charged $150 for the book I would probably buy it. Sell the accompanying DVD for $49. I'd probably buy that too. In these forms he has copyright. He can sell them from his web page for whatever amount he likes. Or on Ebay... He could then run the classes wherever and whenever and people would still come because it is happening.

I have a very tight schedule and my family life precludes me from much solo travel. But make me sign the release and the whole thing changes and (to me) it loses something. No longer is it a cultural music method/technique exchange rather it is just a business transaction. Thus making is much less attractive to me. I completely respect his rights as an author.

Dan

Yes, the current situation is awkward, but teaching concertina is pretty much Noel's sole livelihood (thanks to the sort of agreements that used to be common in the music industry, he doesn't make anything off his first four CDs, unless you bought them directly from him). He is a single parent raising kids. For now, this is how he chooses to guard the enormous amount of work he put into the teaching methods he has developed. I suspect the day will come when this situation with be different, but until then I certainly respect his right to impose these conditions.

I didn't feel too good the time someone ripped off the detailed outline for a college course I had created through many half-sleepless nights in my first teaching job and reused it without my permission or any compensation to me. My students paid to take the course, but my colleagues did not pay to reuse it by teaching it and claiming it was their own. They were too lazy to create their own course or to pay me a consulting fee for the work I did - I was paid to teach their students for one year, not to create a curriculum they could and did use for years after I left (they had a faculty member supposedly in my specialty already who was completely nonproductive). The college's lawyer told me the order of presentation and extra lessons, demos, field trips etc. constituted as a whole a creative work I could defend legally (should I choose to squander the money doing so). I have been a lot more careful since then. I know this isn't the same thing, just that I understand where defending one's work comes from. There are many capable concertina teachers out there. Some of them, like Father Charlie Coen, don't have any fingering system or any advice to you about how to finger but still can teach you amazing playing ideas, so you can take your pick. Whatever you do, happy concertina playing!

Ken


Edited to repair some late night spelling typos.

Edited by McIsog, 31 March 2008 - 10:40 PM.




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