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Playing Across the Rows


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Several people have asked me about obtaining my article on playing the anglo concertina cross-row style. The article ran a few pages and detailed what I took to be Noel's approach to the instrument. I have decided not make the article available at present. Although I stated clearly that my article was not intended to be a substitute for Noels' classes I am afraid that it has been taken as such. Noel makes part of his living teaching this method. While I did not charge for - and did not profit from - the article, it is possible that Noel might suffer some financial loss from its dissemination. I don't want this to happen as a result of my popularization of his technique. I'm not sure that my article would send people to the source (Noel) to learn how to play this way. In fact it might cause players to feel that they don't need to attend one of Noel's classes to learn the cross-row approach.

 

I also didn't – and still don't – feel that the proper way to learn an instrument is through an article posted on an internet site. One-on-one contact with a mentor is still the best way to learn. A serious student of the instrument will listen carefully to great players, use tools like The Amazing Slowdowner, attend a workshop, and ask questions here. He will of course pay attention to technique and fingering, as you would expect to happen when learning any instrument. However, anglo players of ITM seem to be in the minority on this site, and accomplished anglo players almost non-existent. This site is about the instrument rather than one particular kind of music. Accomplished players are usually much more interested in the music. Rather than engage publicly in sorting out things that seem important to a relative beginner in ITM, accomplished players will communicate directly with each other.

 

Though the article was a faithful interpretation and presentation of a gifted teacher's approach to the anglo concertina there were some people who found fault either with my interpretation or with Noel's approach. I found myself involved in justifying, for instance, the use of a B pull rather than a B press, or the use of a particular D. Such a discussion might make sense face-to-face in the moment, player-to-player, teacher to pupil, but to spend time that might otherwise be used playing seems to me a waste of time. On the internet you can be anything you want and some people, who pretended to be players, were only poseurs.

 

Many people who questioned me about Noel's approach seemed to miss the point. It is an approach and not a gospel. That said, it is apparent to me, after playing ITM for nearly forty years now, that Noel's approach, for the beginner, is best taken as gospel. I just don't want to be a prophet any more.

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Personnally, I've always been a bit puzzled by the sort of "secret" hanging around NH's technique.

I understand that he is making his live on teaching his method, but I wonder if imposing such

a secret really brings more pupils to his classes. Do students go there with the hope to "learn the secret fingering" ?

To me, it sounds a little bit like being initiated into a sect, if you see what I mean.

 

Other excellent players have chosen to write a method to divulgate their technique, and I don't think

this dissuades people from going to workshops when they have the opportunity.

 

David

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@ Fabre:

1. ... like being initiated into a sect -- Noel didn't ask me not to post the article. Noel doesn't impose silence on his students. The only sect is in your own perception. People who have learned from Noel are very open and forthcoming about his approach. As is Noel himself.

2. ...Other excellent players have chosen to write a method -- Then Noel should do the write-up, and profit from it, not me.

 

@Tom: Thanks. I hope you got some good use from the article.

 

Edited to correct spelling

Edited by David Levine
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....

 

2. ...Other excellent players have chosen to write a method -- Then Noel should do the write-up, and profit from it, not me.

Edited to correct spelling

....

 

+10. Very stand up of you to do and say so. (Removes hat.) Dave

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A very honerable and honest posting David.

On a personal note I have attended instruction courses for various things and certainly my brain cannot cope with it. After twenty minutes it goes blank ( just to mention that it was not blank before the twenty minutes)The odd tips I remember and I can take those with me at the end of the talk, but to try and remember a two hour, or even a day of tuition, forget it. I need it written out, or recorded to jog my memory. I would quite happily pay for Noels tuition book if he wrote it and then work through it "slowly".

Al

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@ D. Levine :

 

"The only sect is in your own perception."

 

The word "sect" was a bit excessive and provocative... Yes, it is my perception, not based on

my experience of NH's courses, as I have not attended any, but on things I have read on this

forum and elsewhere. I have not written and don't think that NH considers himself as a guru,

but it seems to me that some of his pupils (certainly a minority) are considering him as so....

 

"Noel doesn't impose silence on his students."

I remember reading on this forum, years ago, a person who stated that he could not explain NH's fingering

as he had signed an engagement while attending the workshop.

Maybe I understand badly; or maybe Noel changed his politics about this.

 

 

" 2. ...Other excellent players have chosen to write a method -- Then Noel should do the write-up, and profit from it, not me. "

 

I totally agree, and If Noel ever writes a method, I would be first to buy it !

Not to follow slavishly his system, but to study his approach, understand its logic, and compare with other approaches.

My point was that if he wrote such a method it would certainly not reduce the attractiveness of his workshops,

as not everyone has the opportunity (and funds) to attend a workshop.

 

David

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Several people have asked me about obtaining my article on playing the anglo concertina cross-row style. The article ran a few pages and detailed what I took to be Noel's approach to the instrument. I have decided not make the article available at present. Although I stated clearly that my article was not intended to be a substitute for Noels' classes I am afraid that it has been taken as such. Noel makes part of his living teaching this method. While I did not charge for - and did not profit from - the article, it is possible that Noel might suffer some financial loss from its dissemination. I don't want this to happen as a result of my popularization of his technique. I'm not sure that my article would send people to the source (Noel) to learn how to play this way. In fact it might cause players to feel that they don't need to attend one of Noel's classes to learn the cross-row approach.

This is what I suspected had happened -- thanks for letting us know.

 

However, anglo players of ITM seem to be in the minority on this site, and accomplished anglo players almost non-existent...

 

On the internet you can be anything you want and some people, who pretended to be players, were only poseurs.

These are essentially insults. Was it necessary to say this?

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However, anglo players of ITM seem to be in the minority on this site, and accomplished anglo players almost non-existent...

On the internet you can be anything you want and some people, who pretended to be players, were only poseurs.

These are essentially insults. Was it necessary to say this?

 

I don't think it's an insult. It's just statement of the facts. The first part, about ITM players, is quite a reverse from what it used to be, and I personally welcome this change, as this Forum became more represented. The second part is true, the best players have no time to bother with talkative Forums. It's to be expected. After all most of Form's active members are over 50 while most of best players are under 40. When I was studying accordion with a teacher for 5 years, I seldom visited Internet Forums. It's when I was left alone I felt the need to come back here again.

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However, anglo players of ITM seem to be in the minority on this site, and accomplished anglo players almost non-existent...

On the internet you can be anything you want and some people, who pretended to be players, were only poseurs.

These are essentially insults. Was it necessary to say this?

 

I don't think it's an insult. It's just statement of the facts. The first part, about ITM players, is quite a reverse from what it used to be, and I personally welcome this change, as this Forum became more represented. The second part is true, the best players have no time to bother with talkative Forums. It's to be expected. After all most of Form's active members are over 50 while most of best players are under 40. When I was studying accordion with a teacher for 5 years, I seldom visited Internet Forums. It's when I was left alone I felt the need to come back here again.

 

Yeah. All what he said.

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However, anglo players of ITM seem to be in the minority on this site, and accomplished anglo players almost non-existent...

On the internet you can be anything you want and some people, who pretended to be players, were only poseurs.

These are essentially insults. Was it necessary to say this?

I don't think it's an insult. It's just statement of the facts. The first part, about ITM players, is quite a reverse from what it used to be, and I personally welcome this change, as this Forum became more represented. The second part is true, the best players have no time to bother with talkative Forums. It's to be expected. After all most of Form's active members are over 50 while most of best players are under 40. When I was studying accordion with a teacher for 5 years, I seldom visited Internet Forums. It's when I was left alone I felt the need to come back here again.

Yeah. All what he said.

David didn't say the "best" players -- he said "accomplished" players. I think that there are quite a few highly skilled players here, and even some of the best such as Brian Peters. And I think that "poseur" is pretty insulting.

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However, anglo players of ITM seem to be in the minority on this site, and accomplished anglo players almost non-existent...

On the internet you can be anything you want and some people, who pretended to be players, were only poseurs.

These are essentially insults. Was it necessary to say this?

I don't think it's an insult. It's just statement of the facts. The first part, about ITM players, is quite a reverse from what it used to be, and I personally welcome this change, as this Forum became more represented. The second part is true, the best players have no time to bother with talkative Forums. It's to be expected. After all most of Form's active members are over 50 while most of best players are under 40. When I was studying accordion with a teacher for 5 years, I seldom visited Internet Forums. It's when I was left alone I felt the need to come back here again.

Yeah. All what he said.

David didn't say the "best" players -- he said "accomplished" players. I think that there are quite a few highly skilled players here, and even some of the best such as Brian Peters. And I think that "poseur" is pretty insulting.

Fair enough; didn't spot the generality of it. OK. I only agree with the point about ITM players being in a minority that is actually representative.

 

Incidentally I also think I remember being amazed/entertained when someone posted that he had signed an agreement not to disclose NH's methods.

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Having attended Noel's workshops in Oregon twice, the last time two or three years ago, I did sign an agreement that I wouldn't publish or redistribute his written materials, fingering charts, and arrangements he hands out in class.

 

When I've taught public workshops for beginners, while I demonstrate scale fingerings and how to play tunes, I've chosen not to provide handouts specifically to honor my agreements with Noel.

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Having attended Noel's workshops in Oregon twice, the last time two or three years ago, I did sign an agreement that I wouldn't publish or redistribute his written materials, fingering charts, and arrangements he hands out in class.

 

When I've taught public workshops for beginners, while I demonstrate scale fingerings and how to play tunes, I've chosen not to provide handouts specifically to honor my agreements with Noel.

Various people seem to have assumed that such agreements are an attempt by Noel to "withhold" some sort of "trade secret" and prevent others from using it. Considering the number of students Noel has taught and the fact that the agreement is not reported to prohibit their teaching others, I'd like to propose a different reason. (This is, admittedly, speculation, but so is the other, and I think my interpretation makes more sense. Some day, I suppose, someone might ask Noel.)

 

The printed materials are only one part -- or several semi-independent parts -- of an integrated teaching method, and separating them from Noel's personal tutelage could be considered misleading or even a misrepresentation and perversion of their original purpose. Neil doesn't want people getting just the printed materials and assuming (possibly even being told?) that "this is Noel Hill's method". It's not, any more than five randomly selected measures of a typical Irish tune are the same as the entire tune.

Of course, there's also the concept of copyright. Someone producing a book or CD, or composing a tune or song, expects that others should not be able to profit from their labors without their permission. Even without a signed agreement, Noel's printed handouts enjoy the same legal protection, but the signed agreement formalizes this fact in a way that will be remembered by individuals who might otherwise overlook it.

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I think I heard from Edel Fox in one of her class that she once worked on sheet music she is used in a class, and found out the same exact sheet (including the errors) was being used by another teacher and his/her class... so yeah I think the idea is also to make sure someone doesn't use your work without authorization.

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Before I'm attached for something I am about to say, let me state that I have just Skimmed the previous posts, but with that and prior understandings, I would like to comment on "Non-disclosure" agreements associated with any fingering styles:

 

Playing the anglo involves various paths around the keyboard, just as getting to the supermarket involves choices of roads to get there. It makes no sense to essentially copywrite fingering choices as it would make no sense for Mapquest to "copywrite" their path to the supermarket. (" I am going to the A&P Store, but I'm not allowed to tell you how I got there!") What if other players were to do the same with their particular system?" We would be locked into a situation where very few teachers would be available to "legally" teach anything. I agree that Noel would be able to publish a tutor and copywrite IT. But I don't think that is the point. I think the point is to create a mystique about his system, so that seems to become more desirable. Noone can deny NH's brilliance as a player, as well as his marketing skills. Others, like Gearoid OhAllmuirhain, Michael OhRahilly (pardon the spelling!) and others have styles just as musical, but they have not done the brilliant marketing work that NH has.

Edited by Frank Edgley
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Playing the anglo involves various paths around the keyboard, just as getting to the supermarket involves choices of roads to get there......

 

Very good post.

I guess a teacher may ask students not to teach his method and a reprimand would be that if he finds out, the "student" is banned from next classes for good. Another reasonable idea is to not give out print-outs. It would be decent for a Student NOT to teach "teacher's method" if teacher has asked for it and student agreed.

But for a student to become a teacher is a good thing. And whatever fingering or anything else comes handy for particular student - should be used, be it NH's style or something else. Most teachers simply teach the way they were taught. A good part here is passing of a tradition. Bad part is that most teachers are very ordinary thinkers and apply method to students simply because they don't know any better. The main point though - we are all taught somebody else's method, including NH. Great Animation Director and Animator Richard Williams (Who Framed Roger Rabbit) wrote a book (and 16 set DVD with it) "Animator's Survival Kit", where he says: "Steal. All Animation Greats stole their ideas from somebody else. It's OK to steal from them." Great advice!

Noel Hill can (and should) write a book, and a CD rom, and a serias of DVDs and profit immensely from it. It took Richard Williams 30 years to write HIS book and another 2-5 years for DVDs. Lot's of work. It's NH choice NOT to embark on such an Goliaph's task, but there are consequences.

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Frank, I'm not attacking you, but what you wrote isn't quite fair. Noel doesn't want to see what he has printed and worked out on paper to be distributed. That's seems fair enough to me. Catherine McEvoy asked that the same respect be accorded her written material. If a mystique has developed around Noel's "system," it isn't of his own devising. He's quite open about what he does and is forthcoming in casual conversation. He never objected to my publicizing his approach in my article.

 

"Marketing skills" sounds somewhat denigrating - did you mean it that way? I don't think his marketing skills are any greater than your own. Noel has worked hard to develop his career as a player and teacher. Full-time musicians have to hustle to get gigs, as you know. He has his faults, as do we all. But under all the ego and tension is a modest, approachable person. Gearoid O hAllmhurain, Tim Collins and Michael O'Raghaillaigh also "market" themselves as well as they can. And fair play to them for doing so. Many great players chose not to make music a full-time career occupation but those who do very quickly accept the realities of the game. As Christy Barry says, this isn't a particularly healthy way to make a living.

 

Dan, as far as my being insulting goes, I thought it clear that my post had to do with ITM when I said that "ITM seem to be in the minority on this site, and accomplished anglo players almost non-existent..." Brian Peters is certainly accomplished, but The Dallas Rag just ain't my bag. Aoghan Lynch is certainly an accomplished player of ITM but his postings are too few and far between. Yes, poseur is an insulting term. Honi soit.... As Harry Bradley said, having opinions and information doesn't make you a player....

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