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David Levine

Playing Across the Rows

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...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: ...

Frank -- and others, -- I won't attack you, but I believe you need to be corrected. The only first-person account of a "non-disclosure" agreement in this thread (the one from eskin) does not apply to "fingering styles", but only to written/printed materials. It is in fact not a non-disclosure agreement, but only a non-copy agreement.

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Right Mike, it isn't me. This is me:

-- not exactly Noel Hill is it....

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I don't feel qualified to join either side of this interesting discussion, but I would like to speak from an entirely different perspective.

 

 

I belong to the group of people who don't play for money, or large concerts. We play for our own amusement or to entertain friends and maybe an occasional small audience. We are amateurs, or hobbyists. And it seems to me that the number of people who just play for fun of it is decreasing. I regret this, and when I can, I try to share the enjoyment I get from the concertina, and encourage others to try it.

 

And so, given that background, I would hope that as a community, we make decisions that draw more people into this area, and I hope that we can avoid excluding information that might help beginners into our wonderful, satisfying endeavor.

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Right Mike, it isn't me. This is me:

-- not exactly Noel Hill is it....

 

That was nice to see and very helpful. How old's the Linota? I'd like to hear more

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I don't feel qualified to join either side of this interesting discussion, but I would like to speak from an entirely different perspective.

 

 

I belong to the group of people who don't play for money, or large concerts. We play for our own amusement or to entertain friends and maybe an occasional small audience. We are amateurs, or hobbyists. And it seems to me that the number of people who just play for fun of it is decreasing. I regret this, and when I can, I try to share the enjoyment I get from the concertina, and encourage others to try it.

 

And so, given that background, I would hope that as a community, we make decisions that draw more people into this area, and I hope that we can avoid excluding information that might help beginners into our wonderful, satisfying endeavor.

 

This isn't about excluding information, its about making and respecting agreements made with teachers to protect their livelihood.

 

I have no problem teaching someone the fingerings I learned from Noel in a one-on-one lesson, but I won't hand one of my students a copy of a fingering chart or tune arrangement that Noel handed out at a workshop.

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This isn't about excluding information, its about making and respecting agreements made with teachers to protect their livelihood.

 

I haven't read the article, but the original post says "The article ran a few pages and detailed what I took to be Noel's approach to the instrument", and other phrases indicating that it was an interpretation, rather than just a copy. I assume that the article didn't actually break copyright/agreements on written materials.

 

So... to me it _seems_ that this _is_ about taking information out of the public domain, for reasons that don't really make sense. Taking down the article implies that it really does contain enough information to stop somebody going to Noel for classes/lessons (I actually think that it would have been more likely to do the opposite - inspire people to go to to the source). It certainly won't help amateurs who have genuine ambition, but don't have the ability to take lessons in person - and yet the original post laments the lack of accomplished amateurs here. Taking it down implies that there really is some secret only available to an inner circle (even though I'm sure there isn't!).

 

Wouldn't it have been better to just ask Noel if he minds and broadly gives the thumbs up to the article?

Edited by RatFace

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All this seems very sad to me.

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I understand that the agreement in question was on printed material only, but it seems to me that it has been interpreted in a more restrictive way by pupils who signed it.

I've been watching this forum for a few year now, and I have observed several times that when a beginner showed up and asked "hey, could somebody explain me Noel Hill's cross-row system ?" He would get only vague and embarrassed answers, and would be warmly advised to go to a workshop to learn directly from the master.

So, "non-initiated" persons were reduced to conjectures about this system. Hence the atmosphere of "secret" I was evoking in my earlier post.

 

The fact that NH made no objections of your publishing of the article shows that this idea of "keeping the secret" about his methods is certainly a myth. The reasons of your choice to remove it were clearly and honestly explained at the beginning of this thread. However, a side effect of this removal is that it can be interpreted as a come-back of the "secret", as a beginner asking about NH's system is no longer able to get a simple anwer to this question.

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a beginner asking about NH's system is no longer able to get a simple anwer to this question.

 

Actually an answer to a beginner would be just to use in-the-row fingering and later, when there is a need for smooth passage, or phrasing, or fetching for the F# (for example) from a G row, or fitting the bass/chord on the other side - a beginner will certainly find his way to cross row fingering. Only then specific fingerings will start making sense, because now a not-such-a-beginner will learn that fingering serves secondary role and is adapted and changed as needed.

P.S.

That's aside from common reason one shouldn't depress one button more than 3 times with same finger etc.

These basic secrets are described in all the books.

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So... to me it _seems_ that this _is_ about taking information out of the public domain, for reasons that don't really make sense.

Was it realy in the public domain? It was written by David and kindly made available to others. Now he has withdrawn it, which is his right as the author, regardless of whether you or I feel that his reasons for doing so "make sense". For what it's worth, the reasons he gave all seem to boil down to a statement that the reactions of various individuals who contacted him about his article caused him discomfort, and he didn't want more of that.

 

Taking down the article implies that it really does contain enough information to stop somebody going to Noel for classes/lessons (I actually think that it's far more likely to do the opposite - inspire people to go to to the source).

My experience with people tells me that while the article won't directly "stop" anyone from taking in-person instruction from Noel and will likely encourage some individuals to seek such instruction, there definitely are other persons who would consider the article an adequate substitute for live tuition, and behave accordingly.

 

Again, if David feels strongly that he should not aid and abet those with that attitude, even to the extent of reducing his help to others, that is his right.

 

Taking it down implies that there really is some secret only available to an inner circle (even though I'm sure there isn't!).

Ah, but David believes there is a "secret", though he has given it away for free in this thread. This "secret" is not some mystical fingering system, but the belief that experiencing a skilled live teacher is crucial to learning.

 

Wouldn't it have been better to just ask Noel if he minds and broadly gives the thumbs up to the article?

Even if Noel wouldn't mind, that wouldn't likely alter the concerns David has expressed.

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I don't think there is any "secret" to Noel's playing once you experienced where he's coming from and heard from him first-hand how he put it all together over time, and that's really I think what you get from attending his workshops.

 

When I spent time with Noel in his workshops there's a very specific reason he puts a certain note on a push vs. a pull, or why you should use that finger instead of that one for that scale. Even when he goes outside his rules, there are good reasons for why certain choices for notes or bellows directions should be chosen. Having the opportunity to experience that journey through the rationale behind his system is the real value of spending time with Noel, really gets you thinking about the why and not so much the what or the how on the instrument. His rigid insistence on certain fingerings at his workshops is to me like the ritualized motions of martial art forms, one learns his fingerings at first because you need them in your body and mind to experience Noel's instruction coming from where he's coming from, not from where you were when you arrived at his workshop.

 

I'm also an Uilleann piper, and to me Noel's approach to the instrument makes perfect sense, since Noel himself has said, he really wanted to be a piper and spent a lot of time listening to the great pipers when he was young. He's constantly putting the sound of the pipes on instrument. Once you go that direction, it dictates a lot of what needs to be done as far as what notes belong on push or pull, and what has to be done to create virtual regulators and drones against melodies. Now add to that creating phrasing opportunities through scale patterns that encourage bellows changes and use of certain fingers for efficiency of motion, all that from what I can tell is part of Noel's holistic approach to the instrument. Publishing a fingering chart or some abstract set of "rules", while it might be handy to a new player, without the background understanding, provides the destination without the journey.

 

Noel really needs to write a book laying it all out with all the background material for the why behind the what and charge a fair price for it!

Edited by eskin

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David, I doubt that any article anyone could write would impact on the number of people who would take Noel's class. To suggest that implies that what Noel teaches could be condensed into a relatively few words. Grey Larsen's flute tutor is hundreds of pages long, and has won an award for its contribution to trad music. I doubt that Noel has so little to say in his teaching that his tutor, if he were to write one, would be any less. Even if this "agreement" not to divulge included verbal disclosure as well as written, you would have to be Noel to convey the subtlties of his music. If students come back to his week-long classes year after year, do you really think another student "spilling the beans" would cause anyone to say,"Ah, now I know his secrets. I don't think he has anything to show me, now."

No, while I respect your integrity on this matter, I stand by my opinion.

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This subject has a different perspective from 12,000 miles away. Noel Hill last came here in 1991 and a trip to Ireland is neither a small nor cheap venture. If Noel Hill wrote a book I certainly would buy it, in the meantime I wish I had known the article was there.

 

Chris

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So... to me it _seems_ that this _is_ about taking information out of the public domain, for reasons that don't really make sense.

Was it realy in the public domain?

 

Yes - the information was (unless Noel's 'system' has been patented - I wonder if that would be possible?!), even though the article wasn't.

 

It was written by David and kindly made available to others. Now he has withdrawn it, which is his right as the author

 

Of course - nobody has even hinted that he doesn't have that right.

 

For what it's worth, the reasons he gave all seem to boil down to a statement that the reactions of various individuals who contacted him about his article caused him discomfort, and he didn't want more of that.

 

No - there were three reasons: 1. Financial loss to Noel 2. An article can't be a substitute for personal tuition and 3. time/annoyance dealing with responses. For the latter point, I would have thought that simply adding clarification to the article (i.e. that it's his interpretation of what Noel has taught, and he isn't really interested in discussing it further) would be sufficient.

 

Again - of course David has the right to make available or not whatever he pleases. However, I think it's topsy turvy to think that taking away a source of information, even if it's only a tiny fraction of what would be ideal, that was previously kindly made available to people, is going to put them into a better situation than they were before. Information is good, even when it's flawed (especially if the flaws are acknowledged).

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a beginner asking about NH's system is no longer able to get a simple anwer to this question.

 

Actually an answer to a beginner would be just to use in-the-row fingering and later, when there is a need for smooth passage, or phrasing, or fetching for the F# (for example) from a G row, or fitting the bass/chord on the other side - a beginner will certainly find his way to cross row fingering. Only then specific fingerings will start making sense, because now a not-such-a-beginner will learn that fingering serves secondary role and is adapted and changed as needed.

 

I think this approach makes sense if you begin with learning to play in the key of C, then progressively explore other keys.

This is how things are presented in "generalist" methods (for instance B. Levy's one).

However, beginners who want to learn the Irish style want to play directly in the key of D, for which there is no natural

solution on a C/G instrument. So the issue of fingerings is not at all secondary, as every beginner has to face very

early in his learning the puzzle of playing in D, and has to find a solution, either his own or the one taught by some authority.

Noel Hill is certainly the one which has the most (if not the best) conceptualised this into a system.

 

I beleive that if history had selected an instrument more suited to playing in D (G/D, D/A or other), or if the concertina

had been influential enough to convert other instruments to play in C instead of D (and I beleive it has been the

case at least in some parts of Clare County), there would be much less discussion on this forum about fingering systems, if any.

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As a very long-time student at Noel's classes and advocate for his program, I have made my opinion known here previously and won't bore you with it again. But you should know that some years ago, Noel was working on just the book that many of you seem to favor. One year he took that manuscript with him to Willie Week and someone stole it. Since that time, he has -- with fits and starts -- been working to recreate the project again, but it is slow going and often has to take a back seat to the daily grind of earning a living and raising a family as a single parent. There are also supposed to be people in Ireland helping him with the computer work to transcribe the appropriate tunes.

 

Hopefully he will be able to bring this project to publication soon and we can put this recurring issue behind us. In the meantime, I would like to encourage anyone who is interested in learning anglo concertina from a master, to sign up for Noel's course. I've been doing them every year since 1996 -- save one -- and each year is a new treat for me.

 

Best regards to all,

 

Ross Schlabach

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