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SusanW

Opinions Of Classes/workshops

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So, This summer I could do one of two things......I could take a class with Noel Hill in New York OR go to the Catskills Irish Arts Week and take workshops with Caitlin Nic Gabhann and Brenda Castles.

 

I took my first class with Noel 2 summers ago and found it very helpful. It was intensive, which works well for me. All I did was go to class, practice, eat, sleep etc. with a bit of socializing in between.

If I went to CIAW, I would take 1 workshop in the morning with one teacher, and 1 workshop in the afternoon with another teacher, and there are lots of distracting things to do all day and night.

 

Any opinions? Thanks!

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A bit of distraction is not a bad thing Susan.

The main aim is to enjoy yourself and other players company.

Al

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In conversation recently with an old friend, a really fine concertina player who has lived in Co. Clare for many years, he made the statement that almost all the young players sounded the same, that individual styles had been virtually eliminated.

 

Is this a result of them all being taught ? Obviously it is a factor . At one time it was possible to know who was playing (in ITM) because of each person's individual style... ok there are loads more players these days but there does appear to be an homogenizing effect which could be laid at the feet of having one dominant teacher.

 

I think there is too much Teaching and not enough Learning.

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I think there is too much Teaching and not enough Learning.

 

I couldn't agree more (as you know) and I believe it is true across the board in Irish music, most instruments suffer from this.

 

It is popular, and probably rightly so to an extend, to blame it all on competitions, the style that wins is the style everybody will follow. I believe session playing is also a great leveler, not at all conducive to developing personal styles.

 

On the other hand, I still get to hear players with enough individuality to make them stand out.

 

I hope it is all a phase, fashions come and go. We used to say piping in Ireland was becoming too homogenised, with players sounding like 'they have been taught'. In recent years though I have seen signs that's changing, more people are exploring other styles and there's definitely a development of new directions.

 

The concertina is riding a wave of popularity in Ireland at the moment, eventually more individual approaches will emerge. Cormac Begley is definitely one trying to find a different approach (and even Noel Hill said it was an exciting development). Given time, individuals will open up new pathways and branch out, away from the one style.

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I've done both, and both were fun and worthwhile. I did Catskills in 2005 IIRC, and may finally get back there this year (and my wife will do Doug Barr's concertina class).

 

Ken

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Susan, you asked for recommendations but some of the answers you received were nothing but personal pet peeves and didn't address your inquiry. The important thing here is what are your objectives? So let's ask you some questions. What is your main goal? Are you looking to expose yourself to different teaching and playing styles? Are you more interested in learning the concertina, or is your goal to experience the playing of others or maybe have chances to play in sessions? Are you experienced enough with the concertina that you want to include some classes but are really more interested in the performances or other instruments?

 

If your focus is on learning the concertina, then a concentrated workshop like Noel's is a great experience. If instead you are looking for a wider exposure to Irish Music with a bit of concertina tuition, then the Irish Arts Week might be an ideal option for you. IAW might also be a good choice if you are looking to get exposed to different teachers or playing styles.

 

So think about what YOU want, and then go and have a great time. Of course if your situation permits, you can do both and have the best of all worlds!

 

Ross Schlabach

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the answers you received were nothing but personal pet peeves and didn't address your inquiry.

 

I suppose it depends on how you read and interpret the reply. I think Geoff provided an opinion on the issue, indirectly, in my reading of the post. I responded to his post with my view of the wider situation.

 

There are some questions someone will have to answer for themselves, knowing better than anyone else what their circumstances and aims are. I don't feel I can help the OP with their decision but I'll happily discuss issues that interest me, things I have experience with.

 

It is a discussion forum, people take their own angle, according to their own experience and opinions. Others dismiss them out of hand as 'personal pet peeves'. it's the internet.

Edited by Peter Laban

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Yes, what are your objectives?

Learning tunes? There are many opportunities for that.

Developing a logical understanding of the instrument so that you can play anything that you want? Good luck (at least, I haven't been able to find that).

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One of the benefits of going to the Catskills is that you have the opportunity to play in different situations: in a workshop, for dancers, at a session with a bunch of other musicians/instruments, etcetera. But it doesn't sound as if you can make a bad decision.

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Susan, you asked for recommendations but some of the answers you received were nothing but personal pet peeves and didn't address your inquiry.

Ross,

the title of this thread is "Opinions of Classes/workshops". I was merely giving an opinion about the onward effects of classes and workshops and how they appear to have changed the face of ITM in recent years.

Edited by Geoff Wooff

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I don't recall who, but someone once said something like "learn the music first, your instrument second".

 

Developing a deep understanding and feel for the music should always come before any mechanics.

 

Gary

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No, I think you both ignored the OP and just hyjacked the thread.

 

Ross Schlabach

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Yes, I did ignore the OP and I explained above why. You were just rude. And I'd shrug it off, it's the internet after all, if it weren't for the fact this forum is usually a pleasant place and when something like this occurs, it stands out like a sore thumb.

 

But enough of that. Carry on.

Edited by Peter Laban

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Go to Catskill where not only you'll get technique learning opportunities but also will be immersed in the dance and song to which the music is dedicated.

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Susan, you asked for recommendations but some of the answers you received were nothing but personal pet peeves and didn't address your inquiry. The important thing here is what are your objectives? So let's ask you some questions. What is your main goal? Are you looking to expose yourself to different teaching and playing styles? Are you more interested in learning the concertina, or is your goal to experience the playing of others or maybe have chances to play in sessions? Are you experienced enough with the concertina that you want to include some classes but are really more interested in the performances or other instruments?

 

If your focus is on learning the concertina, then a concentrated workshop like Noel's is a great experience. If instead you are looking for a wider exposure to Irish Music with a bit of concertina tuition, then the Irish Arts Week might be an ideal option for you. IAW might also be a good choice if you are looking to get exposed to different teachers or playing styles.

 

So think about what YOU want, and then go and have a great time. Of course if your situation permits, you can do both and have the best of all worlds!

 

Ross Schlabach

1. My main goal is to become a better concertina player. I'm old enough that I've had experience with multiple instruments, but at this point in my life I want to focus solely on Irish concertina music.

I have been playing now for 4 + years. I've done a few of the OAIM classes, went to some workshops at the Button Box a few years back and took Noel's class. I can play in "slow sessions".

2. I listen to a lot of different players. Favorites include Mary MacNamara and the late Dympna O'Sullivan.

 

If I were rich (LOL) I would do both.

Susan

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Clarification. I've been playing concertina for 4+ years, but have played fiddle (not very well), guitar, piano (classical and for contra dances). I've listened to Irish music for most of my life....more so in the past 30 years.

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Susan, based on your comments and goals, my suggestion would be that you stick with Noel's class. Admittedly it is very focused but since you've been to NHICS in the past, you know what to expect. You won't get the variety of performers/instruments you would enjoy at the IAW, but if you go to the New York class, you might encounter one of the evening sessions at the pub -- if that appeals to you. And at Noel's class, you stand a much better opportunity to make more progress on the concertina than you would otherwise.

 

At some point you might want to make the transition to a less structured and more free-wheeling event like the IAW, and I think you'll know when that time has come. But since you've asked, that time hasn't come yet.

 

Best regards,

 

Ross Schlabach

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Susan, based on your comments and goals, my suggestion would be that you stick with Noel's class. Admittedly it is very focused but since you've been to NHICS in the past, you know what to expect. You won't get the variety of performers/instruments you would enjoy at the IAW, but if you go to the New York class, you might encounter one of the evening sessions at the pub -- if that appeals to you. And at Noel's class, you stand a much better opportunity to make more progress on the concertina than you would otherwise.

 

At some point you might want to make the transition to a less structured and more free-wheeling event like the IAW, and I think you'll know when that time has come. But since you've asked, that time hasn't come yet.

 

Best regards,

 

Ross Schlabach

Thank you Ross, that is very helpful. I appreciate your input.

Susan

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