Can You Play a Simple Song?

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Rasputin
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Re: Can You Play a Simple Song?

Post by Rasputin » Fri Nov 17, 2017 9:39 pm

I don't understand that post at all, or why it is so aggressive.
Jeffrey Armbruster wrote:
Fri Nov 17, 2017 9:25 pm
Hmmm. No allowances for nerves on the part of the student? After all, it's their first lesson with you--maybe their first lesson period. Maybe their boyfriend just broke up with them.
Of course allowances for nerves (what?!)
Maybe the possibility of your informing them that they had no soul and never would got to them. Maybe the teacher is lousy and has a bad manner and the student is just responding to that--why is it the teacher and the audience member always get to be right in this? Frankly this is a teacher that I'd walk away from.
Who's informing who that they have not soul?? (and what's the point, if they don't?) How could you read my last post as suggesting that teachers ought to go around telling students that they have no potential? Anyone who is interested in CG should be encouraged to pursue it, surely, regardless of musical talent.
My teacher has told me that there have been train wrecks among his students. I'm sure that people with little aptitude sometimes take up guitar. I doubt that too many like this graduate from a music academy.
I agree with all of that, but it has nothing to do with the question of whether musicality can be learned.

Jeffrey Armbruster
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Re: Can You Play a Simple Song?

Post by Jeffrey Armbruster » Fri Nov 17, 2017 10:01 pm

Oh sorry Rasputin I wasn't responding to you specifically, I was responding to points made variously over the course of the thread. I was exaggerating for effect and it got away from me.
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Rasputin
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Re: Can You Play a Simple Song?

Post by Rasputin » Fri Nov 17, 2017 11:01 pm

No worries!

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petermc61
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Re: Can You Play a Simple Song?

Post by petermc61 » Fri Nov 17, 2017 11:06 pm

Rognvald wrote:
Wed Nov 08, 2017 12:40 am
The first goal of anyone studying an instrument should be to achieve a level of competence that would allow them to perform for others. Since Music IS communication, what is the purpose of intensive study if you never leave your bedroom or study and play to the same 4 walls? With whom are you communicating other than drywall or plaster?
Errr...for their own enjoyment maybe? Which is why I suspect the vast majority of people learn an instrument.

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Re: Can You Play a Simple Song?

Post by Jeffrey Armbruster » Fri Nov 17, 2017 11:08 pm

One more thing though and I'll let it go. It seems to me that all of the masters classes I've seen have primarily been about teaching musicality. It's rarely or never about technique. Bream or Segovia will stop someone and say, no, too fast! play it like this...and then the player will play...No! too clipped! lIke this! (plays). Student plays. Better! yes, move on. To me, this whole tradition is precisely about teaching relatively accomplished players how to be more musical in their interpretations. And we can only assume people learn from this. I think that this is true and a better description than one that involves either having musicality in your genes or not.
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Rasputin
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Re: Can You Play a Simple Song?

Post by Rasputin » Fri Nov 17, 2017 11:56 pm

Well maybe we should assume that, or maybe they just learn they are supposed to do whatever it is in that particular place without really grasping why. IMO it's not really musicality unless you go 'ah yes, that does make sense... why didn't I think of that?' - IOW it has to feel right and not just be another instruction that you learn and execute. Perhaps I was overstating it earlier and musicality does develop, but I think it is a case of bringing out something that is only just below the surface anyway. To put it another way, I suspect that you can only really learn from what Bream or Segovia says if you already have an intuitive grasp.

What we don't know is whether the people who have put themselves through these masterclasses really did end up able to play more musically, in the sense that they didn't just end up with another skill, but were actually able to appreciate the music more deeply. I can only say that I don't notice people getting more musical as their careers progress. I don't mind Sarah Chang at all, but she had the same lack of subtlety when she vanished from the scene as she had had as a child prodigy, to judge by the recordings. I adore Kyuhee Park with a teenage fervour, but while I can hear a technical progression in her recordings, the magic doesn't change... it's just who she is, I feel.

Rognvald
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Re: Can You Play a Simple Song?

Post by Rognvald » Sat Nov 18, 2017 1:02 am

I think Jeff (Armbruster) you have a difficult time understanding/accepting that all human potential is not equal. It is not a condemnation of people as human beings but rather a realistic evaluation of their abilities and potential based on easily observable and objective criteria. You can teach students phrasing, articulation, dynamics, and technique but for some, they will never produce a deep musical experience for the listener but rather, at best, a well planned "walk in the park without a leash." If some basketball players average 25 points a game, if some baseball players hit consistently over 300. and some quarterbacks complete 85% of their passes, why do we want to delude ourselves to believe that all people who play a musical instrument have the potential to be truly musical. It's life as expressed in the law of averages. And, for a teacher of CG to wrongly delude a serious student that he/she has the ability to be a world-class performer when they know this will never be possible is more cruel to the student than realistically evaluating their potential and make the student aware that there are other avenues available to them which are more suitable and realistic if they choose this as a career. Finally, when I speak about "soul," it is not a voodoo term, but rather an expression used by some people to translate into words how a player moves people with his/her performances. Perhaps it's not academic in conception but certainly genetically present and its testimony is that there's not one of us on the Forum who has not attended a musical concert at some time in their life who has not been disappointed by the lack of musicality of the performer. Don't make it anymore complicated than this . . . however, you'll have to leap the insurmountable wall that contrary to the words expressed in our US Constitution . . . all Men(Women) are not created equal. As my dear departed uncle used to say: he's a great thinker but a bad carpenter. . . Playing again and seeking to burst the cloud of well-intentioned but naive idealism . . . Rognvald.
"And those who were seen dancing were thought to be insane by those who could not hear the music." Friedrich Nietzsche, Thus Spake Zarathustra

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Re: Can You Play a Simple Song?

Post by Jeffrey Armbruster » Sat Nov 18, 2017 3:52 am

nm
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skipintro
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Re: Can You Play a Simple Song?

Post by skipintro » Sat Nov 18, 2017 5:55 am

Rognvald wrote:
Sat Nov 18, 2017 1:02 am
.......... why do we want to delude ourselves to believe that all people who play a musical instrument have the potential to be truly musical. It's life as expressed in the law of averages. And, for a teacher of CG to wrongly delude a serious student that he/she has the ability to be a world-class performer when they know this will never be possible .........
Yes but that's not what a teacher should be doing.
Playing music is a craft skill like many others and anybody can learn how to be moderately competent given the right circumstances. A good teacher would know this and seek to simply develop an individual's practical musical skills, which we all have in various degrees, even if it's just learning to bang out three chords to a song.
Failed students are the product of poor teachers.

PS "a deep musical experience" is not the only objective - a vast amount of music is utterly frivolous, but highly enjoyable to play or listen to.

MaritimeGuitarist
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Re: Can You Play a Simple Song?

Post by MaritimeGuitarist » Sat Nov 18, 2017 4:51 pm

Rognvald, your last post has me thoroughly perplexed.

In your initial post, you state that the lack of musicality among classical guitar players is the result of teachers placing an emphasis on technique rather than artistry. In subsequent posts, you suggest that this is also the result of the decline of American culture. I can grasp how these two things may be related, and, though I do not necessarily agree with you, I could follow you.

Your last post, on the other hand, asserts that genetics play a significant role in determining a musicians capacity to develop their musicality. You state that teachers "can teach students phrasing, articulation, dynamics, and technique but for some, they will never produce a deep musical experience for the listener but rather, at best, a well planned "walk in the park without a leash." You then also suggest that the only way a performer can create a deep musical experience for their audience is if they are genetically endowed with "soul."

So the question is, how are teachers and/or culture responsible for the demise of the current (alleged) lack of musicality among our performers if genetics are ultimately what determines a person's ability to express themselves through music? If we grant your argument, is it not possible, or perhaps even likely, that a player's inability to play a simple song musically is really the result of genes rather than in poor teaching or cultural decline? Does this mean that teachers and culture off the hook? Does the bulk of the blame lie in genetics?

I would add that if fault does lies with teachers/culture, than the assumption must be that the majority of people are born with 'soul'. If the gift of 'soul' is reserved for only a select few, than this renders teachers rather helpless in the shaping of our musical landscape as the vast majority of their students wouldn't have the capacity to reach a high level of musicality in the first place. I would further speculate that those born with 'soul' (assuming 'soul' is more an intuitive phenomena--if it exists at all) would likely be able to attain a high level of musicality without the aid of a teacher, again diminishing the role and, in effect, culpability of music instructors.

It would be very much appreciated if you could clarify your argument. Thanks.

Rognvald
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Re: Can You Play a Simple Song?

Post by Rognvald » Sat Nov 18, 2017 6:22 pm

MaritimeGuitarist wrote:
Sat Nov 18, 2017 4:51 pm
Rognvald, your last post has me thoroughly perplexed.

In your initial post, you state that the lack of musicality among classical guitar players is the result of teachers placing an emphasis on technique rather than artistry. In subsequent posts, you suggest that this is also the result of the decline of American culture. I can grasp how these two things may be related, and, though I do not necessarily agree with you, I could follow you.

Your last post, on the other hand, asserts that genetics play a significant role in determining a musicians capacity to develop their musicality. You state that teachers "can teach students phrasing, articulation, dynamics, and technique but for some, they will never produce a deep musical experience for the listener but rather, at best, a well planned "walk in the park without a leash." You then also suggest that the only way a performer can create a deep musical experience for their audience is if they are genetically endowed with "soul."

So the question is, how are teachers and/or culture responsible for the demise of the current (alleged) lack of musicality among our performers if genetics are ultimately what determines a person's ability to express themselves through music? If we grant your argument, is it not possible, or perhaps even likely, that a player's inability to play a simple song musically is really the result of genes rather than in poor teaching or cultural decline? Does this mean that teachers and culture off the hook? Does the bulk of the blame lie in genetics?

I would add that if fault does lies with teachers/culture, than the assumption must be that the majority of people are born with 'soul'. If the gift of 'soul' is reserved for only a select few, than this renders teachers rather helpless in the shaping of our musical landscape as the vast majority of their students wouldn't have the capacity to reach a high level of musicality in the first place. I would further speculate that those born with 'soul' (assuming 'soul' is more an intuitive phenomena--if it exists at all) would likely be able to attain a high level of musicality without the aid of a teacher, again diminishing the role and, in effect, culpability of music instructors.

It would be very much appreciated if you could clarify your argument. Thanks.

Hi, MG,
I believe I have clearly stated my views and do not believe additional explanation is necessary. I mean this in all respect to your question and to you personally and would invite you to reread my previous remarks. If they are not clear, I apologize for my lack of communicative skills but I'm not going to restate that which I've already explained in very great detail. The purpose is not to avoid comment or answering your question but to prevent the discussion from descending into an exercise of sophism which would cease to benefit the readers of this Forum. Live by the sword . . . die by the sword. I guess it depends on which end you're on. Playing again . . . Rognvald
"And those who were seen dancing were thought to be insane by those who could not hear the music." Friedrich Nietzsche, Thus Spake Zarathustra

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petermc61
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Re: Can You Play a Simple Song?

Post by petermc61 » Sat Nov 18, 2017 8:07 pm

I don’t think the request was for a restatement in great detail but a clarification in regards to an apparent anomaly. A succinct answer to that need not have taken any more time or space than the answer given. It’s a shame the opportunity was not taken to provide the simple clarification sought.

Rasputin
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Re: Can You Play a Simple Song?

Post by Rasputin » Sat Nov 18, 2017 8:37 pm

MaritimeGuitarist wrote:
Sat Nov 18, 2017 4:51 pm
So the question is, how are teachers and/or culture responsible for the demise of the current (alleged) lack of musicality among our performers if genetics are ultimately what determines a person's ability to express themselves through music? If we grant [Rognvald's] argument, is it not possible, or perhaps even likely, that a player's inability to play a simple song musically is really the result of genes rather than in poor teaching or cultural decline? Does this mean that teachers and culture off the hook? Does the bulk of the blame lie in genetics?
While I wouldn't like to align myself with all of Rognvald's views I don't think this is really such a conundrum. It only seems that way until you realise that "musicality" is being used in two different senses. If music is in the genes then realistically the current crop of performers is no more or less musical than past generations - but their performances may still be considerably less musical, if they are choosing material which pushes their technique to its limits. There is at least an intelligible link between, on the one hand, a culture that values technical prowess over musical prowess and, on the other, a tendency to choose that kind of material - so I don't think the form of the argument dooms it to failure. Whether it is supported by the facts, I don't know.

dtoh
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Re: Can You Play a Simple Song?

Post by dtoh » Sun Nov 19, 2017 1:04 am

I wonder if the fact that so many people in audience at classical guitar performances are themselves CGists that this biases the selection by the performer toward pieces that require technical prowess rather than pieces that are musically appealing.

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Re: Can You Play a Simple Song?

Post by davekear » Sun Nov 19, 2017 6:29 am

dtoh wrote:
Sun Nov 19, 2017 1:04 am
I wonder if the fact that so many people in audience at classical guitar performances are themselves CGists that this biases the selection by the performer toward pieces that require technical prowess rather than pieces that are musically appealing.
That's a good point. On the opposite end of that, I use to play in restaurants a lot, and that crowd would rather hear the latest movie theme or Beatles tune than a Bach lute suite.
"Can you play "Wind beneath my wings"?.........."NO"!

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