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GoPractice

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  1. There are many approaches in life. We would, given a choice, like to learn things the proper ways as an adult. But physically, we are not all the same size or shape, nor are we all strong or flexible. If there are many paths to what we think of as success. Though not all opinions work, some are worth listening to and possibly tried. I try many approached to most everything and offer suggestions when the approach worked for me. But smaller and larger, stiffer and weaker hands have different paths. I use smaller instruments sometimes to teach, including a 1/2 or 5/8 size basses and 3/4 cellos. When under a lot of stress, practicing 3-4 hours a day, the smaller sizes make it easier on the hands. My thought is not to get another sized cello but to practice fingerings, also, in higher positions if the cello is set up correctly. Just single string, easier half/ whole step work. This can be boring but will strengthen the fingers. As much as some teachers say this causes spacing confusing at the fingers, if one takes time and does the work carefully, it actually advances the players ability to play more literature.
  2. When my friend wants something, her voice goes up about a 1/4 octave. When she is angry or moody, it might be a 1/4 octave low. There is something to that range. I do not think that it is just the contrast. And to your point, if we have movable Solfege why would keys matter if the movement of intervals is more important than the source pitch. Certainly in soundtrack work, keys become coded. They express shades and moods. As for outliers, several parents see colors associated with pitches. More than half of my students who also play piano develop perfect pitch. Less than 20% start with a minimal range of perfect pitch, meaning they can identify a middle C once they have labeled it in their minds as a "middle C." When studying piano, I disliked flats at first being a string player, where sharps were my friends. As the technique developed in the shapes of multiple flat keys it became fun to play in those keys. So if I had to read, the Gb major key is way more fun than F# major.
  3. And we know this, but... most kids are open- minded when young and some become very closed- minded as they become high school students. It appears, the older ones become closed- minded for mostly wrong reasons.
  4. loved it. just starving for stuff... its not new but the black and white footage reminded me of the Dada-ist crap we did in college. It sort of looked last century and the commitment level was appreciated. Also enjoyed the sonic imprint the motif left in my head. After the cellist stopped playing, I heard the tune... at least for awhile as the players precisely flopped their arms about. I introduce my students to the band, Devo's 80s videos, when they are in high school. It is an easy introduction to absurdist humor as the commitment level is just minutes. Just to start a conversation in why and why. Teaching contemporary works requires an open mind. Older works by Ives, Copland do not make sense to most students until explained and studied. It is much easier to teach if they are accepting of newer ideas. It is clear that those here have given the piece a chance. Like it or not, it allows younger minds to experience something new. And they were introduced to some new techniques. I allow kids to fool around, but after a certain point, they must learn how to slide well, with different contours and shapes, "chop" well and scrub. I can not play "grind tones" ( my choice of words ) well, so I experiment along with students until I can actually understand the technique and play them well. " /
  5. Purchased one ( for a student ) and found it to be smooth and velvety and articulate. It does capture nuances quite well making it possible to be more expressive without exaggerating too much. It was fun to play with for a few weeks. The Cloudlifter is an interesting detail. It boosts gain and had interesting results, making it more sensitive and dropping the noise floor? though it was very quiet. Mic placement, as usual, is important. The Cloudlifter is likely unnecessary in my home set up. But I wanted one so bought it. I have not A/B'd with any of my preamps but the CL was significantly less expensive, $100+usd ( mono ) vs $500usd. Did not perform live with the mic, and only monitored nearfield and with headphones, but it was nice. The mic is relatively inexpensive for the higher-end and expensive for the lower-end but is definitely tonally more forgiving compared to higher-end microphones. It is easier to get a nice sound. Wherever the mic was pointed, the resulting sound was just as imagined. The guy who sold me the mic told me that it was super popular.
  6. A search of images for, "DPA microphones on violin," will show the described attachment. I think Zeissica is correct. Generally a small microphone should be clipped or mounted closer to the tailpiece, though the bridge would be an obvious place for a clip. I use a matrix of rubber bands that are woven through the strings behind the bridge and the mic in nestled into that web. I wrap small strips of cloth tape to reinforce the slender cable behind the head of the mic. That also isolates the mic a bit better from noise if the cable were to hit the tailpiece as it leads off the instrument and over the shoulder. I used to have a rubber damping mechanism used by tennis players that was pinched between the strings as well as a modified Spector mute ( like the one Shar sells near the seashore ) where a slot was cut into it to inlay the mic cable, suspending the mic head just beneath the mute in the pulled back position, of course. There seemed as if there was low frequency rumbling coming through the mute so resorted to just a mesh of thin clear rubber bands. Perhaps you, or your luthier, could modify something to fit along the strings. Costs are always an issue and have consequently used overhead mics for sometime pre-2000. Cheaper Shure SM57 and AKG mics were under a $100usd with a stand and cable. But playing in one position can be difficult live. Unlike a studio, the live space is a less controlled area and the volumes or enthusiasm can get out of hand. Then nicer broadcast quality mics became affordable. That changed so much and the string section looked so much cleaner. I could mic a full quartet + bass and send a stereo signal to the sound person. General overhead mics are nice and blend, but will leave that set up to the sound people. Equalization ( eq ) can be important, but generally the super highs and lows are rolled off and the mids are cut for clarity. Not that anyone needs to spend the money, but here's my not so journalistic review on DPA. Truly respect the company, and I own the bag, not a box to transport the mics. I have experienced problems with DPA microphone systems. I do like them, and they sound nice, but for the price perhaps if they were a bit more robust. I still own them but will not use them unless there are others using them live. They sound nice in a section. I use them carefully trying not to damage them, but after a few years of not much use, the mic/ cable/ interface feel a bit limp and have had issues with the mounting system. I just do not want to fuss in the middle of a show. The 4099 clip is sorta cool and have seen Mr Perlman use one for something televised. At louder volumes, the mic placement becomes more critical. The sound also tends to suffer a bit though it is clear, dynamic and distortion-free. But my taped mic tends to isolate the instrument better from outside signals and after the mods, sounds more natural. If it is within ones budget, the lack of fuss might be worth it. I have not been to or played a show in two years, so have not recently seen anyone using one. Good luck...
  7. Sorry, this was the post. There are great bows, but using an 80s term or synergy, the bow and instrument have to work well together. There was a time in the 90s when playing an incredible newly made bows on an awesome newly made instruments was so stressful as it was difficult to produce a workable sound. When I played them, new instruments liked silky older bows and the rake-y new bows liked older instruments.
  8. Given most price ranges bows are more important to me. My instructors all stressed bow work and most left hand work was approached with bow pressure and velocity in mind. I learned the usual etudes in a week and then get spanked for the next two weeks with alternate fingerings and bowing to shape better phrases. "If you can't make music out of the etudes, how do you think the pieces will sound?" ... there were only so many hours in the day... thankfully there were no Playstations or internet, only a pile of textbooks. Bowed instruments tend to be expressive and that implies a degree of sensitivities and subtle playing along with abrupt and transient changes. One is more likely to find complexities ( and hopefully the sonic range of the darkest corners ) within a box with a bow that can locate and coax out those tones. There are instruments that sound great with the simplest of adequate bows, and they are not unique, but more difficult to locate as many desire playability as the main feature. But since it was not possible to find all qualities of bowed sound with one instrument, I have resorted to owning many. They sonically overlap as there is an expectation but there are violins that sound like violas and violas that sound more like violins and cellos that sound like violas. But some bows allow for a greater tonal and dynamic range making it possible deliver or communicate to the listener, better? And some bows sound harsh under the ear but more detailed in the audience. Is that a good bow? Over time I have learned how to tame harsher or mushier bows and if I pick up a newly made bow, it takes time to learn and break-in. As Maestro Holmes has pointed out, there is likely not a best bow to go shopping for instruments, but one that is familiar, one that is expressive, and one that is dynamic can be helpful.
  9. This is just a small thought. I have had parents with some form of synesthesia and the pitches did matter. These persons see color. One was for a specific area of pitch around B or Bb. While another was more senitive to a range around G to C. Red - magenta- orange was their range. One imagined a range while another saw it much more in a space. The latter was a academic in cognative science, so the conversations were great. Could there, would there, be a range of sensitivities? Do not know, as I do not have that skill. Would that be a baseline for non- musicians? I love this forum for the questions... What is the Strad tone?
  10. The Peterson App ( for phones ) should be tried by, and for, those who are reasonably serious about experimenting. Last I checked, the Apple app is different than the Android App but more expensive. Perhaps the details can be discussed here. This immersion into pitches should be fun and a learning process, but will it is an Alice-ian "rabbit hole" of sorts. My sense of taste and smell are likely better than average, but a past girlfriend was a super taster and can tell you that it can be an asset and a curse. I have friends who have outstanding perfect pitch ( can transcribe Frank Zappa tunes for extra credit, overnight ) but they may not be as sensitive as a Peterson. Which makes them a lesser musician? The development of hearing pitches across the entire spectrum, I believe, is developed over time. They perform Jazz, so their form of creativity is more forgiving... Certainly precision gets us closer to a type of musicality, but what we see on a display, is ( ok, might be? ) different than what is heared and processed in the brain. Wow, Wynton Marsalis on TV. Rare to see... Truly a living treasure live on television. Since this type of tool helps, shows that strings might be fading... allows us among other interesting insights to develop how it might help some us. E- strings tend to wobble wildly in their overtones. This can appear on a Peterson disply. We should push the manufacturer ( or any manufacturer ) to innovate more into these ( older ) innovations. In speaking to Peterson at a trade show, they were not receptive to suggestions at that time. More feedback by users might make it better for those of us seeking such tools. I made the mistake of selling a chromatic strobe tuner. And the problem of making this comment is that the value of those particular models will go up in price. The jerk, I am, leaves you with those thoughts.
  11. Sorry, last silly comment. In working with kids, studies in music require a common area of discussion. Since most of us eat everyday, food is often a subject. Defining flavors and textures are what I use in the area of tone selection. This also personalizes one's experiences and perhaps, preferences. Some of us do not have a good sense of taste or smell....
  12. My view is that if it is possible to express what the composer intended, that we could express it with some precision. If the audience member "feels" that the piece was written ( in a particular key ) in a key that expressed an emotion, than it might have succeeded. Both Nessun Dorma ( Puccini ) and Vesti La Giubba from Pagliacci are sung in a key with one sharp. It can be argued that the performance makes the difference, but I also feel that the single sharp adds the warmth or depth. Of course there are so many other factors like tempi. The best musicians make the best of the music. Being more academic, in the trinity of composer, performer, audience, expressing the intended key is important. Opera is also restricted by vocal range, but it can also be the pinnacle of musical expression. Pavarotti sings both. When people ask me about the importance of tone, bowed instruments do not compare to what this man was capable of producing. Aside from the David and the Soil ( performed on by their iconic owners ) there are very few instruments that the average person can identify. Sorry, blathering. Enjoying a nice salad for lunch. When teaching this subject, most students show no resistance. Perhaps because the subject is esoteric. Or perhaps they are robots.
  13. The "reference," if there is a "baseline" on this subject might be the tempered keyboard? I want to state it as a question, though the P&F of JS Bach in two books might establish what might be the norm. Apologies for the "quotes" but there is different terminology or syntax when visiting these subjects. Most other instruments can compensate for "crushed" or reduced perfect 5ths. With a FF brass chord played with very open 5ths, I can not help but get excited. It often signals finality, the end, a point of arrival... but this also requires a very knowing group of performers. French horn players are constantly adjusting for pitches, so in discussions with them, there are many compromises they make. Some composers are more knowing of the horn's capabilities, like Tchaikovsky, and utilize their abilities carefully and well. At the Maestronet level of conversation, some instruments react differently in more extreme keys ( perhaps more flats than sharps ) where an Arvo Part piece might be performed on a modern instrument over an older one as the overtones would help clarify the pitches on a newer instrument. Of course this is subjective. but when working with some musicians, I am asked to ( often ) play louder when they can't "hear" the instrument thru particular parts. I can certainly play louder, but on a "brighter" sounding instrument ( whether modern or not ) the other players - perhaps a pianist - can hear what it is that can be expressed. Maestronet 2.0 might require that we are very careful ( aware ) how firmly we squeeze the neck on certain pitches and associated fingerings to maximized the best - required? - tone possible fpr the musical passage. Not that this exempts cellists, but some instruments react differently to how players "squeeze" the neck when working through a musical passage. When preparing for a performance, most viable fingerings and bowings are tried. On certain days, due to the proximity to a performance, the instrument chosen for that performance will be used but occasionally another instrument might take its place. It is interesting to hear the variation in sounds that are produced. Listening to how the instrument voices the whole of the work makes a difference. Fingerings do matter. And the related intonation. For the sake of this discussion, not all cases. perhaps the more flats in a work, we settle into the pitch during the pitch depending on the tempo, while a piece with many keys is played brighter, or on the sharper side of the pitch or the vibrato. Of course vibrato varies quite a bit, but there needs to be a center. Even though I hear C major as a bright key, +flats or +sharps also can influence how we hear a melody. I am currently working on a piece with many flats and the middle section switches to many sharps. The composer chose to go for a brighter, faster colour in the middle before relaxing again, returning to the original key. The piano stays relatively stable in pitch as it has no true vibrato. But against that textured canvas, the player has the ability to add their ideas. I am frequently asked to change instruments or the speed or the width of the vibrato, as the pianist hears it. If it is possible, changes will be made. This piece will be played on modern instrument with a modern French bow. The colours are more vivid. So much of how a performance is approached is about the audience. My audience does not pay much. For that reason, much of what is played is more vivid. I hate to say that ideas are over- stressed, but the contrasts are larger. When working at a much more sublime- level, with - perhaps - better artists, many of the ideas and techniques are toned down. No one ever says a thing when an older French instrument is played.
  14. So lucky to have such a reasonable private seller. Not everyone is so understanding. Sometimes the transaction is with those in urgent need of funds, further complicating things when issues arise post- sale. Estates rarely return the funds. Some auction houses and most eBay sellers make items sold as- is. Nothing new to add, I guess. Yet the quest for instruments and bows still persist. One takes quite a few risks with older bows. And this is not meant to be an alarmist comment. Situation that occur might be random. I acquired a Hill bow that was performed on for 50years without any issues but upon close inspection during a cleaning, discovered a crack. Truly not worried but will be exceptionally careful when using that bow. Someday, the bow may come apart. Until that time, the bow will be loved. The owner had no idea it had been repaired, nor did the techs who completed 100+ rehairs. Repaired bows were purchased at auction, not having visited the bow in person. They appeared to be in excellent condition. Buyer beware? Without deception or intent to deceive by the auction house, I did enthusiastically bid for the bows assuming that they were ok. But assumptions are often made by the best of us. For more expensive purchases, the trip might be worth the time. Fortunately, photos now have much better detailed images, color and thus information. Even compared to 10years ago, the process is improving. Dealers are often mentioned and many do take responsibility for the products they sell. It's safer for the buyer. I have quirky needs so if a dealer presents something to me, I always play it. Their recommendations are valuable to me. There was an instrument that was sold to me, by a known dealer for an exceptional price. I assumed that repairs had been done to it. Never mentioned by the dealer, but I had to assume, otherwise it would have been silly to sell at that price. It played great, if not a little stiff, and I bought it. Was the repair visible? Not to my aging but experienced eyes. But it did indeed have a crack in the top. As there were a few cleats secured to the top. Again, it did not matter to me as the repair was exceptionally done and the instrument played great. I used to enjoy some trips to auctions but have mostly given up with the current situation. Did not make it to Vichy during the Millant sale and the trip to Europe during the Beethoven anniversary was also missed. I go to see older bows and interesting instruments. But my experience has been that many great looking or ex+ condition bows do not suit my playing. Not implying that all players are looking for the same thing. But in the past dozen years, I do not end up enjoying bows that the collectors are eyeing ( much less afford them, am I right? ) And that's just me. I have learned an immense amount from adjusting to bows previously owned by notable players. It can be a journey but better for it. The point being made is that many of the experts here get quite a bit of feedback from very fine players. This feedback can be analyzed and re-introduced in their expertise. Current restorations, instrument and bows likely match the musical spirit of the time. The work they do is truly great. When I imitate Elman to students, they do not believe such a player existed until I play them recordings. The past is so important, but if I have to play the odds, newer gear has been better as value is important. While I get a lot of feedback from not so artistic 9year olds and parents, I mostly resist adapting lesson plans.
  15. This is great advice. Opportunity buys are there if one is constantly looking. Trying not get sucked in can be difficult. A truly great purchase should not be missed, but a second opinion or spousal consultation should be considered. Developing skills and knowledge takes time. A true "Opportunity," like the favorite bow of a late instructor or a deal offered up by a closing of a school or shop may come around only once in a decade. It is better to save money for that more important, significant purchase. There are those who like to hop from one deal to the next like stepping on stones across a small stream or brook, but it is likely to get soaked at some point. I have worked for those with liquid capital so getting to play and observe instruments was more frequent than most, and feel lucky for those opportunities. There is no such thing as a "forever" instrument for players that develop. It is that situational oxymoron where one out grows the other. Happens in real life. But sometimes there are financial limits that requires us to love and learn an instrument for longer. I have had several professors that the value of their instruments eventually made it impossible for one to upgrade from a ( x ) million to another ( x +1 ) million instrument. Those lucky bastards... well sort of. There are expenses related to fine instruments and bows...
  16. Some exotic ( wood ) sets that have been tried, sound more like Rosewood. Never spent enough time with Pernambuco fittings to have a strong opinion. Attractive is nice. But I am cheap. When there is a choice, will spend it on strings or a better bow.
  17. There's discussions elsewhere on this site. But for myself, fittings might be considered and evaluated in the "fine tuning" stage. As mentioned, there are other areas that might be a better, to maximize or to be cost effective, areas of improvement like bridge or post*. There are beautiful fittings. A wide range from quirky woods and anomalous boxwood to ( my favorite ) black, dense ebony. And sadly it can be a bit of a fetish. Fingerboards are a bit different. They do ( to my ears and fingers ) tend to have more of an influence on the instrument. Several of the instruments that I own have less than perfect fingerboards but they sound - more importantly feel - very good. Depending on the box, there are frequencies that might be emphasized. My French instrument sang and sings best with ( selected ) ebony. It is a DG model that has a great low end, which allowed for more expressive- ness. When the pegbox had to be bushed, multiple materials and styles of pegs were tried, and the ebony, as it had when purchased, was selected. To be objective, many parties were involved and did not bush the instrument myself. The previous shop, where the instrument was purchased, knew what sounded the best ( or maybe they acquired it that way. ) The new ebony set, perhaps because of the larger diameter? ( more mass? ) had a more audible upper midrange which helped in the clarity. Recently a plastic Wittner chinrest was tried and sounded better to me, the player. Granted, due to the current Covid-19 situation, my playing is questionable, if not horrible. Though not absolute, ebony pegs appears to emphasize the upper midrange of the frequencies ( vln, vla, clo ) while the boxwood pegs tend to take the edge off of some strident ( buzzy? vln ) lower- upper frequencies. Confusing? Yes. At mp volumes, these materials make much less difference, but at ff, certain passaged sounded edgy and at times choked with boxwood on a modern instrument. Importantly for me, as this is anecdotal, as my playing on an vln ( Franck sonata ) in my friends, low- ceiling family room, the pianist kept telling me to back off. But it was not loud nor was it firm... She felt that I was pushing too hard. She thought, that it sounded as the passages were being grinded out and not warm and heroic and benevolent. I think she liked her part better, but maybe, just maybe, it did sounded a little sad for over trying. I sort of wanted to comment that I might have just felt that too, but why give her all that power? Maybe the point is, that getting others to help you with the selection of materials makes sense. I constantly experiment, though a process might take years. Tailpieces are another crazy factor, but the effect is not in the same range of frequencies. As my playing gets worse, the ease of play becomes a greater necessity. That greater accessibility also helps students. But at the nth level, it is a bit different than for kids that are working on Bach, as difficult as that might be. I still think of it as chamber music. But for those of us, lucky ( not just fortunate ) enough to battle on stage, Shosti or Tchaik, that little modiification might make a difference. And mostly the benefit might be purely within one's brain, as the audience wasn't there at the Dress Rehearsal in an empty hall ( always feels better than a hall full of sponges. ) The one benefit for me, is that there are an abundant group of students that become potential experiments. Received a request to glue an open seam for a concert later in the week and these opportunities always end up in a listening session. I have to pay a tech, but they are well worth benefit. *Lessons cost quite a bit these days. As an instructor, adjusting the playing is likely a better fix, than a basic set up. But for the cost, a student will improve faster and will develop a better understanding with a proper set up. Better setups or instruments can be afforded later.
  18. The comments so far are likely accurate. Posting the pieces with photos dimensions and weights will likely get replies. There are possible defects within the wood that might it less attractive for buyers, so that is a courtesy one might offer. Lately, unless the history of the wood is established ( at least in my mind ) it is very difficult to pay in excess of "internet" prices for one or two pieces unless a hobbyist is aching to start a new project.
  19. Strobel? Notekeeping is instinctive for some. For many? Learning curves for so many subjects become complicated... gathering data, then over time the analysis that follows is complicated. First, the tools required to collect the data can be important. Creating the system to organize data is the second, followed by many other steps. Keeping notes is also an art as one might see in Maestro Sora's details. I was shamed into keeping notes decades ago. The notion of making the instrument was more interesting than making a great instrument. Trying to create something that made sound was, more than less, essential. Then at a VSA competition a participant started asking me questions. At that point, it was clear - in so many ways - that the process of creating something could be for fun, like a sailboat, or something serious, that other's might criticize. There is a process to everything of value these days and though I do not check the density of most of my woods, measurements are taken as it becomes part of the process. A joyful process. What it does mostly, the taking of measurements, is that it gives me a break to clear the mind at was tasks were completed. I need those 2- 15min to clear the brain. It also allows for a "fresh" lool, hopefully - objectively, at the work. If the woodworking becomes too enjoyable and enthusiastic, mistakes might be made. I have data. It helps, but so does a sharper tool or good advice or a commitment to a notion or an idea. Is it more fun shaping the wood, or thinking about the whole? Keep a notebook. Learn how to take notes for what you are doing. Take photos. Learn from others. Over years, there are so many factor in the process of making, that one might be selective about what is the most important. Maestro Noon's posts, among so many at this site, have raise very instructive points over the years. I have many Question Marks in my notes. Too lazy to meditate on some topics. Strobel....
  20. All thoughts on improvisation are relevant in that the collective experiences can reveal an aspect that may make it easier for a would be performer/ improviser. Improvisations are often fleeting. That is what makes it bittersweet. The importance of live music is that whether "live" or "living," it occurs in that moment for the participants. It can be a heightened experience. As most must experience, the performance is not the best attempt of the piece by the player ( s. ) But perhaps the whole of the performance is greater than any slip here or there. My ballet digression, once more, is also the sadness I feel that live musicians are used less. Frankly, dancing to a recording should be easier or at least more predictable. An ( overly ) exuberant conductor can over work many a dancer who also has a matinees on the weekends. As for improvising continuo parts, figured bass "patterns" are what I suffer through. The intervals are there. Threading the notes, then stitching together other ideas is the learned task. But traditional classical improvisations are structurally easier to understand compared to contemporary improvisations in various genres. Like the improvisations of national musical styles, they sound, written down. Figured bass, thus played well, sounds written down unless the player maybe goes a little over or crosses that line. Music theory helps. But Gospel singers and Barbershop/ Sweet Madeline quartets participants that do not read music pick notes out of the air. One lady's advice was, "don't overthink it." She continued that the brain tells you where the notes go. From God to her lips. The notation is often so tiny that I have no idea what is being read in realtime. But after a few rehearsals, the flow becomes more apparent. There are notes that are shared between say the I and IV chord ( the root of the I chord and the 5th of the IV chord. ) In C and F major, spelt, CEG and FAC, they both share the C. Pretty safe. I to V, again in C major, CEG, GBD, where G is shared. ii to V to I ( or famously V7 ) starts DFA, GBD, CEG... a nice D > D > C landing. The beauty of the lower tones is the effect on the entire spectrum of the notes played above. One might prioritize the choices available. If one wants to move away from a chord tone, it should - at least initially - be tried in the weaker parts of the measure or the phrase. If there is a dissonance on the primary beats, one spends a great deal more energy trying to release that tension. And this assumes that the "improvisations" are based off of more conventional or traditional harmonies. Something with an ABA or AABA form allows for lots of experimentation. The first bit of fun might be from playing with rhythm on the same pitch, as a contrast/ syncopation or supporting under key lyrics. Octaves, then the 5ths, mid phrase or between phrases. Its often a question of how much attention the part deserves. Often low or bass mini- improvisations are fills that jump out of the chord tones. Fills, like drum fills often "fill" the sonic space of where a singer's words have tapered off. Short, sweet and hopefully interesting. I am sure there are great many suggestions for this type of improvisation, but when working with students, studying Vivaldi and Telemann scores has been helpful. There is far more space between the notes compared to JSBach. The score simply makes viewing the melodic ( and secondary ) movements visible. Density of the notes dictates whether to support or fill. Haydn quartets from a score is also a great tool. By studying the late quartets and going to the earlier ones, it is apparent that a cellist could play far more in the earlier ones, based on what the melodies were doing above. Doubling, response, harmonies in 3rds, 6ths, there are many ways to make something more lyrical or interesting. The study of Beethoven Quartets is in the development sequence. Ol' Ludwig takes motifs, flips, reverses and distorts in so many ways that intuitively some notes become patterns and others have to be discovered. This is important as the desk study of the score can reduce some practice time if the study and ensemble time is properly targeted. At weddings, decades in the past, low paying gigs were played as vln/ clo duos dividing the parts of a quartet into two parts. Yes, perhaps, some double stop attempts were out of tune. It took a few rehearsals but were able to make merry. It was fun driving to the gigs in an off white, a little rusty, Dodge Dart, windows down with instruments in the back seat. We could stop anywhere and just play. Anyway, slipping in the time to listen and play is often the most difficult thing in a busy schedule. I frequently use open back headphones to practice improvising off a score. The stereo was fine, but it is so much easier to pull off headphones than to reach for the remote. The last place I try before giving up, is to work through some improvisation is the Bartok Duos. Some are bold and capricious. Let the kids experiment. Some parents think it is a bit pricey to experimenting, but the hand- holding and the encouragement is important. I know, too much. Typed from coffee to lunch.
  21. I do agree with you. There have been many whom paths have been crossed where my feelings of contempt towards them were overwhelming. But in meeting their spouses or children have mellowed. We likely grew up in an age where bad behaviours were tolerated, but certainly by today's standards, unforgiveable. But the process of eliminating lesser candidates was always and on- going reality. In all that You did succeed. I should have prefaced the comment that there are Jazz teachers who teach with the methods learned. In some of my instruction, the hierarchical levels of power are built in. There was swearing and verbal abuse, and my rather thin skinned personality chafed at the belittling. But as I developed, it became the clear that they were teaching me the realities of playing with better players. That I should, if at all possible, not spoil the art of others. As much as Ballet is an art supported nearly by the thread bare sales of the seasonal productions of the Nutcracker, Jazz appears to neglected even more. Cynicism aside, I love ballet, but can spend years in a pit, while an ex-girlfriend had at best 5 years in a corp. Tearful masterclasses were ( are? ) a reality. But we came out of them stronger and there were auditions in our future, at that time. Jazz ensembles are far more difficult to find, and auditions even rarer. Kids I coached in ensemble who went to North Texas State and now University for Jazz generally went on to finish their DMAs or PhDs and teach. These were also kids from well-to-do families. There are awful teachers, yes. My reply is incomplete and not a true defense but will meditate on your comments.
  22. Add chord learning, by exchanging notes from D or G Major chords. Learn to hear the intervals. The 3rd, 5th, the tonic. They have a different feel. Add the rhythmic game by playing patterns on one pitch, then add different sequences. Most kids will be able to copy the patterns after a few attempts. They can written on the board and if the class is large enough, they can be split into different skill levels. The training to this point is about understanding and establishing a frame work. Ornamentation is the beginning of improvisation for many. The end of phrases, the peaks and valleys of melodies, trills. grace notes, mordants, slides make for interesting details. The lower and upper neighbors, within the scale, half or whole steps all might be explored. The kids will ( hopefully ) hear some differences. This is where group study becomes more individual. The kids can learn a simple fiddle - esque tune and learn ( teach themselves ) how to add embellishments. The slower the melody, the more can be added. A lovely, slower, melody like Ashokan Farewell ( by Jay Ungar ) has so many places to add ideas that kids generally enjoy the piece. From here, a mini- improv session can start with each student preparing just a phrase or an "A" section of an AABA tune, with everyone playing the "B" section. If they are nervous, flip the structure, so one student plays just the "B" section - when the school concert is coming up and everyone is petrified, there's at least one or two kids that likes showing off.
  23. The ear - training version of this game starts with pitch identification. One pitch to another. We are taking the simple domain of clapping or chopstick clicking into pitches. We can start with two notes. C or D, F or Bb. With instruments or voice. Then that expands into chord note choices. Write them down on the board or on cards. Add octaves of the same established pitches. With little kids, they can choose between high notes and lower notes. Change the rules. Again, increase tempo. With little kids, the game inevitably becomes a yelling contest.
  24. By "try," both instructor and pupil, make an effort in this struggle to spontaneously compose. First off, games help. It keeps most students alert. Quite a few fade if they feel success is out of their grasp. These kids have to be re - calibrated to understand that any success is a good thing. Short games. If in a group the "passing around in a circle," the exchanging of information from person to person works. It can work one - one too. Can't remember what this game is called but it is also done in acting classes. Improvisation, in a group, requires listening. It also has the benefits of being visual. Try this: Turn on a metronome and have a set of beat sub - divisions prepared to clap. A person starts the game by clapping a subdivision, like a triplet. The next person claps the triplet and the claps a duple. The next person picks up the duple, etc. Simple. Everyone participates. Then increase the tempo. Then add several people starting independent patterns if the circle is large. Timing is a very important aspect of improvisation as it smears the beat. Once the game develops and everyone is comfortable, a rhythmic "groove" can be created. Then the students are introduced to playing around with the beat. While the "groove" is maintained, the passing member clap patterns in front or the leading edge of the groove or behind. The goal is for this distortion in time to be passed on, but at first, clumsy attempts will be made. That's fine.
  25. This made me sit down and ponder responding. With coffee in hand typing with one hand, it would not be worth replying, but this is a serious question. It is important for students ( all of us, I suppose ) of music ( and other disciplines ) to understand how important the act of improvisation, is to me. Yes You! All of you must recognize the importance of improvisation to me. And that is not the way to teach improvisation. But it is important to those who care and are interested in learning, that developing the skill takes time. Toe-dipping is fine and is highly encouraged, but it is important to commit some practice. There are some skill sets that help in the accelerated advancement, including the ability to sing, to intuitively settle into a several chord tones ( basic harmony at first ) if not having perfect pitch. Before making suggestions, let us acknowledge that there are good, confusing, kind, stressed, teachers out there. But I do not think there are "bad" instructors. There are methods and experiences that teachers rely on, and many famously do not work. For these teachers, the process of stripping out the least skilled is important. It is the old school Conservatory style. For the rest of us, trying to uniformly teach a group of students to do well is our goal. Unfortunately, if the student is motivated, the former likely produces better, more skilled players. This is true in many fields, so the best thing that can be taught to those willing to learn - in my puny mind - is to "hang in there" and try. This is told to many of my older students as my teaching becomes more difficult, more harsh. Prepare to be more flexible in attitude and try to be enthusiastic. Ok, some suggestions...
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