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Tenor Viol's musings

Tenor Viol

Full of frets in North Shropshire
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Whitchurch, North Shropshire UK
Meanwhile back of the land of photography... playing with camera. This is the Jubilee Clock (Queen Victoria's in 1897) on top of the Roman Walls in Chester (they're about 1,700 years old)

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in Chester today
 

Tenor Viol

Full of frets in North Shropshire
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Whitchurch, North Shropshire UK
I thought I’d write a bit of a general ‘state of things’ post. So far 2021 has been as weird as 2020, if not more so. The third lockdown kicked in at the start of January and this time it hit my university course. Whether it was the accumulation of a year of isolation, or other issues as well, it certainly hit me very hard. I live on my own and the only people I can mix with are my elderly mother (I visit once a week to sort out shopping etc and when she needs to get to any appointments etc) and my neighbour, with whom I’ve formed a social bubble. We meet for weekly gin...

Music has been almost completely off the agenda as in person anything has been banned for over 13 of the last 15 months. I’ve had no singing, cello, or sax lessons. I have had some online bass lessons, but I’m not a fan of online lessons.

Astronomy should have helped, but here in Shropshire, the weather has been awful since last September. Clear nights have been very rare and most have occurred around full Moon which makes photography difficult. The odd clear night has been plagued with poor visibility/transparency.

Because my photography course is practical, we were able to resume in person tuition just before Easter. There’s only 7 of us anyway and we have plenty of space.

I’m working on finalising the year’s projects which are due in next week.

We can only hope that some normality will return soon. In person music lessons are restarting, which I will look forward to. I doubt most music groups will resume until September since as far as we can tell, they’re not allowed until the June changes.

I hope that everyone else is surviving this strange time.

The photo is the weir on the River Dee in Chester taken from the Old Dee Bridge. There is a Grey Heron in there.
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Tenor Viol

Full of frets in North Shropshire
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Whitchurch, North Shropshire UK
First rehearsal last night since last year. Still weird as not everyone was there, so very small group, socially distanced hall layout. Can tell I've not played much - left hand and right arm got tired playing cello. Dodgy tuning as well...
 

rhysonsax

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Surrey, UK
First rehearsal last night since last year. Still weird as not everyone was there, so very small group, socially distanced hall layout. Can tell I've not played much - left hand and right arm got tired playing cello. Dodgy tuning as well...

But I hope it was good to be back.

We also had our first rehearsal back last night with a reasonably good turnout and some rust. Compliance with the rules was good but not perfect - how about your group ?

Rhys
 

Tenor Viol

Full of frets in North Shropshire
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6,328
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Whitchurch, North Shropshire UK
OK... not something I'd thought I'd ever hear myself saying... I've been to an art gallery which is exhibiting some of my photos as part of an exhibition... They're changing what is displayed in a screened installation each day, so I don't know which ones will be part of which day... I've seen today's. It's the Open Eye Gallery in Liverpool and it's the Urban GreenUP exhibition. Today's was part of 'Light Night'. Open Eye Gallery – Category – Events
 

Tenor Viol

Full of frets in North Shropshire
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6,328
Location
Whitchurch, North Shropshire UK
On another music forum (I know shocking...) but one not related to saxes... the hoary old thing about 'learning by ear' came up. I don't want to add that discussion to this thread per se as there are threads on the Café where that is discussed at great length.

My reason for commenting here was the post in question was from a guitar/bass teacher. This guy seems to be quite well known, runs a YT channel, and does in person and online teaching. He openly admits that his sight reading is not very good, that it's not relevant, and that the only way you can be 'good' is by picking out the line and memorising it.

I struggled to remain polite as I pointed out that whilst that is feasible for a band playing a set of covers etc and that's all they play, it's nonsense however for anyone who plays in something akin to an orchestra / big band with fully orchestrated parts.

I have no issue with people who choose to learn to play that way, even though I find it peculiar. I read music fluently so I'm not daunted by someone sticking a sheet of something I've never seen on my music stand - I'll just have a go (which is exactly what happened in orchestra last night - 4 works I've never seen before).

I have recently been trying to learn to play some bass parts without the music - I find it incredibly hard to do, I struggle to remember it 5 minutes later, and it would be so much easier with the music in front of me.

Anyway, my main point was I find it troubling to have a teacher who is essentially saying that the only real way to 'improve' as a player is to purely play from 'ear' / 'rote'. I certainly understand that if you're improvising something, freedom from the sheet music has its place and uses, but you can do that by learning from the sheet music...

I think some of this comes from 'genre blindness' - a lack of awareness that there is variety in music and it can be very different for different genres. Worryingly, I think some of this is sheer ignorance and somewhat dispiriting to be found in someone who professes to be a teacher. If you want to solely teach people to play 'by ear' - OK that's fine, but disparaging people who read music and inferring that they can never be 'real' musicians is not something I can accept.
 

nigeld

I don't need another mouthpiece; but . . .
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It seems to me that there are bigots in both camps (notes and non-notes). A good teacher should adapt, within limits, to the requirements and abilities of the pupil. I have a friend whose first teacher insisted on learning nursery songs from notes and whose second teacher insisted on learning jazz standards by ear. Neither approach suited the pupil.
 

Tenor Viol

Full of frets in North Shropshire
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Whitchurch, North Shropshire UK
It seems to me that there are bigots in both camps (notes and non-notes). A good teacher should adapt, within limits, to the requirements and abilities of the pupil. I have a friend whose first teacher insisted on learning nursery songs from notes and whose second teacher insisted on learning jazz standards by ear. Neither approach suited the pupil.
Yes - it's very much 'horses for courses'. We're all different. I do worry when you deal with 'absolutists' as the real world is usually multiple shades of grey.
 

Tenor Viol

Full of frets in North Shropshire
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6,328
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Whitchurch, North Shropshire UK
OK since I have now paid the deposit to the luthier it's official: I have commissioned a bass. It will take about 10 - 12 months to build. The body is reddish Spanish Cedar, an accent layer of Purple Heart, and a top of Tasmanian Blackwood. The neck is a five piece made of 3 of Ash and two of Purple Heart.

I selected my woods during my visit to the luthier's workshop and they're in the photo below. There were lots of other decisions about pickups, pre-amps, dots, scale (I opted for 32 inch)...

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Tenor Viol

Full of frets in North Shropshire
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Messages
6,328
Location
Whitchurch, North Shropshire UK
Classical musicians can improvise, it's just not generally required. It used to be a common practice, and is still essential skill for organists (it's a key part of the ARCO and FRCO qualifications). Here's a link which includes a video - sorry I couldn't just link the vid.
 

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