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Klarinet Archive - Posting 000321.txt from 2000/04

From: James Pyne <jpyne@-----.edu>
Subj: Re: [kl] good beginner books
Date: Sat, 8 Apr 2000 17:01:09 -0400

Dee Hayes replied:

>These arguments sound a great deal like those that were used to justify the
>"whole word" method of teaching reading. "Afterall is the words that have
>meanings not the individual letters and sounds." The net results was
>students who could not read any word that they had not specifically been
>taught. They could not figure out words that they had not seen before even
>if it was part of their spoken vocabulary. These students had the poorest
>communication skills ever.

You imply an analogy that I would not make. First of all musical
communication is non-verbal and notes are not equivalent to words. Music is
not expected to convey understanding about, for example, "how to install
your software." Additionally, notes do not contain syllables.

Imagine yourself reading a book, where understanding can provide nearly a
complete appreciation of the author. Now pick up a musical score, even of a
simple work, and read it. The experience will be much less complete. Though
verbal communication and music may both rely on sight and sound, music
relies much more deeply on the actual experience of hearing to be fully
appreciated. The tools involving sight, though essential in Western Music,
have much more limited application than would be the case with literature.

Also you say:

>My own feeling is that most people try to progress too rapidly.
>There is not enough drilling on whole notes to develop the feel of
>continuous >breath support before moving on to shorter note values.

When the embouchure has been set correctly and the beginner can sustain an
open G, interesting left hand note changes can be made while the air
support is maintained. Printed music, reading of music, need not enter the
picture at that early stage. I would even suggest that some of these early
short phrases be improvised by the youngster. Or possibly that the student
imitate the teacher in a few simple note changes off well sustained tones.
Downward scales can be accomplished (even into the right hand), simple
tunes can be attempted, and so forth.

I did this with both of my daughters, now age 10 and 14 respectively, and
they picked it up right away. It is fun as well, a bit of a game, and that
helps with young folks. Nettie, the younger, was able to respond with
imitations and simple improvs very well starting at age 6 on Eb clarinet.
When note reading, articulation and register changing were introduced a
little later (a few weeks) there were no problems.

I agree that moving to rapidly is not good, but "drilling" does not have to
be perceived as such. After all musical instruments can be fascinating as
well as technically challenging.

Finally, Dee, do you play jazz at all? Many excellent jazz players really
did not learn their instrument reading "note by note." Yet it would be
difficult to maintain that they have failed to learn the techniques that
allow them to communicate musically.

Also I note Susan Schwaegler's thoughtful and informative response:

Susan, my post was not a plea for the complete application of "Suzuki," but
one that would use elements of that approach to assist in "getting off to a
good start."

---Jim Pyne

James Pyne, professor
Clarinet Studio/Research Group
School of Music
The Ohio State University
1866 College Road
Columbus, Ohio 43210
pyne.1@-----.edu
Tel: 614 292 8969
Fax: 614 292 1102

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