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Klarinet Archive - Posting 000352.txt from 2005/08

From: Tony Pay <>
Subj: Re: [kl] Composers as teachers
Date: Fri, 19 Aug 2005 17:49:15 -0400

On 19 Aug, "Lelia Loban" <> wrote:

> Tony Pay posted a thoughtful, interesting, well-written message about
> composers as teachers.
> Vann Joe Turner replied,
> > Tony,
> >
> > Though we've disagreed in the past, I applaud you writing this as you
> > did. I've copied it and printed it. Thanks for both the acumen and the
> > eloquence.
> That's the complete message, and to me it looks gracious and
> straightforward. It looks like the offer of an olive branch. I remember
> the previous fracas and I can understand that Tony Pay would still feel
> resentful about it. However, maybe I'm being simple-minded here, but I
> can't detect any hint of hidden meanings, sly digs or other cause for new
> offense in the message above.
> Tony, I like you, and I've defended you in the past, but with the best will
> in the world, I can't understand why you responded as you did, by calling
> Van Joe Turner an idiot, among other unpleasantries, unless the catalyst
> was something extraneous, something not apparent to readers of this list.
> If whatever caused you to go non-linear is something that's none of our
> business, then I don't want to know about it, but if Van Joe Turner got hit
> by a blast that might have been better aimed elsewhere, then I think he
> deserves to know that much, at least.

You mean, that I should treat him...and Adam Michlin, and others of his *people*?

Or even, as *human beings*?

No, I don't think I can go that far.

I'm joking of course, but there's some truth in it. Let me try to say why.

Why do I like you, Lelia? You say you like me, and I'm grateful for it, but
that's not *why* I like you.

I like you because you're clearly somebody other than 'yourself as a clarinet
fan'. You're not a great clarinet player...but you don't pretend to be.
(Actually, you're probably a much better player than you think you are:-)

If you remember, I was very keen to meet you, as I wouldn't have been
keen to meet all sorts of other people who post on this list -- and who would
have wanted to have photos taken of me with them, and so on... (Some of the
readers of this list will wince at that last remark. "He's not so
famous...*I* wouldn't have wanted to meet him, or have my photo taken..!"
they'd say. But those people are no less a part of the system that I'm
complaining about, or will complain about.)

I have posted here for people like you; and in doing that I have posted here
also, in the abstract, for a particular notion of what it is to do what I do.
I can't shortly define that notion, but it's something like, 'being true to
the music', and something like 'not laying down the law about how we may do
that' -- so that, for example, someone who says "you should use a double-lip
embouchure" would immediately find themselves in my sights -- and something
like 'being willing to allow other unconscious, and therefore unspecifiable
influences to influence our playing as we play', and to speak about playing
in a way that allows ourselves and others the room to 'grow' those

So, as I do that, I encounter objections here. Some of those I answer, and
take in my stride, but some of them are more deeply rooted. Some of them are
obviously so much a part of the attitude of the person voicing them that I
come to see that person as an enemy.

For example, both Roger Garrett and Neil Leupold became my enemies, here, for
different reasons. Garrett, in his time here, was just...well, I won't go
into it.

Leupold was more interesting, if wrong. He believed that you could specify
what constituted 'good clarinet playing', and was prepared to tell you, in
detail, what that was. It wasn't that what he said was untrue, exactly; but
he seemed to think that the details of what he said could be applicable to
everyone -- which clearly, on a mailing list, they couldn't be. So he said,
for example, that playing 'relaxed, as though it were easy -- and it is easy,
for the best players!' was his ideal, independently of what the music
demanded. (Moreover, he was a professional accountant, or something, so he'd
never played for a great conductor, or with great players, or anything...)

When I wrote the chapter in the Clarinet Companion, I couldn't in all honesty
'tell people what to do' in that sort of way. (If you're giving lessons, you
can change what you say if it doesn't work; which you can't, if you choose
any particular instruction in a book, or on a mailing list.) You can,
however, do something helpful, and I've done that, both here and in the book.

So I did that, and was complimented on it.

So then, *Vann Joe* tells me it's gobbledegoop. And, tells me that without
any good reason -- as established by our interaction, during which he
demonstrated his total lack of appreciation, not only of the enterprise, but
even of the common or garden facts of clarinet playing. So he's definitely
just a cipher; an enemy of what I'm trying to do here, and elsewhere. He
ignores the fact that he's not a serious player, and that he has no
experience of what playing with great players is...what does he know about
anything? So, he pretends to be something he's not, namely an adequate judge
of such a book.

Now comes the story you know.

And then, *after* all that, and without any preamble other than that saying
we've 'disagreed', he *presumes* to congratulate me on writing something *he*
understands! Now he wants to be treated as a normal human being!

How *dare* he, is what I think. And I'm supposed to be *nice* to him?
Bollocks I am.

I was once a couple of years ago a bit upset about something that had gone on
on the list. I explained it to a professional colleague of mine, who was

"But," she said, "who ARE these people?"

At the time, I thought, well, just people, and thought that answer good
enough. But now I'm not so sure.

I don't think it does me much good being here. Perhaps I'll go and join a
list about, I don't know, computer programming, or health management, and
tell them what *I* think about what *they* know and care about, and see how
*I* get on.

I might learn something.

_________ Tony Pay
|ony:-) 79 Southmoor Rd
| |ay Oxford OX2 6RE
tel/fax 01865 553339

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