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 The Forest for the Trees
Author: Fuzzy 
Date:   2021-08-09 22:46

It strikes me how often threads on this bboard wade into the most minute of details, specifications, measurements, etc. Sometimes they're even necessary.

However, in contrast, what I have found to be the most helpful on this bboard - are general suggestions on how to approach a problem and gain personal understanding.

Lacking the words to explain my intended meaning let me provide the following example:

The training I received from grade school through college was essentially, "Doing 'this' will result in 'that.'"

The problem was - doing 'this' very rarely resulted in 'that.' So, then I'd be given more and more steps/ways/options to force 'this' to result in 'that." Every once in a while, my instructor and I would blindly stumble across a perfect combination, and I'd finally get 'that' result; but I'd be tired, weary, and frustrated.

After leaving college, leaving formal instruction, leaving the clarinet for ten years or so - then returning...something became obvious to me: 'this' rarely (if ever) results in 'that.'

I had realized (at least for me) that I needed to start with an understanding of 'that' and then figure out how to get there. As obvious as this idea is: it entirely flipped the paradigm I had, and made learning so much quicker. It provided an understanding that I had never gained when doing the "this" provided by an instructor. Discovery (instead of futile repetition of things that didn't work) made the gained knowledge part of the end product.

There's a place for specifics and probably even a place for "this" and "that" - but I'm so glad for folks like Tony, Brycon, Seabreeze, Karl, and so many others (including those who are no longer with us) on this bboard who often address(ed) the larger concepts of approach instead of only going over the 'this' and 'thats'.

Fuzzy
;^)>>>

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 Re: The Forest for the Trees
Author: Ken Lagace 
Date:   2021-08-09 23:37

đź‘Ť

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 Re: The Forest for the Trees
Author: bmcgar 2017
Date:   2021-08-10 00:51

Those who "wade into details, specifications, measurements, etc." are generally unsure of the relevant questions to ask in the first place, and are unsure of themselves, but mostly unsure of their goals. They grab onto "specs" as a lifeline.

Most players outgrow this in time, develop confidence in their own judgement, become focused on the important things, and also rely on their own personal experience. (IMO, any other path leads to either getting permanently stuck in the mud or to madness. :-) )

B.

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 Re: The Forest for the Trees
Author: Paul Aviles 
Date:   2021-08-10 03:53

I must admit that I am confused by the premise. Musicians as I am to understand it are artisans. As such we learn from those who come before us much like an apprentice in a shop that makes shoes, or barrels...... or clarinets. The Wurlitzer family comes to mind where at least three generations (and certainly more) have taken knowledge from the previous, internalized that and perhaps improved upon that foundation. Anything else would be re-inventing the wheel (not altogether a bad thing, just perhaps less efficient and a waste of existing resources).


So when I am shown a certain fingering or combination of fingerings for a certain tricky bit, that is not a good way to learn? I need to know what the passage should sound like and come up with a solution on my own?


I don't mean to be thick about this...........just sounds like instead of seeking lessons with Yehuda Gilad we just all need a good therapist?





................Paul Aviles



Post Edited (2021-08-10 03:55)

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 Re: The Forest for the Trees
Author: brycon 
Date:   2021-08-10 04:18

Quote:

I had realized (at least for me) that I needed to start with an understanding of 'that' and then figure out how to get there. As obvious as this idea is: it entirely flipped the paradigm I had, and made learning so much quicker. It provided an understanding that I had never gained when doing the "this" provided by an instructor. Discovery (instead of futile repetition of things that didn't work) made the gained knowledge part of the end product.


Very important points here!

Academic folks call this process the hermeneutic circle. When I read a book, ponder history, or even practice the clarinet, I have a preconceived notion of the whole. My preconceptions, such as an understanding of the basic "rules" of a Sherlock Holmes story when setting out to read A Study in Scarlet, help me make sense of the whole's constituent parts. With the Holmes book, for example, I might attach importance to particular characters, actions, clues, and so on. And as I go through more of these constituent parts and read more sentences, my notions of the whole begin to change. The whole, then, gives meaning to the parts, and the parts give meaning to the whole. And the way we traverse this circle is an important aspect of coming to terms with books, history, clarinet practicing, and many other things.

In threads here, I see a great deal of interest in the parts and nearly no interest, let alone understanding, of the whole. Rather than moving along the circle, considering what makes a performance good or bad and then thinking about how the constituent part of, say, the clarinet embouchure relates, it seems as though people think more along the lines of, "Once I've got down my embouchure, technique, articulation and I've practiced my Rose, Jettel, and Uhl etudes, I'll be a good clarinet player." But I just don't see how anyone can get to good playing this way, as though you could arrive at a good pizza simply because all the ingredients you started with were good: "Hey, my mozz was super fresh and then I added some delicious homemade strawberry ice cream! Should be great, right?" (though to be fair, probably tastes better than Papa John's).

And anyhow, what's even "good" in this case? A double-lip embouchure because some book says so or the tip of the tongue to the tip of the reed because a masterclass teacher once brought it up? And what's even a good performance? "Marcellus's Mozart! What a great performance: says so on the album cover!" What exactly makes Marcellus's and Szell's particular instantiation of the Mozart concerto a greater one than David Shifrin's? And I hope that by now, the typical response you'd see here of "I like his sound!" would seem completely inadequate.

The other thing that often sits in the back of my mind is the difference between information and knowledge. In the realm of politics, for instance, information comes as a fact about America's democracy heard in a news program; knowledge, however, would be an understanding of democracy through a deep reading and contemplation of Aristotle's Politics, Tocqueville's Democracy in America, and so on. This knowledge helps us come to terms with information (again, the hermeneutic circle) and therefore also possesses a sense of permanence, depth, and importance. "With his double-lip embouchure, Harold Wright didn't take in much reed with his lower lip," by contrast, is a piece of information; it's cheap, shallow, and belongs on the bottom of a clarinet-themed Snapple lid as a somewhat interesting but completely forgettable factoid. I would run away from teachers giving out only information. And because I've learned a lot from this place, when it makes sense to, I try to avoid it when posting here.



Post Edited (2021-08-10 07:30)

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 Re: The Forest for the Trees
Author: brycon 
Date:   2021-08-10 05:00

Quote:

I don't mean to be thick about this...........just sounds like instead of seeking lessons with Yehuda Gilad we just all need a good therapist?


Unsurprising that you wouldn't get it.

But do you actually think Yehuda is just giving out fingerings in his lessons?

Or is he helping shape his students' understanding of human bodies, music, performance, practicing, professionalism, etc. so that when he isn't there they can continue growing by teaching themselves?

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 Re: The Forest for the Trees
Author: BethGraham 
Date:   2021-08-10 16:38

brycon wrote:

> Unsurprising that you wouldn't get it.

Was it satisfying to you to include that bit of snark? Because I think your reply was a good one *without* it.

To add something to the topic, I think there's a place for both nuts-and-bolts learning and for more philosophical discussions of the "whys" behind the "whats" and "hows." At this stage of my learning -- a mere 2.5 years on the instrument -- I find I benefit more from concrete information than from the esoterica threads often devolve into.

This is not to say that I don't enjoy learning the finer points; just that for me, at this stage of my learning, they can often get in the way of progress.

But I'm just a simple lass, so it's perhaps not surprising that I wouldn't get it. ;)

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 Re: The Forest for the Trees
Author: brycon 
Date:   2021-08-10 19:10

Quote:

Was it satisfying to you to include that bit of snark? Because I think your reply was a good one *without* it.


Sure, why not. It's a thoughtful thread and a serious topic, for both more and less advanced players. Paul's unserious and entirely snarky straw-man response deserves a bit of snark in return.

Quote:

To add something to the topic, I think there's a place for both nuts-and-bolts learning and for more philosophical discussions of the "whys" behind the "whats" and "hows." At this stage of my learning -- a mere 2.5 years on the instrument -- I find I benefit more from concrete information than from the esoterica threads often devolve into.


But it isn't an either/or. Rather, you have to move from "why" to your "whats" and "hows" and back again in an ongoing loop; you don't graduate from one to the other.

A completely mediocre teacher, for instance, could tell you: "Raise the back of your tongue, then touch the tip of the tongue to the tip of the reed, etc." (And I completely understand how, as a student, it feels very comforting simply to receive a set of instructions to follow!) A marginally better teacher would explain the technical results of these steps: "The back of the tongue has x and y effect on the voicing, etc."

An even better teacher would then be able to supply some exercises so that you could hear and feel for yourself what both "correct" and "incorrect" tongue positioning and movement feel like, and, in this way, since you become more aware of your own body and the sounds of your clarinet, you can go about fixing the issue in the most natural way for yourself (for your unique tongue, mouth, etc.).

But the best sort of teacher, at least I think, would do all these things while, throughout the entire learning process, cultivating a sense of expression and musical know-how. The student, then, wouldn't necessarily wait to be given the steps to fixing his or her articulation but might instead say to the teacher: "I'm working on the Mozart concerto, and my articulated eighth-notes sound too heavy. I don't think it will blend with the piano or orchestra part."

Clearly, this student, even if he or she is mistaken in the preconceptions of Mozart, has received some knowledge! It isn't a matter of having the "correct" answers, of being able to recite, "The back of the tongue should be raised, and the tip of the tongue should touch the tip of the reed," because countless students know the correct answers but still can't play the clarinet. Instead, the student is thinking musically, has formed a basic interpretative decision about an aspect of Mozart, and therefore has come to the important conclusion that what's correct in this instance is what will lead to the realization of his or her interpretative decision in a performance.

It's much more similar, as I was saying in another thread, to how children learn to speak: they have the desire to communicate and express themselves, they listen to their parents and siblings speaking, and then they begin experimenting with various noises and sounds modifying things as they go. They don't, however, read an English textbook.

Similarly, you can't simply follow the correct steps according to famous clarinet player x, read a pedagogy book about long-dead clarinet player y, practice some etudes by truly long-dead clarinet player z, and become a good musician. While these things can be useful, in another sense, they don't really teach you anything: they're pieces of information. To learn, by contrast, you must have in mind your expressive and musical goals, try things out on the clarinet, listen and perhaps record yourself to see how successful your experiments were, modify things, and try again, as though moving in a circular rather than a linear way.



Post Edited (2021-08-11 01:21)

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 Re: The Forest for the Trees
Author: Arnoldstang 
Date:   2021-08-10 19:33

Beth makes good points.
I’m going with the pizza analogy.
You’ve got the parts and the hole.
Sorry that’s donuts.
It’s all intertwined. You shouldn’t dismiss an ingredient or overemphasize it.
It is a process however and you should consider how parts relate to each other and the whole.

One should get good ingredients and develop good cooking skills to make a good whole.
On the Bulletin Board when one deals with details it doesn’t necessarily show a lack of concern for the whole process.
Bringing all the parts together is itself a part of a larger whole.
Good teachers should discuss all the parts and assembly. The teacher should make one independent and a good chef.
All this pizza talk has me hungry, I’m raiding the fridge.
Hopefully I won’t eat all the pepperoni first and ignore the crust.

Freelance woodwind performer

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 Re: The Forest for the Trees
Author: kdk 2017
Date:   2021-08-10 20:18

BethGraham wrote:

> To add something to the topic, I think there's a place for both
> nuts-and-bolts learning and for more philosophical discussions
> of the "whys" behind the "whats" and "hows." At this stage of
> my learning -- a mere 2.5 years on the instrument -- I find I
> benefit more from concrete information than from the esoterica
> threads often devolve into.
>

I think the problem with focusing on primarily information in an either/or approach to this is that without some mooring in the "why," without some view of what you're trying to accomplish, applying information can become quite blind and undirected. You can go down a lot of rabbit holes if you don't have some idea of where you're trying to go.

I don't think it's necessarily dividing learning to play into "concrete information" and "esoterica." If you're told "tongue tip of the tongue to the tip of the reed," you still need an idea in your imagination, your "inner ear," of what you want the staccato to sound like and be flexible about making small adjustments to produce the effect you're trying to achieve. Tip-to-tip is pure information (possibly wrong information depending on your tongue's structure). The sound of good basic staccato is not "philosophical" or "esoteric." It's a goal (the "why").



> This is not to say that I don't enjoy learning the finer
> points; just that for me, at this stage of my learning, they
> can often get in the way of progress.
>

I'm truly not sure what you mean by "the finer points." Do they fall into "concrete information" or "esoterica?"

> But I'm just a simple lass, so it's perhaps not surprising that
> I wouldn't get it. ;)

Did it feel good to get that in (the winky emoticon notwithstanding)? :-)

Karl

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 Re: The Forest for the Trees
Author: Paul Aviles 
Date:   2021-08-10 21:20

It appears that there is just some miscommunication over what works on "the Board." In my view we are looking at something akin to Twitter (as I understand it). You have a limited amount of space for a response (at least if you want anyone to read it). Additionally you usually have pointed questions that beg specifically pointed answers.


Within the context of an in person lesson, the object is ALWAYS to share the varieties of different ways to approach an issue.......hopefully allowing the student to hear and feel those differences for themselves, and hopefully having them chose better solutions in the future.


This brings up a HUGE music education problem here in the States. Where I would normally insist on nothing less than having an hour's allotted time in which to work with a student, there are MANY MANY institutionalized lessons that have to happen within thirty minutes. With that time limitation you are lucky to work with the student for an actual twenty minute period. This allows for very little good pedagogy and even less time for the student to digest anything of value. This doesn't even begin to address the high school students who are already swamped with extracurricular activities, homework, book reports.......and video games.



But in short I most certainly agree that private students need to experience the variations of "x" approach to find the answer for themselves.






.................Paul Aviles



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 Re: The Forest for the Trees
Author: BethGraham 
Date:   2021-08-10 21:36

kdk said:

"Did it feel good to get that in (the winky emoticon notwithstanding)? :-)"

Yes. Yes, it did. So I guess I should apologize for calling out brycon now.

I'm sorry, brycon. I let my frustration with the tone of this forum get the better of me.

And maybe "finer points" falls somewhere between the concrete and the philosophical, kdk. I want to look at the big picture in my playing and practice -- and occasionally I succeed! Sometimes, though, for *me*, I find that too much information presented all at once results in confusion.

I tried to be clear that it's not an either/or proposition, but I don't think I communicated well.

brycon makes many excellent points in his response to my [strikethough] snark [/strikethrough] post. Good teaching is way more than imparting specific information on mechanics (that raised tongue! that precise tongue-on-reed placement!). And being a student of an instrument is way more than just digesting those specifics; it's about adding skills toward the goal of being musical.

Just trying to think things through as I type.

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 Re: The Forest for the Trees
Author: brycon 
Date:   2021-08-10 22:10

Quote:

I'm sorry, brycon. I let my frustration with the tone of this forum get the better of me.


Thank you but no need to apologize to me! No offense taken!

Quote:

It appears that there is just some miscommunication over what works on "the Board." In my view we are looking at something akin to Twitter (as I understand it). You have a limited amount of space for a response (at least if you want anyone to read it). Additionally you usually have pointed questions that beg specifically pointed answers.


Sure. Sometimes someone asks, "My Buffet has the serial number 12345. How old is it???" And a simple informational response makes total sense.

Other times, though, someone asks, "How should I fix my technique?" or "What am I supposed to do about voicing?" or "Why don't my high notes work?" and so on. Perhaps with the last example, an in-person teacher could try out the poster's clarinet, examine his or her embouchure, etc. and then provide a good and simple answer: "You need more mouthpiece in your mouth."

But here, those sorts of informational responses might work and might not. Indeed, they could hurt a poster's clarinet playing, send them down a rabbit hole of bad habits, or even cause physical injury. For me, this "marketplace of ideas" approach is a load of b.s. So when someone asks one of these types of questions and I feel inclined to respond, I'll try to offer some way of thinking about things, a general approach to practicing or performing, that might be of help regardless of what nuts-and-bolts fix they actually require.

So just because the serial number question asks for one type of response doesn't mean the high note question asks for a similar one. Again, it's that old Emerson idea of: "A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds."



Post Edited (2021-08-11 00:09)

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 Re: The Forest for the Trees
Author: BethGraham 
Date:   2021-08-10 22:41

Quote:

But here, those sorts of informational responses might work and might not. Indeed, they could hurt a poster's clarinet playing, send them down a rabbit hole of bad habits, or even cause physical injury.


YES!!!! That is absolutely a worry, isn't it? (Sorry to shout, but I can't help it -- I'm in emphatic agreement with your statement.)

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 Re: The Forest for the Trees
Author: Paul Aviles 
Date:   2021-08-11 01:23

My thought is that the internet is a bastion of the quick and the disposable. You try a suggestion and if it doesn't work, forget about it. I would think many folks who fade in and out here are younger and are amongst those just looking for ideas. I try to throw out one or two in an attempt to see if that works for the person (or others just looking in).


Also, there have been numerous posts over the years by those clearly not that experienced that have mentioned something from which I have learned. You never know where some interesting information will come from.


This Board is not Plato and the readers are not Aristotle however nice it might be to think about.


And if that doesn't work for you at all.......don't let me bother you. Move on. It's the INTERNET!!!!





...............Paul Aviles



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 Re: The Forest for the Trees
Author: SecondTry 
Date:   2021-08-11 21:10

Let me apologize in advance. This post, while not rude, likely won't be nice...

....it's off topic too regarding the pedagogy of learning clarinet....

...but I think it spot on as it regards lesson about not confusing the OP's forest for the trees, and highly relevant.

http://test.woodwind.org/clarinet/BBoard/read.html?f=1&i=491164&t=491151&v=f

I must admit to being confused by a requirement to be vaccinated in order to participate in ensembles. The vaccine should protect those who opted for it, and those who didn't opt for it should be free to accept whatever risks they want to. Even those who are vaccinated know that there is a very tiny chance of severe infection if they go interact, play, etc. It is a personal risk/reward decision.

Likewise, the audience. The audience should have no expectation that going to a public place and packing together for long periods of time will be any safer than it has ever been. They are responsible for their own decisions.

Fuzzy
;^)>>>



This Fuzzy, IMHO, is a classic case of confusing the forest (public health) with the trees (individuals.)

IMHO your logic is off because you have turned getting the COVID vaccine into a risk/reward calculation that solely applies to the individual when science shows us that the individual's (the tree) choice on innoculation has a profound affect on society (the forest): so it's society's risk too.

IMHO your logic would better apply to someone, with no financial dependents, who, for example, at age 50 (where it become medically indicated,) was faced with the decision to get a colonoscopy.

The cancer they may have that goes undetected as a resulting of opting out of getting this pretty much painless procedure done isn't contagious. And even then this example has flaws. Those pre-cancerous polyps painlessly removed during a colonoscopy are exponentially less expense to the medical insurance pool we all use to remove than taking care of the patient through oncological care once those unremoved polyps become malignant, spreading cancer cells via the lymphatic system to the rest of the body, resulting in detection often only after cure often becomes impossible.


> The training I received from grade school through college was
> essentially, "Doing 'this' will result in 'that.'"
>
> The problem was - doing 'this' very rarely resulted in 'that.'

Then your in luck in this case. This (advocating that everyone get the COVID vaccine) and that (the reduction in transmission and mutation) is beyond reproach--barring the few for which the shot is medically contraindicated: which ironically enough includes those now begging for it, about to be put on a ventilator having contracted COVID.


> So, then I'd be given more and more steps/ways/options to force
> 'this' to result in 'that." Every once in a while, my
> instructor and I would blindly stumble across a perfect
> combination, and I'd finally get 'that' result; but I'd be
> tired, weary, and frustrated.
>
> I had realized (at least for me) that I needed to start with an
> understanding of 'that' and then figure out how to get there.

"That" is a) hospitals filled to capacity, unable to take sick non-Covid patients, b) the mutation of the virus into more communicable and deadly strains--as those are the Darwinian strains that survive, c) the cost to the economy, d) the delay of necessary but non-emergent surgeries, and among others e) death.

"This" is getting the shot and wearing a mask indoors; the latter at least for now. And while on the whole this shot will, right now, protect its takers from the unvaccinated infected as you point out, it may not be as effective in time, especially as the unvaccinated infected serve as walking petri dishes for the development of strains that no current shot might address.

The first lesson in clarinet play is that you have to be alive and reasonably healthy to play it.

Off soap box.



Post Edited (2021-08-11 21:30)

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 Re: The Forest for the Trees
Author: Luuk 2017
Date:   2021-08-12 19:35

...the internet is a bastion of the quick and the disposable. You try a suggestion and if it doesn't work, forget about it.

This is not necessarily so. Some people make it that way, on purpose or accidentally, by their eagerness to hit the send button and Be Present.

I follow this board since 1995 or so (started with the Klarinet Mailing List) and learned a lot from it. Sometimes just some factoid like 'there is a new model out' may interest me, but information on that level can be found anywhere; we don't need a Clarinet BB for that. The most valuable threads for me are those inspiring me to think about playing clarinet and making music. Mind you, not answering my questions but inspiring me to think and work on it. The real value of this board lies in the threads in which contributors inspire each other to use their own thinking power and creativity.

I would think many folks who fade in and out here are younger and are amongst those just looking for ideas.

This strikes me as generalizing and not fair to 'younger' people (whoever that may be).

Regards,

Luuk
Philips Symphonic Band
The Netherlands

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 Re: The Forest for the Trees
Author: SunnyDaze 
Date:   2021-08-12 20:01

Hi Fuzzy,

I really like your opening post and agree with it.

The thing I love most about being an adult learner is that I get to choose the "that" that is my learning destination and I also get to choose the "this" that I do in order to get there.

The the single most liberating thing in the world.

Jen

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 Re: The Forest for the Trees
Author: Mark Charette 2017
Date:   2021-08-13 01:39

"Younger people"? Some people joined the board in their teens and are 40s now. Some former teenagers joined back in the mailing list days and are nearing their 60s now :)

We were all younger once upon a time.

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 Re: The Forest for the Trees
Author: Arnoldstang 
Date:   2021-08-13 01:53

The Bulletin Board is by its nature eclectic. When you have 50 people discussing a topic you just have lots of different perspectives. As long as people abide by the rules that fine. You choose the post you want to read and glean what you may from it. Just like most meetings you’ll have some people who like to talk more than others. It’s up to chair person to regulate this if deemed necessary.
It can be difficult at times but the Bulletin Board is a good place to frequent.

Freelance woodwind performer

Post Edited (2021-08-13 06:18)

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