Matthew Charles Weiss
21st century composer and violinist

The Octava Chamber Orchestra
concertmaster/president
Seattle, WA USA
shalin327@yahoo.com




Bio   La Folia Variations   Clarinet Concerto   Opera and Other Works   Delian Society Concert   Suzuki War of Words  

Recently, Mark O'Connor launched another tirade about the Suzuki method. (Seehttp://markoconnorblog.blogspot.com/) Want to know the truth? Watch an interview from 2006 with Mr. Kendall. He... Manager's Choice

Phyllis FreemanCEO at ClassicalMusicCity.com

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·         2 months ago

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 Mark O'ConnorAngela Sullivan and 3 others like this

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·         Stan Haskins

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Stan Haskins

Graduate teaching assistant and Ph.D. student, strings and music education at the University of Miami

I'd like to share this post I wrote regarding this topic, as well. 
http://stanhaskins.com/the-politics-of-practice-a-response-to-mark-oconnors-recent-articles-regarding-the-suzuki-method/

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 Sharon N.Pamela P. like this

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amy gier

K-12 Public school vocal teacher at Forestville Central School

well said.

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Arpineh Arakelian

Piano teacher

Long story short - there is NO perfect method working for everyone. Each of the methods has it's pros and cons for each teacher to work and each student to 'digest' :)

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 Adam CraneStan Haskins and 7 others like this

·         Hans Klein

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Hans Klein

Musician/Educator

I think what all these people rushing to defend the Suzuki method are neglecting to realize is that at first O'Connor was just defending himself against some really stupid statements from those affiliated with the Suzuki method. Yeah, he's gotten rather vociferous after the fact, but many of his criticisms of the method are completely valid. Whether or not it was formed as a cult, here's an experiment you can do. Go to a long-time Suzuki instructor and tell them that you think another method would probably be best for your child to learn by... then step back and wait for all the forceful, quasi-religious ramblings that will take place about how the Suzuki method is perfect for EVERYBODY. It's certainly become a cult of musical philosophy whether or not that was the original intent. 

I agree with Arpineh that there is no perfect method for everybody.

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·         Kay Jones

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Kay Jones

Teacher at Meadow Springs Ed Supports

It is horses for courses one method does not suit all. I am an Orff Schulwerk teacher of music education, it's enough for me and I love the results it brings. I am mindful that its not for everyone nor for every student to learn this way as much as I'd like it to be.

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·         Mark O'Connor

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Mark O'Connor

The O'Connor Method

I actually agree with all of John's interview really! We are grabbing clips of it and going to use it to bolster our message. What I am upset about mostly is what he did a long time ago, supporting this movement to such an extreme that he himself didn't test on students before "evangelizing it." He even says in the filmed interviews in question that Japanese students are far different than American students - those are his sentiments on the interview. You have to wonder when you are looking at his interview, what was he thinking for about three decades! 

In my most recent blog "Was the Suzuki Method formulated by a Cult," of course the research exonerates Kendall as being in the cult mostly (He doesn't call him Dr. Suzuki ever - even in the interviews... never mentioned the Einstein and Casals connection in his academic book, but it doesn't exonerate him from being equally fanatic about Suzuki that even he himself didn't think was going to work really. I talk about a few reasons for the fanaticism, but it is obvious by his own writing, he acknowledge the Suzuki "cultism" as "dangerous" in the 1960s and 70s in his book. Even on this filmed interview in question, he chose the word "clannish" to describe the Suzuki movement. Well, that is pejorative when talking about music education - by any definition - especially when it is coming from him. It is all very interesting, when he talks about Suzuki being opposite of Waldorf for instance. That is an argument I have had with I don't know how many Suzuki teachers as some claim a Waldorf concept connection. Now I don't have to argue it! I am just going to play them the John Kendall filmed interview here! And loop it! Also, I found it fascinating at the end, he was really getting into "rhythm" for learning to play. Wow! He was catching up to my concepts - maybe one of the reasons why he really liked the O'Connor Method and asked to see copies before he passed away.

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·         Mark O'Connor

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Mark O'Connor

The O'Connor Method

Adam, I guess you could say that I tried your "turn the other cheek" approach when it comes to the Suzuki doctrine, but I have seen too many kids suffer from both Suzuki, and me not being vocal enough about how it is ruining string playing and the damage it has caused to creativity in our string world. Of course my biggest detractors in this thing are people who couldn't compose a concerto or symphony, improvise a solo on stage professionally, or lead an ensemble with their original music if their life depended on it. So consider the source. In 50 years, really no top classical soloist out of Suzuki training let alone how in the world is that Method going to produce any creative musician. So Suzuki is of zero help as to what we need to get out of the log jam. For serious classical students I would go back to traditional teaching. But I really think that my American Classical approach is going to get the kids interested in strings music with their heart and soul along with their intellect! Once that happens the sky's the limit boys and girls! Thanks Adam - and onwards!

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·         Mark O'Connor

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Mark O'Connor

The O'Connor Method

The topic of this thread above had to do with the 2nd part of a two-part blog, "The John Kendall Factor" and "What Did John Kendall Really Think". I just want to make sure that folks knew that that the nature of the blog is focused on "cultism,' the kind that Kendall points out as existing within Suzuki from the beginning and how it is dangerous. Here is the first part - extremely fascinating. Quite a few researchers have contributed the majority of this to us in order to write this eye-opening article. Part I.

http://markoconnorblog.blogspot.com/2013/06/was-suzuki-method-formulated-as-cult.html

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·         Barbara Lysenko

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Barbara Lysenko

Director & co-founder, Kids' MusicRound

I am a vocalist, early childhood educator and children's choir director so I cannot speak from experience on private instrumental study. However, as an educator I feel I am somewhat of a researcher as well. I have been to conferences where I have seen fans so very dedicated to one method of teaching. I like researching what is best for me and what I am trying to accomplish with my students. I observe results. This means I may choose to infuse parts of a particular pedagogy into my instruction that work best for my students. I have found a combined approach works great for me depending on the needs of the student. I am so thankful for all the varied approaches to music education since everyone learns differently.

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·         Eric Rasmussen

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Eric Rasmussen

Founder at Rasmussen Music, LLC

I pit my own teaching results against any method. I have created my own. I have particular purposes to my teaching that won't match your own philosophy. So be it.

To adhere to anything that makes your life easier in terms of teaching practices, I think is silliness. If you're not working hard and failing much of the time, you're not learning very much. People "blindly" follow Suzuki, Orff, Kodaly, Gordon, Dalcroze, others. If you have not thought deeply about why (and what) you teach the sequence of learning you do, you can't be doing very well no matter whose method (I use this term loosely—most are approaches and not logically sequenced) you use. Personally, I believe the best is borne out by the children's level of music achievement across a broad spectrum of abilities, and based on the most outstanding research in music education.

See some stuff here. 
http://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PL227DDC0E472E518E

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·         Jeffrey Sultanof

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Jeffrey Sultanof

Music Professional/ICD 10 Trainer

I've been studying this whole idea about music education since I went to college back in the seventies and had a disastrous time there. Granted, I'm wise enough now to recognize that some of that disaster was my own fault, but I've been fascinated by the theories, methodologies, etc. of how all of us learn music, from someone who can't speak yet to doctoral students. 

Suzuki certainly is not the only approach to music education that is spoken of with messaianic zeal. I've spoken to Dalcroze and Orff teachers who have tried to convince me that 'their' way is the best way. I am reluctant to use the work 'cult' to describe any group, yet we are supposedly the experts and we should know what we're doing based on years of open-minded study. 

Ignorance isn't restricted to methodology. There are some teachers who are woefully ignorant when it comes to music styles, as an example (There are still some teachers out there who teach Louis Armstrong by playing "What a Wonderful World" and totally ignore the Hot 5 and 7 recordings; frankly, they don't even know these recordings exist). There are college students who get four-year degrees without playing Berg, Sessions, or someone like Morton Feldman or Earle Brown. 

I'd love to see a school where a music student studying for an 'ed' degree is told flat out that any method such as Orff, etc. was not created to turn children into professional musicians, or even musicians with advanced skills. They were created to expose children to music, get them actually making it on several levels, and to give them another avenue to expand their brains. Each 'ed' student should have at least six months of exposure to Dalcroze, Kodaly and Orff methods to learn for himself/herself what experiences children can have. They should know enough to choose not only based on their own experiences doing this, but which approach speaks to them personally. We are not machines after all, and if children want to have music in their lives as something positive and fun, the teacher reflects that adventure. 

With that said, I've worked with Suzuki students who had few problems making music on an advanced level including reading. They were fortunate to have excellent teachers who really studied the 'system' and knew what skills needed to be introduced at the appropriate time.

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·         Mark O'Connor

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Mark O'Connor

The O'Connor Method

Join me and my guests Dale Morris Jr. Patrice Jackson, Alex DePue and David Wallace as we talk about music competition and contests. Is it healthy for kids, does it make a difference?

In this video clip, there is a lot more going on than meets the eye. Right before I stepped on stage to perform on this national television show, (one of the awards for winning the Grand Master Fiddle Championships in 1975), my mother told me that if things go well, and I get a lot of attention that the family could move to Nashville without our dad and live on the money that comes in from music. When i realized that Porter Wagoner's house band was not only missing chord changes, bass lines, but they decided that loud steel guitar chimes played through my entire tune and in my range was a good idea, somehow I saw my young life in music crumble as I played. The fact that I was able to play this well under that kind of pressure obviously made for one of the top high-pressure contest players of my era. It somehow worked for me, but are competitions for everyone. Let's discuss at 4:15 to 5:15 today at the Berklee Performance Center!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NUYVy5kXL2s&list=PL52261B5D15067145

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·         Mark O'Connor

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Mark O'Connor

The O'Connor Method

I have been blogging this last year on the subject of why the violin scene has been depleted with regards to creativity and nearly 60,000 readers have looked in on them in total so far. This was one that got a lot of attention. Because the Suzuki method is by far and away the dominant teaching method over the last 50 years, making for a virtual monopoly in most small and mid sized cities in the U.S., I lay the problem mostly with Suzuki's methodology and learning principles because of that obvious fact. But there are other contributors.

http://markoconnorblog.blogspot.com/2013/03/violinists-creativity.html

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Juzzy Leonard

Executive Board Member at Raise The Gong

not a fan of the suzuki method, have had a few students who come to me who can play at a very high level but their reading level is a lot lower and they get very frustrated, (piano students). I don't have any method i use. I have so many students that are so different that i teach each one a different way, especially my special needs students.

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·         Mark O'Connor

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Mark O'Connor

The O'Connor Method

Bruce Molsky and David Wallace get things kicked off at Club Passim for our nightly concerts during my Berklee College String Camp Week. Fantastic evening of great music. The sitting concertmaster of the Boston Symphony was in attendance at Club Passim tonight! Now that is cool!

http://twitpic.com/cz1crh

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·         Mark O'Connor

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Mark O'Connor

The O'Connor Method

Adam, I would be fuming mad too if I was her - actually I was fuming, when I was a "Suzuki Parent." (oh yes it gets worse!). My kid and my sister's kid who I paid for Suzuki lessons, both "went there" and yes I came face to face with it about 10 years ago - several years before I physically authored my method. No, I read the Nurtured by Love and bought it hook line and sinker just like every other Suzuki parent and most teachers I would assume. But yes, when I put it together that it was pack full of lies and his bio was made up, you can't imagine how upset I was. I figured it out when both kids after two years wanted to quit violin and from two different Suzuki teachers! Since I was traveling a lot, kid's mom and my sister had to do most of the learning with the kids... but I did check it out a lot and really couldn't believe it when I did. I just kept my mouth shut thinking that this must be good, it must be good... And of course - it is not. That is when I went back to review the biography to figure out who this guy from Japan was, and realized that he invented everything about his life. Once you know what to look for, and basically I was looking for a musical fraud by that time, then everything came into place. Other researches later got involved it all came pouring out.

Now about the blogs and "crossing the line." The vast majority of information was coming from researchers, newspaper clips, books and real live Suzuki teacher's quotes. So I am not sure what part is crossing the line if it is quoted. It would be good to find out from your folks there, and if it is wrong, we can provided a retraction. What I don't want is the wrong information out there. That has been the problem, Suzuki wrote wrong information and it has messed a lot of folks up, like my family. And countless - really, thousands of students I know who have been through my camps such as the one this week in Boston that I am holding - 250 string players are here. I hear the victim of the Suzuki Method constantly.

Anyway, yes, find out what information was wrong or bad, and we can address it certainly, but in no way am I interested in any lying or even embellishing in any of my blogs. Suzuki did plenty of lying and embellishing on his own. The violin world does not need more of that, we need less of it. In pedagogy we actually need none of it. But it would be interesting to find out what aspect of the blogs crossed the line their opinion, or they feel is not truthful. If they could provide the exact quotes - that would be helpful. If they are just saying that I had a lot of nerve to reveal the true story - well yes. I suppose I do. It is in my character to stand up to injustices. Let's look into it! I have a few more blogs coming out. Since Suzuki used Casals as an endorsement, I found out that he never endorsed Suzuki or his Method. That will be a future blog - the research on it is quite clear. I hate to see frauds in music frankly, especially if children are the recipient of the fraud. There is one thing for certain, 100 percent of my bio is true! I am no fraud! You can debate if I am a great player or not if you want, but the record of accomplishment is clear, and there is no lying on my bio. Here read it for yourself! Thanks Adam

http://markoconnor.com/index.php?page=bio&family=mark

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·         Mark O'Connor

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Mark O'Connor

The O'Connor Method

Adam, a few things. I am not defending - just explaining the information if someone didn't get on their first read. I always encourage people to read it again. So many things become more clear on the 2nd time through the information if they are reading the first time with too much emotion perhaps. Just look at the facts of it and make up your mind on your own time, is what I would like to see. I also do not think it is a tirade and disagree with that characterization. I am just interested in the correct information and in those blogs, a lot of research went into them. The cultism blog, the information has been coming in on that for a very long time, and it was carefully constructed over a good amount of time. I suppose the debunking the Casals endorsement in the next blog will also be another case for shooting the messenger by some too, but I am not sure why people have to do that. If they have reason to believe that Casals did like the Suzuki Method, allow those to come forward with that information, rather than shooting the messenger as you say. But it is one of the most fraudulent uses of a person's name in the endorsement of a product I have ever seen in music. And it was all done after these great men died. Just repulsive behavior. So, I don't know what to tell you Adam... the research has already been done and the articles are good. Good enough in fact to have just received the invitation to a major music education monthly magazine to write a column about string education, and this offer was based on my blog articles. So there you go. A lot of people are liking that I am coming forward on it!

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·         Hans Klein

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Hans Klein

Musician/Educator

...and I am one of those people that likes what Mark is coming forward with. My first string teacher was a Suzuki teacher... actually a Suzuki teacher-trainer, so I was pretty close to the method for awhile (also a close relative and I love her dearly). But guess what? She didn't teach me using the Suzuki method! I was 13 years old, already read music fluently on the piano, and had was listening to hours of classical music a day. Sure we used some of the Suzuki pedagogy, and I'm sure some of the clever little tricks used for teaching techniques had their roots back with some Suzuki teacher or another. But really, I was just taught as fast as I could learn, which was pretty fast. The next year I was touring Europe with a select youth orchestra! 
Not every parent can be heavily involved in their kids life. These days kids neither recognize nor like much of the early Suzuki repertoire. Given my success and the success of many 10+ year old students I've personally observed there's obviously zero need to start kids on any instruments super-young, but if you really want to, guess what the perfect instrument is? Piano. I don't know how many blank-faced middle-school and high-school aged former Suzuki students I've had to slowly and painfully go over basic music theory concepts with, but it's more than a few. But absolutely NOBODY I've ever taught violin or viola that first learned a little bit of piano is at all fazed by the fact that E# is F and other similar concepts.

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·         Mark O'Connor

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Mark O'Connor

The O'Connor Method

To get back to the initial inquiry about John Kendall in all of this... and the fact that I agreed and liked very much his filmed interview that was provided here, had a few motivations back in the beginning of his Suzuki era, one is to lower the entry level for string teaching from 4th grade to a much lower grade. He thought with the new and exotic nature of this Suzuki movement he could create that. It would have been a big feather in his cap. But instead of any lowering of public school string programs entry levels from John's era of 4th grade/10 year-old beginning students, we have seen it all erode from that entry level point in schools dramatically, as strings themselves in the Suzuki era have eroded in importance and relevance in our society over the last 50 years. Perlman, Heifetz, Stradivarius, were nearly house hold names in the 60s. The Philadelphia Orch had a nationwide audience and on the radio weekly etc... Instead of making strings more relevant in our culture, they have waned.


Can anyone think of a classical music composition for violin that you could even imagine Perlman playing at Carnegie Hall that was composed in the last 50 years that could be a feature piece? Maybe Red Violin Chaconne? That is a shameful stat. And compared to every single 50-year block in violin history, it is a very pitiful statistic. But what did we get in return, we got a bunch of private Suzuki music schools instead, and I believe that was not really the intention of the Suzuki Method in the first place. The Suzuki Method was designed for masses of kids ie Japan in big school programs with hundreds playing together (the famous formations of 200 to 700 kids), or at least that was the idea of Kendall's to bring it here for public schools. Whole schools playing like that together - the vision for it was really never met. That was Kendall's hope though. I never saw anything in it other than a circus myself. and a very good way to end the annual show at school or string camp with a finale. But anything beyond that is not constructive to learn how to play music.


Private schools are more about about serious study and should be. That is where the culture of it all went awry. And the fact that Suzuki produces such a very small percentage of professional musicians from their enrollment and almost no world class classical music soloists, if any, (let alone any player-composers) is the issue that we deal with today from these private studios. It is what I have described as a misfit for our culture and far from what we needed all along. We don't need hundreds of thousands of ex Suzuki violin students that dislike the violin altogether... We need a healthier string culture with more creative souls working to make it what it should be again. Like it was before the last 50 years and the hundreds of years before it, like before Suzuki came along and changed it for the worse. I make no bones about, I think that A New American School of String Playing could come in and rescue this, and save the day. Sure, my Method is a part of that, but there are some very talented people in American string playing now, all contributing to it. I just returned from an orchestra rehearsal this morning of two of my Orchestra Book II Method Book pieces, and the kids sounds fantastic on them here in Boston. (they will perform Thursday night here) They are also doing pieces by Eugene Friesen and DBR for instance... these men are major contributors to An American School of String Playing that has never been given ground yet in academia, until now perhaps. I think we should seize the moment and go!

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·         Mark O'Connor

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Mark O'Connor

The O'Connor Method

Catch my discussion at the Berklee Performance Center in about an hour at 4:15 when I will talk about American Classical music with DBR, Tracy Silverman, Darol Anger and Eugene Friesen. There is an opening for new ideas and career paths!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5cZGG3XgtiE&list=PL7D4C78D6C024C1D7

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·         Eric Rasmussen

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Eric Rasmussen

Founder at Rasmussen Music, LLC

#musiced #musedchat #suzuki a cult? 
Jeffery, et al, Why are we still ignoring the most prolific music education researcher whose work spans half a century? This prolific author has developed a music learning theory based on how children learn, NOT ON HOW TEACHERS ARE TAUGHT TO TEACH (especially by such limited approaches and content as Suzuki, Orff, Kodaly). 

Teaching SO-MI songs? Cut me a break! My PreK kids sing in Phrygian 7/8, B section is 6/8 ("I like to be in America"), and then switch back to 7/8. And, they can do this independently! 

When I hear Twinkle done in sixteenth and eighth notes, I scream inside my head and try to leave the room. Children are far more capable and can achieve the same technical skills with GOOD music. Stop murdering their creativity by playing the same song a bunch of different ways whilst still maintaining the same tonality, meter, and style. Swinging it or changing it to minor would be one thing, but these tiny degrees of rhythmic change are not not not very very very happy happy happy making making making me me me. It makes that much sense to me! We have no idea how capable our students are when we pigeon hole them into one method or another. If you're not studying how each child is learning, and stretching yourself in the process—which is excruciating at times—you're not allowing them to achieve at their highest potential. How do I know? I know my children's music aptitudes. How? I measure them. Each has at least 9 different ones. I measure at least 3 that I think are most important to me relative to the time each test takes away from instruction. But without such a measure, I would have never discovered many children with high aptitudes who were hiding in the weeds, not practicing, or not trying, not achieving near their potential. I could kick their butts a bit. Others, I nurture along either tonally, or rhythmically, or both, depending on their strengths and needs. 

Orff teaches musical exploration. It's like letting a kid play in the woods without an adult to talk about much. They don't understand tonality and meter very well and they're just hitting on bars. For goodness sakes, leave the "bad" sounding notes on the xylophone! They can learn what sounds good by learning what sounds "bad" against it. Not only do I use the full diatonic scale, I use the black notes as well. Wow, all of a sudden, we have a dominant chord in minor!! Is that too much to try with kids who already understand minor? and the functions that belong inside it? Why I give kids the harmonic understanding early is so they have the readiness to create and improvise, not just explore (which is an often thoughtless musical behavior). 

Why is Orff, Kodaly, and Dalcroze are still dominant music ed. cornerstones in a world where diversity and research-based instruction should be key. What remains the same among all good methods is that they must work with how a child learns—not how they can conform to a method. Having said that, a logical sequence of appropriate content and skills is a must to give children the best chance of success. 

What of the outstanding music education research? It is virtually unrecognized and it confounds me so. Where are the scientist music educators who can prove their work—not by anecdote, but by research? 

That's my rant! 

[Actually, I can do this more PC or professionally too. I'm not always so pedantic. I encourage the debate and love that people are so passionate about this.] 

Mark, cult is meant a bit tongue in cheek, right?

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·         Mark O'Connor

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Mark O'Connor

The O'Connor Method

When the O'Connor Method teachers and teacher trainers played this orchestral arrangement tonight at one of the Berklee Camp performances, I got a little choked up about the moment. It usually happens at these camps for me, but at least I make it to Wednesday or Thursday before I have some tears - it happened Tuesday - Oh My Goodness! So beautiful and heartfelt. I told the teachers afterwards, that the couple hundred young people at this camp this week are the lucky ones. They get to discover all of this here around us! Just think about the tens of thousands who will quit violin this year. Who will never get to experience something like our camp! You, each one of you can take this back to your neighborhoods, your communities and bring the kids this magic we have created with strings, the magic you feel right now.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=syV9lHh3rOE&list=PL30538F811506AE84&index=20

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·         Mark O'Connor

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Mark O'Connor

The O'Connor Method

Eric, I agree that the three methods you name are far and away superior to Suzuki. My O'Connor Method approaches learning the violin from the American String School. The problem with all of those old methods is that they left out arguably the most important music created in the last 100 years - American music - and that is a problem. Strings have paid a huge price for not being included in the culture. When Mozart was writing music, he was actually composing in a very popular Viennese style that people liked back then... American music today is the equivalent, and the current pedagogy ignores very fundamental things for musicians today like rhythm and groove. Most classical violinist player's sense of rhythm is just God awful. And it is simply the poor training they received that left out whole sectors of the technique needed to be a good 21st Century musician. I think there is a way to do more, without confusing the students with too many aptitude tests etc.... American musicians have sorted it out for centuries (the different levels of musical developments) and my research draws on those experiences into pedagogy. It is working! We would like to have you come to a teacher training and join in this discovery!

About the Suzuki cult. Did you read the blog? It sounds like you didn't. I will reprint the link here - read both part I and and part II and let me know what you think. But before you have an opinion whether it is real or not, read the blog! You have to read in order to know. No short cuts to educating ourselves - even about cults that thrive amongst us! Have you ever heard the term the Suzuki "True Believers?" I noticed in John Kendall's interview (did you notice?) that Suzuki informed Kendall to choose the teachers with a gleam in their eye to be his front line and teacher trainers in America! Wow! That is the criteria - a "gleam in the eye." Whew... Here is the link.

http://markoconnorblog.blogspot.com/

WAS the SUZUKI Method Formulated as a CULT? Part I and Part II.

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Janet F. Soller

Sr. Director, Communications, Research & Development at Alpha Major

What a great conversation! But let's think through the vocabulary everyone is tossing out. 

Dr. Suzuki has a pedagogy which is developed into a Suzuki curriculum. It's the curriculum that is the method, not the person. 

What is Dr. Suzuki right about? What are those points about Dr. Suzuki's thinking that should cut across and be part of all method systems? 

1. Children learn language by hearing, then feeling, then imitating, then doing, then applying, then seeing the symbols, then learning the names of the symbols. (This is great Kodaly, too!) 

2. Pieces should be memorized. I'm on a mission to get rid of the word 'memorized" and replace it with "learned" It's learned when one can sing it or play it with out the aide of symbols. 

3.Perform for others and keep your performance repertoire up to date. 

There should be a part of Dr. Suzuki in every one's pedagogical tool kit. Find what he does that speaks to you as a music educator and incorporate it in your methods. 

One of my sons learned violin through the Suzuki method. I specially choose the Suzuki method because I had watched him acquire language and teach himself to read at age four. I knew he was never at risk for not learning to read. He grew up a confident reader and performer and learned good music from the beginning. This is another thing Kodaly and Suzuki have in common. They believe good music education must include from the beginning teaching discrimination between good music and junk. 

If the pedagogues have stood the test of time, chances are they have valuable theories and ideas that are worthy of still being incorporated. 

And don't forget to sort through the difference between person and method!

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·         Mark O'Connor

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Mark O'Connor

The O'Connor Method

"Dr." Suzuki. He is not a PhD. He didn't' go to college. Part of the fraud marketing he did in his bio. We shouldn't address him as that in educational circles. Thanks.

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Janet F. Soller

Sr. Director, Communications, Research & Development at Alpha Major

To Eric, 

I know exactly what you are saying about Kodaly. But when Kodaly is the basis, the students are well-grounded internally, that they can learn and sing much more than the perscribed Kodaly curriculum. A music education class today requires to go further because the children's enviornments are filled with sounds and experiences much different than Kodaly's school children.

I wish music education would even have Kodaly. My experiences with music education is that it is not education at all but singing one or two songs a year from lyric sheets illeagaly distributed because the kids only will do Taylor Swift or Justin Beiber. So much of what is going on in the music classrooms today do not even qualify as "meaningful" by scientists and researchers trying to determine the benefits of music education.

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Janet F. Soller

Sr. Director, Communications, Research & Development at Alpha Major

WOW! 

I really don't want to make an enemy of you Mark or push you or anyone away. 

Clearly, honorary doctorates, which some people choose to use. And some people choose not to be called "Dr." when they have earned their degrees. 

Your point is well-taken about cleaning up vocabulary in music education circles. I guess to be friendly to all points of view in this discussion.. Should it be "Dr." but only honorary Suzuki? 

Best wishes and take some time to look at the American violin duos and trios that our company publishes.

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·         Mark O'Connor

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Mark O'Connor

The O'Connor Method

I have honorary doctorate, but I wouldn't ask anybody in education circles to title me "Dr." and adress me that way. I don't believe anybody would who has one.

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Janet F. Soller

Sr. Director, Communications, Research & Development at Alpha Major

I have known people with honorary doctorates use them and people with earned doctorates not use the title. 

Point I was making was that different individuals have different perspectives and different cultural backgrounds, etc. Perhaps, Suzuki didn't use it but people around him choose to use it for him .... I don't know. .. and it doesn't really matter. 

Your point of that it is honorary and not earned was an important point to make, which I also acknowledged.

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·         Hans Klein

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Hans Klein

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Brahms certainly didn't! All he did was sent a thank you letter at first, lol. Then of course was later persuaded to make the grander gesture of composing the Academic Festival Overture. I can't imagine Brahms styling himself as Dr. Johannes Brahms! Thank you Mark for doing likewise.

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·         Mark O'Connor

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Mark O'Connor

The O'Connor Method

Janet, I don't that is the truth. Name one educator who asks his/her colleagues to refer to them as "Dr." from just being an honorary doctorate. Please provide their contact info and bio or byline please. And Suzuki titled himself "Dr." Suzuki in his autobiography he wrote and his wife transcribed, "Nurtured By Love." So to answer your question about Suzuki, he was the source of it. Could I know more about Suzuki than you perhaps? You have not read my blog?

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Janet F. Soller

Sr. Director, Communications, Research & Development at Alpha Major

For Mark, 
Please read what I have written. I wrote 'people' and you read 'educator'. 

Furthermore, I acknowledged you and the point you made about the "Dr." in Suzuki. I further wrote about Suzuki in later comments, having dropped the "Dr." 

I accepted the point you made, acknowledged that your point was a good one, AND changed my writing to reflect support of your point. 

Was I correct that your response to my comment and change in behavior is to post to me, that you challenge I am dishonest about reporting what my professional and personal experiences are? 

Maybe you feel under attack because of the original posting, which I thought, by the way, was a bit over the top. Or maybe, you just passionately disagree with people who do not hold similar experiences or opinions. I'm not sure why there is such an attack about my posts, especially given that I listened to something you said and let it influence me. There is simple no reason to show anger towards me. 

What matters to excellent music educators is to be able to present their positions about topics in a way that will influence people who are listening. It's never an interesting conversation or dialogue when participants are being accused of lying or being ignorant.

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·         Mark O'Connor

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Mark O'Connor

The O'Connor Method

Janet, there is a lot wrong with Suzuki, not the least of which is the fraud and lies about his credentials. You called him a PhD, this is an educational forum so the context is important. You said that a few honorary doctorates like myself ask to be titled "Dr." when referred to. As some kind of defense for Suzuki wanting it for him. I simply would like to see a case of that, or why did you bring it up? You mentioned it, I would like to see that in academic circles? Wondering if I should ask the Suzuki folks to address me as Doctor too? That was a joke... But maybe not!

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Janet F. Soller

Sr. Director, Communications, Research & Development at Alpha Major

Mark, please don't say what I "said"; just read what I said. 

AND, I never included you in this, which I am quoting from your post: 'You said that a few honorary doctorates like myself ask to be titled "Dr." when referred to." 

If you wish to "expose" Suzuki, fine, but, there is just no place for what you are saying about me or reporting what you "think" I wrote. 

I happened to regard for your performances and method books. What gives with your posts? 

Simply put, Mark, you have no basis for your "diatribe" against me or my postings, so please just stop it.

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·         Devin Shea

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Devin Shea

Music Education, Performance & Project Management

I'm really baffled by some of the reactions to Mark's article, especially those who are outraged without disputing any facts; but rather, only tone, which was pretty academic compared to just about anything I read on the internet these days. I see Mark's point as addressing the "where are we and where are we going?" issue in string pedagogy. 

He alludes to the bigger issue earlier in the thread with this thought. "Can anyone think of a classical music composition for violin that you could even imagine Perlman playing at Carnegie Hall that was composed in the last 50 years that could be a feature piece?" Now why is that? Is this Suzuki's fault? Perhaps not but the Suzuki method is narrowly focused and at least one component of the real problem: traditional string pedagogy which has ignored folk and jazz. This is ridiculous considering that even most classical music is derived or inspired by folk traditions. We became lazy and dismissive toward "less refined" forms that have now distilled themselves in to high art (jazz, rock, bluegrass, etc). 

Classical composers were increasingly pianists by the 20th century (Bartok, Shostakovitch, Copland, Bernstein, Barber, Stravinsky, etc.) who increasingly dictated every expressive nuance with meticulous score instructions (how soft is 13 P's?) versus previous eras where performance practices allowed interpretation and improvisation that reflected the skills and styles of regional players. Over time, ritornello's and soli sections from the baroque/classical era gradually became "through composed" as well as the cadenzas of many of the great concertos with students relying on classic interpretations of the greats versus continuing the tradition of participating in the composition by putting there own stamp on it. One could write a well researched article on this process but modern string pedagogy is calcified in the past. 

MMA fighters study mixed martial arts because karate alone will not give you the skills to defeat a wrestler or jiu jitsu specialist. One must master a variety of skills to stay competitive. I think what Mark is arguing is that string players become mixed martial artists on their instruments if they are to remain artistically relevant, and most importantly have fun, rich, musical experiences. Not only are there no recent Carnegie Hall worthy violin concertos, but there is no one under 50 in the audience! That's a huge problem that the Suzuki method may not cause but does absolutely nothing to solve, cult or no cult.

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Janet F. Soller

Sr. Director, Communications, Research & Development at Alpha Major

Excellent points. And, I would like to suggest that its not only modern string pedagogy that is calcified; there certainly appears a lot of calcified piano pedagogy. What of voice and other instruments as well....are they locked in approaches to learning. 

And all musicians need to be "MMA fighters" in today's world, able to perform, transcend and cross genres.

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·         Mark O'Connor

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Concerning Janet's response to me, my question is very straight forward. She referred to "Dr." Suzuki. I asked why she did that as doesn't have a PhD, and she still has not answered. It seems easy enough. Hardly a diatribe. I save the diatribes for the Suzuki Method, not Janet certainly. Could Janet provide an answer why she calls him "Dr."? She defended him and his method, and I have found that his defenders and some cult members do refer to him as "Dr." I just didn't know if she was calling him "Dr." because of her assumption he had PhD, or did she call him "Dr." because she is a cultist? I just wrote a huge article about cultism and Suzuki... And I assume she is writing in about that blog. I was just wondering who I was writing to here: 1. Somebody who who is misinformed about his biography, or 2. A a cultist follower that John Kendall alluded to in his book and that I reprinted in my article. "Was the Suzuki Method formulated as a Cult?"

http://markoconnorblog.blogspot.com/2013/06/was-suzuki-method-formulated-as-cult.html

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·         Mark O'Connor

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Devin is spot on. He calls it exactly like it is. Most teachers are blind to the part that is missing. They can't see the missing part because they themselves never experienced the missing part. But why do all of the students have to miss out, taking from teachers who refuse to retrain and update their teaching skills? We offer teacher training in my Method. Just today, a violinist who played in the Met orchestra (THE Met) was in our teacher training course here in Boston. She came up to me today and introduced herself. She said a mouthful of stuff. One is that her 10 year-old Suzuki trained daughter was thinking about quitting before this week at my camp. Two is that she said the Suzuki program at her daughter's private school is going down the tubes and the kids don't like it. And three, after the 3rd day of teacher training, she will begin to teach the O'Connor Method at that school next year. She carries a lot of weight there because she is so accomplished, being a former member of perhaps one of the greatest orchestras in the world. So the back and forth with Janet is underneath where the conversation should be and I agree with Adam on that. 

For anyone that was at our Berklee concert tonight featuring 6 of our faculty at the camp, there is no question that things are moving in a great direction. It is just a matter of when on the bigger scale. I would say the sooner the better so we can make strings relevant in music again. Janet wrote this above: 

" there certainly appears a lot of calcified piano pedagogy. What of voice and other instruments as well...." 

Last time I checked the "voice" is relevant to our culture. So are keys! There is a vast amounts of vocal training and incredible amounts of vocal styles, and many of these vocalists take their craft very seriously. That is a far cry from putting 90 percent of beginning violin in the Suzuki-baroque music basket. It is just not even in the same universe as a comparison. And that is what is so troubling. People are not really thinking it through sometimes. It is not calcified. Simply put - no way.There is a lot of pianists out there with a lot of different styles, who are working and contributing to the musical culture. I just don't see it as an analogy comparing that to how strings have suffered in our culture over the last 50 years during the Suzuki era. I think it is time to let Suzuki go and give something else a chance to turn things around... there is nothing in Suzuki to keep around frankly. The sequential learning with tunes is in my Method and that concept has been around for centuries. Certainly not his idea. The over involvement with parents taking lessons is a bad idea. Especially for 21st century kids who are far more independent than those of the 1950s in Japan where these tests were done on Suzuki with Kendall. Twinkle is not a good first tune. My "Boil 'em Cabbage Down" is far superior as a first tune. Suzuki spends nearly 100% of his first several books in a musical era that is 250 years old. A method is tied to its materials. No creativity! Improvisation! Even all of the detached bowing in the first book is a bad. Not musical. It is just not a good fit - none of it.

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·         Mark O'Connor

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The O'Connor Method

A matter of fact... I just thought of something when I was writing the last entry that I had not quite put together before. Suzuki's main job was working for the American Armed Services between 1946 - 1953 when America occupied Japan. Music teachers were sought out all over Japan to "westernize" little kids - most of them "orphaned." Hmmm. Orphans meaning no parents to create this "triangle" that Suzuki is known for with teacher/parent/student. There were hundreds of thousands of orphans in Japan. Maybe millions. Japan lost three-million people in the war. Their invasion of China in '33 to attacking America in 1941... till the end of the war. There can be only two scenarios. This doubles down on the fact that the totality of his Method was actually created in Imperial Japan in the 1930s when there were no orphans and there were doting parents around to learn violin with the kids. Or this was something he made up just for America, may perhaps to sell extra violins, full size violins to the parents. Another way to make money. Wow.... I think we should all think about that one for a bit. It doesn't square.

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·         Devin Shea

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Devin Shea

Music Education, Performance & Project Management

It's definitely interesting and provocative. However, I'm not sure if most teachers have the calories to burn entertaining various machinations about the origins and intents of the program's founders regardless of importance. Ultimately, the question comes down to whether it's an effective method. I think it is but only in the sense that Mary Kay makes quality skin care products.They work as a "A trusted global name in skin care" but as their own website states...it's also an "unparalleled business opportunity". Your article could have just as easily been titled "Suzuki Method...the Mary Kay of violin methods. Neither are diabolical in my view unless there is an absence of choice...and choice is a bit slim in the world of strings.

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·         Mark O'Connor

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Devin, the biggest problem with Suzuki and his followers is they don't get their system as a problem. I believe they know it is an "amateur" learning method and they are proud of it! If I called it the Mary Kay of student violin training, I believe that most would agree with that - and accept it. Frankly it is way too kind, and an insult to Mary Kay. The last time I checked, Mary Kay never hurt anyone and destroyed their dreams of being a musician and stomped on their passion of being a real artist. May Kay - I could use their product, and still go on stage and play by hind end off and get people on their feet for a standing ovation. I think my job in this whole conversation is to point out the damage Suzuki has caused in the string playing environment because all of us on this panel, I am the one who has worked with tens of thousands of students over the last 20 years. No player-composers out of the Suzuki Method... that is very, very bad. The creativity was trained right out of those little Suzuki kids through memorization - repeat - mimic - memorex - ear training.

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·         Devin Shea

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Good point! Apologies to Mary Kay! It was kind of a silly analogy anyway.

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·         Geoffrey Fitzhugh Perry

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Geoffrey Fitzhugh Perry

Babik, Outlaw Fiddle, & the Fiddle Jam Institute

I have to admit that I lean towards OConnor's take on Suzuki. Not that Suzuki does not have many positives (good technique, ear first, great for very small children), I personally have taught many kids who were emotionally scarred from their Suzuki experience and had tremendous fear of failure. This I personally have zero tolerance for in teaching. Nothing wrong with self discipline, but achieving this by fear is a paradigm that is horribly outdated I think. Transparency: I teach multi-styles with a large component of improvisation (where fear has little educational value). Maybe I am a bit slanted, as I am not trying to crank out Classical technical superstars, but rather superstar human beings who love music and keep it as a part of their lives for life!

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·         Eric Rasmussen

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#musedchat #musiced 
Mark, 
I'm mostly on board with everything you're saying. I did read your blog and just consider "cult" to be too pejorative. I never indicated that Orff, Kodaly were better than Suzuki. All are still a far cry from what possible when well-researched methods based on how children best learn are taken into account. 

I reiterate just a bit of what I posted above: 
"Why are we still ignoring the most prolific music education researcher whose work spans half a century? This prolific author has developed a music learning theory based on how children learn, NOT ON HOW TEACHERS ARE TAUGHT TO TEACH (especially by such limited approaches and content as Suzuki, Orff, Kodaly)." 

Nobody responded to this and I'm curious as to why? 
At the heart of this, aren't we ultimately talking about the efficacy of music learning methods? If I may ask, what is it that distinguishes the O'Connor method? (Just asking the question. Not meant to be inflammatory at all.)

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·         Mark O'Connor

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The O'Connor Method

Eric, well then you will have to blame John Kendall himself for the use of the word as he applied it to Suzuki followers. If he had not called Suzuki follows "cultism" and how "dangerous" he thought that was... I would have probably not written the article. I will quote John Kendall right here from his 1966 book. The Part II blog essentially ends with this quote, but I will repeat it here again just to make sure that you saw it and so that you can point the finger properly to Kendal for the pejorative:

“although there is still a certain amount of controversy and criticism of some aspects of the Talent Education movement. The dangers of “cultism” and narrow dogmatic interpretations of the pedagogical approach have not disappeared.”

Hopefully that settles that. Now. "What is it that distinguishes the O'Connor Method?" Maybe the best thing is to point you to another blog on my site. It is called "Confessions of a Former Suzuki Teacher by Pamela Wiley - May 2013"

http://markoconnorblog.blogspot.com/2013/05/confessions-of-former-suzuki-teacher-by.html

Get back to me on it. The article is pretty thorough regarding the first two books of the Method. Great analysis and I could not have said it any better - she is a 40-year teachers so a lot of experience to draw from. The other place I want to point to you is the website www.oconnormethod.com. There is some fantastic info there. Thanks, MOC

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·         Mark O'Connor

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(retyped when more awake here at the string camp!) Geoffrey Fitzhugh Perry just wrote: "I have to admit that I lean towards OConnor's take on Suzuki. Not that Suzuki does not have many positives (good technique, ear first, great for very small children), I personally have taught many kids who were emotionally scarred from their Suzuki experience and had tremendous fear of failure." 

I couldn't agree more with Geoffrey's comments about emotionally scarring of Suzuki Students. I have seen this up close, quite literally - thousands of times. It is bizarre that it is happening to that degree. There are less kids scarred from competitive wrestling in school or something similar probably! It is just completely crazy. How does one get scarred from playing guitar and guitar lessons for instance. What can one say... I am not on board about agreeing that Suzuki is good ear training. Memorization is not ear training needed to be a good musician. That is why so many Suzuki students can't play off the page when they are adults... because the kind of ear training they got in Suzuki is not useful. Consequently Suzuki is not good for young kids. Anything that is a "doctrine" and especially if it does not work well... is not a good fit for really young kids. The really young ones need more creativity and more fun, not just a technical regimen. But Geoffrey, I couldn't agree with you more about the emotional scarring. Seen it a thousand time just at my own string camps...

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·         Mark O'Connor

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Devin, somebody told me about their possible analogy - the Target or Wallmart of violin methods being Suzuki. I don't know about that. Target and Wallmart provide a great service to millions of Americans and at discount rates. I don't see Suzuki lessons as any cheaper than any other beginning violin lesson - either from traditional or from the folk fiddlers. I suppose if Suzuki lessons were really low priced, you could make an analogy for that. But once again. I have shopped at high priced stores and at Target, and I just never think badly about myself after getting a good deal at Target! Certainly not emotionally scarred as Geoffrey was alluding to above regarding many Suzuki students he has seen. Besides, Target is carrying my Christmas album this year for the first time "An Appalachian Christmas" featuring Renee Flemming, James Taylor, Yo-Yo Ma, Jane Monheit, Alison Krauss etc...I like the store for what it is! But once again you and I have choices. We can choose to shop at Target or not. Or choose to use Mary Kay products or not. In many small and medium size cities, there is only one choice for violin training and that is Suzuki. That is bad for the kids and parents. Having no choice is just fundamentally bad for Americans. That is why it is frustrating that Suzuki got so big. We are all to blame for allowing it to I think. While I am trying to fix the problem now by speaking out on it, I was initially the part that supported it in a small way. I signed two kids up in my family for Suzuki lessons about a dozen years ago - why? Because it was popular and it was the only game in town where I lived in Southern California at that time for beginning students. The kids and the family suffered from those experiences and they were simply brought on by having limited choices or no choice at all.

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·         Mark O'Connor

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Mark O'Connor addressing O'Connor Method Camp students at Bunker Hill, Boston (Berklee String Program)

Mark O'Connor the teachers and students played Bunker Hill from O'Connor Book II on Wednesday.

http://twitpic.com/czp335

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·         Devin Shea

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Music Education, Performance & Project Management

Good stuff Mark...thanks for engaging. It's clear you're not getting "Teacher of the Year" award at the next Suzuki conference and I share some of the concerns. However, many school music programs are supported directly by student enrollment. Federal dollars are determined by class attendance. 

The popularity of Suzuki programs are what keep some music programs afloat in many communities here is Los Angeles and all over the country. I've taught at schools where local Suzuki programs act as feeder programs for middle school orchestras. Without the 5 or 10 students who are already participating in Suzuki then there may not be a school orchestra due to low attendance...and that's all kinds of lame. 

Obviously, you've distilled your method over many years and you'd like to see it grow for noble reasons. What is your broader vision aside from the Suzuki criticism? Clearly it's to see American styles woven in to the mainstream learning environment. But how can that be achieved on a massive scale you gesture toward in the media? 

1. Is your goal to see the O'Connor method essentially franchised and replace the Suzuki method nationwide through private teacher certified programs? 

2. Is part of that plan to fold in the orchestral versions of your method to rival or supplement other staples of school programs like Essential Elements?...or perhaps implement a nationwide Berklee style American Roots programs aided by a revolution in publishing by Hal Leonard and others that emphasis American styles? 

3. What would you like to see private instructors and school teachers do more of since I'm interpreting your outspokenness to be a call to arms as opposed to a myopic debunking of Suzuki? Start their own after school programs that include focus on American styles? 

I don't expect you to answer all of this for such a limited audience but these are some of the questions that arise for teachers on the font lines caught between your views on Suzuki and the realities of school programs and fighting elimination, while still being tasked with providing quality, culturally relevant instruction, which you and I definitely agree needs more emphasis American music. 

See ya at Target

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·         Mark O'Connor

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The music learned and performed by the students at O'Connor/Berklee can take place in youth orchestras around the country. Yes! A portion of it is in the O'Connor Method Book II, played here by the wonderful New Jersey Youth Symphony. Fantastic Summer Program in Boston this year and we will see you all next year!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dlXCGj6ndPw&list=PL30538F811506AE84

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·         Mark O'Connor

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The O'Connor Method

Devon, I appreciate your three questions. This post that we just made directly above, addresses one of them (the New Jersey Youth Symphony rehearsing my Orchestra Book II pieces). I have the orchestra series as a component to the Method which Suzuki never had. He was neither a composer or arranger/orchestrator so it would have been impossible largely for him to author such a component. That is why through the famous Suzuki method, we are stuck with many children playing in unison as a direct result to his method. We don't have 50 sax students playing in unison, or 50 percussion students playing in unison, but we do violin unfortunately. He did not have the artistic capability to write high quality music within a string methodology. So it is unison Happy Farmer going away.

I would not confuse disregarding Suzuki and his mediocre method as not having something beyond a "myopic" vision, certainly. Long range planning and vision is what I have been all about for decades (I began my internationally recognized string camps 20 years ago that have seen over 7,000 unique enrollments! They have made a difference on the scene!) My new term "A New American School of String Playing" is one of those phrases that embodies long ranging implications. Certainly not shortsighted. The O'Connor Method can and is taking place in private studios with the solo books and at this point after four years, tens of thousands of children are taking the Method (a very good start - a much quicker start than Suzuki had, perhaps because I am a well-known and a very successful artist and educator).

The O'Connor Method for Orchestra is now beginning to take place in some public schools. There was a gathering of eight NYC high schools that performed pieces out of my Orchestra Book II at the end of the school year last week actually. I heard from a Brooklyn Public School official that is in charge of over a thousand string kids just shortly after that mini festival. They wish to adopt my Orchestra Book II into their program. I assumed he was from one of the eight high schools in the mini festival, the timing was literally within a few days of the event. He had not heard of the eight high schools getting together, and missed it! This inquiry was from a completely different avenue! He is interested in replacing out Essential Elements with my Orchestra Books... My Book II was just released a few months ago. So that is a good sign that people are talking about it and looking into it. I another case, the Orchestra Book I and II are being used in the public schools in Kansas City area, and their high school orchestra was just invited to Disney World. They played four pieces from it there. A student here at my string camp just came up to me and reminded me of that last evening in fact, as she was in the orchestra but could not go on the trip and was really disappointed! But she got to come to my Boston camp this weekend! So many things are moving quite fast I would say. Students and teachers are leading the way it looks like and taking initiative. That is a good sign.

As far as your other questions about franchising. Suzuki is not technically franchised. Any teacher can advertise the fact that they teach the O'Connor Method in the studios and at community schools. That is completely appropriate and if it brings in students for them, by all means they should advertise that they teach a Method that is attractive to potential customers of course. 

In the short term I would like to see choices and options for parents, students and schools. Instead of the cookie cutter, one size fits all Suzuki. I think the 21st century should be a restart and hit a refresh button. The strings need it - more than any other instrument group out there.

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·         Devin Shea

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Devin Shea

Music Education, Performance & Project Management

Well thanks for taking the time for a thorough response. It'll be interesting to see how your vision unfolds in the coming years. I know as a perfomer/educator myself that I'd like to see strings become a vibrant force in education. String teachers today have to compete with other programs vying for attention like modern dance, art etc. and that can only by done with a fresh perspective in methods. It seems like you're well on your way. I'll take a look at the orchestra materials and order them for my groups in the coming year. Best of luck! I have a few students currently using your method with their private teachers and they really enjoy it. 

Happy Fiddling! 

Devin

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·         Ron Malanga

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Ron Malanga

Music Teacher; Horizon School, Dubai and Music Education Pedagogy Specialist

Mark, I adore your passion. Music Education in general, not just string education, is in desperate need of new leadership. Your musicianship and your willingness to speak truth to power (and staggering ignorance) is exciting. 

So, whilst Eric is being oddly coy, I'll not: Read the following book: Learning Sequences in Music: Skill, Content & Pattern by Edwin E. Gordon. If you'd like, I'll pay for the book to be sent to you. 

Gordon is the researcher Erik has twice referred to without naming. Gordon's work, among other things: 

*Clarifies Dalcroze & Laban rhythmically (Gordon was Krupa's bassist for a time and learned a great deal about rhythm that way) and creates a meaningful structure for teaching real rhythm; not counting, 

*Expands and refines Kodaly tonally (all the modes from birth, harmonic functions in specific orders related to how the mind works, not how any particular musical form works) 

*Explains hierarchical skill sequences which enable (or will inhibit) higher-order skills like improv & composition (for example, the reason those Suzuki folks never seem to produce interpreters and improvisers is because they never cross a bridging skill Gordon refers to as Partial Synthesis--basically aural mode & meter identification 

*Dooms to virtual irrelevancy via mountains of early childhood research the procedures of Suzuki & Orff. 

Or call Dr. Gordon himself, he's in his late 80's but is still ever the ignored iconoclast. Contact me privately for his number on my blog mindmusclemusicmyth.blogspot.com 

Lastly, you may also wish to make contact with a jazzer at Eastman; Professor Chris Azzara and/or check out his series 'Developing Musicianship through Improvisation.' He created this excellent resource on the firm foundation Gordon elucidated and I believe you'll find kindred ideas. 

Best wishes for a fruitful overturning of the apple carts! 

Ron Malanga 
Horizon School--Dubai

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·         Mark O'Connor

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Mark O'Connor

The O'Connor Method

Song Travels with Michael Feinstein presents Mark O’Connor!

Grammy-winning violinist Mark O'Connor is one of the most widely-heard fiddlers on the scene today, equally at home playing bluegrass, country, jazz and classical. A serious educator, his approach to teaching strings is considered a rival to the Suzuki method. Feinstein and O'Connor get together for Fats Waller's “Ain't Misbehavin’” and George Gershwin's “Summertime” on this week's Song Travels.

http://www.capradio.org/classical/season/song-travels-with-michael-feinstein/2013/06/18/song-travels-with-mark-oconnor/

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The O'Connor Method

How incredibly moving... From last week in Boston. "Mark O'Connor Camp Field Trip to Bunker Hill"

The music "Bunker Hill" is from the O'Connor Method Orchestra Book II.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3x34RVaZFF4&list=PL30538F811506AE84&index=41

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·         Mark O'Connor

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The O'Connor Method

Just out today - Strings Magazine

Reimagining the Orchestra as Instrument 
Mark O'Connor premieres his 'Improvised Concerto'

http://www.allthingsstrings.com/News/News/Reimagining-the-Orchestra-as-Instrument

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·         ongkit baskinas

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ongkit baskinas

Piano teacher (art/ classical music) (art/ethnic -world music) at Music Teachers Association of California

--------- 
'*Dooms to virtual irrelevancy via mountains of early childhood research the procedures of Suzuki & Orff. ' (from Ron Malanga's post) 

Can someone explain to me what this statement means? In reference to Orff especially which is most effective in Elementary music ed. , especially addressing children challenged with eye-hand coordination ...

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·         Mark O'Connor

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Mark O'Connor

The O'Connor Method

Ron Malanga, very nice to meet you here and your letter is amazing and important. Thank you. 

When I set out to author a string method and establish "A New American School of String Playing" that includes my Method but also the work and contributions of many ultimately, I had a sense that alliances could take place against Suzuki and its non-creative training -  the only hope for 99% of their students is an orchestra section job. And probably close to 99% won't get that either. I knew that I would have many American music lovers on my side, but I also knew there there was every reason to believe that while music conservatories and academia left out American string playing, they would not be able to forever. Why? because I have introduced American string playing to the classical music environment through my concertos, chamber music, work with Yo-Yo Ma etc..., bringing new interests in a myriad of American string styles thorough my knowledge of American string playing at the top performance and educational levels (being the student and protege of Benny Thomasson and Stephane Grappelli does not hurt!), authoring the O'Connor Method that already tens of thousands of students are learning violin out of just in 4 years of being released, but also because the conservatories finally embraced Jazz. That was the sure sign at least to me, that an American String School was possible after being ignored for hundreds of years. 

Your note means a lot. Please write me at mark@markoconnor.com so I can get you my address for the books. I just heard from one of my colleagues Steve Zdzinski at Univ of Miami who has worked with students of Gordon. One of his students did a dissertation with him on Gordon MLT teaching techniques with strings. Dr. Charles Ciorba was worked on Gordon stuff with him too. Steve was also a TA to Dr. Stan Schleuter, a Gordon student and and author of the text, "A sound approach to teaching instrumentalists." Some retired faculty there at UofM Nick and Joyce DeCarbo are also Schleuter students. So all of this has great relevance to what we are doing. Let me hear from you and keep in touch here. I think we are making great progress! 

Thank you so much and more soon. MOC

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·         Mark O'Connor

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The O'Connor Method

Onkgit, Ron can answer you directly of course if he wishes. But from my standpoint, music should be both a creative and a technical learning process. Some of these 20th century violin manuals doubled down on technical aspects of violin, tossing the creative part of the violin out the window (composing, arranging, improvisation, stylistic diversity, theory). The question here is not if they did this or not - that has to be obvious to everyone. The question is why they did it? 

My two cents. The violin world perceived Heifetz and others of his era to be technical monsters of incomparable facility. Violin manuals began to reflect the technical skill of violin playing even more so than before, perhaps because of these violinist's substantial careers in classical music and the amounts of money to be made as soloists in the modern era. It also helped to feed the string enrollment of the burgeoning conservatories. But it was a misreading of these great violin players and their culture - emphatically. They were also very creative musicians, and it is very plausible that their own creativity facilitated their technical growth and abilities. Anyone could argue and correctly so, that Paganini's own creativity facilitated more technical development in his playing. Same with with Heifetz. In other words, the classical violin world got it backwards unfortunately. For an environment that prides itself over longevity, they doubled down on the short fix and quick money. Rather than the 300-year plan, it became the 25-year plan. "How much money can we make now" became the motto of the classical music environment post Heifetz, from conservatories, professors, students, violin manuals, scale books, instrument dealers, classical empresarios, managers and concert promoters. 

If you take every 50 year chunk of the classical violin's history dating back to Bach and Vivaldi, there are striking violin players, striking violin careers and striking violin music to come out of those 50 year chunks of time. The era of Itzhak Perlman and Yo-Yo Ma being ushered in the 1960s and 70s represents the 50-year period just before ours. Those players while maybe not the player-composers that others were before them, still had highly personalized sound, interpretation, huge careers and influence. This last 50-year period - the period of the Suzuki era has produced far less for classical violin on all possible fronts. Less great careers, less player-composers, less individuality, less top players, less creativity and ideas... and a symphony orchestra scene in universities and in the profession that is beginning to hang in the balance...etc etc. If you arguably place my friends Josh Bell and Hilary Hahn at the top of the classical violin world in the U.S., by most any measurement, their careers are less than half of what Perlman and Ma's were the previous 50 year chunk. Perlman and Ma being equal to the previous 50-year period of Stern, Menuhin, Rabin, Heifetz. And likewise, those being the equal to the previous 50 year chunk of Kreisler, Sibelius, Sarasate and the list goes on,back to Bach. 

So to sum. The all-technical manuals not only didn't help classical violin and the violin scene in classical music, it is likely killing it off right before our eyes. That is why I am coming forward the "A New American School of String Playing." I think it will happen, and it could in turn help to save arts music for strings. The current track and trajectory is not sustainable.

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 Geoffrey Fitzhugh PerryRon M. like this

·         Ron Malanga

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Ron Malanga

Music Teacher; Horizon School, Dubai and Music Education Pedagogy Specialist

Onkit,

Music skills are learned systematically. Tonal skill development has hierarchical processes which all musicians must go through. Rhythm development has it's own sequences, too. Orff has no systematic procedures to be followed.

Also, early childhood skills are utterly crucial to get right if further musicianship is to be developed and Orff's early childhood ideas were beautiful, but wrong. I will give two examples for tone and two for rhythm.

If you wish for more, go here: http://mindmusclemusicmyth.blogspot.ae/2011/12/what-kids-need-vs-what-kids-get.html.

Pentatonic is the wrong place to start tonally. Kids need to hear harmonically active tones to begin to develop a sense of tonal center/keynote/resting tone (call it what you will).

Non-functional harmony is the wrong place to move to next. Functional harmony assists in expanding a sense of tonal center into a sense of tonality; i.e. how each mode behaves--how each uses it's particular scale.

For more on tonal development go here:http://mindmusclemusicmyth.blogspot.ae/2009/10/effective-tonal-development.html

Angular small muscle movements such as clapping and playing xylophones inhibit rhythmic skill development. Rhythm development initially demands curvi-linear large-muscle, even full-body movements to gain a sense of how time flows through space.

Finally, ostinato's whilst effective for making music quickly are, by their very nature, dulling to learning as it is difference, not sameness that sparks learning.

Want more on rhythm development? Go here:http://mindmusclemusicmyth.blogspot.ae/2010/11/how-rhythm-really-works.html

Lastly, and to your point about children challenged with coordination issues, 28% of the intake at Horizon School, where I teach, have such issues. The best thing for these students is to develop their musical conception BEFORE adding the 'target-practice' of skinny xylo bars such that their muscles have as clear and compelling musical instructions as possible.

For more on this last idea, read this: http://mindmusclemusicmyth.blogspot.ae/2009/10/ideo-motor-action-and-technique.html

Please understand, I do not criticize ANY methodology lightly. I've taught them all in my 22 years as a teacher; Gordon's MLT provides the most efficacious results because his work is based on the richest understanding of learning we currently have.

I sincerely welcome the opportunity for further dialogue.

Kindly,

Ron Malanga

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·         Ron Malanga

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Ron Malanga

Music Teacher; Horizon School, Dubai and Music Education Pedagogy Specialist

I couldn't agree more with Mark when he reminds us that the doubling down on technical issues to the exclusion of the truly creative is the most likely culprit of the dearth of truly great, musically compelling violinists coming out of Suzuki. 

Also, more optimistically, the artist jazz musicians taking their rightful place in our great music schools & conservatories is a wonderful, hopeful occurrence. 

While a simplification, I tell my youngest students to think of instruments as tone texting. 

Nobody gave you technique lessons--hour after hour of alphabetic work--in texting. You taught yourself to text and continue to get better & better at it independently. 

Here's how. Your mind demands a message: "Honey, I'll be home later." Your fingers do a little dance; your muscles diligently attempting to obey the thought. You look at the screen and it says, "Honey, I'll be gome jater." The momentary confusion you experience upon seeing the outer product not match the inner thought quickly gives way to simply teaching your muscles a more accurate dance to get the result you intended. You're making muscles mirror thought. 

Now, instead of words, call up a musical thought. Muscles can & will diligently obey these as well. Think the opening 9 tones of Beethoven's "Fur Elise." Go to a piano and play it, but start on a C instead of the original E. If the musical thought is clear, momentary confusion (as you might play a wrong note here or there) will give way to you teaching your muscles a more accurate dance until once again you find yourself making movement mirror thought (playing 'Fur Elise,' but in F Minor as opposed to the original A minor.) 

A mind that calls out clearly for a particular message will beget muscles that find a way to deliver that message, be it musical or linguistic. This is why we should emphasize tone & rhythm development. Heard tone & rhythm patterns riding on our inner sense of tonality and meter is the stuff of musical thought. They comprise the musical messages we intend our muscles to execute.

And once the proper readiness exists, there is no better way to develop these than harmonic improvisation. 

Towards the future!

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·         ongkit baskinas

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ongkit baskinas

Piano teacher (art/ classical music) (art/ethnic -world music) at Music Teachers Association of California

Ron, 
I am strongly opposed towards your statement : "Pentatonic is the wrong place to start tonally. Kids need to hear harmonically active tones to begin to develop a sense of tonal center/keynote/resting tone (call it what you will)." 
This is a very culture-particular orientation in music pedagogy. In our present 21st c. classrooms where students are multicultural, have different music backgrounds, who is to say that we cannot start with pentatonic or start with western tonality ...? To very young children needing to explore for example simple rhythmic patterns using quarter and 2 eights notes ... 'jamming' on the xylophones using only 'black keys' can be very exciting ... etc. etc. 
I can go on and on and on and would like to read further your comments ... but i stopped at your quip on 'pentatonic scale' ... just had to address that ... in my 7th grade world music class we use the gamelan as well as other world music tuning system with all other rhythm instruments african drums (tuned NOT in tonic dominant) etc etc,) each child dress according to their particular cultural roots or whatever culture they feel they like to belong to in their end of the year performances .... again , i can go on and on and on but need to get back to teaching soon ...

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·         ongkit baskinas

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ongkit baskinas

Piano teacher (art/ classical music) (art/ethnic -world music) at Music Teachers Association of California

---- 
oh and one more thing Ron , may I quote youo again : "Orff's early childhood ideas were beautiful, but wrong. I will give two examples for tone and two for rhythm. " 
-- There is no standardized Orff curriculum. Orff never intended a strict pedagogical method. Orff teachers design their own lesson plans and adapt it to suit the size of the class,the age of the students, the needs of every student , the diversity in the classroom...

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·         Mark O'Connor

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Mark O'Connor

The O'Connor Method

Ongkit, you said "There is no standardized Orff curriculum. Orff never intended a strict pedagogical method." Then there is no method. If there is no method nor materials, we should remove his name from any of that teaching simply put. Call it the Ongkit Method. 

A method has to be tied to its materials. I don't believe that you can play great Rock 'n' Roll just because you studied Mozart. A matter of fact, I know you can't. That is why there is "methodology" - a procedure to accomplish a set of skills. My O'Connor Method is perhaps one of the most broad methods ever presented in strings. Because the skills in American music lead to so many areas of the music world. It is an extraordinary journey, and I easily found that American music was the route to achieve the greatest set of skills needed for the 21st century music. In other words, someone accomplished in American strings styles can both be in a Western Classical orchestra and jam with that world music gamelan player you spoke of. The series of books elevates the string player to access much more information and experience through my analyses of music education.

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·         ongkit baskinas

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ongkit baskinas

Piano teacher (art/ classical music) (art/ethnic -world music) at Music Teachers Association of California


Precisely Ron! that is what makes the Orff method unique because it can be "Ron Method' 'Ongkit Method' 'Teacher -in-loco method' ... Orff's vision was for this generation , (re your statement: 'A method has to be tied to its materials') strict and tied methods are meant to change and be obsolete at one point ... Orff's approach evolves with the educator's sociological and hisotrical milieu as well as this method encompass all areas of music competency including that of 'moving' to music ... http://musiced.about.com/od/lessonplans/tp/orffmethod.htm (I just found this site on google - just thought some may want to re-acquaint themselves with the Orfff -Schulwerk Method.'
...

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·         ongkit baskinas

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ongkit baskinas

Piano teacher (art/ classical music) (art/ethnic -world music) at Music Teachers Association of California

---- 
erratum : 'historical milieu'

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·         ongkit baskinas

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ongkit baskinas

Piano teacher (art/ classical music) (art/ethnic -world music) at Music Teachers Association of California

--- 
sorry my response is for Mark O'Connor's comment so that should read Precisely Mark ...

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·         Ron Malanga

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Ron Malanga

Music Teacher; Horizon School, Dubai and Music Education Pedagogy Specialist

Ongkit, 

Respectfully, there needn't be a standardized curriculum, but there must be---lest curricula be the limiting factor in our children's learning--an understanding of how the musical mind works in the design of long term and short term planning. 

It matters not whether Orff, or Kodaly, or Suzuki, or Dalcroze, or Laban, or Gordon, or O'Connor INTEND a strict pedagogical sequence; it only matters that the sequence take into account an understanding of HOW music learning actually occurs. The minds processes are not immutable. 

They key questions are about when you teach what you wish children to learn. What skills provide the readiness for what other skills. What tonal content provides the readiness for other tonal content. What rhythm content follows those quarter-eighth patterns? When is the right time for Dorian? Triple? Asymmetric meters? Phrygian? 

Absent an understanding of answers to questions like the above, you'll still be able to generate intriguing, fun, musical lessons, but you will not be able to create a truly progressive curriculum wherein learned skills, contents, and contexts provide direct readiness for upcoming skills, contents and contexts. 

The truth is, our understanding of how the musical mind works is fairly recent science; Orff couldn't have known it, and, the fact that Orff himself was a monster musician makes it even less likely that he would have intuited it. He personally would have made giant musical leaps in his own development. That's why what is commonly known as 'Orff' really ought be called 'Geetman,' she developed it chiefly, not Orff. 

And, being in Dubai, even though my school is small, we have over 40 nationalities represented, I do understand and utilize multicultural materials.

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·         ongkit baskinas

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ongkit baskinas

Piano teacher (art/ classical music) (art/ethnic -world music) at Music Teachers Association of California

---------- 
Understanding how the musical mind works dates back to Boethius' time , neither has it been lost along the years and I strongly believe Orff understood it clearly. 

This will be my last exchange of thought re- Music Education methodologies... 

just want to remind all classroom music educators that much as we try to design a progressive curriculum that builds on music competencies and skills securely ... we often have to deall with changing students year after year ... you do not get the same chilldren the next school year all the time ... you are lucky to get half of them re-enroll for the next public or private school year ... individual piano students who you can have for 14 years or more is a different story ... but I am talking here of the regular music educator in the classroom.

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·         Mark O'Connor

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Mark O'Connor

The O'Connor Method

Ongkit, I was really trying to narrow my comments to string instruction. Obviously a year of strings and quitting is what we see in Suzuki all over the place. It is not a great thing. You are doing an introduction to music and musical instruments. I would hardly confuse that with pedagogy, although your work is educational and hugely important. But this thread was clearly about pedagogy which is the "practice" of an instrument, not merely exposure to the instruments in the classroom. I hope that is clear. And by the way, I love your spirit. We need you out here. If you ever decide to teach strings, I want you!

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Janet F. Soller

Sr. Director, Communications, Research & Development at Alpha Major

Mark, 
Most instrument study has a drop-off after the first year. Retail music print dealers and publishers keep track of these numbers. I have also read research on this but did not keep a copy of the article. Where do you get your Suzuki drop-off numbers? And, have you compared those numbers to other methods and other instruments? 

PLEASE do not respond to me in a vitriolic way! Do not "assume" anything about me. There is nothing evil in my questions. I am interested in numbers and would like to know where we can find reliable ones.

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·         Ron Malanga

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Ron Malanga

Music Teacher; Horizon School, Dubai and Music Education Pedagogy Specialist

Onkit, forgive me once again, but compassionate thinkers don't necessarily get things right just because they're delightful beneficent humans. And, my students come and go as well; Dubai is very transient. That issue argues even more for an understanding of skill and content sequencing. 

The truth is, understanding how the musical mind works is new and still somewhat incomplete. 

Boethius did not know that absent the ability to aurally identify the prevailing mode, true harmonic improvisation is impossible; only exploration/scale wanderings. 

Suzuki did not know that 8 major songs in a row is less effective at teaching major tonality than is learning one song in each mode. 

Orff did not know that curvilinear movements are the foundation of tempo development, not clapping or tapping. 

Dalcroze didn't know that what he called energy & plasticity was actually four separate effort elements (flow, weight, space, time) combined. 

Bernstein, in his famous Unanswered Questions lectures at Harvard didn't know that the universal grammar of Noam Chomsky couldn't square with music because--whilst largely mirroring the linguistic sequence--tonal learning requires an extra associative step which language does not. 

Kodaly didn't know that--for the mind--arpeggios related to keynotes are more valuable than stepwise movements. 

None of the above knew that context (an inner held sense of the prevailing mode and/or meter) precedes the comprehension of content (specific rhythm or tone patterns). 

Forgive me, but I could go on and on. 

There is so very much that is new and needs to be integrated into curricula, lest we keep on suggesting this is an art form only for the talented and the rest can explore a bit in school, play an instrument for a while, quit, then go back to listening to whatever they preferred when they were 13 years old. 

We can do better. As Dr. Richard Grunow, head of Music Education at Eastman likes to say, "The foundation for teaching should be an understanding of learning.' Onkit, our understanding of learning has changed in the last couple of decades. Boethius would be amazed. 

Kind wishes to you and your students, 

Ron

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·         Mark O'Connor

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Mark O'Connor

The O'Connor Method

Janet, you don't have a profile picture attached to your post. You are using caps within your message to me, you are saying your question is not "evil," and you are accusing me of "vitriol? Can you quote a single place in this thread where I was vitriolic? Please don't accuse people of being something they are not! It is unbecoming as an educator. 

To your question, I never met an ex-fiddler. Does that make me a statistician? Well it makes me about as qualified as when I was working towards Yo-Yo Ma performing my Appalachia Waltz composition all over the world! ;#]

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·         Mark O'Connor

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Mark O'Connor

The O'Connor Method

Ron, your writing and knowledge is so impressive. I would love for you to take a look at something that I discovered (I believe). It would absolutely be wonderful to me if you could assess this diagram of this universal/natural occurrence, describing what it means in your own words. I want to use it for my own educational materials. If you wish. It appears at the conclusion of my books I and II. Most people (teachers) don't get it, but I have not gone into detail what it means to them. I will print here what I discovered and if you could just take it and run with it. I think it is gloriously beautiful!

O'Connor Method: Scales and Intervals-Books I & II. Intervals of the scale correspond with colors of the rainbow.

I had studied the Bernstein Unanswered Questions lectures at Harvard a long time ago, my son went to Harvard and graduated Summa Cum Laude. I was moved mostly by how Bernstein was tapping into the universal inevitability of music. I wanted to further discover how music was one with humanity therefore one with nature. So I was looking for universal truths of music and why the Western scale evolved to be the thing that brought the music world together.

Several years before I released the Method in 2009, I was on the road, one of my many tours criss-crossing this great country of people and music making. I was in a random car as a passenger, staring out the window wanting to find something about nature that I could define and select as one of my many "signatures" of my methodology. It happened so fast, that it kind of made my head spin. I looked out the passenger window and there was a rainbow. I was impressed right away because I noticed how wide it was. I muttered under my breath asking how many colors do these things have anyway? And I thought I had counted seven. I hit the internet on my phone and looked up rainbow and sure enough - seven colors. There are seven notes to the Western scale. I read further because now I knew what I was looking for. Associations.

Rainbows in their full capacity, always begin with red on the left side. If the rainbow is revealed to the extent of its color spectrum, they reach the color violet. Right away I thought about the musical scale and how it always begins at home (red) and you end the scale at violet.

I realized that the color violet was an interesting color to ascend to, the 2nd to the final outer band of color was indigo. Also an unusual color. I thought to myself, complex color. Not primary like red. Then I realized that red was on band #1, yellow band #3 and blue on band #5. Are you kidding me I told myself! The position of the primary colors in the bands of the rainbow are the primary notes of a chord! 1-3-5. Then I quickly looked at 2 and 4. They are colors that are only achieved by uniting #1 and #3. Mix red and yellow to get orange. Orange the 2nd note of the scale is a passing tone! Same with uniting #3 and #5 to make green. The 4th interval of the scale can be considered a passing tone...they are secondary colors, and secondary of importance in the intervals. I start shaking my head at this point. Then I look at the 6th and the 7th bands. They are not primary colors nor secondary colors. They are complex colors. In the way that the interval between the 1st and the 6th or the 1st and the 7th are the most complex intervals in music.

When musicians are creative and can improvise, we think in terms of the first note of the chord, the 2nd note of the chord and so forth. We also think in terms of intervals with in chords and harmony. No matter what key we are in, the home key is the #1. The rainbow is the organic natural manifestation of musical creativity in western music in how it assigned its color scheme. And western music is the music style that got the whole world singing and playing the same music.

I hope that it can be one of my philosophical concepts that I could offer the music scene.http://twitpic.com/d0nx2f MOC

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·         Eric Rasmussen

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Eric Rasmussen

Founder at Rasmussen Music, LLC

Dear Mark O, 
I would love to talk to you more about Gordon's Learning Sequence. I have been expanding what children can do using his method as a skeleton to the body I have bulit around it—all based on how children best learn. I start as young as I can (at birth in some cases) and go through to 10 year olds developing a very comprehensive curriculum based in audiation I can. Harmonically, I have children understand many functions in major—at least 8. 5 in minor. And at least 3 in mixolydian, dorian, and aeolian. Tonally, I have children audit every tonality except locrian. They sing the harmonic patterns to the essential functions in each after they've learned to sing and more to the repertoire. In terms of meter, my students by 4 or 5 years old move fluidly in all meters, moving between 7/8, 3/4 and back to 7/8 in some repertoire. They do this independently! I feel as though I'm breaking new ground in "the ear" probably much the same way you are breaking new ground with violin methodology—mind you, not that the two are in the least mutually exclusive. In fact, I'm willing to bet there is considerable overlap. 

I invite you to chat with me if you're so inclined. Gordon's books are fairly dense and in some parts unreadable (per my advisor who wrote a book about how to write clearly and concisely.) Still, that said, the content is based on the best thinking and research in music education. It burns me up at times to see him so thoroughly ignored by music education. He's to music education what Einstein is to physics, but mostly everyone turned their back on the truth instead of engaging with it. Even the best music education universities in the country have little time to properly educate music teachers in how children best learn music. 

Again, I'd love to speak with you. I'm passionate about what I do and I think I have a lot to offer in a way that Gordon and his Institute hasn't been able to break through. His work is basically shunned. I don't know if I can alter this much, but I'm well-versed in distilling his major contributions to parents, as well as those of us who suspicious music educators.

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·         Eric Rasmussen

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Eric Rasmussen

Founder at Rasmussen Music, LLC

People are strongly entrenched in their own "methods." People will say the same of me and Gordon. I say to them, show me your children's results from across the board musical achievement. I'll show you mine. Let's see whose children are musically creative, can improvise, compose, and how good they are. How free they are from the damned music theory most teach them far too early.

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·         Geoffrey Fitzhugh Perry

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Geoffrey Fitzhugh Perry

Babik, Outlaw Fiddle, & the Fiddle Jam Institute

Rainbows and music: very good Mark. The correlation is nothing new though. Isaac Newton was puzzling over the same thing in the 1500's! Another cool fun fact about the relationship is that orange and blue are both about HALF of the width of the other colors! ... just like the natural half steps between B-C & E-F! Pretty magical stuff I think. I myself did some research into trying to figure out if the visual spectrum, made of basically the same stuff as sound (waves), and a known constant, is completely in line with today's standard pitch... my conclusion: close but more in tune with today's Ab. Standard pitch was about that low back when Stadavari was designing our instruments. I know that tuning my Stad copy down a 1/2 step opens the sound up considerably... just as it was designed for. I have to wonder if tuning and thinking down that half step might align us with other spectrums in between sound and light (or beyond)? Who are we to say not? Maybe Jimi Hendrix and Stevie Ray Vaughan (both who tuned down a 1/2 step), and critics/fans say "channelled god through their fingertips" were onto something?? I know that I like it. Hard to get the rest of the world to come with me though. In another experiment, while a string director at a Waldorf school, I for a period of time tuned down every instrument in the elementary/middle school orchestra that 1/2 step. The kids interestingly did not say that it sounded better... but that it FELT better. Interesting.

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·         Mark O'Connor

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Mark O'Connor

The O'Connor Method

Geoffrey, I don't know about the "nothing new" thing. I don't remember their research talking about the major triad, the more complex intervals, as well as passing tones with the blurred colors and how it relates to musical creativity? They were just identifying the seven colors to the seven note scale. I was breaking it down into a creative process. Let me know if there is anything written on that. If there is, I will chalk it up as great minds think alike because I had never heard it. In your text, I assume you meant "green" instead of "blue" in your descriptions to the half steps. Obviously in the a major scale, the 2nd interval is a whole step going both ways, so I doubt that the "orange" color being thinner is anything but arbitrary. I was really speaking of more universal absolutes that I found in the connection of nature and in musical creativity that I wanted to prove. Let me know... Thx.

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·         Mark O'Connor

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Mark O'Connor

The O'Connor Method

Eric, you are clearly an exceptional individual. I am excited to know that you are within a train ride from me here in NYC. I have a very strong affinity for Baltimore. The Baltimore Symphony and Marin Alsop recorded my symphony "The Americana Symphony."

http://markoconnor.com/index.php?page=bio&family=Symphony_Orchestra_Rep&display=241

Yes of course there are all kinds of overlap with what you are doing from Gordon's perspective and what I am doing. For one thing I am a bass player too, and I know how "musical" good bass players are. I have worked with some of the greatest bass players on earth as well - Victor Wooten, Edgar Meyer, John Patitucci, Michael Rhodes, Lee Sklar, the list is long. Gordon being jazz - of course - rhythm, creativity, improvisation, theory, tonality, patterns and phrases...My final teacher was Stephane Grappelli. I don't think I need to say more on that! Then there is American music and the styles that this kind of study makes a lot of sense in. I know how to play most American styles enough to sit in and pass the bar with most anyone. My musical training allows me to do that, and I want that for students. The American School of String Playing student will be able to play in most every American style, but also participate in the orchestra section at school, and to be able to write a portion of their music as well. This combination blows Suzuki out of the water for the 21st century. There is absolutely no doubt in my mind about it. For those who want to hang on to Suzuki, are hanging on to a relic. If they are adults that are insisting to hang on, they can do what they want to. But we are talking about children, and children everywhere deserve our best. Not the worst that we have.

I agree with you. I think what you are doing, is basically what I embrace. I have a few different approaches because I wish to accomplish some violin aesthetics; tone intonation, coordinating bowing and fingering, vibrato, posture, dynamics, string cross, portamento, shifting - are all tricky with the violin - but I have combined those large technical issues alongside of the work in creativity, stylistic diversity, improvisation, various grooves and feels, music of different eras etc in a holistic and organic way.

I think that you should host an O'Connor Teacher Training Seminar at Peabody that we can do for three days - and turn your local string teachers lose on this. It sounds like a perfect fit! Marin Alsop would endorse it. Here is a quote she just gave us for my new "The Improvised Violin Concerto" Thanks and look forward to getting together. MOC

“For audiences and aspiring young musicians, hearing a completely improvised concerto is a unique and inspiring opportunity. It is a wonderful concept brilliantly executed by the gifted Mark O'Connor.”

– Marin Alsop (Conductor, Music Director of the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, Principal Conductor of the São Paulo State Symphony Orchestra)

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·         Ron Malanga

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Ron Malanga

Music Teacher; Horizon School, Dubai and Music Education Pedagogy Specialist

Mark,

Everything Eric says I agree with, save one: certainly sometimes Gordon can wait a long while before offering a verb, and he writes with the specificity of a scientist, but he's never unreadable. It takes a new vocabulary sometimes to elucidate new ideas.

But boy-oh-boy do I concur fully with the results Eric outlines; all the modes, meters, tonal functions, rhythm functions, and skills, etc.

The sense that Gordon's work allows us to break ground in ear training feels so true,

Eric, come back to GIML!! This summer in Chicago I'm delivering a session and it would be so wonderful to meet you. You and I are peas in a pod, I suspect.

Lastly Mark, I'm going to give myself a day to think more deeply into your rainbow analogy. But what came to mind when I woke up this morning was how---as it relates to how the musical mind works--visible light and it's constituent spectrum is a kind of inverse of a sense of tonality and it's constituent tones.

Here's, vaguely at this point, what I'm thinking:

The whole (visible light) is made up--invisibly--of this 7-part spectrum, and we require a tool (a prism or light refraction through water droplets) for it's constituent elements to be revealed to us.

Musically, the whole (a sense of tonality), is the unheard/invisible element, made up of the visible/audible 7-part tonal elements, and we need a tool (Gordon's stages of Audiation) for it's totality to be revealed to us.

There's more there, too. I sense what you're on to with the blurred colors, the arpeggio and passing tone comparisons as they relate to creativity. My thoughts are still swirling on this.

In the meantime, I'd be honored if you would read the most controversial post on my blog, including the first set of comments. The post is called, 'Do NOT read this post.'

Some of what is percolating in my mind regarding your rainbows is alluded to in it.

With my deepest respects,

Ron 
mindmusclemusicmyth.blogspot.com

http://mindmusclemusicmyth.blogspot.ae/2010/11/do-not-read-this-post.html

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·         Mark O'Connor

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Mark O'Connor

The O'Connor Method

Ron, what can I say about your blog except that it is spot on. It is exactly what my Method is on the creative aspects. It is also who I am as an artist. Identifying the more important notes in a melodic shape as opposed to the incidental notes etc.. all the same as how I approach. I love the arpeggios in disguise - basically chord shapes... all much more musically holistic than any regimen of thinking, or practicing scales. 

I have a couple of things that you should know. I achieved one of the greatest technical standards on violin in our era, confirmed by many violinists and critics, and I never practiced scales on the violin. Never! I know the scales but I never practiced them. I am going to link a video for you so you can really see my ability at violin technique (and creativity because I wrote the caprices), But it is obvious that scales are not the answer to creativity, to composition to improvisation... But here is the "dirty" (swords drawn) info.... they are not necessary to violin pedagogy. They are not necessary for intonation - actually I make cases that intonation suffers because of practicing scales. I think one of my secrets to phrasing and rhythm is my ability to "pop" out notes that are the most important ones in every phrase I play. The very best Bach players can do this - but after years of contextually study of that music. I can do it on the fly. Give me any melody and phrase and I can articulate it in a way that makes musical sense - quickly. It was one of the reasons why I was the top session musician in the country for a while in the 1980s... I simply could take any simple strand of notes, and make it into something memorable. Other fiddlers or strings players might play the same notes, but not as memorable and far more academic. 

Your blog, much of it corresponds to my "Rainbow Chart" That is the secret of the rainbow that I discovered - about the musical creativity within the notes of a scale, something. I discovered these relationships to intervals in the rainbow. 

What this all means to me, and probably to you.. is that what we are talking about is innate. It is universal. People may not know how to teach it out there, they might no know how to learn it... but every single person responds to it... even if they don't know what they are responding to. 

I think it is the same impulse that makes accomplished musicians respond to other accomplished musicians in another style. We can hear on new levels. That is if they were not trained out of hearing on new levels by constantly practicing scales, and "scaling" their way out of being an intuitive creative artist. 

Here is another interesting fact. I am a multi instrumentalist. I began on guitar, and I was very good. Considered in some circles as a top guitarist. I played guitar in Stephane Grappelli's band if that gives you an idea! I also studied some piano. I intuitively created my own test lab, even as a 12 year-old kid. I had a sense about the mystique of music.. and would tell my mother of my musical vision as a child prodigy that I was. She knew what I was up to. I told my mom when I was 12 that I was going to make the violin 100% creative for me. Not practice technique. For guitar I was going to practice technique and scales 50% of the time - so half technique and half creative on guitar. And on piano it was going to be 100% technique and scales. On the piano I practiced all scales, all modes in octaves with both hands up and down the keyboard constantly. 

Result of my teenage experiment: I cannot play piano at all. I can compose for it because of my creative musical mind, but can't play anything. Guitar, I was good and I achieved my peak from ages 16 to 24 I would say, then I started slipping. Today, I don't play guitar at all, mainly from an old injury, but never cared to keep it up in the end even though was very good. The violin - is the center of my life, It opened up the secrets to life and to love for me.

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·         Mark O'Connor

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The O'Connor Method

Mark O'Connor Caprices #4 and #5 at Cleveland Institute of Music a couple of years ago. Joel Smirnoff the president and the dean of CIM were both in the audience.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e2ra2GQQvh0&list=PL7F9E7EEEF68A4B09

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·         Ron Malanga

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Ron Malanga

Music Teacher; Horizon School, Dubai and Music Education Pedagogy Specialist

Mark, 

You didn't need to send the link, I'd already found it and marveled at your staggering musicianship. 

I also love that you're a bit of a scientist too; guinea-pigging yourself through three curricular strands!! Too cool. And out of the wholly musical stream on violin comes your divine gifts to the rest of us; your artistry. 

I selfishly cringe to think of the loss had you followed the more traditional route. I'd never have had my heart cracked open by your Appalachian Waltz or delighted in the sheer dazzle of your Caprices. 

And, yes; it is innate, as in were all born with the potential to do it. (Precious few are born with YOUR degree of potential, but all have some.) Thankfully, how to truly utilize the mostly untapped potential the rest of us have is also teachable/learn-able. 

You, good sir, are practically the walking definition of INTUITION. What Gordon and others have done is to define the TUITION needed for the rest of us. No surprise, it looks a lot like your intuitions! I.E. Sing, improvise, teach yourself to play by ear, learn notation as 'icons that sing' not finger positioning instructions, hear through textures to discover harmonic functions, delineate them by popping those important tones, feel rhythm as internalized movement and flow (NOT COUNTING!), etc., etc!! 

It all just demands a patient understanding of the complex workings of the musical mind and then it is truly teachable. 

To be truly useful, teachers must first guide kids through the early childhood stages of "Preparatory Audiation" (Gordon's term for pre-contexualized musical thoughts). 

Then next they must be able to manage to keep 3 initially independent, but later interdependent musical plates spinning within each child: what Gordon calls Tonal Learning Sequence, Rhythm Learning Sequence, and Skill Learning Sequence. 

Later, add instruments and a taxonomy of harmonic patterns and improvisation begins to do the rest. It's complex, but doable. 

Teachers like Eric Rasmussen, Beth Bolton at Temple, Azzara & Grunow at Eastman, Cynthia Taggart at Michigan State, Jennifer Bailey in Farmington, Tom Spackman in Amsterdam, and many others do it every day. 

I'm so very pleased your method is going to help this literal renaissance that folks like those mentioned above are also part of. 

I can hear the apples tumbling off the carts already!! it's music to my ears. 

Ron 

P.S. Still mulling rainbows and analogues.

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Maureen Brady

Instrumental Music Teacher at School District of Philadelphia

It is important to know that the Suzuki philosophy of teaching is not a method. The Suzuki philosophy is to teach children in the same way they learn their native language through listening, repetition, aural association, and symbolic association. This is the same process a child learns how to read language. This approach is utilized with very young children, who do not read yet; preschool age. For traditional Suzuki teachers, note reading is introduced at the end of the first year. As a string teacher in the public schools, I have had much success with this approach with my young students. String concepts and techniques are the same whatever method book you use. Since children learn in many different ways, there is no one method book to achieve this. An excellent string teacher employs an eclectic stradegy to teaching; using many different approaches to achieve.

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·         Mark O'Connor

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The O'Connor Method

Maureen, we definitely don't need Suzuki's philosophy designed in Imperial Japan - in the 1930s. It is much better to update the philosophy for learning. It is brutal enough for Baroque music...we don't need it to ruin American music and everything else. It is a method with a philosophy. The method is not good and the philosophy is not good. The method and philosophy of learning that includes mimic-repeat-memorization-rote-non individuality-non-creative ear training is what we have had in violin for the last 50 years. In that time, the Suzuki philosophy has yielded less quality across the board. Nearly no top soloists, player-composers, improvisers, ensemble leaders, arrangers and nearly no new violin literature. In short, that "philosophy" is sucking the life out of the violin in classical music. It is time to move on from Suzuki's method and his philosophy and do something that will be better for the kids and better for the violin and string world. The violin over the last 50 years has struggled to maintain relevance in our life and culture. Suzuki's philosophy of learning has overseen this downfall. It will only get worse, the more we tie his philosophy to other music. It was flawed from the beginning because Suzuki himself was not an expert at music...He created what he thought was good for himself to learn as an 18 year-old beginner, and applied it to 3 year-olds. This was bad. he called it Talent Education, teaching himself to be "talented" at 18! It didn't work for himself as a player and it has had sobering results on the majority of 3 year-olds - most of them quitting at some point in their childhood. He in so many words, didn't know what he was doing. He was a product of marketing in America. There is no great music or musical movement than can be tied to his teaching. He proved that hundreds of thousands of 3 and 4 year-olds can learn to play the violin, and hundreds of thousands of 8,10 and 12 year-olds can quit the violin. It is not the right fit for America, for music, and certainly for the health and future of the classical violin.

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·         Mark O'Connor

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This weekend on NPR across the country - Mark O'Connor for an hour!

"Violinist is one of the most versatile fiddlers in music today: He seems equally at home playing bluegrass, country, jazz and classical. With its roots in Texas fiddling, O'Connor's music has shaped an entirely American school of string playing. His approach to teaching violin is considered a rival to the Suzuki method.

In this episode of Song Travels, O'Connor and host get together to explore American music — a journey which includes a performance of Fats Waller's "Ain't Misbehavin'" and O'Connor's elegant arrangements of traditional American pieces." -National Public Radio

http://www.npr.org/2013/07/05/199052458/mark-oconnor-on-song-travels?ft=1&f&utm_source=twitterfeed&utm_medium=twitter

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·         Mark O'Connor

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Adam, you posted this letter before! Your premise is off though my friend. You say that some prefer Coke or Pepsi etc... A 3 year-old or 5 year-old is not going to prefer one method over another necessarily, because they won't be in a position to choose. They will just quit all together perhaps or give in to doing it because their parents wants them to! A method has to be introduced to them by their teacher or parent. It is up to us, the leaders in the field to make sure that introduction of a methodology is sound. So by the time they get to age 10 or 12, they can begin choosing musical directions on their own. And that is a good thing.

As far as the inquiry into my Method, I am used to filling people in on it. I look at it as my job - to explain violin training and the American School that includes creativity as well as orchestra and how it is better than the current models out there. I supposed I would not have taken 10 years to author the method, taking time away from my work as a musical artist and often commissioned composers, just to produce a method that I didn't think was great. I don't why anyone would expect that I would do that....

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·         Mark O'Connor

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The O'Connor Method

Adam, I don't know what your issue is, but I have had good exchanges here on this very thread! A matter of fact I was so inspired by some our fellow colleagues that I may write a blog on what good exchanges we have had on this thread. I hope the critiques have been helpful and I hope the good information has been helpful. I have also substantiated things in the exchanges, especially in how there is a lot of overlap with the America School of String Playing and the most recent academic research on how children learn music... unfortunately for Suzuki, the research further makes the case against him and his methodology. But for my Method, it is great news that it is substantiated by the latest research - especially in the categories of rhythm and tonality as well as improvisation and creativity in early pedagogy. I have been making a case for rhythmic music in the beginning pedagogy for 30 years, and certainly in my books... 

So that has been great here. I am a little surprised that you keep bringing up my distributor as somehow not being supportive of me for some reason. Those comments were directed to the unfair verbal attacks against me here. You asked about my credibility and questioned it. Of the two of us, I am on NPR for an hour on stations across the country this very weekend featuring the O'Connor Method! I am invited to speak at educational events all the time. So you are going way too far on that. That is the type of abusive behavior that we can do without. This is the problem we have, and you are stooping to be in the center of that problem it looks like. Instead of you insulting the insulter (at the top of this thread) you are insulting the insulted. No one should be calling a colleague names here I believe, I certainly have not done that, and I have given plenty of compliments out even though I don't know most of these people's work personally. But you are doing that now. I wish you would re consider your latest remarks and delete them frankly. We can do better than that Adam. Onwards! Thanks.

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·         Mark O'Connor

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The O'Connor Method

Adam, the words "yet another unsubstantiated tirade and rant" as applied to my Suzuki Cult Blog contains an awful lot of substantiating from not only records/facts of history, but his own bios as well as quotes from Suzuki teachers talking about the existence of a cult and other Suzuki teachers' fears of the cult and how damaging it was personally to them. The end of the 2-part blog ends with John Kendall's own admission of a cult that was dangerous with Suzuki as its figurehead. His own writing of those words substantiate his early concern and later his looking the other way on it.

It was eery because Kendall wrote it in one of the editions of his 1966 book about Suzuki but deleted it in the other editions. I make a case for it that when money started coming in, it was probably not very good to have the President of the SAA out there talking about a cult of Suzuki when it comes to young children being involved. Seems reasonable. Pathetic and unfortunate position, but reasonable if you felt like you had to make the best of it. The researchers helped us towards this stuff. It was right under our nose this whole time. Like I said above, if it weren't for the fact that John Kendall, the proclaimed "evangelist" of the Suzuki Method by the New York Times in his obituary had not identified the cultism in the 1960s as it relates to Suzuki's following and being dangerous, then I probably would not have written that article, or at least that extensive of one. But I think it is a huge exclamation point. It goes to the point the article makes in that he could not have become successful with out his followers writing biographies full of lies about him under his direction, in order to market him. Because he had no music credentials to sell himself to Western academics.

Also John Kendall's videos that were posted above, were pretty amazing and substantiate a lot of what I had been saying in pedagogy. He obviously had a change of heart later in his life. Out of that 30 minutes of interview, he probably talks about Suzuki one-tenth of the time. Just with that, it tells you something. Especially when your interviewer is a Suzuki teacher! We are actually going to take one of those videos and transcribe what John said about how Suzuki was opposite of Waldorf. Opposite of creative thinking and learning in favor of technical and rote in the beginning years. I think that is a powerful message coming from him especially. So in some sense I welcomed this thread as Kendall substantiated my philosophy on music instruction. Also he talks about the introduction of rhythm for early pedagogy that he had not realized before until recently. That is something I have been touting since I was a kid actually. Kendall asked to see my first two books to review them, just before he passed away. He gave them two thumbs up.

Have you read the blog? "Was Suzuki Formulated by a Cult" Part I and Part II.http://markoconnorblog.blogspot.com/

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·         Mark O'Connor

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The O'Connor Method

Well, I was about ready to answer the umpteenth question from Adam tonight and he pulled all of his many posts. He must have posted 20 here that he deleted. So, I am not sure what that was about. I will just answer this other comments and paste it here instead.

Carl, we really don't need Suzuki to learn how to "solidly" walk on the violin, just like we don't need it for guitar, or for horn. There is nothing there that is worth holding on to, if Suzuki is just being considered for early child development. Research is out and it is strong. It points away from Suzuki's rote-repetition-memorization-ear training to a much more creative and holistic approach to music via rhythm, tonality, improvisation and I have fashioned it all through American music. This is the new foundation that string playing students must address if there will be a healthy string environment going forward. The Suzuki era has produced, almost NO top classical soloists, player-composers, arrangers, improvisers, and ensemble leaders. In short, it really has failed the violin and related string instruments. We need a much better start for kids today. That is why I authored the O'Connor Method. More information is here. Thanks.

http://www.oconnormethod.com/

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·         Mark O'Connor

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Mark O'Connor

The O'Connor Method

'Mark O'Connor is a true American genius. He is bringing to our culture our music, and he's doing it in a way that celebrates both the tradition and beauty of our heritage with the pedagogy that can teach our string players how to play this music in a technically sound and healthy way, in addition to the obvious importance of American string music in the grand historical tradition. He is an absolutely ground breaking artist and his commitment to defining what American music is, is absolutely essential to defining what is unique about our culture and what we need to instill in every American musician who plays a string instrument. His contributions as an artist, teacher, composer, pedagogue are incalculable and will be remembered for ages to come in American music.'

Dr. Robert Livingston Aldridge - Composer, Director of Music, Mason Gross School of the Arts, Rutgers University

http://twitpic.com/d1r01q

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·         Eric Rasmussen

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Eric Rasmussen

Founder at Rasmussen Music, LLC

#musiced #musedchat 
teaching harmonic functions to 1st and 2nd graders

Don't know what happened to him. Bummer. The dialogue needs to be had.

Mark and Ron (and anyone else), 
Here's a conversation I had in class this year with 1st and 2nd grade children about harmonic functions.

https://soundcloud.com/rizzrazz/1st-and-2nd-graders-talking

Take a listen and tell me what you think. 
This came about spontaneously one day as I veered away from the typical plan I had.

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·         Mark O'Connor

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Eric, I don't know why he took off and removed his post, but he just endorsed me at Linked in for "curriculum design" and "music education" so it appears that all of my posts here did pay off! Thanks, and I will take at look at your link soon!

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·         Ron Malanga

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Ron Malanga

Music Teacher; Horizon School, Dubai and Music Education Pedagogy Specialist

Eric, 

I love it!! 

Dude, so cool to have the young man early on say 'Major or Mixo!' and questionsl like, 'what about supertonic?' I don't think some folks in the education community would even believe this depth of listening is possible for kids this young, but I've had similar experiences. Then they come back to you a week later with some tune they've heard and are finding the same harmonic functions in; it's so edifying. 

And even when you said, "I've got you confused somehow' they probably mentally slipped into Dorian as you had just reiterated the ii chord then I then ii. Then they couldn't find their way back to major cruising through the secondary dominant-to-dominant. 

Heady stuff, and totally doable. So nice to hear the kids singing their way back into it towards the end. 

Wonderful.

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·         Mark O'Connor

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He guys! I would like to caution you just about one thing. So much talk of the "secondary dominant-to-dominant" is surely going to cause some diehard Suzuki teachers to believe that somehow you are encouraging further dominance in their obedience training! The "secondary" in obedience training being the teacher, and then to the dominant parent for the resolution?? Eegads no!

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·         Eric Rasmussen

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Harmonic functions to 1st graders, continued. #musedchat #musiced 
Thanks, Ron. I think so about Ed too. At least I'd hope so. 

Mark, 
I'm not totally clear about what you're saying. 

Let me see if I can fill in any misunderstandings about what I'm teaching. 

These guys already audiate V/7 of V in major (which I have named double dominant) from several songs: 
Jingle Bells - "in a one horse open sleigh" 
Workin' on the Railroad - "just to pass the time away" 
Take Me Out to the Ballgame - "I don't care if I ever get back" and "old ball" (game). 
and in several other songs 

So, we are naming tonic, dominant, subdominant functions only when they can recognize them by ear first and where they belong in a song. So when they distinguish among those three functions, we then can NAME double dominant, which is one of many secondary dominants. Double dominant is the specific function that is V7 of V. I don't use the term secondary dominants because they comprise a group of functions that have no specific meaning. I have taught (secondary dominants such as) V7/ii, V7/vi, but never from a theoretical explanation. Only through naming what it is that the students can already audiate. I also teach a string of functions (circle of 5ths, in theoretical terms) I named quadruple dominant, triple dominant, double dominant, dominant, tonic (as in the song, Five Foot Two, Eyes of Blue, Sweet Georgia Brown, and maybe a couple others.) 

Can you help me understand what you are cautioning me about? I'm curious as to your train of thought. Perhaps there's something else I should consider along this line. 

Just to be clear, I do not teach theory—as in names of notes and lines and spaces and note values or scales—to get this and ear training done. It is almost like teaching the alphabet to a child that does not speak his own language with full comprehension in order for him to better understand what is being said. The alphabet has no meaning. Neither does an A, or a quarter note. All of it must be inside a context such as a tonality (and it's harmonic functions), or a meter. The sound TU (to, too, two) doesn't mean anything until it's inside the context of a sentence. Then you know which of the three TUs it is. 

Scales can be useful technical exercises down the line, and knowing the names of notes and what the durations of notes look like is important, but not at the early stages, and not until children a well-versed in composition, improvisation, and certainly not until they are generalizing from and with the basic vocabulary of music—tonal, rhythmic and harmonic. 

Expression is another conversation for another day.

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·         Ron Malanga

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Ron Malanga

Music Teacher; Horizon School, Dubai and Music Education Pedagogy Specialist

Eric, I suspect Mark's tongue was far into his cheek when he wrote that last punning post!!

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·         Eric Rasmussen

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Eric Rasmussen

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Ron, I'm very literal, and obviously a tad gullible here. Tired doesn't help. After re-reading, I dare say you're right.

Mark, ignore my request to clarify. I caution you not ignore the rest of my post though. Suzuki, or Orff, or Kodaly, don't touch this!!

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·         Mark O'Connor

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Eric and Ron - I was using Ron's quote of harmonic terminology as a play on words to expose a weakness in Suzuki's heavy handed regimen of repetition and drills on every piece in their books for years. It was based from an antiquated way of training music students. So in my post, my pun started with the 2nd dominant-dominant reference in my thinking about Suzuki's antiquated "trilogy" of the learning unit - Teacher/Parent/Student - or in my spontaneous pun 2nd Dominant to Dominant to the Student in one heck of a WWII era Authentic (Japanese) Cadence. I know more pun...ouch! I am in a silly mood today perhaps!

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·         Eric Rasmussen

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Eric Rasmussen

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Watch this little guy play in 7/8 dorian. 
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KKHZAUmi_dM

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Eric, that is very cool, so very good. Just to give you an idea of how kids are responding to the O'Connor Method, here is a 6 year-old improvising! These possibilities are really starting to emerge in string educations if I can just get my Method to more studios and schools. The kids are going to really take off on it. He is improvising and playing with inherent rhythmic integrity and understanding. You can just see the little guy's mind think creatively in real time, not just think by rote memorization, but invent! So fantastic! So when are you signing us up to give some teacher training for string students at Peabody and BSO?? Eric! This is beautiful, and your work is too! It is the future of music ed in America!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=97jQWMLHDSc&list=FLdW_DfuKD0HA04X4GXifk7g&index=7

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·         Eric Rasmussen

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Eric Rasmussen

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That kid is sure swingin'! Very nice. 

RE: coming to Baltimore 
They, as in Peabody, haven't even let me do any training outside of my department! They're as backward as most higher level institutions regarding music education training. I will bring your name up with one boss of mine (at the BSO Orchkids program) whose ear I can bend a bit. The other is likely not to be receptive to anything new. He's in his first week as the dean and we have very "strong"—as in profitable— piano and string and guitar and ? Suzuki departments. Blecch!

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·         Mark O'Connor

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Eric, Profitable? Peabody is too serious of a music school for Suzuki certainly. Even teachers themselves claim that the majority of their students won't be in the profession. Sounds like a very odd fit. Of course Suzuki is profitable, but so is Kmart. That doesn't mean you have to bring a "less-than Method" into Curtis and Julliard and completely brand it as that to the exclusion of other approaches and ideas? Does not sound very educational. I have been staying with a teacher who has to teach a few students half Suzuki and half O'Connor still because of the parent. The first half of the lesson is excruciating. The student is in Suzuki 4. Just the worst God awful violin music ever created! Really! And then today for instance, they started working on playing El Rancho Grande from my Book II, and the teacher and students were playing a duet... the students sounded like another player it was so spirited and joyous. Her pitch was better, her rhythm. It was like walking in a dark room and switching the light on for her, and for me from the other room. And I am really trying to be not biased when I report that. Really! Maybe I could have a meeting with Peabody. They certainly know I am. I did a presentation and demonstration per their request about 10 years ago, before my Method was out. Here is a clip of that demonstration at Peabody!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zGqjUlfxGyo&list=PL30538F811506AE84

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·         Ron Malanga

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Ron Malanga

Music Teacher; Horizon School, Dubai and Music Education Pedagogy Specialist

This is--to me at least--one of the things we simply must accept. As much as we wish the cult of personality side of things would vanish under the weight of evidence (Gordon collected ample data in the late '60's for goodness sakes on how we learn, but change was not forthcoming, Suzuki's lack of artist productivity is evidence as well, but change is not forthcoming. What Eric's students and my students can do is evidence, but change still doesn't happen). 

The truth is people follow people, not data. That's why I'm so enthused about you, Mark, becoming curious about, and perhaps getting to know, Gordon's research. Your musicianship, methods, and fame combined with--and possibly tweaked over time in accordance with--Gordon's ideas could be a terrific boon for all of music education; not just strings. 

Cheers! --Ron

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·         Ron Malanga

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Ron Malanga

Music Teacher; Horizon School, Dubai and Music Education Pedagogy Specialist

So I'm politely suggesting that you be unabashed about using your fame to be that next personality we can form a cult around. It's just that the cult of O'Connor-ism will have some methods, not just madness!!

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·         Mark O'Connor

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The O'Connor Method

We are proud to announce a website that features the rich historical text and stories behind all of the American Classics repertoire contained in the O'Connor Method to date (three books). The website concentrates specifically on the classics and standard repertoire in what we are calling A New American School of String Playing!

Historical Text Researched and Authored by Mark O'Connor

http://americanstrings.blogspot.com/

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·         Mark O'Connor

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“This piece goes beyond "novel". It's utterly groundbreaking. We're so used to the idea of a concerto part being written out for the soloist, but here the soloist's musicality is tested to the utmost with a totally improvised part. In fact, without a total reworking of the music education system - the way Mark has not only advocated but actually put into practice, including an emphasis on the lost art of improvisation - a concerto like this is totally unplayable by the vast majority of conservatory grads.”

– Paul Haas (Conductor/Composer, Music Director of the Symphony of Northwest Arkansas, founder/Artistic Director of Sympho)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ntC6lSBeYZs&list=PL7D4C78D6C024C1D7

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The O'Connor Method

1. Points of Creativity

For The O'Connor Method Book One 
(solo violin, viola, cello and orchestra books inclusive)

1. American Song Structures

1. Musical Variation

1. Playing Other Parts Of The Music: (Experiential Variety)

1. Voicing - Counterpoint

1. Textural Variation

1. Rhythmic Feel And Groove

1. Tuning Your Notes To Chords

1. Variety: Keys - Tonalities

1. Theoretical Knowledge

1. American Musical Language - Mother Tongue

1. Many American Styles

1. Music of Different Eras

1. Musical Histories

1. Diversity & American Democracy

1. Find Your Expression

1. Context: Formal And Informal Settings

1. Bridging Solo & Ensemble Repertoire

1. Multi-faceted Mentoring

1. Visual Stimulation (Layout And Mapping)

1. Going Green

Suzuki's "mother tongue" or many of his other philosophies of teaching is not going to be of much use in the O'Connor "Book I" because there are several other and more important principles of early music education and pedagogy employed. For a description of each point, may I refer to my full essay on 20 Points of Creativity below. Thank you!

http://markoconnor.com/index.php?page=about&family=method&category=08--20_Points_of_Creativity

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·         Ron Malanga

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Ron Malanga

Music Teacher; Horizon School, Dubai and Music Education Pedagogy Specialist

To any dispassionate viewer that reveals quite a bit regarding Suzuki's musicianship. But for me you've hit on something so much larger and more important than Suzuki himself. 

Specifically, Mark, when you speak of the ear training required to play-out of self-created holes, I feel that that idea should positively SCREAM to any honest, traditionally-taught music educator. 

Many among us NEVER had--in any part of our formal education--the opportunity to improvise (poorly initially), and then subsequently be taught how to use "creativity, improvisation, ad lib, tune writing, variation, modulation, altered idea(s), episodic run(s), etc," 

While many learn informally how to do this by jamming on their own and in garage-bands, the vast majority of us classically-trained teachers simply worked our tails off to bash music (that was over our heads) into our hands by borrowing the ears of the professors we so wished to impress. 

The ear training of which you speak is virtually non-existent in classical training. The musically dangerous (and therefore much more educationally compelling) 'take this progression, loop it, and improvise over it come-what-may' kind of thing that the 6-year old C.J. is doing in your earlier video simply doesn't happen. 

Instead ear training is safer; much more static. It's more 'identify this inversion,' or write this progression in 4-parts with no parallel octaves or fifths,' etc. It's not living discovery through music, it's paralysis-by-analysis. 

Which brings us, of course to what you, Gordon, Grunow, & others are trying to do. What Paul Haas said so plainly, "...a total reworking of the music education system...including an emphasis on the lost art of improvisation...” 

So while I enthusiastically applaud you, please do keep your flame-retardant' suit nearby!! Because sadly you're going to suffer obloquy from many thoughtless persons and many 'leaders' who stand to lose their boat payments, should their ineffectuality be revealed. 

There's a line in the movie Moneyball that goes, "The first one through the wall always gets bloodied. Always. Every time." 

I've read about your past. You've dealt with worse. So you lead; we'll follow. 

Besides, I hate blood. 

Cheers, Ron

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·         Mark O'Connor

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"Hi! I write this message from Chihuahua Mexico to thank and congratulate him on his teaching method.

I am a music teacher and I created a children's musical initiation center called Tamborela and study their methods. Children are very happy learning to play violin and cello with his compositions. This year we will begin with conductor material and are eager to begin studying-

Beautiful Skies is a beautiful item and children love playing that song. We'd love to aisitir to training for teachers and would like to know where I can see the course information for teachers.

Music education in Mexico is going through an important process and I am glad that the children of this new century can be inspired by his method.

I send my sincere greetings and all my admiration. With love Yahaira Meraz"

(And does Yahaira know that we have "Jessie Polka" in the Method Book III - written in Chihuahua, Mexico? It's true!)

http://americanstrings.blogspot.com/2012/01/jessie-polka.html

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·         Mark O'Connor

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Let's hear Suzuki on his teaching, playing an ad lib performance here in this video. The still picture also linked below, makes it obvious that this was a training session for string teachers! The effort for Suzuki to try to remember two different phrases of Jingle Bells for his pun, fell flat both times, not being able to recall the notes from his own memorization-ear training/mother tongue philosophy that he was so proud of. But while that approach obviously fails him on these popular phrases he had in his head, he could not get the notes from his head to the fingers either time of Jingle Bells! And he stops much like a child has to stop mid phrase each time, when stumped. He doesn't have the proper ear training that musicians require in order to play himself out of the hole he dug for himself, either through creativity, improvisation, ad lib, tune writing, variation, modulation, altered idea, episodic run etc..., and at the very least, cover up the fact that he forgot the well-known melody from the very country where he was creating the pun.

A good musician could fake it - throw in a double stop, a broken arpeggio - anything - pretend you are a musician! Folks, this is not musicianship or artistry. We have been led by the wrong guy for the last 50 years, to aid us into great violin playing through pedagogy in the 20th and 21st century with these very same learning principles for children. Our string culture really needs to elevate considerably, rather than going backwards like we have in the last 50 years, in order for us to compete with the other instrument groups and stay relevant in America! Suzuki didn't know a thing about American music, actually this video represents perhaps the totality of his American music output! Two badly played phrases of Jingle Bells.

(One Suzuki supporter actually wrote to me and said of this video, that Suzuki routinely made mistakes on purpose, just so the kids could think that he was human...or something to that effect!" --- mistakes on purpose - for children!" It is all beyond the pale).

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lnWv3pnRykIhttp://twitpic.com/ci0lpe

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·         Mark O'Connor

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As plainly illustrated in the video, Suzuki is not a creative player or person, therefore his method leaves out creativity as a principle of learning and an essential element of great teaching. Since he authored a method (not just simply a teacher) the standard he is held to is much higher than a single teacher. He authored musical creativity right out of his methodology. And we have paid the price. 

Memorization-Ear Training and Repetition 

1. Memorization is not a musical talent. 

2. Memorization-Ear Training is not as important of a musical process as it was thought to be. Proper Ear Training involves the ability to listen and interpret intervals, chords, rhythm and musical style by using one’s ears, not just one’s memory. 

A Case For A New American School Of String Playing The Trajectory of Violin And Strings Compared To Other Instruments Over The Last 50 Years 

1. Guitar (the guitar has risen to be one of the most popular instruments in the country) 
2. Brass (because of Marching Band and Jazz Bands in schools, they have overtaken strings in popularity) 
3. Percussion (there are more percussion concertos written and performed today than new cello concertos) 
4. Winds (Concert Band has overtaken the symphony orchestra in most high schools and universities) 
5. Keyboards (because of the advent of modern keyboards and synthesizers, their accessibility to composition and popular music as well as the good number of classical music soloists, they have pulled ahead of strings in importance)

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Confessions of a Former Suzuki Teacher by Pamela Wiley

"Confession #1. I don’t miss “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star.” The comparative benefits of using “Boil ‘em Cabbage Down” as a first tune are undeniable – no string crosses, starting in the middle of the hand, small intervals, simple structure, strong harmonic movement. The kids love it and find it very easy to learn. Why “Twinkle” then? I think probably the opening interval of the fifth made the tune appear to be an obvious choice for a first tune on the violin – getting the first two notes for free. However, the rest of the piece is problematic on several levels. After forty years of starting students on “Twinkle” and fours years of starting them on “Cabbage” and comparing the difference, I am now convinced that using “Boil ‘em Cabbage Down” with C# as the center of the tune, the center of the hand and the center of the A Major chord lays a more solid musical and technical foundation from the very beginning. The tune moves in half and whole steps from and back to C# establishing the important smaller intervals and the important improvising concept of upper and lower neighbors. And starting on the A string alone helps so much with establishing good bow balancing from the very beginning. The fifth can come later. And it quickly does – beautifully opening up the violin to the E string in “Beautiful Skies,” the very next tune."

Read the rest of the article here by the lead teacher trainer and editor of the O'Connor Method, the former director of the Pennsylvania Suzuki Institute and the current director of the upcoming O'Connor Method Camp in Charleston in two weeks:

http://markoconnorblog.blogspot.com/2013/05/confessions-of-former-suzuki-teacher-by.html

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·         Mark O'Connor

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Japanese children taking the O'Connor Method. Tsukuba School, Japan. C. Coleman. Students perform Appalachia Waltz.

http://twitpic.com/d2cdhb

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I am heading out to a campground today in the Redwoods. I hope all of you have a peaceful Sunday.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7zsq2Qtue18&list=PL30538F811506AE84

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Twinkle Twinkle Little Star as a starting tune for beginning violin has many problems. That is why Boil 'em Cabbage Down, the beginning tune in the O'Connor is much, much better. The issues: Twinkle is too long of a form for kids to master. It simply takes too long to learn and the music becomes a laborious process right from the very beginning. By contrast, Cabbage has just one part. The string-cross is one of the hardest techniques to acquire in the beginning and Twinkle is saddled with them throughout as Suzuki's first tune. I pick up the string-cross on my 2nd tune in the lyrical Beautiful Skies where I introduce the string-cross from open string to open string within the melody. Cabbage stays on one string throughout the tune - the A string. Spending a lot of time on the A string in the beginning as I call for on Cabbage, balances the bow arm and frames the body for proper position. Too much time on the E string in the beginning can bring in issues of a lower and collapsed bow arm as well as getting a thin and tinny sound in the child's ear. Cabbages only uses 1/2 of the A scale, while my 2nd tune Beautiful Skies fully reveals the full A major scale within its melodic structure.

Cabbage unlike Twinkle, has clear harmonic movement with each note of the tune to a specific chord. Twinkle's melody meanders around quite a bit and not even adults are sure what chord each part of the melody is in. Another benefit of Cabbage is that the tune starts with the tallest finger (the 2nd finger) and this sets up the hand position and frames the hand on the violin at the beginning of the tune during the actual set up for the tune. Twinkle starts on open strings and the hand can be out of shape and frame during the set up and opening notes and often is. Problematic for young children. There is nothing like starting "correctly" even for professionals.

Also Cabbage is hoedown - a rhythmic tune. Twinkle is a lyrical tune. But what are the first variations that children learn in music? Rhythmic variations. That's right. So it is much more holistic and artistic to apply rhythmic variations to a rhythmic tune. Yes technically one can apply rhythmic variations to anything, like Amazing Grace - but why would one want to? There is no good reason to. That is why rhythmic variations to Twinkle sound "academic" and rhythmic variations to Cabbage sound more musical because it is artistically connected to the material. The rhythmic variations that I feature for beginners are the same types of rhythmic variations I would play on stage in Cabbage. (Suzuki was not a good musician, he would not have known this)

Also, the thing that allows Cabbage to be a better beginning tune creatively than Twinkle is that it allows even beginners to think of music from the standpoint of improvisation, not just by rote. Cabbage allows for improvisational ideas to take place much more easily for a beginner. I feature creativity in my Method, not just learning by mimicking-rote-repetition-memorization like Suzuki does. I want children to some ownership of their music.

In addition to that "Boil 'em Cabbage Down" is an American classic, it is an African American hoedown from 400 years ago, so the history is rich. The hoedown is attractive to all children out of the box. The hoedown acts as great inspiration for American Classical music as well as Rock 'n' Roll and Hip Hop, so the cultural relevance is on full display. It is also a professional tune and is being played on stage somewhere by pros today I am quite sure. I loved doing a version with the great trumpeter Wynton Marsalis at a jazz festival in France. The video of that can be seen right here - linked.

In sum, Cabbage hands down blows Twinkle out of the water as a first tune for learning violin and strings, and is featured in the New School of American String Playing! Enjoy!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fyt646v4hxA&list=SPA0EE51DABBF63E4D

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·         Mark O'Connor

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My spiritual music for you on this wondrous day. From Orchestra Book II (for Junior High and High School string orchestra programs.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1x2l_6lQhp0&list=PL30538F811506AE84

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·         Mark O'Connor

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The O'Connor Method

Finally to the John Kendall Interview posted at the beginning of this thread. I largely agree with Kendall on what he has to say about Suzuki. We transcribed the pertinent part of this video clip here. Thanks, MOC

* "When Paul Rolland was active in teaching, I was a good friend of his in the early days. We were both in Illinois, and he of course was working on his own systematic approach to pedagogy and died unfortunately when he was relatively a young person. And some of his [Paul Rolland's] disciples thought well this is a good chance to integrate, so they give workshops on Suzuki, Paul Rolland and Orff and try to pull all of those three together... or Kodaly or something. And I watched it for a while, and I asked myself...at their age how could they be trained in both those methods of Rolland and Suzuki? I found out that they would mostly just do one or the other and introduce a couple of ideas. I talked to some of them and asked them why do you feel do you have to integrate those? Why can't they be each one creating its own ambiance as it goes along?

If you accept certain presumptions about Suzuki, then there are things of Paul Rolland's that won't work in that setting and vice versa. Especially having to do with the selection of literature in relation to the technical aspects. You can't do daka daka da da and use it on Paul Rolland's pieces because they don't work on that. They weren't intended to. He was intending to use this kind of approach (bows smoothly), which has its on validity. But you can't play Twinkle, Twinkle with that kind of a stroke and make it come out right. So I have tried to persuade the teachers who were doing that, go ahead and do your own thing. If you find something that integrates, then use it but be careful you are not starting the student on two entirely different approaches to bowing for example. It is just going to get him mixed up. Later on you can do any kind of bowing...flexible. You can introduce methods from the most divergent. But in the early stages, it seems to me that stepwise, building has to be done with certain building blocks at first. But Paul and I used to discuss that, one of his students went out and just had a terrible time and was trying to teach Suzuki. He said why do the Suzuki people have to be so clannish and so just, doing their own thing? He says why can't they be eclectic? I think part of the answer was that they could be eclectic but they wouldn't have much validity in either, they would have a foot in both camps and wouldn't be able to clarify as they went along. And that student eventually had to quit the job because the parents said that this is not Suzuki. And the parents were right, but what the problem was they were trying to label things, not just do things the way they want to. I thought that teachers should teach they way they want to, but not try to inject some other thing onto it to make it sound respectable.

I had a symphony player from St. Louis come over one time and said I want to start a Suzuki program in St. Louis, and I just want to get your ideas about how I should start the program. I am going to use [other method books], I won't have any records, I won't have the parents come to the lessons because they just get in the way. I won't let the student listen to any recordings. I said, why do you want to call it a Suzuki Method? Those are all principles of the Suzuki... Well, that is what the parents are asking for -- Suzuki. I said, you go ahead a do it but you are going to run into dissatisfaction when the parents realize you are not teaching what you set out to do. Why don't you are start a Jones Violin School for young violinists and teach any way you want to. But you don't need to use the Suzuki name just to make it respectable. So he did that actually, he didn't use Suzuki."

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LSl44LuenF8

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·         Mark O'Connor

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Mark O'Connor

The O'Connor Method

Note: We could not agree more with John Kendall as he speaks about the Suzuki Method with much more objectivity later in his life. He describes the issues of blending other methods and principles into Suzuki and how that is not advisable and problematic for students. We agree that Suzuki is something very specific and it cannot grow outwards to assimilate other methodologies to make a new kind of logical pedagogy. Suzuki is tied to its original principles and its literature. -A New American School of String Playing, The O'Connor Method

Note: It would be impossible for Shinichi Suzuki to have included "improv, creativity, etc" in his own Method as he was not a creative musician, could not improvise, etc. He would not have been able to author something in pedagogy that he himself didn't do nor understand. As evidenced here in this video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lnWv3pnRykI

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·         Matthew Weiss

Matthew Weiss

Concertmaster/President of Octava Chamber Orchestra

Hi Everyone,

I just joined this thread...looks like a similar conversation that is going on elsewhere on LinkedIn :)

I captured some of it here in my own blog:

http://matthewcweiss.wordpress.com/2013/07/20/and-now-a-word-from-our-sponsor/

---Matt

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·         Benjamin Smeall

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Benjamin Smeall

wedding and mariachi violinist, music teacher, songwriter, Spanish/English translation and interpretation

Does the Mark O'Connor method have any systematic study of improvisation for young and beginning strings students? What I have discovered through years of teaching is that improvisation is something that is also best taught from the very beginning.

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·         Matthew Weiss

Matthew Weiss

Concertmaster/President of Octava Chamber Orchestra

"With ALL my respects to every member: 

I recently joined this group........and now I see that the same Discussion is going 

on at the Chamber Music Group...........with other members and M. O Connor...... 

Is this all necessary..........and why did Mrs. Freeman bring this topic also here? 

It is Obvious I am from Holland ..........for me too much to understand ..... 

why is M. O Connor so important to kind of fight against ??????? 

Good luck to ALL of you....................sincerely , Caroline" 


---Caroline Vriesendorp 


It's all part of Mark's marketing strategy. He is going the route of "all publicity is good publicity" apparently. His actions indicate that he has no problem offending as many people as possible so long as more and more people hear about the great Mark O'Connor and his method books :) 

---Matt

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·         Mark O'Connor

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Mark O'Connor

The O'Connor Method

Benjamin, yes. Creativity should be from the beginning with young students and that is where Suzuki got it wrong with his rote-repetition-memorization-ear-training method. The material is all wrong for creativity. It is an all technical approach that does not serve the violin world. And we have paid the price for it.

Incredible press on the Method to date! This is a lot more than you can say for Suzuki's mainstream press.

With regard to Mathew Weiss who has been following me around the internet like an obsessed weirdo, he follows me here! Maybe it is just jealousy...We find that everywhere on the internet. It is a shame. He keeps saying that Suzuki is a better classical violinist that I am! It is laughable! But as far as a contest between who can play better classical violin, Suzuki or myself? That is going to be a lopsided score in my favor. I could work up the Tchaik or others - take a few months off and perform it. Suzuki could never do that in a million years! Because of his lack of violin technique. Some people have wanted me to do the Bach partitas as a performer etc. But I made a decision to just perform my own works when I launched my solo career 25 years ago. Not that I don't love Beethoven, my favorite composer, but it is not in my interest to perform it. All agree around me these days, my time is much better spent developing new repertoire for violin, for orchestra, for chamber music, performing my existing repertoire and authoring the Method with the American School of String Playing track.

He keeps mentioning the European composers! They are not in the American School of String Playing obviously. But violin technique is violin technique. If you can read, play in tune, bow up and down with good sound and move your fingers, you will get into your middle school orchestra and the child can take it from there where they want to. If they want to follow in the orchestra direction. They they can get 6 years of conservatory training and 2 degrees, and try their hand at auditions for a major orchestra in order to have a performing career. These same auditions that Mr. Weiss never won with his own Suzuki violin training. He lives in Seattle, but of course does not play with the Seattle Symphony. If these students want to do an American ensemble approach, then that is also there for them. But the current system of Suzuki training is broken. It just has not worked. The strings have been in a greater deficit than ever before during the last 50 years and that lies at the feet of Suzuki and his pedagogy and training of violin players not to be creative musicians. And then on top of it, it produces stuck in the mud attitudes of Weiss.

http://www.oconnormethod.com/News.html

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·         Mark O'Connor

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Mark O'Connor

The O'Connor Method

Since my ability is questioned by a teacher on the thread - here is a nice look at my triple concerto! Enjoy!

'March of the Gypsy Fiddler' (III) Ahn Trio, Composed by Mark O'Connor for Pro Musica Orch

"I'm usually pretty snobbish about my classical music, not really liking much from the 20th century onwards, but this is a wonderful piece! I really enjoy it very much."


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vJRFZy1e8-0&list=PL7D4C78D6C024C1D7

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·         Adam Crane

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Adam Crane

Author: "The Quest for String Playing Mastery", Artistic Director: Crane Classical Music Society

Years ago, a good friend who works as an ombudsman at a respected university suggested that there are valid reasons for placing a termination of interaction time-frame on heated debates. 
When further exchanges prove to overshadow a collective goal of closure, then what results is a prolongation and escalation of negative spiraling and violations of common respect. 
Many have suggested that it is time to put a 'silence' to this thread and to agree to disagree. 

To make it simple, a quick vote may help. 
# 1 = Cease the Conflict and replace with Peace (private message any further discussion) 
# 2 = Continue to obliterate the message of music being a positive vehicle of communication 

My vote is #1

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·         Benjamin Smeall

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Benjamin Smeall

wedding and mariachi violinist, music teacher, songwriter, Spanish/English translation and interpretation

It is wonderful to get a personal response from the great Mark O'Connor. I saw you perform live with Stephane Grapelli and Dave Grisman at a concert in the Berklee College of Music performance center in 1978, and I also own the LP that was made from that concert. Mr. O'Connor, you played the guitar, not the violin in that concert.

How does your method specifically address the teaching of creativity and improvisation, especially for many teachers who have been deprived of such training in their formative undergraduate years in the college, university, or conservatory?

Here is a link showing some of my blues-rock-latin fiddle playing.

I invite you to watch a video of our version of "Work Song" by Nate Adderley. The coda is an original song, "The Treasure/El Tesoro", in English and Spanish, by Benjamin Smeall. Vocals, violin, guitars, and bass by Benjamin Smeall. Vocals and drums by Arthur Smeall. Vocals by Joseph Smeall.

Les invito mirar a un video de nuestra versión de "Work Song" por Nate Adderley. La coda es una original bilingüe, "The Treasure/El Tesoro", por Benjamín Smeall. Vocales, violín, guitarras, y bajo por Benjamín Smeall. Vocales y batería por Arturo Gabriel Smeall. Vocales por Joseph Germán Smeall.

Here's the link: Aquí está el enlace:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8yCDikE2FLk


Hope you enjoy watching! Espero que les gusten nuestros esfuerzos musicales.


---Benjamín

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·         Mark O'Connor

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Mark O'Connor

The O'Connor Method

I attended a wonderful speech on music education by the dean of music at University of Miami. It was exceptional. Paraphrasing, he said that the "technical" training that Japan developed in the 1960s was copied by us in America, but it was not good for Japan and it wasn't good for us. He held his arms outstretched and said on one hand is the technical training part of music, and on the other is the hope, love, intention, aspiration, communicative... etc etc part of music. He said children must have the latter and it is only achieved through musical creativity in the young ages. He mentioned a bare bones elementary school where the university adopted it for their musical project last year. They have masters students come in three days a week with instruments and teach music. The music component is the only thing that has changed in the last year at the school and that school went from a D school to an A school he said!

They teach my Method in that school! The speaker's name today was dean Shelly Berg, jazz pianist. There were grown men visible moved to tears with these stories. It was a great day for music in the school advocacy!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D4OoTv1VZ28&list=PL30538F811506AE84

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·         Matthew Weiss

Matthew Weiss

Concertmaster/President of Octava Chamber Orchestra

Hi Everyone, 

I believe we hit a milestone on another LinkedIn thread yesterday that would explain why music from the standard classical music repertoire is absent from The Mark O'Connor Method: 

Mark himself has very little training/exposure to classical music and cannot play it himself! 

Though he is an absolute whiz at playing his own compositions (some even refer to Mark as "genius" in this category), and he has the technical capabilities on par with classical concert violinists, he has not put in the time that is required to develop a deep understanding of the classical music genre, which is what is required in order to play the following composer's works at level of a professional orchestral player or concert artist: 

Bach 
Mozart 
Beethoven 
Brahms 
Schumman 
Vivaldi 
Corelli 
etc. 

The Suzuki Method is designed to teach children how to play Classical Music from a very early age. 

The Mark O'Connor Method is designed to teach kids how to play Fiddle, Folk, Americana, and Mark O'Connor originals. 

Mark's assault on the Suzuki method is like a guy with a home-made ultralight airplane who writes treatises on how much better his airplane is than the Ford Motor Company's entire line of cars. His airplane has a superior rate of climb, glide ratio, short field takeoff, and so on. Meanwhile, Ford representatives and enthusiasts point out that his ultralight really doesn't taxi very well and at least needs some brake lights, turn signals, and seat belts before it will be allowed on city streets :) 

---Matt

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·         Ron Malanga

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Ron Malanga

Music Teacher; Horizon School, Dubai and Music Education Pedagogy Specialist

Matt, 

You're making a fool of yourself. Just stop.

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·         Matthew Weiss

Matthew Weiss

Concertmaster/President of Octava Chamber Orchestra

@Ron ?

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·         Matthew Weiss

Matthew Weiss

Concertmaster/President of Octava Chamber Orchestra

Hi Caroline, 

This thread is about Mark O'Connor's tirade against the Suzuki Method which is not a fun subject for any of us. 

If people do not provide a response to Mark's posts, then it quickly becomes another one of his extended infomercials. 

Sorry this is upsetting you so---when I've had enough I just unsubscribe for a few weeks. 

---Matt

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·         Ron Malanga

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Ron Malanga

Music Teacher; Horizon School, Dubai and Music Education Pedagogy Specialist

Correct, Caroline. It is sad. Civility, rational analysis, and intelligent argument seem to give way to personal attacks when someone feels their 'turf' is being threatened. It's the basest form of territorialism. It's ape-like. And childish. And just sad.

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·         Matthew Weiss

Matthew Weiss

Concertmaster/President of Octava Chamber Orchestra

Hi Caroline, 

Thanks for all your comments here and elsewhere...and the tea :) 

---Matt

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·         Matthew Weiss

Matthew Weiss

Concertmaster/President of Octava Chamber Orchestra

Hi Ron, 

The Suzuki teachers, students, and supporters really are the victims of all of this. Due to Mark's star-power, people are initially apt to buy all his attacks on a method that really works great and has had all the kinks worked out of it a long time ago. 

I do acknowledge that Mark is a fantastic player and composer within his own genre and that is all fine. 

What is not fine is all this other stuff that goes on and on unchecked---especially since kids and their families are involved. 

---Matt

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·         Adam Crane

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Adam Crane

Author: "The Quest for String Playing Mastery", Artistic Director: Crane Classical Music Society

“Music training from preschool to postsecondary education is common in most nations because involvement in music is considered a fundamental component of human behavior. Music, like language, is an accomplishment that distinguishes us as humans.” from “Understanding Music” - Yudkin, J. on (Wikipedia) 

Music students learn from reading post and witnessing the behavior displayed by teachers in online public groups. Music educator’s groups should stand as a testament to the art of our craft. 

Further public discord damages the message and gives fuel to why administrators do not deal with temperamental artists. Negative peripheral results then include: removal of music in curriculum, down-sizing disbanding programs, lost jobs, lost purpose. 

This method war” endless fermata, tri-tone of cacophony” needs resolution, via complete termination of public argument. 

Who has a great new thread idea? I put up a funny brass band multi-tasker video, hoping to lighten the mood. It does show true cooperation in the arts. How about innovative positive new postings? 

Peace is a behavior. Music should be the vehicle that projects this harmony, con brio!

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·         Matthew Weiss

Matthew Weiss

Concertmaster/President of Octava Chamber Orchestra

Hi Adam, 

I think locking down this thread is a great idea! Does anyone know how to contact the administrator to get that to happen? 

---Matt

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·         Matthew Weiss

Matthew Weiss

Concertmaster/President of Octava Chamber Orchestra

Hi Everyone,

It's looking like some people are really taking offense to my idea of Mark not being able to play classical repertoire, so I may need to apologize for going to that extreme.

Instead, I do want to address the notion that Suzuki student are supposedly robots, can't improvise, and so on which is nonsense. I am a product of the Suzuki Method and can provide many counter-examples with my own performances of music from many genres, including a couple of Jazz standards and a well-known Latin tune.

If you'd like to hear what a grown-up Suzuki student can do, please go here:

https://soundcloud.com/shalin327

All the best to everyone!

---Matt

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·         Mark O'Connor

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Mark O'Connor

The O'Connor Method

What I am asking is for Mathew Weiss to quit writing me and targeting me on line, lying about my music, ability and method. He has targeted me, singling me out as an individual giving me verbal attacks and with intimidation for the better part of a year now. I have not done that to anyone. He seems obsessed with me, while at the same time he seems to really like what I do, he belittles, insults and lies continually. I would like for him to please leave me alone. I should not have to leave Linkedin because of an online bully that is left here to have free reign with no monitoring from adm. Before he came on, these two threads about me and about the Method were both considerable and long. So there is interest here in what I have to say and certainly in my Method. I should not have to leave because of a bully, targeting individuals. I will be speaking with my attorney about the bullying, intimidation and libel by him. There could be some serious issues here.

Once again, it is impossible for me to commit slander and libel to a deceased person or a corporation. (Suzuki and the SAA)

The things that are said about myself here, are designed to hurt me, my reputation and my brand - and that potentially means a loss in income. If Mathew Weiss keeps it up, there could be calculated damages accessed. At the very least, he will have to retain a lawyer on libel accusation and the expenses will add up while the lawyers see what kind of damages this has caused turning away teachers from my products. I have asked him to stop many times, and there are witnesses to that here. All I can say once again, is this the "beautiful heart" of a Suzuki teacher that they claim to have? The "good citizen" they brag about creating? You have to shake your head.

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·         http://s.c.lnkd.licdn.com/scds/common/u/images/themes/katy/ghosts/person/ghost_person_60x60_v1.png

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Janet F. Soller

Sr. Director, Communications, Research & Development at Alpha Major

Mark, 
When you go to your attorney, be sure to include our thread, where you accused me of lying and called me a cult member, based on your "assumptions" about me, your word not mine. 

This discussion should be removed by the manager as it is neither productive nor professional.

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·         Benjamin Smeall

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Benjamin Smeall

wedding and mariachi violinist, music teacher, songwriter, Spanish/English translation and interpretation

Mark O'Connor is obviously a great virtuosos in either the fiddling or violin fields. He has performed with YoYo Ma, etc. and composed bluegrass variations on Vivaldi's "the four seasons". An attack on his superior musicianship only invalidates the argument of the attacker. What is in the best interests of the students we serve, is to make a fair and valid comparison between all the different methods of teaching music.

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·         Mark O'Connor

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Mark O'Connor

The O'Connor Method

Janet, that is completely different. I am not targeting you to ruin your product! That was phrased as a question and it was in a dialogue once, and tongue in cheek. This particular libel committed on my by Suzuki representatives like Mathew Weiss is repeated attacks on my ability, playing, character etc... any lawyers would see it as libel I believe. We'll will find out. Thanks.

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·         Mark O'Connor

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Mark O'Connor

The O'Connor Method

Caroline, I don't believe you know my character. This is my motto, never let the bullies win. I was bullied in junior school for all kinds of things, mainly being the violinist nerd, and it went beyond the name calling, where once a group of kids attacked me at school and put me in the hospital with a damaged leg that required a cast for two months. Online bullying should not be tolerated. I came on to the forum here answering yet another attack from Suzuki people. Once again, I am an artist, a musician, an author... I have every write to criticize a violin method that is not very good, and its author who lied about most everything to get ahead and to sell his method to the West. This is relevant to what I do. Someone coming here to attack my character is not relevant, and to attack my playing ability is also not relevant. I have not asked any of you, how good of players you are. What if I demanded to see how each of you played before you communicate with me? See, it would not be relevant. This thread is about a violin methods and education, not to see who is the best player and composer here. I doubt any of you would want to compete with me on those two levels anyway. So thanks!

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·         Mark O'Connor

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Mark O'Connor

The O'Connor Method

Benjamin, thanks for the nice message. It is great to get your posts, a nice breath of fresh air here!

And Ron, thanks for pointing the obvious out for Mathew Weiss. He looks very small attacking a multi-Grammy winning musician and composer. It is pathetic stuff from the Suzuki diehards once again. Astonishing.

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·         Adam Crane

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Adam Crane

Author: "The Quest for String Playing Mastery", Artistic Director: Crane Classical Music Society

Mark, in reference to you suggesting anyone of you (us, I guess) to play in order for their opinion to be validated. Let's bring about positive results from all of this dissonance.
I accept the challenge to perform without the hint of reservation, that is if you want to join me.
Violin and viola repertoire is fantastic! What do you want to try? Handel-Halvorsen Passagaclia? Mozart G major? And then guess what, I am more than happy to improvise as an encore! So if that is what it will take for "my opinion (to cease the fight and stop public destruction of peace and further taint to our collective profession) then when are you in the Atlanta area next? Maybe we can do it as a fundraiser for music in schools. Wonder how much we can raise doing positive performing. Perhaps something good come out of all of this. But there is one stipulation, the method war become officially over.

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·         Mark O'Connor

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Mark O'Connor

The O'Connor Method

Adam, I didn't suggest that, I was saying how ridiculous it would be. Besides I play many places and for many students. I just did a thing today where I was with Yo-Yo Ma's cello teacher actually So yes, lots of opportunities to make a difference with my performances and method. I would hardly call it a Method war when you have a corporation coming after an individual (me). You could call that several things actually - intimidation, bullying, character assassination, libel and slander. There is no way that I am not going to defend myself from the bullies and the myopic thinking. I will protect myself, but I will also protect as many kids as possible from their "beautiful hearts" behavior too as well as that method. It clears the room faster than anything, more and more people are against Suzuki and that is a good thing at this point. Look at their behavior, from the top of the thread, all the way to the bottom with the obsessive insults. Once again, I have every right to criticize a method and a corporation as well as a deceased person's work. I do live in America, where it supposed to be free. At the same time, I should be free of slander in order to do my work.

Here is a blog that is pretty interesting and it was one of the first ones in this series. 
http://markoconnorblog.blogspot.com/2012/09/conversation-with-suzuki-instructor-and_5.html

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·         Matthew Weiss

Matthew Weiss

Concertmaster/President of Octava Chamber Orchestra

“Music training from preschool to postsecondary education is common in most nations because involvement in music is considered a fundamental component of human behavior. Music, like language, is an accomplishment that distinguishes us as humans.” from “Understanding Music” - Yudkin, J. on (Wikipedia) 

Music students learn from reading post and witnessing the behavior displayed by teachers in online public groups. Music educator’s groups should stand as a testament to the art of our craft. 

Further public discord damages the message and gives fuel to why administrators do not deal with temperamental artists. Negative peripheral results then include: removal of music in curriculum, down-sizing disbanding programs, lost jobs, lost purpose. 

This method war” endless fermata, tri-tone of cacophony” needs resolution, via complete termination of public argument. 

Who has a great new thread idea? I put up a funny brass band multi-tasker video, hoping to lighten the mood. It does show true cooperation in the arts. How about innovative positive new postings? 

Peace is a behavior. Music should be the vehicle that projects this harmony, con brio!" 

---Adam Crane 



Hi Adam thanks for your posts! 

I've contemplated your above quote for the past day and have come to see the wisdom in it. 

I'm willing to temper my outrage at Mark and his campaign and participate in the discussions on this thread in a respectful manner from now on. That would be better for everyone's blood pressure, and hopefully will further the cause of having an intelligent discussion. 

If Mark and I revert to once again hurling thunderbolts at each other, please feel free to throw some water on our heads and put us in our place :) 

I sincerely promise not to take it personally and won't hold it against you or anyone else here for stepping into the role of moderator/facilitator if things get out of hand once again. 

Cheers! 

---Matt

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o    29 days ago

·         Mark O'Connor

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Mark O'Connor

The O'Connor Method

What a joke! Him a moderator? Facilitator - for my message in music pedagogy! OMG, Can these Suzuki people get any more pathetic! 

Simply ignorant of American fiddling. "Fiddle" students don't need a method book! Historically fiddlers have always learned by ear - no method. My Method is for classical music students learning to play the violin but in a much more creative way, inspired by 400 years of musical diversity rather than a narrow window of baroque music from 250 years ago for year after year. A huge difference but the same students. Tami the the $8.00 book you just ordered is Orchestra Book I or II for classical orchestra programs in schools from the O'Connor Method.

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·         Mark O'Connor

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Mark O'Connor

The O'Connor Method

Caroline, I did address Adam's request:

" Adam, I didn't suggest that, I was saying how ridiculous it would be. Besides I play many places and for many students. I just did a thing today where I was with Yo-Yo Ma's cello teacher actually So yes, lots of opportunities to make a difference with my performances and method."

I was being nice here. I can choose who I want to perform with (and with no conditions attached like Adam wanted, which is of course a promise that might not be possible depending actions from Suzuki Ass.). Top classical players want to perform with me. Including Yo-Yo Ma, and Yo-Yo's former cello teacher illustrated here on my last post yesterday. That was not my initial point. If you don't think I can "hang" with the great classical virtuosos of our time, have a look at this video. But my point was, playing skill should not be a litmus test for talking about pedagogy here. But here it is anyway!.

"Caprice for Three" The three fast bows - Mark O'Connor, Yo-Yo Ma & Edgar Meyer

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aLkva-Lf_YU&list=PL7D4C78D6C024C1D7

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·         Matthew Weiss

Matthew Weiss

Concertmaster/President of Octava Chamber Orchestra

Hi Everyone, 

I think if I avoid talking to Mark directly on the thread, that will keep my arrows safely in their quiver :) 

You've probably already discussed this at length, but could I ask what the musical community can do with this situation besides engaging Mark head on (which is what I have done up to this point) or completely ignoring him (which is what most people do after a week or so)? 

Since Mark is a well-known concert artist and composer and is highly motivated, he has a huge advantage -vs- The Suzuki Method on the Marketing/Business side of things since Dr. Suzuki is no longer alive. 

---Matt

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·         Mark O'Connor

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Mark O'Connor

The O'Connor Method

Once again, "Dr." Suzuki is not real. I have asked Suzuki people who insist on calling him "Dr." Suzuki solely based on a honorary doctorate degree, to refer to me as Dr. O'Connor since the honorary doctorate has been bestowed on me! I just heard from one of my followers this: 

"having an honorary doctorate is like having keys to the city. There are no keys, there is no doctor." 

So people are following along and getting the message that a lot of this stuff about Suzuki was invented and fraudulent. I will be releasing a couple more blogs soon, and my articles have been picked up by a huge music educational magazine. People are liking what I am saying, and authoring out there about how music edu must progress forward in strings, and American music should be utilized. The old Suzuki - all Baroque model is not going to make it I believe. Too many students want my Method tunes, to the point were Suzuki camps are banning them from free sessions. As soon as that totalitarian stuff gets out, and parents start figuring out the oppressive nature of some of these tactics, it is the spiral down I believe. By the way, at my string camps, if anybody wants to play Suzuki tunes or classical pieces in his books in their free time, it is absolutely fine with me and our teachers. A much more inclusive environment.

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·         Matthew Weiss

Matthew Weiss

Concertmaster/President of Octava Chamber Orchestra

"What I am asking is for Mathew Weiss to quit writing me and targeting me on line, lying about my music, ability and method. He has targeted me, singling me out as an individual giving me verbal attacks and with intimidation for the better part of a year now. I have not done that to anyone. He seems obsessed with me, while at the same time he seems to really like what I do, he belittles, insults and lies continually. I would like for him to please leave me alone. I should not have to leave Linkedin because of an online bully that is left here to have free reign with no monitoring from adm. Before he came on, these two threads about me and about the Method were both considerable and long. So there is interest here in what I have to say and certainly in my Method. I should not have to leave because of a bully, targeting individuals. I will be speaking with my attorney about the bullying, intimidation and libel by him. There could be some serious issues here. 

Once again, it is impossible for me to commit slander and libel to a deceased person or a corporation. (Suzuki and the SAA) 

The things that are said about myself here, are designed to hurt me, my reputation and my brand - and that potentially means a loss in income. If Mathew Weiss keeps it up, there could be calculated damages accessed. At the very least, he will have to retain a lawyer on libel accusation and the expenses will add up while the lawyers see what kind of damages this has caused turning away teachers from my products. I have asked him to stop many times, and there are witnesses to that here. All I can say once again, is this the "beautiful heart" of a Suzuki teacher that they claim to have? The "good citizen" they brag about creating? You have to shake your head." 

---MOC 


Hi Everyone, 

If you carefully read what I say, you will see that I do not directly attack Mark as a person in the same way that he does to so many other people. 

What I do is pointedly dissect the many flaws in his arguments. 

One big exception is that I stated that Mark cannot play the Tchaikovsky Violin Concerto and other classical repertoire. 

That was pushing the envelop too far. 

What I should have said was: 

"There is no evidence that I know of, such as YouTube videos, etc. that demonstrates that Mark can play standard classical repertoire such as the Tchaikovsky Violin Concerto, Sonatas and Concertos by Mozart, Beethoven, Brahms, and other composers and works considered the bread and butter of Classical Music." 

Since these composers are not part of Mark's books, it's not really necessary for him to demonstrate any proficiency in the bread and butter of Classical Music. 

Mark is great at what he is expert at, but probably should stick to those things and realize that everyone has a focus and no one can honestly claim to be great at everything. 

Many thanks to you all! 

---Matt

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·         Mark O'Connor

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Mark O'Connor

The O'Connor Method

If I wasn't busy writing nine concertos for orchestra of my own, I might take my advanced violin technique and work of the Tchaik, but I don't need to! For my own performances, I exclusively concentrate on my work! 10,000 and more violinists can play the war horses on stage. There is one person I know of who has written nine concertos in our era and can perform their own nine concertos with orchestra. So, I will take that distinction any day. My concertos have received a total of 600 performances with orchestra now. It is a stat that I am thrilled with, but still want to continued to build on! For every time I would play a war horse concerto, it is one less time that I get to put one of my own on stage. So I am excited about putting my new music on stage!

The great violinist Nadja Salerno-Sonnenberg who has played side by side with me on stage 35 different times for my double violin concerto has this to say about my work.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=73zS9HqKXFU&list=PL7D4C78D6C024C1D7

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·         Eric Rasmussen

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Eric Rasmussen

Founder at Rasmussen Music, LLC

#musedchat Passion reigns. The "method wars" must continue. Dalcroze, the stuff beyond eurhythmics, is rare. His pedagogy for Tonal memory is the worst application of solfege possible, to my mind. It doesn't account for how children best learn. It is awfully confusing—unless it is the way you know. But, he was not teaching children; he was terribly frustrated at how his students couldn't "audiate" though he didn't know the word at the time. How did Palestrina learn? via Suzuki method? Some would say yes, in that he learned from the musician folks around him as he was growing up. That's the heart of Suzuki's "intention": learn from a great model musician (certainly NOT SS, though), like a parent. The Suzuki method, to my understanding—and having read, "Talent and Education" (for God knows what reason), back in my undergraduate days—is mostly a philosophy which is quite valid. The method (thoroughly under-researched), and the way Americans have bastardized it, is inferior in many ways. I'm sickened when I witness it. Why? It just sounds so stiff and unmusical. Technique trumps musicianship. [I have seen a dozen or more programs.] Only a few children come away with good musical skills. Why? These anecdotal successes are based 2 factors: intrinsic motivation coupled with his/her innate music aptitude. Not the teacher.W ith those two factors, any method would be sufficient. Unfortunately, that's only catering to 15-20% of those we teach. Why do so many (90+%) drop out of music lessons after 5 years? I say, they're being taught inappropriately. The numbers are not different anywhere when speaking about *instrumental* music ed. 

How did Bach learn? From what method? How did Mark O'Connor learn? How did Edwin Gordon learn? In the latter case, I can give you some half-remembered version of his personal story. When Gene Krupa's band's bass player went off to war, Ed got to play bass in the band. He was very good and Krupa amazed him. So, Ed, being assured he was a good musician by many, got recommended to pursue being a musician at Eastman. There, he was taught theory, which he didn't understand; he was taught techniques that didn't make him a better musician; his bass teacher butchered his self esteem by forcing him to play literature that made the professor look good; and other atrocities of "music education" as it was in the 50's—and which still linger on strongly today. 

So, in an effort to get at how he best learned music, and not how he was taught, nor how he was taught to teach, he spent years developing scientific ways to look at "how we learn when we learn music." 50 years later, his books, his aptitude measures, his theories, his playing with and working with children, have all lead to an extraordinary method of music learning. Why few know about it, or fewer still understand it, is reprehensible to me. So, I'm in Mark's camp. I'm passionate. I hate this phrase: "Grow where you are planted." I've been transplanted a bunch of times. Each time to soil that had too much BS or in a nice mix. Another phrase that rankles me: "Everybody will find what works best for themselves." Not if they haven't tried to understand Music Learning Theory from Ed Gordon! How do you dismiss it without understanding it? Understanding it only helps you understand where the children are so that you can teach them better. The "method" is very flexible in many respects. Improvisation and Creativity are the higher level goals, not names of notes and lines and spaces. That's like teaching a baby, who can't speak the native language yet, the alphabet, or what nouns and verbs are. Silliness! 

If a child can't sing in tune and move rhythmically and expressively, they are far less likely to be successful on an instrument. What skills are primary? 

So, I'll close. Methods can be shown to be more effective than others for one thing or another. Purpose is key. Show me the research. Show me the many kids from the other 80% and how they're doing!

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·         Mark O'Connor

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Mark O'Connor

The O'Connor Method

Yes, obviously Eric is in my camp and I in his. Technique is very small part of music. And the kids don't even learn what music is about before they quit Suzuki. Eric says: "Why do so many (90+%) drop out of music lessons after 5 years?" Isn't that the truth. That is what I find all over the country.

Even on this thread there are people dismissing the talent to compose violin concertos for orchestra and getting to perform them, in favor of the one millionth rendition of the Brahms violin concerto etc. It is great, but it does not mean that much to a 10 year-old American kid. We are losing all of these potential string students to everything else. Yo-Yo's old teacher here at this festival confirmed as well. He gave a demonstration of the very same thing in his experience - the huge percentage quits before they even can play music and be a musician, even a beginning musician. It is very sad. But... that is why I created my Method, to rope these kids in so at some point they will be able to look at the finer points of jazz, or of bluegrass or of Mendelssohn.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3bpmtJkLJZ0&list=PL30538F811506AE84

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·         Ron Malanga

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Ron Malanga

Music Teacher; Horizon School, Dubai and Music Education Pedagogy Specialist

Matt, astonishingly, wrote: 

"There is no evidence that I know of, such as YouTube videos, etc. that demonstrates that Mark can play standard classical repertoire such as the Tchaikovsky Violin Concerto, Sonatas and Concertos by Mozart, Beethoven, Brahms, and other composers and works considered the bread and butter of Classical Music." 

Oh yeah? Well Matt, consider the following (yes, purposely ugly) statement: 

"There is no evidence that I know of, such as YouTube videos, etc. that demonstrates that Matt has stopped beating his wife." 

As Sagan was fond of saying, "Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence." 

One cannot prove a negative. It's unfair. Your postulating one demonstrates you are, at best, illogical and at worst, mean-spirited. 

Oh, and the childish pseudo-bargain, "Mr. O'Connor, if you stop saying what I don't want to hear, I'll play with you," indicates you're juvenile, petty, or mean-spirited. 

And attempting to assail Mr. O'Connor's musicianship!?! WOW!! That one marks you out as either willfully uninformed, spectacularly unmusical, or (and my money is on this one again) mean-spirited. 

So it bears repeating as you seemed to miss it the first time: Matt, just stop. You're making a fool of yourself. 

In hopes the ad hominem attacks vanish but certainly non-deferentially yours, 

Ron 

PS. In spite of the lack of data, don't fret, I don't believe the wife-beating thing.

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·         Matthew Weiss

Matthew Weiss

Concertmaster/President of Octava Chamber Orchestra

Hi Ron, 

Yes I made an error earlier in the thread :) 


Bob Dylan is not expected to give treatises on singing opera. 

Eddie Van Halen doesn't need to be expert on the Lute. 

And Mark doesn't need to be able to play the Tchaikovsky Violin Concerto. 


It's all good---I freely admit that Mark O'Connor is great at what he does and not so great at what he does not. Mark himself has admitted that he never studied the piece and that it would take a couple of months to work it up. 


Cheers! 

---Matt

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Janet F. Soller

Sr. Director, Communications, Research & Development at Alpha Major

Mark, 
When a person's professional integrity is attacked, in a professional setting, it is, in fact, damaging. You said I lied and was a cult member. You are in no position to determine whether this has resulted in financial loss for me. 

Your posts were targeted at me in a very unprofessional manner, without regard to what I wrote, points I made acknowledging your opinions as well as regard for your performance abilities and method books. 

I do not take your posts about me on a music educator's forum lightly. Your writings about me are not "tongue in cheek" as you claim. 

You have so many great things to say about musicianship and contributions to make concerning violin pedagogy. 

It is unfortunate that many of the fine points made by all are lost in the 90% garbage posted in this discussion.

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Janet F. Soller

Sr. Director, Communications, Research & Development at Alpha Major

Speaking of evidence, 
many posts by several discuss "research" shows. In the scholarly field, when research is discussed, citations are needed. 

And, youtube videos, like the ones posted here does represent primary sources. Primary sources and collection of data are important to the researcher. 

The lack of videos also begs investigation. The lack of a video does not mean the video does not exist, it means the search yielded no results. Then, the defined characteristics of the search become important information. With the compelling evidence about how much is available in reference to Mark O'Connor's presence on YouTube, the fact that there is no performance of the Tch. Violin Concerto by Mark, is worth investigating, if some one was interested in investigating it. (After all, investigation about pedagogues is what some of this blog is about.) 

And Mark explained he has his time outlined on what he wants/needs to accomplish and that time does not include learning the Tch. Violin Concerto. This kind of discipline that Mark is describing is not only important but also separates the highly successful from the rest of the pack. 

Matt was not bringing up an inappropriate question and Mark was appropriate in explaining the situation. So Ron, your post about this was . . . well, lacking??. Did you know that one in four women will experience domestic violence in their lifetimes? (I can provide the citation for anyone who wants it.)

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