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Old 04-14-2019, 06:08 PM   #1
EHamitlon
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Default Dojo university?

If you have no option of live instruction, is Dojo university an okay substitute?
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Old 04-14-2019, 07:31 PM   #2
Patrick McLaurin
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Default Re: Dojo university?

I have strong reservations about how they are known to teach the timing of embellishments, but in general the instructors behind it are well known and good pipers. Having played since before the internet was a thing, I canít comment on how good it is from a beginnerís perspective.
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Old 04-14-2019, 08:46 PM   #3
jackhawkpiper97
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Default Re: Dojo university?

Short answer, no, but longer answer, sorta.

There simply is no substitute for 1 on 1 individual attention, so watching dojo classes will not provide the same instruction. They do provide valuable instruction, but it's not the same. However, it's my understanding that they do have some 1 on 1 components, but I view them more as a supplementary resource rather than a primary one.

They provide wonderful tools for pipers to become better pipers, but they are not a replacement for a regular instructor just because they do different things. Skype lessons would work, however, so that's one way to overcome a geographical obstacle if you have no pipers in the area that could teach. What part of the world are you based in, if I may ask? We might be able to provide some recommendations that may be a little on the underground.
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Old 04-15-2019, 03:07 AM   #4
Atisha
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Default Re: Dojo university?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Patrick McLaurin View Post
I have strong reservations about how they are known to teach the timing of embellishments...

Would you elaborate on that? Not trying to be controversial, I'm asking out of genuine interest...
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Old 04-15-2019, 04:05 AM   #5
CalumII
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Default Re: Dojo university?

I agree with Patrick that I don't quite share their views on a lot of fine detail, but, and it's a big but, I think the most important thing for a developing musician to learn is how to practice effectively towards a goal and Dojo is built around that principle.



When you set out as a beginner, learning seems like a journey along a predefined route; some will get further than others, but you all go in the same direction. Actually, after a while you find the road branches, and at a certain point it isn't really a road any more, just a space you have to explore by yourself.



To give a concrete example of something I don't quite agree with, take their "ALAP/ASAP" principle as applied to something like strathspey playing. This says that where you have long and short note pairs, the long note should be as long as possible and the short note as short as possible.


I think this is a considerable simplification. Firstly, it's not hard to find examples of good players putting "swing", ie 6/8 style on the occasional beat; Susan MacLeod is a good example of a tune where it happens. Secondly, when that short note is kept short, it's not to the physical limitations of the finger technique, it takes the length of the pulse speed of the following embellishment. Think of a dotted A, cut B, into a grip on C. Virtually every good player will play the BGGC sequence as four equal short pulses (I've left out the D gracenote as it doesn't take a pulse of its own).


However, if we take the same dot and cut A into a C doubling down to A with an E gracenote (trachum), the B will suddenly become longer, because the trachum is a fractionally slower movement than the grip.
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Old 04-15-2019, 04:37 AM   #6
John McCain
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Default Re: Dojo university?

Quote:
Originally Posted by EHamitlon View Post
If you have no option of live instruction, is Dojo university an okay substitute?


Dojo is an amazing collection of resources and there are courses that target new players. In addition, there are daily live classes and many are explicitly for new pipers. In these live classes, you are able to play for an instructor who will give you immediate assessment. Or you can just listen.

The site/offerings are constantly updated. Itís very very affordable.

Many will say that this isnít a substitute for an in-person instructor. Whatís not said is most bagpipe instructors are incompetent and more interested in having students return than telling them the truth. Dojo is the opposite.

Big fan and longtime member. No financial interest.
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Old 04-15-2019, 06:35 AM   #7
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Default Re: Dojo university?

Quote:
Would you elaborate on that? Not trying to be controversial, I'm asking out of genuine interest...
I recently joined to explore their teaching methods.

I do like that they have it set up where you cannot skip ahead, you have to watch the video lessons linearly. Plus they give tests to make sure you actually watched the videos.

But they also simplify difficult tunes (like Green Hills or Wings) and specifically say in the 2.5 Objectives 'There is a lot of dogma and stuff out there that you have to have a whole bunch of crazy embellishments in order to be a bagpiper and that's simply not true.' I understand he is trying to get students up on real bagpipe tunes quickly, but I would rather play tunes appropriate to the level of the student that have them re-learn the tune 5 times adding new embellishments as they learn them. Do others simplify tunes for beginners?

As far as timing of the embellishments go, in 4.3.1 Andrew teaches to play the d-throw on the beat as opposed to with the low g before the beat (I think he plays his grips and taorluaths the same way). He says he thinks it is more musical that way, although he does say there are alternate methods to playing it (with the D-gracenote-to-C being on the beat). He does also add the disclaimer "A good piper will be able to play the D throw either way, and will utilize whichever method he or she finds to be the most musical, in any situation."


Quote:
Originally Posted by John McCain View Post
Whatís not said is most bagpipe instructors are incompetent
I agree. I teach a group of kids, but always take teaching seriously and make sure I am checking for any new/different methods to help me teach better and help my students. I have probably 10 tutors I reference! My wife is a 5th grade teacher, she had to go to school for 4 years and has to have regular updated training. Yet so many just think they can teach and it can really hurt the student.

Video lessons are great, but should augment one-on-one with a qualified instructor. While training your ear, errors may creep in that you solidify making it hard to un-learn later.

Just my two cents, I am an average player at best and am in no way as good (or ever will be!) as Andrew Douglas.

-Matthew
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Old 04-15-2019, 06:41 AM   #8
Steve Law
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Default Re: Dojo university?

Iíve used Dojo and found it has many good attributes....speaking as a piper since 1965, so I do know some stuff (but wish I knew more).

I found their approach helpful and fresh but would echo the observations from both Calum and John above. As a somewhat experienced player I think their approach is great for a beginner but while I donít have the finger skills of their tutors I do find the playing of those good folks rather mechanical and lacking in Ďfeelingí (however you might define that). Theyíre still way better than me, but to blindly follow their teachings will only take you so far, imho. In other words I think one could start with them and they would take you through a good long journey of improvement, but I donít think their style would take you to the top of grade 1.... but given the overall standard one hears on the street I think most pipers (meaning anyone below G1) would greatly benefit.

For a newbie without access to an instructor (as posed by the OP), Iíd suggest itís well worth a look....itís not expensive and is a hugely useful resource.

Also worth saying there are other resources out there which are also worth a look....the approach taken needs to fit with the student and everyoneís different.
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Old 04-15-2019, 07:06 AM   #9
Patrick McLaurin
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Default Re: Dojo university?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Atisha View Post
Would you elaborate on that? Not trying to be controversial, I'm asking out of genuine interest...
I believe the practice of starting embellishments on the beat is unmusical and contrary to the purpose of the embellishment, which is to make the big notes more musical.

The beat falls in various places depending on the embellishment, it does not universally fall at the beginning of every one of them, because they are all different and are used to different musical effect.

I have noticed that many who learn pipes late in life struggle with implementing our prescribed embellishments correctly. I would much rather hear a learner play simpler embellishments correctly than more technical embellishments poorly. Again, they are embellishments, they should add to the music, not detract. They are not beat markers that can be substituted for any old garbled blob. Therefore I agree with the simplification of tunes. For context, I also think some embellishments are used too often thus losing their musical effect. Play them because it sounds good, not just because you can.

A rhetorical question: How many piping students have been lost to attrition while we wail away on embellishment technique when the music must be found in the big notes first? Often, the struggle with playing embellishments prevents the correct expression of the primary melody. This is an unfortunate situation.

Last edited by Patrick McLaurin; 04-15-2019 at 07:10 AM.
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Old 04-15-2019, 08:14 AM   #10
DNorwood
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Default Re: Dojo university?

Did not the Green Book? Seems to me there is a history of teaching folks to walk before they run. Seems it never was the intention to circumvent proper technique but to consume and digest a difficult instrument in a manner consistent with the level of the student.

But - what the heck do I know.....




Quote:
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Do others simplify tunes for beginners?

-Matthew
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