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Beer Tent The general discussion forum, and the place to start a new "beer-tent-like" Piping Related discussion...

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Old 09-27-2012, 03:37 PM   #1
Kaislee
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Default Learning Styles - Opinions Sought.

Over the years I've had a number of Face to Face instructors, ranging from, in comparison, woefully dire to staggeringly inspirational. The critical difference, aside from caliber, has been delivery style of new music.

Some have taught & do teach, in what I perceve to be the more traditional style, by presenting the sheet music, followed by playing the tune to establish a familiarity with the air of said piece & then break the piece down bar by bar & teach it thusly, all of which occurs on the Practice Chanter. Then when we've progressed to the point where the instructor is happy with the performance on the PC, we move to pipes. Predominately this has been my main means of learning to date.

Conversely, I've been presented with the chance to study under a husband & wife who presently play with SLOT & have previously played with Vale of Athol. However, their teaching method differs drastically from the above scenario. Having attended an Open Night for a local PB at which they teach & having sat in at a practice session, their delivery system for new music is to teach the piece directly on pipes, as opposed to sitting around a table, thrashing out the piece & then effectively relearning the piece on the pipes some time down the line.

I can see the pros on both learning styles, however, I'm having difficulty in seeing any downsides, but would greatly appreciate opinions & others experiences in learning styles.
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Old 09-27-2012, 04:26 PM   #2
J. Robins
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Default Re: Learning Styles - Opinions Sought.

My approach is more toward your first example. And with new music, I usually have a student look at the music critcally and ask how many bars they need to learn. It always seems to surprise them that the closing phrases are nearly if not identical at the end of each part. So when they see that there is less to learn than what is printed on the page, it puts them at ease. It also helps me correct mistakes easier...I will at times ask them to explain to me why they can play the correct idiom in the closing phrase in the first part, but not 2nd, 3rd and 4th parts, when those phrases are the same. So...my approach is more like the first one of your examples, but I nearly always start by looking over the music without playing it to give them an idea as to how much needs to be learned. It makes it less overwhelming, especially with beginners.
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Old 09-27-2012, 04:29 PM   #3
TMair
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Default Re: Learning Styles - Opinions Sought.

I pretty much teach myself, I live in an area where there were no other players, let alone teachers when I started, what I do is listen to a tune until I have it in my head then I use the dots to guide, then refine it (or not) on the pipes.
So far so good, but then I don't play with a band or anything like that.
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Old 09-27-2012, 04:45 PM   #4
Gary Guth
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Default Re: Learning Styles - Opinions Sought.

I think that the goal of being a student is not to be one for the rest of your life. If you are going to pay someone to teach you, the goal is to become an accomplished player. That means being able to read not only the positions but the rhythm as well and not being dependent on someone else playing it first. I think that rhythm training especially on the pipes is crucial as the expression of the tune is determined by the rhythm. I would think that a Pipe Major's dream is to have a band full of pipers that can learn their own music. When they come to band practice, they then work on playing it together. Sort of like an orchestra? Let me know if I can help.
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Old 09-27-2012, 11:41 PM   #5
Piperalpha
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Default Re: Learning Styles - Opinions Sought.

I learn all my new tunes on pipes. The only time I touch my PC is to play along to a recording when I have a problem that I'm not able to fix on my own. My playing has improved dramatically since adoring this style of learning.

I'd say go for it. What do you have to lose?
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Old 09-28-2012, 05:35 AM   #6
bob864
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Default Re: Learning Styles - Opinions Sought.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Kaislee View Post

their delivery system for new music is to teach the piece directly on pipes,
How's that work exactly? They play a phrase and then everyone plays it and so forth, all from memory? I would flounder in a system like that, because it usually takes me many days to memorize a typical tune.
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Old 09-28-2012, 06:11 AM   #7
David
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Default Re: Learning Styles - Opinions Sought.

I emphasize the beat, the rhythm, the swing, the poetry of the phrases. I can't stand for a student to hack at notes. Thus I teach phrases, and develop exercises around the technical difficulty in those phrases.

I have learned many tunes on the pipes. I do not like semi-eternal practice chanter students. Everyone gets moved on up to the pipes, or out, in a reasonable time.

I'd love to have all young students, motivated, with good home support. But I have had mostly adults. One thing I do is make sure that the student really has some attraction to the music and the sound of the pipes. Some students are quickly perusing the net, and asking me about this or that band, or piper. Delightful!

Once or twice I have had students who, even after a year, haven't got a single bagpipe CD, and have never looked for bagpipe music on the net. And believe me, I send tonnes of links. Those are students for whom I buy a deluxe kazoo, and give an honourable discharge.

Anything that gives a feel for the music is good. Anything that stresses the big pipes, and the sound of chanter against drone, is excellent.
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Old 09-28-2012, 06:25 AM   #8
Shawn Husk
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Default Re: Learning Styles - Opinions Sought.

The main problem I see in trying to learn this way is mechanics.

There is so much going on when you play a set of bagpipes. Blowing, squeezing, fingering, tuning, marching, etc...... When you learn a tune on the pc you are concentrating ONLY on the fingering, and committing the tune to muscle memory.

If you tried to do that on the full pipes you would also be worrying about blowing pressure and actually playing the pipes as well, tuning, etc....

I can see that this would be a problem mainly for beginners who have not fully mastered the blowing/squeezing aspect of piping yet. Once this all becomes second nature however, I think there are some advantages to learning tunes directly on the pipes. Like what? Mainly finger errors. When you play a tune on the pc it's much easier to cover and find all the holes being that they are smaller. Once you're on the full size chanter it can be much more difficult to get all the holes covered cleanly and at speed, so your tune might sound great on the pc but not so good on the pipes...... If you started straight out on the pipes then you might correct these issues sooner because you could hear them straight away, unlike on the pc.

That said however, the pc is very very user friendly. You can pick it up and play immediately, and you will bother no one. You can play it virtually anywhere at any time, unlike the pipes, etc....

So there are some things to think about.

Personally, I think once you become a proficient piper you could chose to learn tunes in either method. But for beginners the pc is most assuredly best.

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Old 09-28-2012, 06:40 AM   #9
Roddy Livingstone
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Default Re: Learning Styles - Opinions Sought.

As my first tutor said to me nearly forty years ago "If you can't do it properly on the chanter, you'll never do it properly on the pipes". I feel that this advice still holds good today - in fact I only said it to a pupil last night! The teaching tool that is often forgotten is the 'goose'. IMO a goose is worth its weight in gold (no pun intended about golden eggs etc) and allows the continuous flow and phrasing to develop without the need to constantly worry about the effort of blowing the full instrument, and re-tuning drones. Of course, once the rudiments of the tune are mastered it requires practice on the full bagpipe - lots of practice!!!!
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Old 09-28-2012, 07:16 AM   #10
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Default Re: Learning Styles - Opinions Sought.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Roddy Livingstone View Post
As my first tutor said to me nearly forty years ago "If you can't do it properly on the chanter, you'll never do it properly on the pipes".
I've mostly learned tunes on my technochanter. Sometimes on PC. But sometimes on smallpipes, and sometimes on GHB.

I notice that no matter which one I learn on, I have to relearn it (to some extent) when I try to play it on one of the others.
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