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Thread: Can you teach musicality?

  1. #51

    Default Re: Can you teach musicality?

    Musicality or musicianship? I would say musicality is intrinsic, but musicianship is learning the details that allow one to improve one”s musicality.

    Like a lot of kids of my era, I started by studying classical piano, on and off for about ten years. I learned a lot of the basics but it was so focussed on “learn this piece, practice it over and over till it’s perfect, play the recital, then on to the next grade” that you didn’t get the essential stuff about interacting and improvising.
    What did teach me the basics of musicianship was taking Orff method group lessons. The focus is to keep the instruments simple so children can learn the basics of rhythm, melody, harmony and group dynamics with recorders, drums, xylophones and the like. Made a big difference to step away from the technical challenges inherent in a demanding piece of music and a difficult instrument to learn.

    The basis of musicianship is to understand that there is a time to support the music, and a (shorter) time to step up and show off, and in lots of pieces you don’t even get to the second part, but other people will enjoy your presence a lot more if you put yourself into that support role effectively.

  2. #52

    Default Re: Can you teach musicality?

    Quote Originally Posted by FLATROCK HILL View Post
    I do find comfort there (western tonality and aesthetic). Maybe not ITM so much, but with Bluegrass, old C&W and early R&R. I don't see why or how one needs to stretch beyond that realm in order to learn or possess 'musicality'.

    If we further "broaden our purview" we might see that many of us have tried that non-western tonality stuff and it just ain't our cup of tea.
    Speaking of which... what happened to your Youtube video of the jungle dudes humming and blowing bubbles into the water? That one was a hoot and now I can't find it.

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    For clarity, I never implied that one need to do anything at all, nor prescribe anything in order to acquire or possess "musicality." Nor even what musicality is.

    *But I'm not trying to be abstruse or anything. Of course one can be abundantly "musical" in any idiom or genre whatsoever (as well as completely "naive" and apart from any idiom or convention at all, I assert). Music is many things to many people, as is musicality then. The ways to discovery are too numerous to list.
    Last edited by catmandu2; Jul-10-2020 at 10:45am.

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  4. #53
    Registered User Tom Haywood's Avatar
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    Default Re: Can you teach musicality?

    I was after one of my students for a while to play more musically. Her notes are almost entirely staccato and her timing is perfect for a march. She plays a pretty mean bluegrass improvisation, too. So I had her focused in a recent lesson on holding the quarter notes for the full count and creating a little swing by pairing eighth and quarter notes and by just feeling a dance rhythm, using a fiddle tune. She counts really well. Once she got it, I asked if that didn't sound more musical to her. She said no, the way she normally plays sounds more musical to her - that's why she plays that way. So I guess musicality is in the ear of the beholder.

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  6. #54
    Registered User Randi Gormley's Avatar
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    Default Re: Can you teach musicality?

    Way late to this discussion, it appears ... but I wonder if you can compare musicality to taste. Some people are born with a type of empathy for music; some people prefer a specific type of musical experience to another type but music itself touches something internal; some people are like that with color, or fabric, or art. But I think it can be taught; you can be taught what evokes emotion (and some of us love minor keys simply because of what they feel like) or what is considered musically tasteful in a given situation. A lot of that is training, I'm thinking, and with enough training, the result becomes part of your automatic response.
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  8. #55
    Registered User Pete Martin's Avatar
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    Default Re: Can you teach musicality?

    I believe that you can become better at anything through work. You can sound really good with enough work.

    I am going to say, however, there are a scant few people who have the “gift’. You know it when you hear it. The magical combination is those with the gift who have worked at it really hard too.
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  9. #56
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    Default Re: Can you teach musicality?

    I teach students the why to techniques and the how to learn. My grandfather said "Education is the process of learning how to learn." I've taught kids who just needed a nudge n the right direction and they took off. Other folks need to understand why you want to add nuance, to develop a touch and feel to embellish and bring their music to life. Part of that is learning to see with your ears and hear with your eyes. Once you play music, you never hear it in the same way again.

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  11. #57

    Default Re: Can you teach musicality?

    A discussion with violinist Hilary Hahn on musicality. Some highlights (emphasis mine):

    - "...this sort of search for meaning, plus communication, is really, really crucial as a performer. Just knowing what it means to you isn't enough, if the audience doesn't feel it too."

    -"There are some little exercises, if I'm feeling interpreter's block when I'm practicing. I'll intentionally play something the opposite of what I think is musical. What happens when I go against expectations?

    - Discussion of musicality with other people-- creating a dialogue! "If you at [a performer's] typical body language, and then you notice it changed, that's a really good sign that there's some sort of dialogue going on, and I love looking for those moments when I go to concerts."
    Last edited by clicketyclack; Jul-16-2020 at 4:11pm.

  12. #58
    Registered User Gary Alter's Avatar
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    I received an email this morning from Seamus Egan about an online workshop he'll be teaching on 'The Mechanics of Musicality', seemed it might be appropriate for this discussion:

  13. #59

    Default Re: Can you teach musicality?

    <<<<<< Never mind. Link wasn't working but it seems to be fine now. >>>>>>
    "I play BG so that's what I can talk intelligently about." A line I loved and pirated from Mandoplumb

  14. #60
    but that's just me Bertram Henze's Avatar
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    Default Re: Can you teach musicality?

    Quote Originally Posted by catmandu2 View Post
    Nor even what musicality is.
    That seems to be the central question, the fog we are all groping about in. Once we agree on a test of musicality, we can start opining wether passing that test can be learned.

    But I wouldn't be surprised if musicality and this test can't coexist in the same universe...
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  16. #61

    Default Re: Can you teach musicality?

    What rules does your music follow? demanded the outraged professor.

    Mon plaisir, replied Claude Debussy.

  17. #62

    Default Re: Can you teach musicality?

    Quote Originally Posted by Bertram Henze View Post
    That seems to be the central question, the fog we are all groping about in. Once we agree on a test of musicality, we can start opining wether passing that test can be learned.

    But I wouldn't be surprised if musicality and this test can't coexist in the same universe...
    Of course there are rules/conventions that more or less dictate or help us define/refine what we do. Humans like form - lest we be without a sense of place and meaning. Some weirdos like me like to spend too much time fiddling around on such speculation. As with everything existing, we range aesthetically from relative stasis to the beyond.

  18. #63

    Default Re: Can you teach musicality?

    Remember those Lowry organs? They virtually made the music for you. (Yeah right) Advetised, as anybody can make music. Nope. Wrong.

    I like the pretext that, a teacher can teach until blue in the face, but the message can't be recieved until the student is ready. That may or may not happen. I could fill a page how music is a language. There are plain spoken and sophisticates. If the music comes across does it matter? Some say there's only good and bad music. Does that mean bad is misunderstood? Oh look, it's bedtime!

  19. #64
    Registered User Mando Mort's Avatar
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    Default Re: Can you teach musicality?

    I have had to teach "musicality" to students. Often, a new student can learn the proper notes to play, but it ends up sounding what I call "robotical". I will play it back "robotically" and then I play it back "musically" and ask them which sounds better. We then focus on playing musically. As one learns to read music notation, they can better understand the intended "musical" nuances of the music being played.

    Of course, developing a good ear is also a great way to add musicality.
    "All of us contain Music & Truth, but most of us can't get it out." - Mark Twain

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  20. #65
    Registered User cartershilts's Avatar
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    Default Re: Can you teach musicality?

    You can't teach someone musicality, but you can help them teach themselves. As a marketing student I read several books that tried to teach intangible qualities like "how to fascinate," "how to make your ideas stick," and "how to inspire those around you." "How to be musical" falls into this same category. In my opinion, you can't teach an intangible quality BUT you can teach someone how to think about it. Anyone can learn to be musical if they're determined and have the right mindset. You can teach the right mindset, but you can't teach someone to be determined. That's up to them.

  21. #66
    Registered User bradlaird's Avatar
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    Default Re: Can you teach musicality?

    This is a rich tapestry. The thread that just keeps on giving!

    Now where did my musty old dictionary go? The forty pounder from 1912 I bought on the sidewalk in Brooklyn. It is here somewhere under my stack of Mandolin World News, Keyboard Classics, Mad Magazine and Banjo Newsletter.

    Keep going. Gives me a reason to get up in the morning. (More Niles, please.)
    Last edited by bradlaird; Jul-23-2020 at 11:37am. Reason: Typo of course

  22. #67
    Timothy Tim Logan's Avatar
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    Default Re: Can you teach musicality?

    I may regret this, but as a beginning student I will share thoughts from the other "non-teacher" side. The question registers two meanings to me: 1) can I touch a meaningful, inspiring emotion within me that makes the music a huge contribution to my life and one that I can communicate through playing to others, 2) can I create my own music, my own compositions. It is my belief that all aspiring musicians can do both. It is also my belief that most people are convinced they can do neither. It is a question of how much freedom you allow mind and emotions to have. I also believe that you don't have to go through years and years of training before you can even think of exploring these two meanings. A student, if he or she allows herself the freedom, can play a simple etude with grace, feeling, and wonderfully expressive emotion. Creating your own composition is just as do-able. Musical training gives you increasingly better tools with which to do both. Well, the naive cat is out of the bag, but perhaps a student's viewpoint will be of interest to the amazing teachers and players who participate in this thread (or not LOL).

    As an aside: years ago a movie, called IQ was produced. The background music was a violin solo of Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star - meant to give you the sense that Albert Einstein (a character in the movie) was playing it. The depth of musicality in the performance was, to me, breathtaking. One can attempt that depth, aspire to it, even as a beginner, me thinks.

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