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Thread: Please define “intermediate”

  1. #1
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    Default Please define “intermediate”

    We are definitely know what a beginner is because we all have been one at one point.

    Most of us have somebody that we would consider an idol that would show us a definition of a pro.

    So what is an intermediate player? what is it that an intermediate player can do that puts them in that class and what is it that he/she cannot do?

  2. #2

    Default Re: Please define “intermediate”

    someone proficient at it, you have a good understanding of what you are doing , fro me a pro can play almost anything, this is just my opinion though and lots of variables as individuals

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    Registered User Frankdolin's Avatar
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    Default Re: Please define “intermediate”

    I agree with kybllc and would just add that IMHO an intermediate is someone with a significant amount left to learn. And unable to quickly and easily figure any challenge out,like ky said, proficient.

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    Gummy Bears and Scotch BrianWilliam's Avatar
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    Default Re: Please define “intermediate”

    As an intermediate fiddler, I suck, just not as bad as before

    This may be a modified David Grier quote.

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    The Amateur Mandolinist Mark Gunter's Avatar
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    Default Re: Please define “intermediate”

    There's really no generally accepted definition of that, depends a lot on your musical goals and genre, so some schools of music have their own semi-rigid definition but in general, intermediate means that if there were a scale of musical proficiency, you'd fall somewhere between "beginner" and "advanced".

    There is really no reason to categorize yourself rigidly. Also, if that's all your doing (trying to categorize yourself) then you can come up with your own criteria. I think to be considered "intermediate" as opposed to "beginner", you need a good grasp on:

    Timing & Rhythm - (all players)
    Harmony & Backup - (all players of instruments that can play chords) [Knows how to make chords, change chords fluently, in a number of keys]
    Melody & Fills - (lead players) [Good grasp of scales, arpeggios & licks for playing leads and fills]

    But really, it depends on your musical goals if you're asking for personal evaluation, rather than what are the categories for this or that musical study program.
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    Registered User Jill McAuley's Avatar
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    Default Re: Please define “intermediate”

    To my thinking an intermediate player would be someone that is developing a decent grasp of the mechanics of playing - right hand technique, left hand technique, and able to get good tone out of the instrument more consistently. An intermediate player wouldn't be fighting against the instrument, though they likely would still be in the process of building up the ability to play fluently at speed. As Mark said, there may be additional milestones that are genre specific - in the world of irish trad music, they may also be starting to feel braver at incorporating ornaments in their playing and getting to know where to place them and where not to.
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    Default Re: Please define “intermediate”

    It is very hard to define because our perceptions of ourselves can be so off kilter. Keith Yoder says he has two kinds of students. There are those that are really good and believe they are not very good and those that think they are great and really, really suck.

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    Registered User foldedpath's Avatar
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    Default Re: Please define “intermediate”

    I've never liked the term intermediate because it's so nebulous. To my mind, it also describes being on the path to something better, and personally I am never going to be the next David Grisman.

    A term I've always liked is "journeyman level" player. In Ye Olden Days it meant you had advanced beyond the apprentice level in a craft guild, to the point where you could be trusted to do actual work that represented the guild. It was an honorable position, but you weren't at the level of a Master at the top of the trade who taught apprentices. It's a term still used in some trades today.

    I consider myself at a journeyman level in Irish and Scottish trad on mandolin. Not good enough to record an album, but not a beginner, and I can hang in with Irish session players most of the time.

    What I like about journeyman, in spite of it being a bit problematic as a gendered noun (journeyperson?), is that it implies you've reached a goal, and don't necessarily aspire to reach Master level. With the caveat that in music one is always learning, always striving to improve to some degree, I can say that I'm happy where I am.

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    Default Re: Please define “intermediate”

    These definitions are all over the place. I kind of like the skill level categories of the Music Camps North

    Novices (N) are absolute beginners who are just starting out. They may have only recently acquired an instrument, don’t know how to tune and have yet to learn basic techniques.
    Beginners (B) are able to tune and have learned a few basic techniques. They may be able to play a little bit and know a few songs but still don’t pick out tunes on their own or have much experience playing with other people.
    Advancing Beginners (AB) have some basic experience on the instrument. They have some command of fundamental techniques and are comfortable tuning. They can play a number of tunes and may even have started jamming with other musicians.
    Intermediates (I) are comfortable with tuning, can play songs and tunes, recognize changes, and are jamming and playing with others on a regular basis. They may feel that they are not yet playing up to speed and that they may still need to work on their rhythm. They may already read tab or notation, but could use help playing by ear and learning to arrange a tune or song on their own.
    Advanced (A) players have command of more advanced techniques, play a variety of tunes up to speed and may play in a band or perform regularly.
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    Default Re: Please define “intermediate”

    Not trying to label myself, or see where I belong, just like to spark conversations.
    Great post foldedpath i really like the “journeyman” way of thinking

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    Registered User sblock's Avatar
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    Default Re: Please define “intermediate”

    "Intermediate" basically means "in between." In this case, it's in between being a beginner, who is just starting out, and being an advanced player, who's comfortable with most musical situations (in a given genre, usually). The vast majority of players are "intermediate." It doesn't take much work to get past the beginner stage. It takes a huge amount of work (and talent helps, too!) to get to the advanced stage. So we're nearly all intermediates -- embrace it!

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    The Amateur Mandolinist Mark Gunter's Avatar
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    Default Re: Please define “intermediate”

    Quote Originally Posted by JeffD View Post
    These definitions are all over the place. I kind of like the skill level categories of the Music Camps North

    Novices (N) are absolute beginners who are just starting out. They may have only recently acquired an instrument, don’t know how to tune and have yet to learn basic techniques.
    Beginners (B) are able to tune and have learned a few basic techniques. They may be able to play a little bit and know a few songs but still don’t pick out tunes on their own or have much experience playing with other people.
    Advancing Beginners (AB) have some basic experience on the instrument. They have some command of fundamental techniques and are comfortable tuning. They can play a number of tunes and may even have started jamming with other musicians.
    Intermediates (I) are comfortable with tuning, can play songs and tunes, recognize changes, and are jamming and playing with others on a regular basis. They may feel that they are not yet playing up to speed and that they may still need to work on their rhythm. They may already read tab or notation, but could use help playing by ear and learning to arrange a tune or song on their own.
    Advanced (A) players have command of more advanced techniques, play a variety of tunes up to speed and may play in a band or perform regularly.
    Yes, they are all over the place because its an oft-used but largely undefined term, meaning "somewhere between beginner and advanced", except as I said above, certain schools, camps, etc. have their own semi-rigid definition ... you've quoted one of those.

    I really like foldedpath's preference for the term "journeyman" - not a novice or apprentice but a player of competence in one genre or style or another - and not a master. Seems a more useful terminology. And sblock says that intermediate fits most players who've advanced past the basics ... I agree.
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    Default Re: Please define “intermediate”

    BTW and FYI, a personal note - when I'm posting opinions in these threads, it usually means I have a pile of boring tasks to do, and I'm trying very hard to avoid doing them Especially paperwork stuff. Looking for any reason not to do my work. Anybody else have that problem?
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    Default Re: Please define “intermediate”

    And because most folks are somewhere in the realm of 'intermediacy' - and thus difficult to come to a one-size-fits-all definition - I think it's helpful to use terms such as 'early'- and 'advanced'-intermediates.. This will broaden the range of description, necessary to capture the broad range of intermediate skills.

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    Default Re: Please define “intermediate”

    The only time it matters is if you are attending a music camp or seminar. Then it helps to know what level of classes are appropriate for you. If you are dealing with that the camp or seminar provider should help you get placed appropriately.

    Otherwise who cares and what difference does it make? It really does not make you play better or worse or help you learn the music.

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    Default Re: Please define “intermediate”

    Do you really want to adopt and copy the fascistic classical (school system) hierarchical preoccupation with graded levels and accompanying test requirements?

    "I'm sooooo sorry Billy-Bob, you flunked your 2a levels... we're going to move you to over to beginning spoons in the percussion section. Maybe if you work hard, you can earn a merit badge on kazoo and then move up to autoharp."

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    Default Re: Please define “intermediate”

    Literally speaking, "intermediate" is a paradoxical term. "Inter" means between (e.g., intercollegiate) or going from one place to another (e.g., interstate, intercontinental) "Med" means middle (e.g., median, mediator). So, the intermediate level is between the middle.

    On a practical level, I think that an intermediate player can play well. He/she can go into a music store and try out the nicer instruments without the sales stuff covering their ears or rushing over to save the instruments. As Jill wrote, "An intermediate player wouldn't be fighting against the instrument," but he/she also wouldn't be booking time in a recording studio. When intermediate players play, listeners say "That was pretty good," but not "WOW!!!" Intermediate players have LOTS of fun playing as long as they aren't beating themselves up for not being advanced yet.
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    Default Re: Please define “intermediate”

    you’ll know you’re an intermediate player when you get there, because the concept won’t matter to you any more. You’ll know you’re not an expert, but you’ll be having fun playing, and listening to the Greats, and trying to copy a bit of their stuff. Or if you’re a classical player, or basically you learn from reading, that stuff will become easier. There’s a certain ease that starts to come on in your playing: your fingers start to find their way...B][/B]

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    Default Re: Please define “intermediate”

    I would add that a solid working understanding of music theory is a step up in the right direction.

  28. #20
    Registered User Eric Platt's Avatar
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    Default Re: Please define “intermediate”

    Intermediate is always a step or two above where ever I am presently on my journey to learn anything.
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    Default Re: Please define “intermediate”

    "Intermediate" is the excuse I use when I mess up big-time. "Journeyman" and "semi-pro" are others. After 50 years on mandolin, I still don't consider myself expert, but I do consider myself experienced.
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    Default Re: Please define “intermediate”

    In the skilled trades (plumbers, electricians, etc) the three basic levels are apprentice, journeyman, and master. An apprentice is a beginner learning the trade under a master or journeyman until he/she reaches a level of proficiency that qualifies him/her to be designated a journeyman. This generally takes at least a year or two. Many journeyman remain at that level throughout their career and do quite well. Others continue to not only practice the trade but continue the education process to such a degree that they then are qualified master tradesman. The step between journeyman and master is quite significant.
    Regarding the original question I'd say an intermediate is somewhere between apprentice and journeyman in the analogy.
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  33. #23
    Fingertips of leather Bill McCall's Avatar
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    Default Re: Please define “intermediate”

    Quote Originally Posted by Bob Gnann View Post
    In the skilled trades (plumbers, electricians, etc) the three basic levels are apprentice, journeyman, and master. An apprentice is a beginner learning the trade under a master or journeyman until he/she reaches a level of proficiency that qualifies him/her to be designated a journeyman. This generally takes at least a year or two. Many journeyman remain at that level throughout their career and do quite well. Others continue to not only practice the trade but continue the education process to such a degree that they then are qualified master tradesman. The step between journeyman and master is quite significant.
    Regarding the original question I'd say an intermediate is somewhere between apprentice and journeyman in the analogy.
    IMHO.
    Well, in Oregon at least, apprenticeship programs are state defined and have 2 ratings, apprentice and journeyman. Depending on the trade, it takes 3 years (or more) OJT plus 6 or more semesters of classroom education to achieve a journeyman rating. No 'master' rating of which I am aware.

    So, using the trade analogy, a journeyman player is competent in at least 1 genre, specific skillset dependent on the genre. Beginners, novices and masters are readily apparent to journeyman players.
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    Default Re: Please define “intermediate”

    Well put Bill.
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  35. #25
    Registered User Jill McAuley's Avatar
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    Default Re: Please define “intermediate”

    I'm thinking about other fields where the term "journeyman" is used - as a big football (or soccer in America) fan, it would be common to hear about someone being referred to as a "journeyman player", referring to someone skilled enough to make their living as a professional footballer - they won't ever play for one of the big clubs, accumulate trophies etc., but they're good enough to play football as a career until the age when players retire, barring injuries of course. There's another category of player, a "Sunday league" player, like the scores of players who'd play down at Hackney Marshes every weekend - maybe in football "Sunday league" would equate "intermediate", though that said there are really skilful players in that category too, though they're not making a living playing football.
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