Thursday, April 15, 2010

A Case For Private Study

Years ago, people learned things from other people who were masters of their crafts. If you wanted to be a blacksmith, you would find a blacksmith who was willing to teach you to do his work. In exchange for your education, you would also be his helper in the shop and do whatever he needed. At some point, you would be as good or better than the man who trained you.

Before colleges were established, people learned from others as apprentices, even in fine arts and in music. George Frederic Handel studied with various individuals, such as Zachau, the Halle Cathedral organist. He befriended other musicians and composers and studied with them. Handel also had his own music students.

Pablo Picasso, who created over 20,000 works of art, also studied with individuals. In 1897 he studied art for a short time in Madrid, then in Barcelona in 1899, where he became good friends with a group of modernist writers, poets, and artists who met at a cafĂ© for several years (1880–1901.) Spending time with others of an artistic ilk apparently does have a positive influence.

Ludwig Von Beethoven studied composition with pianist and composer Christian Neefe. He later studied extensively with Joseph Haydn. He studied counterpoint with Albrecthsberger and Schenk. He learned violin from Franz Ries. Singer and teacher Johann van Beethoven, his father, taught Ludwig piano. In 1787, Beethoven's teacher Christian Neefe recommended that he take lessons from Mozart in Vienna, who was greatly impressed by Beethoven's ability and talent, and Mozarts rival, Antonio Salieri.

When Bach was 9, his parents had both died. He had to live with his older brother, J.C. Bach. It is no wonder that Johann Bach was a musician, coming from a musical family. His father was a trumpet player and a violinist. His brother, J.C. taught Johann organ, as well as the maintenance and design of organs. Bach studied privately with Dietrich Buxtehude, walking 400 kilometers (248.5 miles) to get to his teacher. Bach was renowned for his improvisational skill, which ability served him well as a composer. “I was obliged to work hard. Whoever is equally industrious will succeed just as well.” – Johann Sebastian Bach.”

Composers of yesteryear studied the works of other composers extensively. These days many amateur “writers” of music spend little or no time studying others’ works, in effort to be unique. They miss the boat. In being insular, they cut themselves off from the wealth of knowledge and skill of music theory, chord studies, part writing, composition and the result is either low-level mediocrity or hollow empty music, lacking in the various components, which were ignored. Then they blame their failings on everything except the true cause. They did not care enough to learn enough to know the difference between great music and bad music.

It is not the genre or the style which makes music good or bad. It is the lack of understanding of genre and style and the absence of profound knowledge of music that leads musicians and writers of music to failure.

Thursday, April 08, 2010

Vocal Cord Surgery

Many times I have said that vocal cord surgery could be very risky, because scar tissue does not vibrate the same way as healthy normal tissue. This is also the case with the lips of brass players. My brass teacher said to never have used on you an electric needle, to close a cut on the lips, as it would cause scarring and scar tissue does not vibrate the same way as healthy tissue. Listen and watch the video all the way through. Here is the evidence from "voice doctor":