Results 1 to 17 of 17

Thread: To A Higher Standard

  1. #1
    Registered User Mike Buesseler's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2002
    Location
    Whitefish,MT
    Posts
    1,373

    Default To A Higher Standard

    Not quite sure where this thread should go, but this seems like a good choice.

    My youngest son played percussion in his high school band (and later graduated from Berklee College of Music). At one of his HS band concerts the teacher did a brilliant (I thought) demonstration for the audience. First he pointed out to us that in every subject at school a 94% was an A, which Iím sure we all knew. He then had the orchestra play a short piece for us in which he had written in a deliberate 6% error, that is, only 94% of the notes played were the correct ones. 6% were deliberately Ĺ step flat or sharp. The result, of course, was an obvious disaster to anyone listening. His point was that music students are held to a higher standard than in any other class, perhaps not in actual grading, but in their performance before an audience.

    I loved the whole demonstration and I still think that teacher was a gift to the school if not the planet.

    That experience opened my eyes a bit to why musicians strive to be such perfectionists (or at least why do!).

  2. The Following 11 Users Say Thank You to Mike Buesseler For This Useful Post:

    + Show/Hide list of the thanked


  3. #2
    Registered User Eric Platt's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
    Location
    St. Paul, MN
    Posts
    870

    Default Re: To A Higher Standard

    Good points. I always am striving to play better. Whether notes or technique.

    But classical is, for the most part, listening and not dancing music. Have been fortunate enough to sit in a few times with a very well established dance band. There are quite a few mistakes played. But in those situations no one really care. If the beat is good and the everyone is trying, then all is fine. Folks are dancing and the listeners are happy.

    So maybe sometimes pass/fail is a better option than grading?
    1935 Gibson A50, 2018 Collings MT, 1929 Gibson A Jr., 1935 Kalamazoo KM-21, 1941 Strad-O-Lin, 2018 Eastman MDO-305, 1950's Californian
    http://ericplatt.weebly.com/
    https://www.facebook.com/LauluAika/
    https://www.lauluaika.com/
    https://www.facebook.com/Longtine-Pl...4404553312723/

  4. #3
    Moderator MikeEdgerton's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Location
    40.191N -74.2W
    Posts
    23,126

    Default Re: To A Higher Standard

    Quote Originally Posted by Mike Buesseler View Post
    Not quite sure where this thread should go, but this seems like a good choice.

    My youngest son played percussion in his high school band (and later graduated from Berklee College of Music). At one of his HS band concerts the teacher did a brilliant (I thought) demonstration for the audience. First he pointed out to us that in every subject at school a 94% was an A, which I’m sure we all knew. He then had the orchestra play a short piece for us in which he had written in a deliberate 6% error, that is, only 94% of the notes played were the correct ones. 6% were deliberately Ĺ step flat or sharp. The result, of course, was an obvious disaster to anyone listening. His point was that music students are held to a higher standard than in any other class, perhaps not in actual grading, but in their performance before an audience.

    I loved the whole demonstration and I still think that teacher was a gift to the school if not the planet.

    That experience opened my eyes a bit to why musicians strive to be such perfectionists (or at least why do!).
    If they played those notes with conviction it was jazz.
    "Bargain instruments are no bargains if you can't play them". These are the words of J. Garber.

  5. The Following 3 Users Say Thank You to MikeEdgerton For This Useful Post:


  6. #4
    Registered User Mike Buesseler's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2002
    Location
    Whitefish,MT
    Posts
    1,373

    Default Re: To A Higher Standard

    Believe me, it was NOT jazz.

  7. #5
    Registered User foldedpath's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2007
    Location
    Pacific Northwest, USA
    Posts
    4,964

    Default Re: To A Higher Standard

    Quote Originally Posted by Eric Platt View Post
    Good points. I always am striving to play better. Whether notes or technique.

    But classical is, for the most part, listening and not dancing music. Have been fortunate enough to sit in a few times with a very well established dance band. There are quite a few mistakes played. But in those situations no one really care. If the beat is good and the everyone is trying, then all is fine. Folks are dancing and the listeners are happy.

    So maybe sometimes pass/fail is a better option than grading?
    Well, "if the beat is good" is the whole point with a dance band. Or any music intended for dancing. A 6% fail in the melody notes might be tolerable, but if the band is nailing that last 6% in the rhythm, then the band is cooking!

    That's why an Irish trad pub session or OldTime jam of amateurs playing just for fun can work so well. The musicians may not even be playing the exact same setting of the tune, but as long as they're in the same key and they can lock up the rhythm together, then feet start tapping and people may even start dancing.

    Of course that wouldn't work in a Classical orchestra where unison playing really means unison melody. But I think it's an interesting demonstration of the primacy of rhythm in music. A band that's tight in rhythm and a little loose here and there in melody -- if it isn't Classical -- can get away with a lot.

  8. #6
    Registered User Bob Clark's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2011
    Location
    Beautiful Salem County, NJ
    Posts
    1,610

    Default Re: To A Higher Standard

    Cool story, Mike. Thanks for posting it. I never really thought of it that way, but the teacher really has a point. Rhythm or notes off 6% of the time is a mess either way!
    Purr more, hiss less.

  9. #7

    Default Re: To A Higher Standard

    That is just the difference between academic standards and real world standards.

    I worked in an industry for several years where we ran presses at high speeds. We would be producing parts at speeds from 600 to 1400 strokes per minute with sometimes two or four parts per press stroke. A one percent failure rate would yield at least 10 bad parts or breakdowns a minute. That would be on one machine. We ran 10 machines. Even a quarter percent failure rate would have been a disaster. And product tolerances were minuscule. That required perfectionism.

    Most manufacturing businesses count failure rates in parts per million today. When they get up to percent failure rates or bad product that usually leads to major engineering and design projects or heads rolling.

    Those kinds of demands are not uncommon outside of school.

  10. The following members say thank you to CarlM for this post:


  11. #8
    Registered User Mike Buesseler's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2002
    Location
    Whitefish,MT
    Posts
    1,373

    Default Re: To A Higher Standard

    How about aviation safety, medical procedures, building construction? Of course there are high standards all over the place outside of school.. That was not at all the point of the demonstration or my story....

  12. #9
    Moderator MikeEdgerton's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Location
    40.191N -74.2W
    Posts
    23,126

    Default Re: To A Higher Standard

    There is something to be said about being able to play it the way it was written even if it sounds awful. There's a story about the late Tommy Tedesco sitting in a recording session and when it all starts up they can't figure out what he's doing. He had the sheet music upside town and was playing what he was seeing.
    "Bargain instruments are no bargains if you can't play them". These are the words of J. Garber.

  13. The following members say thank you to MikeEdgerton for this post:


  14. #10
    Registered User Randi Gormley's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2008
    Location
    Connecticut, USA
    Posts
    3,095

    Default Re: To A Higher Standard

    I can see that we expect more perfection in music students than a lot of other subjects because there appears to be less wiggle room. I mean, there's certainly scope for differences in written work since as long as your spelling, grammar and information is correct, the form can vary. but i think another point has to be made about the specifics. Certainly, written music scores need to attain a high level of accuracy because a lot of errors mean obvious disharmony, but a soloist can make a few errors provided no one else is backing them up so their clams, while obvious to them or to whomever is grading them on the score, often pass unnoticed. But the point of the exercise is well-thought out. It gives a bit of a come-back for critics who feel that the arts are somehow less exact than science or that those who practice them have worked less hard or on less-than-important skills. I like the example, although I can see room for debate if you take the example out of its context.
    --------------------------------
    1920 Lyon & Healy bowlback
    1923 Gibson A-1 snakehead
    1952 Strad-o-lin
    1983 Giannini ABSM1 bandolim
    2009 Giannini GBSM3 bandolim
    2011 Eastman MD305

  15. #11

    Default Re: To A Higher Standard

    Quote Originally Posted by Mike Buesseler View Post
    How about aviation safety, medical procedures, building construction? Of course there are high standards all over the place outside of school.. That was not at all the point of the demonstration or my story....
    Your title and story in the original post said that musicians are held to a higher standard than other activities. Perhaps that is not what you meant or intended. It certainly reads that way.

  16. #12
    Registered User DougC's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2008
    Location
    Minneapolis, MN
    Posts
    1,363
    Blog Entries
    2

    Default Re: To A Higher Standard

    Ben Zander gives a wonderful lecture about music that promotes music appreciation. It may support the original poster's notion that you can hear really well and therefore have a 'higher standard' of accuracy. I love how Zander confronts the notion of having a 'tin ear' by saying you know 'what mood your mother is in' on the phone.

    Decipit exemplar vitiis imitabile

  17. The following members say thank you to DougC for this post:


  18. #13
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Dec 2012
    Location
    Albany NY
    Posts
    770

    Default Re: To A Higher Standard

    Great story, and I agree classical precision is akin to Olympic gymnastics, you can be completely awesome but one off note will be noticed and they will let you know.
    While I love playing for a dancing crowds where its mostly 3 chords and some simple riffs (the energy is magical) I tend to play less and less "popular" dance music, and focus on more melody oriented music like Dawg and Newgrass, Fiddle tunes and other less common stuff, not a lot of room for missed notes or beats in a lot of that, I can't site read so memorization is also required. I do think musicians are held to high standard for performance, and if I pay to see a show and am not particular impressed with the quality, I do regret paying for it and using up the time listening. Even in bluegrass the level of precision now is often equal to that of classical, I know some who expect it played perfectly or not at all. The good news is wherever I go there does not seem to be a shortage of very talented young musicians with professional potential. So I am looking forward to being blown away by the competition.
    "Mean Old Timer, He's got grey hair, Mean Old Timer he just don't care
    Got no compassion, thinks its a sin
    All he does is sit around an play the Mandolin"

  19. #14

    Default Re: To A Higher Standard

    Perhaps this is why so many computer programmers are also musicians. Some programming languages require not a single comma or semi-colon out of place. Some languages require even a perfection in the number of spaces. One out-of-place character and the whole thing doesn't run. Or worse, one out-of-place character gives you results that you didn't expect and that maybe you don't even find until it's done some damage down the line. If you've ever spent hours searching for that one wrong character only to find it staring you right in the face, you know the pain. Music is a lot more forgiving.

  20. #15

    Default Re: To A Higher Standard

    Thanks for the post, Mike. Your son's teacher was right.

  21. #16
    Registered User Pete Martin's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Location
    Seattle, WA
    Posts
    3,037

    Default Re: To A Higher Standard

    Jazz - "It's better than it sounds"
    -----------
    Pete Martin
    www.PetimarPress.com www.Jazz-Mandolin.com
    Instruction books, videos: Bluegrass, Jazz, improvisation, ergonomics
    Private lessons in Seattle and Issaquah WA, Skype lessons to anywhere
    Pete Martin Plays Wes Montgomery free download
    http://www.jazz-mandolin.com/PetePlaysWes.xht

  22. #17
    Registered User sblock's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2009
    Location
    Redwood City, CA
    Posts
    2,076

    Default Re: To A Higher Standard

    This demonstration strikes me as downright silly, and based on a laughably false premise.

    The 94% standard--which was never guaranteed to get an 'A' grade, by the way, even in school -- is clearly not appropriate for all things. No one wants to ride in cars or planes or trains that crash 6% of the time! We don't want computer programs with bugs in 6% of the instructions -- and those programs wouldn't even compile and run if they were that badly flawed! We don't want our bank to lose track of 6% of our money. We don't want 6% of our packages lost in shipment. We don't want to see our favorite athletes or sports teams performing at the 94% level. And on and on and on.

    Just because music needs to be performed at better than 94% accuracy (for pitch? for rhythm? whatever does that mean, anyway?) DOES NOT imply that musicians are somehow "held to higher standards" than everyone else. That's complete poppycock! Each field of endeavor has its own sets of standards, and these are apples and oranges comparisons.

  23. The following members say thank you to sblock for this post:


Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •