Page 2 of 2 FirstFirst 12
Results 26 to 50 of 50

Thread: 10 Questions For John McGann

  1. #26
    Mano-a-Mando John McGann's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2008
    Location
    Boston MA and environs
    Posts
    972
    Blog Entries
    2

    Default Re: 10 Questions For John McGann

    On electric, the sonic differences between down and upstrokes are kind of lost in the compression/EQ etc. that happens with an amp- especially at Hendrix performance volumes!

    They are much more self evident on acoustic instruments...

    I wouldn't say how I hold the pick is "more musical" than any other way, that would be pompous; it's just a personal preference born out of trying to emulate the butter-rich tones of Grisman, Reischman and players in that area of the sonic rainbow...

  2. #27
    music with whales Jim Nollman's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2007
    Location
    Friday Harbor WA
    Posts
    1,568

    Default Re: 10 Questions For John McGann

    My point is more about the subjective hard-won style of the self-taught vs the objective mastery over several styles sought by many students graduating from a place like Berklee. While the interview gives good examples of the benefits of good technique, I want to hear something about the benefits, if any, of what some might refer to as bad technique. I must add that this distinction is borne of my own ongoing attempt to better understand the obvious limitations in my own choice to remain self-taught. You have described your occasional judgment to leave alone the Sierra Hull's of the world. I am seeking more about how you decide to either teach or not teach, especially the rare students of uniquely creative but eccentric style, whose very eccentricity will never allow them to attain objective mastery. It's a very fragile boundary, and I'm curious how you navigate it.
    Explore some of my published music here

    óJim

    BRW 3-point #65 (2009)
    Altman 2-point (2007)
    Portuguese fado cittern (1965)

  3. #28
    Mano-a-Mando John McGann's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2008
    Location
    Boston MA and environs
    Posts
    972
    Blog Entries
    2

    Default Re: 10 Questions For John McGann

    Thanks Jim- since I am a lifelong learner, I feel I am in similar shoes as my students. I try not to be dawgmatic (no pun intended!) and try to present ideas and materials that I feel will be the most helpful to students, and those are the kind of things I seek for myself. We are all self taught in the long run IMHO.

    I studied music formally and mostly informally; I only ever had one "mandolin lesson", but it was with Andy Statman, and was a life changer. My technical (instrumental skills) development had much more to do with associating with good players than it did from formal study; I learned the most about 'how music works' in an applied theory sense from learning jazz arranging techniques with the great Herb Pomeroy (legendary trumpeter and arranger/composer who taught at Berklee for many years) and Ken Pullig (now chair of the Jazz Comp dept. at Berklee). I had things 'in my head' that took quite awhile to get 'on the instrument'.

    As many "self taught" players, I also learned by ear from many many recordings all through my life, many many hours with a turntable and stubborn attitude, deciphering everything from The Beatles and Yes to the DGQ, Miles and Cannonball, Allan Holdsworth etc. etc.

    That said, if I see things that I feel will limit a player's ability to grow and be expressive, i will always explain why and allow them to make their own decisions- I am not of the "my way or the highway" school of drill sargent
    Last edited by John McGann; Jul-27-2011 at 10:04pm.

  4. #29
    Registered User DougC's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2008
    Location
    Minneapolis, MN
    Posts
    1,291
    Blog Entries
    3

    Default Re: 10 Questions For John McGann

    That was one amazing interview John. I have read it three times today and I'm still 'blown away' by how much great information is in that one article. It zeros' in on the weaknesses of each "culture's" approach, Jazzer's, grassers and celts and classical folks. And it uses their terminology to clarify the message. I suppose you have a rather unique perspective being at Berklee. I'm glad to learn more about you and I'm inspired to learn more about 'the neck', theory, and where the heck I'm at within a given tune.

    Also I'm glad to see all of these 'alternative styles' put into the larger perspective of the world of music. And, although it may be challenging to explain why would we (fill in the blank; folkies, jazz players, Irish musicians, etc.) want to learn all this stuff. I think you have the insights and experience to say why. It is not easy being outside our comfortable niche and under the light of scrutiny.

  5. #30
    Mano-a-Mando John McGann's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2008
    Location
    Boston MA and environs
    Posts
    972
    Blog Entries
    2

    Default Re: 10 Questions For John McGann

    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Nollman View Post
    I want to hear something about the benefits, if any, of what some might refer to as bad technique.
    The only 'bad technique' is one that doesn't allow you to sound as good as you want to. I can't say there is much benefit in 'bad technique', but we'd have to define the idea. To me, it means a physical approach to the instrument that has the potential to cause physical damage via tendinitis/carpal tunnel (which I have never experienced myself) and/or does not provide the player with a foundation upon which they can contiune to build.

    Sometimes people may not understand that there are more efficient, easier and better sounding ways to approach the instrument, and they become defensive about the way they currently play (I owned that attitude at one point myself)...it's an attitude that can keep people away from positive change, but folks paying good money for lessons are usually seeking ways to grow.

    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Nollman View Post
    You have described your occasional judgment to leave alone the Sierra Hull's of the world. I am seeking more about how you decide to either teach or not teach, especially the rare students of uniquely creative but eccentric style, whose very eccentricity will never allow them to attain objective mastery. It's a very fragile boundary, and I'm curious how you navigate it.
    Sierra will tell you I didn't "leave her alone" at all, I just chose (and rather wisely, methinks) to not try and mess with her technique. The proof is in the pudding- if you can play like her, with that fluid physical ability, along the lines of Mark O'Connor or Chris Thile, then you must be doing something right! Sierra is exceptionally gifted, and I was able to help her with theory and ideas, as well as exposing her to a variety of new improvisational techniques and concepts. As you'd expect, she's very bright and curious, and was very open to learning about all kinds of different styles- for example, she dove right into my Django Reinhardt ensemble and played great...

    There is always room for people's personalities and creativity in my teaching. Without those elements, it would be pretty dry for swimming! I could never use a one-size-fits-all approach, I'm not that kind of person.

  6. #31
    music with whales Jim Nollman's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2007
    Location
    Friday Harbor WA
    Posts
    1,568

    Default Re: 10 Questions For John McGann

    Thanks for the thoughtful answer. Some of the tunes on my upcoming CD release feature a 1970's Berklee grad on electric guitar who is way way beyond me in sheer skill level. I think we both enjoyed the creative interplay between my own rather eccentric compositions that rely on both the mandolin and the studio as an instrument, and his own spontaneous ability to play along with these very untraditional renditions of traditional compositions 2 or 3 different times, and not only have each take be a gem, but also be remarkably different from each another. He is the product of some great teaching wed to a deep study of finger memory.
    Explore some of my published music here

    óJim

    BRW 3-point #65 (2009)
    Altman 2-point (2007)
    Portuguese fado cittern (1965)

  7. #32

  8. #33

    Default Re: 10 Questions For John McGann

    Quote Originally Posted by John McGann View Post
    Thanks everyone for being a fantastic audience...I don't play fiddle for a few reasons; it's a jealous (vicious) mistress and doesn't want you doubling on other instruments,
    haha...aren't they all!

    Thanks for all the great remarks John, Scott, et al.

  9. #34

    Default Re: 10 Questions For John McGann

    Have you considered trying a more expensive pick? I have read that there are some new brands that will do wonders for your tone.
    Object to this post? Find out how to ignore me here!

  10. #35

  11. #36
    Registered Mandolin User mandopete's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2002
    Location
    Clearview, WA
    Posts
    7,219

    Default Re: 10 Questions For John McGann

    Hey John - just went out to your You Tube channel to check out the videos - very nice!

    I see Jim Kelly in a couple - is he still teaching at Berklee? I studied with him back in '76.
    2015 Chevy Silverado
    2 bottles of Knob Creek bourbon
    1953 modified Kay string bass named "Bambi"

  12. #37

  13. #38
    Peace. Love. Mandolin. Gelsenbury's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2010
    Location
    Canterbury, Kent
    Posts
    646
    Blog Entries
    5

    Default Re: 10 Questions For John McGann

    Quote Originally Posted by John McGann View Post
    I try to emulate what Russ Barenberg showed me about "drawing the sound out like a violin (or cello) bow, rather than slapping it out".
    Could you please clarify whether this is about pick angle, the smoothness of the attack, or something else? I'm trying to develop good tone, and this sort of thing seems to be very important. My repertoire is growing, but I'm constantly concerned about my basic technique going all over the place!

  14. #39
    Mano-a-Mando John McGann's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2008
    Location
    Boston MA and environs
    Posts
    972
    Blog Entries
    2

    Default Re: 10 Questions For John McGann

    Quote Originally Posted by Gelsenbury View Post
    Could you please clarify whether this is about pick angle, the smoothness of the attack, or something else? I'm trying to develop good tone, and this sort of thing seems to be very important. My repertoire is growing, but I'm constantly concerned about my basic technique going all over the place!
    Technique Tips Page
    Last edited by Scott Tichenor; Jan-09-2013 at 12:17am.

  15. #40
    Registered Mandolin User mandopete's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2002
    Location
    Clearview, WA
    Posts
    7,219

    Default Re: 10 Questions For John McGann

    Cool to hear that Jim Kelly is still teaching at Berklee. I recall spending an entire lesson working on a Gentle Giant song. It wasn't easy to find a guitar teacher at Berklee at that time who would do that.
    2015 Chevy Silverado
    2 bottles of Knob Creek bourbon
    1953 modified Kay string bass named "Bambi"

  16. #41
    Peace. Love. Mandolin. Gelsenbury's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2010
    Location
    Canterbury, Kent
    Posts
    646
    Blog Entries
    5

    Default Re: 10 Questions For John McGann

    Quote Originally Posted by John McGann View Post
    Technique Tips Page
    I do apologise. I had in fact read your page before, but the idea of "drawing the pick across the strings" had not stuck in my mind.

    I do pick at an angle (my thumb and the pick are fairly horizontal, but the angle is created by lifting the neck of the mandolin), so I'm probably innocent of "slapping". I suspect that unclean fretting and poor right-left coordination are responsible for my room for improvement in tone. Thank you.
    Last edited by Scott Tichenor; Jan-09-2013 at 8:42am. Reason: link no longer available.

  17. #42
    Site founder Scott Tichenor's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2002
    Location
    Lawrence, KS
    Posts
    5,216
    Blog Entries
    103

    Default Re: 10 Questions For John McGann

    John passed away exactly a year ago today. This interview from July, 2011 is a glimpse into why he was considered such a great teacher, mentor, human. Beats arguing about capos.

  18. The Following 3 Users Say Thank You to Scott Tichenor For This Useful Post:


  19. #43
    Slow your roll. greg_tsam's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2008
    Location
    Houston, TX
    Posts
    1,981
    Blog Entries
    1

    Default Re: 10 Questions For John McGann

    Quote Originally Posted by Scott Tichenor View Post
    Beats arguing about capos.
    True but I'd argue capos all day long if it meant John could still be here with us. I miss his insight and contributions.
    Breedlove Quartz FF with K&K Twin - Weber Big Horn - Fender FM62SCE

    Wall Hangers - 1970's Stella A and 60's Kay Kraft

  20. #44
    Site founder Scott Tichenor's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2002
    Location
    Lawrence, KS
    Posts
    5,216
    Blog Entries
    103

    Default Re: 10 Questions For John McGann

    Like to remind people of the wealth of great interviews we have housed here. Two years ago this piece by Ted Eschliman was published featuring the late John McGann who passed away just nine months later, far before his time. If you missed it or haven't re-read since then, worth the effort.

    http://www.mandolincafe.com/news/pub...s_001366.shtml

  21. The Following 2 Users Say Thank You to Scott Tichenor For This Useful Post:


  22. #45
    Registered User mtndan's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2013
    Location
    Southern Maryland
    Posts
    62

    Default Re: 10 Questions For John McGann

    What an amazing soul. I am so sad that he is no longer with us. I picked up his rhythm, tone and metronome videos and feel very fortunate to learn from what he left behind.
    mtndan

    2013 Weber Yellowstone HT A Wide Neck
    5 string JL Smith e-mando

    "A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds..." - Ralph Waldo Emerson

  23. #46
    Administrator Mandolin Cafe's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 1998
    Posts
    1,761
    Blog Entries
    8

    Default Re: 10 Questions For John McGann

    Noting that today is the anniversary of this interview published in 2011. Lots of bits of wisdom in we'd all be wise to read.

    https://www.mandolincafe.com/news/pu...s_001366.shtml

  24. The Following 2 Users Say Thank You to Mandolin Cafe For This Useful Post:


  25. #47
    Administrator Mandolin Cafe's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 1998
    Posts
    1,761
    Blog Entries
    8

    Default Re: 10 Questions For John McGann

    Another day to observe the anniversary of this important interview.

  26. #48
    Administrator Mandolin Cafe's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 1998
    Posts
    1,761
    Blog Entries
    8

    Default Re: 10 Questions For John McGann

    Enjoy spotting small movements like this in the digital world. John McGann's Developing Melodic Variations on Fiddle Tunes: Mandolin Edition which has been out for quite some time has just been made available for Kindle on amazon

    https://www.amazon.com/McGanns-Devel...dp/B07L3Q444S/

  27. The following members say thank you to Mandolin Cafe for this post:

    AlanN 

  28. #49
    Administrator Mandolin Cafe's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 1998
    Posts
    1,761
    Blog Entries
    8

    Default Re: 10 Questions For John McGann

    Noting the anniversary of this interview with John from this date 2011.

  29. #50

Posting Permissions

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