Saturday, 17 March 2018

Rock and Pop Forum

I attended a Rock and Pop forum today which was organised by Trinity College and held in their rooms in the lovely venue The Piano here in Christchurch.
There was a panel of 4, Tom Rainey, Mike Chunn, Jono Tressler and Isaac Williams, with Diana Burns as the facilitator asking the questions in bold. These are my notes of the discussion so they are not fully expanded but I felt there were some really interesting comments and discussion made around music education in general that was worth sharing.
My apologies for any mistakes in my transcribing - it was on my phone with Swype which has some interesting ideas of spelling and context sometimes!

How did you get into music?

Mike Chunn:
A Hard Day's Night. Mike wanted to be a Beatle. He said all those born 1952 their every move was to be a Beatle.
Choose instrument by some internal thing, bass players can't stand being alone and like being at the back.
Formerly learnt music in piano for 3 years but never sat an exam
"You play what you want to hear."

I wanted to play Yesterday and now I can play it backwards

Jono Tressler:
Pipe band on snare drum
Teach yourself progressive rock book. Influenced by being able to read the music and buying books to learn from.
Was encouraged to learn by ear but didn't get it by ear, needed the reading process.

Tom Rainey:
Nelson School of Music. Dad played stride piano.
Relative pitch taught from age of 3-4 as well as cadences and harmony, and singing in church
Parents didn't mind too much what the last two children did after the first two children. Pete and Rock Quest, Tom and music.
Jazz scene in Christchurch, big bands in the 80s. Started of with off classical degree then moved into jazz. Love of improvising. Always improvised on organ.

Isaac WIlliams:
Musical as a toddler. Uke when he was 3. Started guitar lessons age 6.
Comes from Waimate. Country music champs, sing and play. Once he began to do just guitar then he decided wanted to be a musician. Trinity started the rock and pop. Then really progressed quickly on guitar.
Found Trinity to be good for new technique and structure. Goal to aim towards.

How has music education changed?

Mike says almost nil. Depends what you want to be.
Phil Judd wrote great songs. To write songs that people wanted to listen to again and again is so hard
Strange than Fiction, parts of pieces came from listening to Rachmaninoff.
Love each other, play on a stage and know the unit by never speaking to each other. Like great rugby players.
Love to be 16 today. We would be recording, Noel Crombie would be doing videos.
Everything live is important.

How important is it to read music?

It depends on what they are going into
ARA Music Arts now not insisting they can read notes on the stave. Pulled back from that as an essential. Need to work out where that lies. It's a choice in music arts. Mike Storey says some of his bass students that not all read that well.

Jono moving away from contemporary to classical so more reading
Loves it when pianists  do percussion group. Total beginners with no reading or instrument skills is hard.
Drum kit, not forcing to read but have to count
But like Suzuki, this is what you are doing, then this is what it looks like

Could be tab, charts.
Ara and uni don't have time to teach basics

Online people just show you, but theory, you need that for tertiary. Some of the greatest performers know no theory, don't know the technical terms.

How have cultural influences changed?

What people are aspiring to now has changed.
Tom RnB influence. Heavily influenced by the Beatles
Many were influenced by a musician
Harmony has less meaning as more exposed to hip hop where harmony does not play a big part in that.
Dumbing down of harmony.
Is his role to promote harmony? There is still appetite for it.

Music lasts with deeper understanding

As a provocation, Western setting. What is the influence of ethnicity?
World is smaller, you can access so much more.
So much music now made on a computer. Need to know the theory behind it to make people want to listen to it.
Different sectors. Mike is in the band sector. Dave Dobbyn, Neil Finn you would never say 'here is a chart'.
Mike never had to play a cover

One of the elements apart from structure and harmony for Play it Strange, lyrics of the song are worth 50% of marks

Opportunities to combine this own culture and other western culture. As teachers we need to be open to that.

Why so few women?

NZ artists are about even, more female singer songwriters though.  70% female entries for Play it Strange
Male lyrics small breadth of emotions, rather than more range for females

Boys want to play drums. The girls that choose drums want to be more serious

Lorde effect on Play it Strange - lots more similar came through over that year.

Motivation to get into contemporary music not just to get on stage.
Contribute as a song writer.

Jazz standards you can use overseas -  easy to travel and meet up with others.
Jazz bit different.

Social aspect too! Social aspect of being a violinist in an orchestra and picking on the cellists can be a great thing.

Transition from classical to jazz. Isaac listened to old music from the 80s (written before he was born) thanks to his parents. Influenced with music he hadn't heard before.
Moving into jazz as more of an understanding comes in.

Study jazz and your rock and pop gets better.

No boundaries between styles.

"To have as many experiences as you can only makes you a better musician"

Mike: Listening to jazz is like watching a really good golfer. Quite a mystery.

50s you had to seek out the music, but now the music comes to them in so may ways.
Now students have a thousand songs in their play list.
They don't need to find people to listen to.

Stickability decreased for so many due to internet?

Isaac doesn't listen to the same stuff as any of his friends. To find a guitarist to get inspiration from there are lots. Back in the day there wasn't that option.
Having so much stuff does it deflate you or attract you? So many out there better than me so where do I fit. Used to be into one or two bands, now not obsessed with one player. None of them jump out.

What about the use of technology?

Mike doesn't like technology -  emphasis on song writing. If you are using logic to write songs, more a rhythm track than a song.
Mike only wrote with guitar or piano
Want to be a producer, engineer or arrange the tech is there. Remix remix remix sometimes too much.
People now are scared of writing a song and delivering in its rawest form.

Simplicity, those are the songs that stay.
Ed Sheeran on tour with only him. Only tech is him putting his songs out via YouTube.

Large range of genres. Can suit technology, you come up with a new sound and come up with some audio, playing it, others listening to it. Means of creating, recording, collaboration. Technology is essential.

If you've got the goods as a musician, the good people get heard. Lorde wouldn't have taken off without YouTube.

Isaac got first DAW at home. Garageband on an iPad
Technology is letting them share
Anyone can play anything now. Big positive, but traditional way of writing music is going slowly, writers put too much in with tech sometimes.

TrinityRock and Pop syllabus have new app to allow pieces to be transposed and to be slowed down
Spotify lots of originals of songs

Some teachers making a Spotify list of pieces they are learning at school

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