What to teach?

August 8, 2016 at 03:00 AM · Statements I never expected to see in print ....AUG 7 ....

"Suzuki churns out technicians and ignores the great music of our hemisphere"

Mark O'Connor in THE NEWS OBSERVER. (Fuquay Varina, NC)


And further ....

"We were trying to get harlem kids to learn to like Mozart...."

Replies (33)

August 8, 2016 at 08:46 AM · personally I think jumping up with the bow from the tip to frog over the edge is an excellent way to teach the intricate finger movements of bowing and bow change at the frog.

Though Lyndon might not like suzuki too. :)

That said that's all I know about suzuki :)

But, I think establishing a fluid movement through years of training and then changing to a Galamian method (the most effective I think) is a good way to teach things. You cannot teach someone with brute force, if he's not interested in traditions.

And in traditions, I do not mean goin' to port pubs to train.

I think there should be an external link to the article You mentioned, but I think the overall goal for both styles is the same, just with a different emphasis, and different skills kick in much later compared to other styles. no?

August 8, 2016 at 10:17 AM · Mr O'Connor is clearly a thinking and caring pedagogue, but his diatribes about Suzuki are pathetic in their profound and persistent ignorance.

Krisztian, as usual I find your posts intriguing but sometimes difficult to follow with my pedestrian, cartesian mind..

August 8, 2016 at 01:11 PM · All I know is that the violin scene has undergone many changes in the last few decades and the number of students/amateurs has significantly increased.

I've recently seen some wonderful players as candidates in contests. Many Oriental. Mostly Suzuki?

August 8, 2016 at 01:20 PM · Simply put, Mr. O'Connor is a racist with severe Suzuki envy.

August 8, 2016 at 03:12 PM · The term "Oriental" is frequently regarded as offensive these days, by the way.

In America (and in Canada as well, AFAIK, though I don't know about elsewhere), kids with at least one Asian parent seem to study music, regardless of the instrument, with a great deal more seriousness than non-Asian kids. But they don't necessarily learn Suzuki. They tend to learn whatever is producing competition-winners locally.

August 8, 2016 at 04:22 PM · I think you would find it interesting to follow writings about and interviews with Mark O'Connor from the earliest days of such things. Also observe him on stage at the end of the movie "Small Wonders."

At least he is right about Suzuki ignoring "great music of "our" hemisphere." That is - of the Americas. It has been mostly about European music - and mostly about Western Europe.

August 8, 2016 at 05:06 PM · Lydia

What is the better word than "oriental" ?

August 8, 2016 at 05:12 PM · Latin-hate. Occidental is also an offensive word: that's why the President transferred from there to Columbia...

August 8, 2016 at 05:45 PM · Asian.

August 8, 2016 at 06:12 PM · Darlene, I have found that some variant of "Asian" is tolerated better than "Oriental" although the broader question is always why one needs to be making a generalization at all. I'm not really sure what's wrong with "Oriental" except that historically it was used in the context of more flagrant prejudices.

Nobody says "occidental" any more because it sounds too much like "accidental."

I think there have been enough O'Connor bashing threads on here.

My own perspective is that MOC missed a golden opportunity to establish his method as one that is complementary to Suzuki, and one that could even co-exist with Suzuki, perhaps even in the same studio. But rather than working toward those goals he chose an adversarial position, which I believe was a very poor choice in many respects. That makes me very sad because I really think he was on to something.

I have the first three of his method books. They are very good. My two main complaints are that they are too expensive and that the glossy bindings are too stiff. And the fourth book took way too long to appear! I don't have it yet, but I will eventually buy it.

August 8, 2016 at 10:12 PM · There is not a lot wrong with Western European classical music, which is what Suzuki came across in germany after WW1! He was also remarkably cosmopolitain, and very un-Japanese in many ways. Judging by his writings, he would have appreciated Mr O'Connors work, if not his ranting..

August 9, 2016 at 06:21 AM · well, to be honest, Occidental is just a reference pole based on the western world, so it is inherently ego-centric.

American classical (jazz) is rooted in Africa. Though some chords were first used by Debussy. Also, someone into history could check the Neapolitan chords (used first in Naples).

Western European is also wrong, you cannot abstine from influences more east (more west would be Iceland), no wonder Turkey is into joining the E.U.

*My own perspective is that MOC missed a golden opportunity to establish *his method as one that is complementary to Suzuki, and one that could *even co-exist with Suzuki,

ok, makes sense

*perhaps even in the same studio.

joking instead of finishing a sentence so it is placed in a proper or relevant context is not wise.

*But rather than working toward those goals he chose an adversarial *position, which I believe was a very poor choice in many respects.

this does not make any sense. what is an adversarial position? could You elaborate on that?

*That makes me very sad because I really think he was on to something.

ok, personal feelings communicated

well, Paul, and Adrian, I'm always criticised about the content of my posts. Here Paul starts a meaningful look, and takes a deep breath, and then He says basically nothing.

guys, could You please write *something* when You post?

August 9, 2016 at 03:36 PM · Krisztian, I enjoy your posts, but I find Paul's a lot easier to understand!

Let's just say that Mark O'Connor's work is excellent, but that instead of allowing them to enrich and complement existing Suzuki-based programmes, he attacks these with unnecessary agressivity, and alas, ignorance.

August 9, 2016 at 03:56 PM · If you go back to the early MOC interviews you will find an "edge" even then. He had a lot of early challenges to his approach.

August 9, 2016 at 04:30 PM · I won't read any more of Krisztian's posts.

August 9, 2016 at 04:58 PM · Didn't the MOC/Suzuki debate already have its 15 min. of fame?

And what's with all the stuff about racism? Music is music for crying out loud!

By the way Paul, I think you're post has added to the discussion.

August 9, 2016 at 06:45 PM · Perhaps Mr. O'Connor has run out of (bad) publicity so he needs a refill.

-- Mark O'Connor Harms the Violin Community:


-- New York Times Refutes Mark O'Connor's Accusations Against Suzuki


-- A Take on The Mark O'Connor/Suzuki Controversy From A Cross-Over Player


August 9, 2016 at 07:56 PM · The last link is well worth "clicking": a superb, balanced discussion..

August 10, 2016 at 04:02 AM · I'd also recommend looking at Matthew Charles Weiss' take on this: http://www.weissconcerto.com/suzuki_war_of_words.shtml

August 10, 2016 at 04:03 AM · [removed, accidental double post]

August 10, 2016 at 04:03 AM · [removed, accidental triple post]

August 14, 2016 at 02:15 AM · "Oriental" is generally considered offensive because it references an object rather than a human being (i.e., an Oriental rug). At least, that is my (possibly incorrect) understanding.

Also, thanks for linking my article, Sung Han! I should probably go pay the fee to reinstate my blog. With a 15-month-old in the house, some things just fall by the wayside.

August 14, 2016 at 04:19 PM ·

Oriental means "the east, eastern", boy it doesn't take much to offend people, you don't even have to try. People are often call easterners, westerners, southerners etc.... all the time, no big deal.

Mark O'Connor isn't a racist, he is very nationalistic. Being too nationalistic can become racism or bigotry, but where is that fine line. I don't think Mark crossed that line at all.

August 14, 2016 at 04:53 PM · I suspect it's easier not to be "sensitive" to racism when you haven't spent your life having to ignore numerous racist microaggressions.

August 14, 2016 at 05:27 PM · Americans are calibrated to the "N-word" as our standard for what constitutes a racist slur. The problem is that nothing else will ever quite measure up, not even the other terrible ones. Many if not most are in the subtle category, and "Oriental" is one of them. It's sufficiently subtle, in my view, that I'm not sure I would even describe it as a "slur." The difficulty with "oriental" arises out of the context of the time period when it became commonly used. It was a common term at a time when Asians were cast in certain types of movie and TV roles, expected to own certain kinds of businesses, considered "exotic" people, etc. And there's uglier stuff that any erudite person can look up for himself. My experience (as a white midwesterner with some Jewish heritage) is that Asians who have lived in the US for a while (and especially those born here) are more sensitized toward "Oriental" than Asians living in Asia or those visiting here only temporarily. That's a clear indication that place-context (the Asian-American experience, if you will) is significant.

Nowadays when you hear someone say "Oriental" in connection with an Asian person, one's immediate thought is that the speaker is someone who just hasn't bothered to educate himself about these issues, or maybe they just have limited exposure to people outside their own cultural sphere, or perhaps they do know that "Oriental" is considered less palatable than "Asian" but they've decided to flaunt that distinction on the grounds that it smacks of "political correctness." The irony is that there are also slurs for those individuals.

August 14, 2016 at 05:48 PM · If someone who is Asian says "by the way, I prefer to be called Asian" (and I have never heard a single Asian person say "actually, I prefer the term 'Oriental'"), then what does anyone else lose by doing so? I lose nothing in referring to people by the terms they prefer, and the other person gains increased comfort. Telling them they're being too "sensitive" is a way to invalidate their experience.

August 14, 2016 at 06:10 PM · I learn something all the time on Vcom.

I thought "orient" was a place and and "oriental" referred to someone who lived there!

Wasn't there something called the Orient Express? What is it now?

August 14, 2016 at 07:25 PM · See what I mean?

The Orient Express was a train that went from Paris to Istanbul. That tells you what was considered "Oriental" in the late 1800s.

August 14, 2016 at 09:06 PM · Wikipedia is good on this one: The Orient entry.

August 17, 2016 at 02:45 AM · Ahem....

One poster wrote: ..."boy it doesn't take much to offend people, you don't even have to try."

After that, Lydia wrote of ignoring microaggressions, but I spent some of my youth enduring larger aggressions. How about spending an hour bus ride to school hoping that the resident bully who weighed close to 200 pounds at age 14 wouldn't notice you and again chant a horrid sing-song half rhyme while pulling at the sides of his eyelids to fake "oriental" eyes ...

Or have some jerk sitting behind you in class hiss "chink" whenever the teacher wasn't looking, or say "ooooh, you a oh-lee-en-tawr (his deliberate "oriental" mispronunciation of oriental. ...

Or there was the time my sister was getting physically bullied and she punched a bigger boy after he slammed her into a wall — after that encounter there was a meeting in the principal's office where my parents were told that she overreacted, because "boys will be boys." But they realize oriental girls are overly sensitive, so they would let her off with a warning.

Nowadays when someone uses the word oriental, I don't take offense if they are using the term without realizing that it's both a loaded and dated term when referring to humans. Even so, I hope that out of courtesy some people would refrain from calling me oriental if they realize the negative aspect of the word. The word does have a negative aspect. Meanings are shaped by common usage, and "oriental" was most commonly used in a disrespectful, disparaging way toward Asians in the 20th century. If someone uses it without meaning insult, then I consider that a misuse of the word even if it was misused innocently. As far as I know, the word has not re-entered common usage as a courteous way to refer to people.

As I said, when I see that no offense is intended, then I don't take offense. But just because a person says he or she means no offense isn't the best reason to keep misusing a term after he or she learns that it isn't quite the unloaded word they once thought it was.

August 17, 2016 at 02:20 PM · When I was little in the UK, it was very rude to describe someone as "black": the politically correct word was "negro" (not "n*gg*r"..) How usage can change!

"Gay" used to mean gay, now it means gay!

August 17, 2016 at 02:40 PM · So, as a general rule I just don't use language that is considered offensive...and I especially don't use language of someone asks me not to use that language. It doesn't hurt me and also no longer hurts the party being offended.

However, I will always champion a person's RIGHT to say what they want. I will always champion freedom of speech and freedom of expression. That does not mean that I will not call a person an a**hole or that I will not support people who call that person an a**hole... That does not mean that I will not support social castration.

One should never be arrested or have governmental restrictions placed upon ones speech.


August 22, 2016 at 06:49 PM · Could we get back to O'Connor vs other methods (Suzuki or otherwise)? I'm going to order his books to try and fill the gaps in my own made-to-measure teaching.

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