minstrel: aid for baby bards

Joshua Kronengold mneme at dorsai.org
Mon Mar 10 09:29:43 PST 1997

pendar at unm.edu writes:
>Please keep in mind that you can't TEACH anyone Bardic Skills! They 

This is the biggest load of crap I've ever heard on this list.  You
damn well CAN teach bardic skills -- they are skills like any others.
You (unfortunately:) can't force anyone to learn them, or practice
what they learn, but to say that skills can only be learned alone, and
only by the talented elite is, to say the least, disgusting, as well
as untrue.

>If your workshop is to work at all it has to be free of criticism of any 
>kind. It should be like having a bardic circle at your house, the only 
This seems to exactly what you describe -- a bardic circle.  Now, a
bardic circle is a perfectly viable and fun form of bardic practice,
but it is by no means the only one.  A bardic workshop is another
beast entirely, one where people EXPECT to get individual suggestions,
not generic ones.

>way, those who need the help will have gotten time to think about it 
>BEFORE they perform. 
And yet, without criticism, people generally don't correct chronic
problems, as they generally don't recognise them. Criticism, done
right, is a necessary step towards turning a bad performer into a
tolerable one, a mediocre one into a good one, and even a good one
into a great one.

>1. Have people get together informally. Share a pizza or some spaghetti 
>and get all the chit-chat about mundanities out of the way.


>2. Assemble in a comfortable area where everyone can sit in a circle 
>facing a center instead of everyone facing forward (classroom settings 
>only work in school and psychologically people will feel less comfortable 
>participating if they feel like they've come to be taught.) If you can 
>assemble in the backyard around a fire, that's even better.

True enough -- in a bardic workshop, everyone should feel free to
contribute, and this is for fun, after all, even if it's for learning too.

>3. Have a philosophical discussion about Bardic Style. Do NOT lot this 
>drag on for more than an hour! People have come to perform, not talk.
I probably wouldn't bother with this -- though it could be an
interesting thing in itself, if you have more than 2 people in a
bardic workshop (yes, small is better, though too small means you have
no variety and it turns into lessons rather than classes, which are
much less satisfying for the teacher who isn't taking apprentices
right now), there shouldn't be time for this in a normal (6-12, say) slot.
>4. Allow people to perform in a standard pick-pass-or play style. This 
>will allow everyone a chance to perform, even the shy ones, which is 
>important if your workshop is to work.
>5. Do not allow people to give advice or criticism at this point. 
>Instead, find a way to work it into the style discussion of the next 
>meeting. That way, people will not feel like they are being persecuted.
Bull. People come here to learn, and have people what they are doing
wrong and what they are doing right, as well as what they could be
doing to make things better.  Remember, while public criticism is not
necessarily welcome at a Bardic circle, the goals of those going to a
workshop are going to be different.  
	On the other hand, the most important thing is to have each
person feel (correctly) that they've improved.  Have each person
perform one piece of aproximately 5 minuites or less (this can be more
if you have fewer people, or people with longer pieces can practice
a single section at a time).  Then let people go arround with
comments, criticism, praise, and suggestions.  Then have the person
perform the piece again, this time taking into account the specific
suggestions.  Again, with a smaller group, this can go through more
than one cycle.   Then let the next person take a turn.
>> Any and all suggestions you might have will be greatly appreciated. With
>> thanks in advance for your kind assistance,
>As you can tell, I have run several of these things both at SCA events 
>and in private. I have, unfortunately, become rather jaded towards the 
>entire thing, but am more than willing to help someone ELSE do it. : )
Doesn't look like it from here.
mneme at dorsai.org	Josh Kronengold			|\      _,,,--,,_  ,)
  ^  	"Unix is easy.  Just like a cross between	/,`.-'`'   -,  ;-;;' 
 /\\ 	 English and Welsh.  Except that you have to   |,4-  ) )-,_ ) /\ 
/-\\\	 take out all the vowels"  -- Me	      '---''(_/--' (_/-'

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