April 9, 2009
New O’Connor Violin Method for Youngsters Includes Controversial Pledge of Allegiance to O’Connor
NEW YORK — Mark O’Connor, the world-renowned fiddler, composer, and promoter of American musical traditions, has developed a new fiddle methodology that music educators are hailing as the first legitimate American alternative to the popular Suzuki method of violin instruction.
O’Connor’s approach, which is geared toward young players, offers an alluring blend of folk, jazz, country, classical, and even rock and roll instruction without the mandatory ten-year period of suffering and oppression associated with existing all-classical violin methods.
But in some parts of the country, parents have expressed concern about one element of O’Connor’s teaching regimen. Before pupils even pick up a violin, they must memorize a brief Pledge of Allegiance, written by O’Connor, and this pledge is to be recited every morning before fiddle practicing begins.
According to advocates of the O’Connor method, the Pledge promotes discipline, loyalty, pride, and devotion to the national musical heritage of America, all of which are very important to becoming a focused and successful fiddler.
“It’s really just the ‘under Mark O’Connor’ phrase that I object to,” said concerned parent Jennie Fox, whose four-year-old son will soon start learning the fiddle.
“I object to the whole thing,” said Will Fox, husband of Jennie.
Throughout O’Connor’s career, he has relished the praise of critics and musicians as countless numbers of them have lauded his exceptional talent and undeniable superiority to all other fiddlers, living and dead.
O’Connor came of age playing in Texas-style fiddle contests, where for years he remorselessly humiliated grown men and their families on a semi-professional basis.
In the real world, he quickly built his reputation and career by systematically vanquishing his fiddle heroes, turning them into his defeated minions.
“Have you ever listened to Mark’s album Heroes? It’s like watching somebody box fifteen dudes in a row without losing a round,” said young fiddler G. Witcher.
“It makes you thirsty for blood,” he noted.
Year after year, in a powerful assertion of ultimate supremacy, O’Connor subjugated the world’s most influential fiddlers, forcing them into internment in a fiddle camp.
There, he worked them slavishly.
“Then at night in the jams, with everyone there watching, he’d show us no mercy,” said fiddler and music educator Matt Glaser.
By 1994, O’Connor had moved on to become a celebrated orchestral composer and soloist, thriving in the wide open territory of Americana-themed classical music.
“Since there’s nobody else really doing that kind of thing, Mark can get the adulation he deserves, but it doesn’t have to come at anyone’s expense,” said Matt Glaser.
“He still runs the fiddle camps, though,” added Glaser.
Despite the controversy surrounding the wording of O’Connor’s Pledge of Allegiance, many fiddlers and teachers are taking it in stride.
“If you’re going be a fiddler, chances are you’ll have to kneel before O’Connor at some point. Might as well get used to it early,” said Witcher.