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April 9, 2009

New O’Connor Violin Method for Youngsters Includes Controversial Pledge of Allegiance to O’Connor

Mark O'Connor's acclaimed new violin method,

Although Mark O'Connor's American violin method brilliantly integrates folk and jazz to obviate the suffering and oppression of existing all-classical approaches, some parents are suspicious.

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.

Supporters of O'Connor's Pledge

O'Connor leads an advanced beginner in the Pledge of Allegiance during a recent recital.

“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.

O’Connor performs his Caprice #2.

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.


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  9. Dale Benz on June 1st, 2009 12:39 pm

    excert from my book: A big Book of Small Thoughts

    Variations of Bluegrass
    and other music we can’t describe

    Jazzical: a confusion based jazz and classical crossover. In the disorder the trombone player attempts to blow spit out of the double bass

    Hairgrass: metal and bluegrass crossover. began circa 1980 with the hair-bands. Short lived, something about spandex and Bill Monroe that didn’t set well with the audience.

    Smooth Jazz: this term came to be because the word “crap” was already taken. They should have just called it smooth.

    Klezmetal: traditional heavy metal Jewish music. All band arrangements are usually made by someone’s mother.

    Improvazz: jazz music without forethought or direction. The musicians rarely know when the tune is over. Comes from the Egyptian term “Rah-Huh?” which loosely translates as “who farted?”

    Improvass: is actually not a music term at all, rather it’s Bush’s political strategy of making it up as he goes along. It does make a sound though, somewhere between middle C and flushing the toilet.

    Classigrass: extremely sophisticated bluegrass. Usually played in smaller chamber groups on the front porch. Sometimes sheet music is available. The banjo player always stays in the dressing room during the performance.

    New Age: any music that can successfully be performed in an elevator. The audience comes and goes. Comes from the ancient Norse term “Nodinauf und schnorin” which means wake me when it’s over.

    Operap: Opera from the hood. Usually has a melody line limited to one octave sung by males in falsetto-mezo-soprano. Accompanied by a trio consisting of grand piano, DJ and a pimped out Ford with trunk thumpers.

    World music: any music that comes from a culture other than the one you’re in.

    Clog Dancing: a simple and traditional dance routine that helps unstop the kitchen sink. During the late 20th century the routine was replaced by the roto-rooter 2-step.

    Barioquee: a crossover of Karaoke and Gregorian chants. Vocalist warm-up by consuming large quantities of grog and sing in Latin (or drunk-speak), off key, in 4ths.

    Ballay: classical dance from the reclining position usually performed on a queen or king-sized dance bed. The most famous dance step is the “roll over” which is the act of pulling the covers off your dance partner exposing their tu tu.

    Hypergrass: bluegrass played extremely fast by really nervous musicians. According to Einstein’s theory of music relativity, tunes that are played faster than the speed of light are subject to time travel, making the audience perpetually late.

    New music: any music that didn’t exist yesterday and shouldn’t exist today. Relies heavily on electronics and overly academic perplexity .

    Bragtime: any musician that boasts about playing old music that no one cares about.

    Hoedown: when a hooker breaks a heel and falls to the sidewalk resulting in improvisational profanity. See “mezzo moda-fuchen forte”

    Mezzo: a Jewish kosher grain mixture used in making mezzoballs which is also a slang term for male sopranos.

    Fartissimo: the act farting really really loud, usually when the orchestra is at rest. A favorite of the wind section and feared by the conductor.

    Reggay: Rastafarian music that relies heavily on driving rhythms, drinking Shirley Temples and resulting in a tightly packed male conga line.

    Pipe organic: music played after smoking cannabis through a very long tuned pipe. Compositions usually are heavy laden with rests, coughs and stops and ordinarily sound like crap the next day. The music is generally forgotten.

    Moozicals: musical theatre written with random tonality, improvised script and time signatures performed outdoors by cow quartets making fertilizer.

    Electric slide: replaces the electric chair in an effort to make the death penalty more fun.

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