Grammy winning composer and world renowned violinist Mark O'Connor gave the University of Miami a special privilege last Friday. He conducted a series of workshops to introduce his brand new method of teaching music. This method, the "O'Connor Violin Method" is said to be rivaling the famous "Suzuki Method" which focuses most on learning pieces by ear. Participants who attended all of the workshops this past weekend became certified O'Connor method teachers by the end.
What makes the O'Connor Method unique? The biggest difference is the huge focus on improvisation. The pieces of music are similar to those of other methods. There are more of them in number and after the first lesson, a student should be able to play a piece. However, it forces the student to explore his/her own creativity from the very beginning of violin study. No past method has pushed students as creatively as this one and it turns learning to play the violin into an exciting adventure, instead of just another extracurricular after school activity.
In addition to workshops, O'Connor lectured at University of Miami's forums, encouraging students to come together as a group onstage and improvise.
Watching O'Connor give students pointers, throw out melodies for them to repeat and giving them back beats that are simple to play melodies over, made it an enjoyable experience for the performers and audience members. O'Connor presented everything in such a lighthearted way, it was pleasant to watch him onstage, regardless of whether he is playing the role of performer or instructor.
Will the O'Connor Violin Method turn students into better performers/musicians?
The method is merely a year old. Time will tell what the results will be, but it looks like it will be a great success and the future of music study!