CGC 068 : Member Q&A with Martha Kreipke

//CGC 068 : Member Q&A with Martha Kreipke

CGC 068 : Member Q&A with Martha Kreipke

In this episode of The Classical Guitar Corner Podcast, Simon sits down for a Q&A with CGC Academy member Martha Kreipke. There are some great topics in here, including whether the use of language like “mistakes” and “bad habits” (something I’m guilty of!) might not be the best language to convey the positive nature of learning. This is an excellent conversation . . . Martha really brought some wonderful questions and I think you’ll really enjoy the conversation that ensued. Please leave a comment to thank Martha for her contributions and sparking such a great conversation!

2018-04-22T19:48:14+00:0010 Comments


  1. Linda Tsardakas April 23, 2018 at 6:55 am - Reply

    Hi Martha and Simon – Wonderful interview here, what a fascinating discussion on so many great points!

    I’m looking forward to the trombone and guitar duet at Summer School. That is quite a unique combination.


  2. Lynda Wilson April 24, 2018 at 7:53 pm - Reply

    Great questions! I found the last one, regarding the changes in teaching methods and styles over the last few decades, really interesting. Like Martha, I learned to play in the 1960’s. I only ever had one teacher and he was a stickler for correct right hand position – but it was totally different from what is recommended today. Also, Martha’s point about word choices. My career was in teaching, latterly in management, and use of language in education in Scotland has changed dramatically. Feedback for children, and parents, is always couched in the positive, so we would talk about ‘next steps’, not about what they got wrong or couldn’t do – or bad habits. The use of a red pen for marking work is now obsolete!

    • Dave Belcher April 24, 2018 at 8:07 pm - Reply

      Thanks for the comment, Lynda! That’s a great point about the way that language has evolved in education. While my mother, who is a literature professor, still uses her red pen, it’s certainly becoming a thing of the past! Thanks for joining the conversation.


      Dave B (CGC team)

  3. Richard April 25, 2018 at 6:41 am - Reply

    Simon, Martha,

    Excellent podcast with many thought provoking topics. As I was listening to the section about strings and tone one of those thougths popped into my head. It was something I had completely forgotten about and I thought I would share.

    Once upon a time I had the problem of playing guitar late at night without disturbing anyone else in the house. My solution was to go into the bathroom where I could close the door and keep to myself. At first it was what it seemed, a nice private place, but then I realized that my guitar sounded better in there. It became my preferred place to play. The bathroom was an old New York City space, with a tile floor and tile more than halfway up the walls. The acoutics were fantastic. I could play soft and the guitar would ring so clean, or I could play loud and fill the room.

    Some additinal details also came along. The strings I used were either Labella or Saverez high tension. I was never able to hear a difference, but I found an old set of Labella’s in my case and have been playing them for a few months now (or about as long as I can). I now love the sound and will try another set shortly. Contrary to what Simon had to say, I never liked the sound of new strings – they are always too bright and need too much retuning. It takes about two weeks for them to mature to my liking, where they “sweeten” – keeping the brightness, but adding a pleasant bottom. At the tail end, I have about two months before they become impossible to tune. I am currently waiting to restring so my strings will “peak” for summer school ;-)

    The final thought I had was that I loved rainy days. The guitar would add an additional set of overtones/undertones and just become a sweeter sounding instrument. At the time I didn’t know anything about humidifying, so I just hoped for rain. Now that I do know, it is still not the same. I cannot make any interior space humid enough to get back to that tone. I suppose I might try, but that would peel the wallpaper, something significanly more annoying to my wife than the constant commentary about my fingernails.



  4. Drew burgess April 25, 2018 at 8:49 am - Reply

    Hello Simon and Martha,

    Thank you for the interesting conversation. The thoughts concerning language and instruction are helpful. With education it is important to think about appropriate language for people. The process is ongoing, I appreciate the sensitive reflection as we strive for excellence.

    Best Regards,

  5. Donna Zitzelberger April 26, 2018 at 4:19 pm - Reply

    These were all good topics, but I honed in on the languaging for teaching. Since I mostly teach children, I’m constantly working on this. As Martha points out well, it comes down to the choice of words. When we tell a child they have developed a bad habit, that child hears, “I’m bad”. But, what we haven’t always realized is that adults hear the same thing. And, adults tends to give up more easily than children (there is no mom/dad encouraging them). I recently had a problem in my teaching studio with a few kiddos who actually started to cry in their lessons, and one child began to get sick (light-headed) in his lesson. I was just flabbergasted and set out to figure out what was going on. These kids all played guitar really well, but when faced with new music, they would react in the above way. I came to realize that these students had a sense of needing to be perfect in their playing, or they would feel like failures. I learned this when I researched and came across Carol Dweck’s book, “Mindset”. It has been incredibly helpful in my learning languaging to encourage my kids in their learning as well as a few adults that I teach.

    A “fixed” mindset (either you’ve got the talent or you don’t) is reinforced by words like “bad habit”. A teacher can help to foster a “growth” mindset through languaging. For example, a better choice would be “let’s now bring your playing to the next level”, “there is an awesome right hand technique that creates better tone, let’s build that in your hand”. Changing the blog post title from “Breaking Bad Habits” to “Building Strong Habits” or “Building Excellent Habits” would foster a growth mindset. Such a title embodies positivity, encouragement, an ability to grow into a great guitarist.

    I happy to say that there are no more tears or lightheadedness in my teaching studio – just happy kids and a really happy teacher! Phew!

  6. Gino April 26, 2018 at 5:35 pm - Reply

    Thanks Martha and Simon, very interesting subjects covered! Regarding the one on choice of words, I am a bit ambivalent about this. I do recognize that choice of words is very important and I can’t deny the feelings they can trigger. That being said, interpretations of a message involve the whole background of a person. Just go and read comments about articles in the news and you will realize that many interpretations of the same article exist in the population. As for the example “bad habits”, there might be more positive ways to say the same, but not all that clear in my view. And if we really want to weigh words, it says that this is the habit that is bad, not the person having the habit. And coming from Simon or Dave, who show so much respect for the members gives also a weight to the words. To me, the most important is to show respect, for the rest I prefer clear and direct messages, and it is even better if it is more positive, of course. But one aspect of Martha’s question has also to do with the “real bad” and the recommendation in front of a certain diversity of techniques. This is a whole subject in itself. There are so many “unorthodox” ways of playing by great guitar players, for instance right hand positions that contrast with what we are being taught! Segovia, Thibau Garcia, Soloduo members in some respect, Steve Hacket on the electric guitar! I guess what is taught today is the result of some consensus that will still progress, with some variations of the consensus. Enough said for me. Cheers!

  7. Jeff Peek April 26, 2018 at 9:36 pm - Reply

    Hi Martha and Simon,
    There’s certainly a lot of “food for thought” in this podcast!
    I trained Chinese martial arts for a couple of decades with a renown practitioner and teacher. One of the things I took from his approach is he never said “This way is good, that way is bad” or “This way is right, that way is wrong.” Often, he answered student questions with “Yes and No” and then gave the reasons for both. He focused on “good” improving to “better.” Beginning students learned by imitation. More senior students were taught concepts, and expected to work out the ‘how-to” details, and be able to show why their “better” was an improvement. His goal was for students eventually to be able to progress on their own without their teacher.
    In my 12 years teaching Tai Chi as a martial art, I have found that this approach motivates students (with no unwarranted criticism or praise) and engages students to think hard about why and when some choices work better than others.

  8. Bruce April 30, 2018 at 1:45 am - Reply

    Very engaging and informative and interesting podcast, Martha. I particularly enjoyed hearing about your adventures returning to guitar and the discussion about strings.

    As for the “red pen” corrections issue: I’m retired from the lit-crit essay correcting trade, and over the years in the classroom I learned that one or two things expressed in a positive encouraging way and repeated with artful variation was about the very most a student could take away from a session profitably. I had to learn to keep my mouth shut and listen more than talk.

    Also enjoyed the parts about the trombone! Once upon a time I tried the trumpet. Not for me!

  9. Casey May 2, 2018 at 5:12 pm - Reply

    One of my favorite records is a duet with Joe Pass and trombone player J.J. Johnson, “We’ll Be Together Again,” try it, you’ll love it.

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