Learning German

How and what to teach and learn.
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DakoJack
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Learning German

Post by DakoJack » Sat Nov 17, 2018 11:47 pm

Hello I'm thinking of picking up a new language and want it to be something that can help me with the trombone. Im thinking German just with the seemingly great trombone culture present in german speaking countries. Also I feel several times I have encountered german tempo or style markings that had me and fellow trombonists scrambling to look it up. I was a bit inspired by the fact that Bobby Fischer learned russian in order to study chess. Any advice on if this would actually be helpful to me as a trombonist or another language I should investigate is welcome.
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sirisobhakya
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Re: Learning German

Post by sirisobhakya » Sun Nov 18, 2018 1:02 am

German is great. The grammar and pronunciation are pretty regular (for me more regular than even English). When you overcome the word order issue (verb always comes second but object and subject can switch place), nothing can stop you.

One thing I find annoying is the gender thing (3 genders!), but that matters little in real conversation.
Chaichan Wiriyaswat
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sungfw
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Re: Learning German

Post by sungfw » Sun Nov 18, 2018 10:50 am

sirisobhakya wrote:
Sun Nov 18, 2018 1:02 am
German is great. The grammar and pronunciation are pretty regular (for me more regular than even English). When you overcome the word order issue (verb always comes second but object and subject can switch place), nothing can stop you.[/b]
Uh ... no.

Seid nicht so albern! So einfach ist das nicht. Glaub mir nicht? Nimm mein Wort nicht dafür. Fragen Sie einen Deutschlehrer. :mrgreen: :mrgreen: :mrgreen:

OP: save your breath (not to mention your sanity). :twisted:
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LeTromboniste
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Re: Learning German

Post by LeTromboniste » Mon Nov 19, 2018 5:51 am

I had taken German classes year ago and now living in a German speaking country, back at it. Not super easy to learn when there's so many other things I need to do, but it's good for the brain. And it's a really cool language, so go for it.

Indeed the grammar is...I would definitely not say easier or simpler (in fact it's quite complicated when compared to English) but it is very consistent and regular. There are many rules but they are clear and there are few exceptions compared to the other languages I speak, so in a way it is easy to learn. Pronunciation is fairly straightforward in principle (in practice, the regional accents and dialects make it not straightforward at all, but if you learn the generic high German pronunciation you can be understood by any germanophone).

The hard part is the genders, as has been noted (as a French speaker, French having genders too is both a curse and a blessing because my brain naturally understands the mechanics of it, but also, words often have opposite genders between the two languages, which makes it harder to memorize). Combined with the grammatical cases that each involve different endings for the articles, names and adjectives based on the names' gender (German uses 4 cases and is a fairly highly inflected language, compared to English that is barely inflected at all), this can become pretty daunting. Also, for me the hard part when speaking is that the phrase structure reflects a different way of thinking. French and English have relatively similar syntax, so coming from French, starting to speak English was not super hard as it doesn't require a drastically different train of thought. German is quite different, particularly with regards to the objects and adverbs (in what order they come, what difference in meaning can a different order imply, when they can or must be placed before the subject, when prepositions need to be placed at the end of the sentence, etc). There is a lot more weight given to the end of the sentence, in a way. Very often it ends with a word that I would in French or English place closer to the verb and has a fairly high impact on the meaning of the sentence. That makes speaking hard when you start wanting to make longer sentences, because you can't just say the next word when it comes in your mind, you have to first complete the thought and figure out what has to come before it.
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harrisonreed
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Re: Learning German

Post by harrisonreed » Mon Nov 19, 2018 8:38 am

You shoud learn Japanese. As a spoken language it is actually pretty easy to learn. There aren't many sounds, and the grammar is almost algebraic in its logic and simplicity. Plus, the Japanese export their culture like no one's business, so there is an insane amount of source material to watch and listen to, even on Netflix. And I'm not even talking about their cartoons -- Netflix has some spectacular full drama tv shows as well as movies. Check out Samurai Gourmet! The language (as spoken by normal people and not actors portraying Samurai) sounds beautiful to the ears, and the Japanese are prolific song writers.

Grammar is pretty amazing in Japanese. There are no genders. There is no plural. There are really only two tenses, although you use the present verb stem "teiru" to indicate present progressive. But the only grammatical tenses are "it happened and is in the past" and "it hasn't finished yet and is not in the past". That's it. Also, most sentences do not have a spoken or written subject. So basically, you learn a couple verbs and their tenses, maybe the volative, and you can start going to town.

Not that Japanese is without its difficulties. First of all, it is unrelated to all other human language, so there are no words to easily understand because they sound familiar. The only familiar sounding words are the plethora of English, German, and Portuguese loan words. Maybe 40% or more of the language is Chinese loanwords, but these are based on a version of Chinese from the 700s that was then Japanified, so they are not intelligible to modern Chinese speakers...until they are written.

Which brings us to the actual difficult part about Japanese. The writing system, which is actually logical and an inseparable part of the language, is extremely time consuming to learn and on the surface makes no sense.

But don't let the exotic words and writing system get you down. Everything else about it is fun and exciting! The music is great! Japan actually has some of the best trombonists around, both in the orchestra and also on the jazz scene, and they probably have the most enthusiastic music culture in the world, regardless of genre. Going to a concert in Japan, especially in Suntory Hall, is the best!

Kanda Megumi, Yamamoto Koichiro, Nakano Kotarou, “Futomomo Satisfaction”.... just some of the reasons to get interested in the Japanese language and music scene.
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Re: Learning German

Post by bcschipper » Wed Nov 21, 2018 12:34 am

German trombonist: "You forgot to mention Mayumi Shimizu. Oh no, she lives in Germany!"

"With some German, you can read Speer's description of how to play trombone from about 350 years ago. And you can learn from first hand account about Wagenseil, the composer of the first trombone concerto, or Albrechtsberger, or Leopold Mozart, or Bertali, or Fux, or ... David and his trombone virtuoso friend Queisser, or Belcke, Robert Mueller, Weschke, and the evolution of trombones from baroque to romantic via Sattler, Penzel, Ullmann, Piering, Kruspe, Heckel, etc. ... and you can talk to all the German trombone makers (not just Thein, Laetzsch, Kromat, or Trojahn), especially the ones who focus more on their craft than the marketing and who do not feel that comfortable emerging from their their little workshop to go to some fair abroad."

And when you play Mahler, you can translate all his remarks and instructions for the entire section..."

Austrian trombonist: "Well, Mahler, Wagenseil, Albrechtsberger, Fux, ... were all Austrian. But it is true, they were German speaking."

French trombonist: "Arguable French composers provides us with the most beautiful trombone concertos like Tomasi, Guilmant, Gaubert, Defay etc. Many of them were written as competition pieces for the Conservatoire de Paris. Some of the most renowned trombone players are French like Michel Becquet, Fabrice Millischer ... Our Antoine Courtois trombones are the best trombones in the world ... "

German trombonist: "Millischer teaches in Germany. All Courtois trombones are now made in Markneukirchen, Germany."

Dutch trombonist: "A propos, renowned trombone players. The Netherlands has arguably the best trombone players in the world. Just think about Joergen van Rijen, Martin Schippers, Ben van Dijk, Brandt Attema ... They got a very active trombone scene with the New Trombone Collective."

Swedish trombonist: "Wait a minute, it was a Swede, Christian Lindberg, who popularized the trombone as solo instrument ..."

Hungarian trombonist: "Hungary seems surely the most underrated country when it comes to the trombone even though we actually have an extremely strong trombone tradition. If you really like a top book for daily exercises, look for Steiner's daily exercises."

Italian trombonist: "Look at our young fantastic trombonist Peter Steiner (not the same as the Hungarian Steiner). And think about Rota's trombone concerto. ..."

Austrian trombonist: "Peter Steiner lives and works in Austria. "

...
Gary
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Re: Learning German

Post by Gary » Fri Jan 11, 2019 11:04 am

bcschipper - thank you for answering the question.

Regarding learning German to enhance your performance, in most usse a piece of music really has just a few German words and you can get their definitions readily off the internet. Of course, if you want to go deeper, knowing the language is a requirement. In that case, bcschipper's post is apropos. It depends on how deep you want to go and what kind of playing you actually go.

Background, I lived in Germany for 20 years and have family. And, BTW, for me learning German was not so easy. My obstacles were sentence construction and changing adjective endings depending on gender of noun (gruener Tee, gruenes Heft) as opposed to simply "green". for everything. Drove me crazy.


Regarding Japanese, (lived there seven years) there may be things that are easy but Japanese is an extremely sophisticated language, depending on whether you re talking to your boss, your subordinate, your peer, male, female, relationship, etc.

I had a friend who was married to a Japanese and who, seemingly, spoke Japanese well. The longer I knew him, the less, not more, he spoke to his in-laws. He said, as time went on, the more he realized just how crude his language was, and how embarrassing it was.

Having said that, don't let it hold you back. Learning a new culture can be very satisfying.
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sirisobhakya
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Re: Learning German

Post by sirisobhakya » Fri Jan 11, 2019 4:46 pm

As a side joke: learn Thai! We have no inflection and conjugation at all, and the word order is regular and rigid (no “Ich esse Brot” and “Brot esse ich”), so the grammar is very easy and foreigner-friendly!

The pronounciation and spelling will surely give you hell, though. But at least our spelling system is simpler and more regular than Tibetan!
Chaichan Wiriyaswat
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Tooloud
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Re: Learning German

Post by Tooloud » Sat Jan 12, 2019 10:38 am

Wenn du etwas wissen willst, frage mich einfach!

It might be hard to learn a language based on tips of people who do not know the language in question....

I am german - and I am a teacher. Maybe that helps.
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ghmerrill
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Re: Learning German

Post by ghmerrill » Sat Jan 12, 2019 12:25 pm

Tooloud wrote:
Sat Jan 12, 2019 10:38 am
Wenn du etwas wissen willst, frage mich einfach!

It might be hard to learn a language based on tips of people who do not know the language in question....

I am german - and I am a teacher. Maybe that helps.
Maybe not. I'm an American and (have been) a teacher. But I don't think that a non-speaker of English should value my opinion particularly highly about deciding to learn English. However, here is something that has been recognized for some time in the English-speaking world as a valued professional opinion by one of America's greatest writers concerning the learning and speaking of German: https://www.cs.utah.edu/~gback/awfgrmlg.html. If you already speak or read German, this essay will provide you with even more insight than you already have.

Full disclosure: I studied German fairly intensively for four years in high school, used it to pass the foreign language exam in graduate school, and found that a lot came back to me during a year of working for Novartis with a group in Basel. I in fact love the German language and still try to read things in it from time to time -- at the moment, one of Agatha Christie's novels translated to German (if you can wrap your mind around that). Nonetheless, I wouldn't recommend the study of German to everyone. If you just want to pick up a language of possible use in the context of musical composition, I'd probably vote for Italian: it's fun, it's useful in various ways (it provides an excuse for visiting Italy, though I'd avoid Rome), and it's quite forgiving (as are the Italians towards people who choose to learn their language). It may even help you with French musical terms (well, maybe, sometimes). Besides, surely there are astonishingly more Italian words and phrases encountered in musical notation than there are from any other language. So in terms of bang for the buck, I'd go with Italian (which I do not remotely speak, except for managing to exchange pleasantries and make some simple requests).
Gary Merrill
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1924 Buescher 3-valve Eb tuba
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Tooloud
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Re: Learning German

Post by Tooloud » Sun Jan 13, 2019 4:47 am

Don't forget: among horn players there is a common theory, that the sound of the section is related to the mothertongue of the players.
That "american" horn sound f.e. is believed to be a result of the often "chewing" and sloppy articulation of (midwest..) players, while countries, where a language with hard consonants is used, often produce a less "cloudy", more precise horn sound.
So really speaking another language might give you another arrow in your quiver of playing possibilities.
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ghmerrill
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Re: Learning German

Post by ghmerrill » Sun Jan 13, 2019 6:31 am

That's great!!!! :lol: :lol: :good: It's almost as good as Mark Twain's characterization of German. :clever:

So among German speakers, do you detect a significant difference between Bavarian players and those from further north? And I assume that the view of primarily German-speaking Swiss players might be even worse than that of American players? Certainly those from the Southeastern US must be at the bottom of the hierarchy here (except perhaps for the Italians? Or the French. Or Spanish.).

:idea: But it makes me wonder why music departments and conservatories don't REQUIRE students to first learn German (and abandon other languages). That would save a lot of time and misplaced effort in developing playing skills. This could be a real innovation in musical pedagogy.

Probably it would also be best to avoid study in Bavaria or Switzerland (maybe Austria as well?). I recall that my admin at Novartis in Basel said she always felt a bit intimidated in communicating at length with her (German) boss since she found speaking High German for long periods to require extra effort (and she was fluent in at least four languages). And I also recall my (Swiss) dissertation director saying to a (German) colleague "Could we speak English now? I find High German to be fatiguing." So I can certainly understand that if you develop your linguistic muscles on German, this could significantly affect your trombone playing (or anything else you might choose to do). Speaking German trains both the mind and the body, and I'm sorry that I forgot this fact. I know it's helped me in that way.
Gary Merrill
Wessex EEb Bass tuba
Mack Brass Compensating Euph
Amati Oval Euph
1924 Buescher 3-valve Eb tuba
Schiller American Heritage 7B clone bass trombone (DE LB K/K9/112 Lexan, Brass Ark MV50R)
1947 Olds "Standard" trombone (Olds #3)
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Tooloud
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Re: Learning German

Post by Tooloud » Sun Jan 13, 2019 8:19 am

Swiss is not german. In german TV there are alway subtitles when some uses "Schwyzerdütsch". So is might be very tiring for the swiss lady to use german as a foreign language. When you use a language that is further away from your mothertongue you don't notice your mistakes as easily.

I shudder when I have to listen to people using this "international communication construct" they use to call "English". It's so poor... I have a friend from Surrey. When she talks, I always fall in love with her, just because of the sound...

The theory mentioned above is austrian, but generally known in europe. Just compare David Cooper to Stefan Dohr on youtube. You'll get the idea, I think.
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ghmerrill
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Re: Learning German

Post by ghmerrill » Sun Jan 13, 2019 9:11 am

I think I definitely have the idea. It's been around for a long time.
Gary Merrill
Wessex EEb Bass tuba
Mack Brass Compensating Euph
Amati Oval Euph
1924 Buescher 3-valve Eb tuba
Schiller American Heritage 7B clone bass trombone (DE LB K/K9/112 Lexan, Brass Ark MV50R)
1947 Olds "Standard" trombone (Olds #3)
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