The article only briefly covers O’Connor’s past, with the bulk of the content focused on his current and future projects. Among these are his continued involvement with music instruction at the college level, but also the development of a 10 part series of instructional materials entitled the O’Connor Violin Method.
The Suzuki-inspired series will, from the very beginning, expose students to a variety of North American fiddle and violin styles, including such traditional tunes as “Soldier’s Joy,” “Arkansas Traveler,” and “Fiddler’s Dream,” plus a number of O’Connor originals.
This is designed for beginners, even children, but not intended to be easy. If you want it, you’ll have to work for it. The songs are intended to not be “kiddie stuff” but rather tunes the student will want to continue to play after reaching musical maturity. With a focus on improvisation, and the ever changing landscape of American music, O’Connor claims to be a traditionally informed progressive.
I’m trying to build into the classical community, tearing down the divisions and tapping into that history of creativity, imagination, and playing style to amass an American classical music that can be taught to people in schools. That’s one of the reasons I have my string camps. We no longer have back-porch mentoring by grandparents playing the fiddle. This is the first generation of fiddlers who didn’t learn from their grandparents. So we need to figure out how to get this to work inside the classroom.
O’Connor offers many great insights as to why American music is the way it is. Regardless of your interest in the fiddle, if you care about traditional American music forms, you should take a few moments and read this article.
Below is a video of Mark O’Connor’s American String Celebration courtesy of Time.com.