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#1985166 - 11/10/12 09:37 PM Students who hate theory
Nannerl Mozart Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/19/08
Posts: 732
Loc: Australia, Melbourne
I was a musicology major ... It makes sense to me why certain people don't like theory all that much, I mean it exists even in higher levels ... but it makes me sad. What do you do about it if it's a kid?
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#1985179 - 11/10/12 10:23 PM Re: Students who hate theory [Re: Nannerl Mozart]
AZNpiano Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/07/07
Posts: 5486
Loc: Orange County, CA
Music theory is a lot like math. A lot of people hate math. And it's not how theory is presented or taught, either. Some people will hate music theory NO MATTER WHAT--even if you are the most interesting teacher in the world using the most interesting theory textbook.

Just accept it. Pick your battles.
_________________________
Private Piano Teacher and MTAC Member

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#1985549 - 11/11/12 10:53 PM Re: Students who hate theory [Re: Nannerl Mozart]
keystring Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/11/07
Posts: 11676
Loc: Canada
Originally Posted By: Nannerl Mozart
I was a musicology major ... It makes sense to me why certain people don't like theory all that much, I mean it exists even in higher levels ... but it makes me sad. What do you do about it if it's a kid?

Has the kid been introduced to theory before, and maybe in a way that made him (her) dislike it? How are you introducing it? Somebody mentioned choice of textbooks. Must textbooks be involved?

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#1985555 - 11/11/12 11:17 PM Re: Students who hate theory [Re: Nannerl Mozart]
AZNpiano Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/07/07
Posts: 5486
Loc: Orange County, CA
No, textbooks do not need to be involved, but there are VERY good theory books for kids and VERY bad theory books for kids.
_________________________
Private Piano Teacher and MTAC Member

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#1985578 - 11/12/12 01:27 AM Re: Students who hate theory [Re: Nannerl Mozart]
Nannerl Mozart Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/19/08
Posts: 732
Loc: Australia, Melbourne
The student I am talking about is a ten year old. If you ever watch the tv show "Modern Family" he is like Manny - he talks like an adult, has this cool style kind of attitude ... that wise child character. It's hard to give him an incentive since he doesn't like stickers. This kid is on John Thompson book 2, and the theory book he is on is an Australian book called "Blitz your theory" - It's good for kids, and his on the first book. The theory is very basic, it just involves him filling out worksheets on note naming, drawing treble clefs, placing the bar lines in the right places. They are simple worksheets, I don't get him to do much. I'd happily teach him some composition to make it interesting or even analyse his music with him ... but I'd just like him to get the basics right. I have him fill out 1 page a week, there is a girl who is a few years younger than him who does 2-5 pages a week, I'm not trying to compare the two, it's obvious that the latter girl likes theory, but I wonder if I should ditch the workbook completely and teach by concept.

AZN piano that's true, some people really hate theory, thing is I used to really hate theory until it was well taught ... I wonder if the way I'm teaching it is rather boring.
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#1985587 - 11/12/12 02:43 AM Re: Students who hate theory [Re: Nannerl Mozart]
ROMagister Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/26/08
Posts: 518
Loc: Bucuresti, Romania
He would dislike Gil de Benedetti's theory printable pages more than the book you're using ?
http://www.gmajormusictheory.org/Fundamentals/workbooks.html

They combine "lesson", examples, written exercises and to-try-at-keyboard exercises in a very nice, 'adult' way. Definitely appealing for a knowledge geek. Maybe give him the Privilege, not the Chore to explore these ;-)

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#1985597 - 11/12/12 04:14 AM Re: Students who hate theory [Re: Nannerl Mozart]
keystring Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/11/07
Posts: 11676
Loc: Canada
Originally Posted By: Nannerl Mozart
... but I wonder if I should ditch the workbook completely and teach by concept.

Your last sentence was my first thought.

Here is what I see. You have an intelligent, mature, thinking student. You have been interested in theory once it was taught in a good way, probably with it becoming meaningful - from your blog alone you seem a thinking, creative type of person and so well suited to the student you described. But in this description, your student is "on John Thompson" and he "is on" a theory book, filling out pages. Why not teach him theory, rather than have him fill out workbooks? You have the fascination - can you share it with him?

Quote:
The theory is very basic, it just involves him filling out worksheets on note naming, drawing treble clefs, placing the bar lines in the right places.

What is it that you think the workbooks are teaching? Will he need the skill of drawing a treble clef (which is sort of a calligraphy lesson), or is it for him to recognize the clef and know its function? Note naming - so this is for recognizing the notes in written music, and hopefully relating those notes to piano notes so that he can read the music? Can you teach those things from other angles? Bar lines in the right places - you mean so that in a 3/4 signature he would place the bar lines in such a way that you'll have 3 beats within each of them? Can this be made real with music - maybe things he can create with you?

What is his attitude to music and piano in general? Are there things he is enthusiastic about or at least likes? I'm trying some brainstorming type ideas. Theory is part of music, but it is treated like a separate abstract on-paper exercise. It should be possible to draw one from the other, and some teachers I know have done that. The person I taught was an adult, but we began theory with concrete things involving the piano, listening, and exploring, and only did paperwork afterward.

Quote:
I'd happily teach him some composition to make it interesting or even analyse his music with him ... but I'd just like him to get the basics right.

Do you think that you could draw the basics out of one of these two things?

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#1985623 - 11/12/12 06:42 AM Re: Students who hate theory [Re: Nannerl Mozart]
Nannerl Mozart Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/19/08
Posts: 732
Loc: Australia, Melbourne
See the thing is KS, I think he should be familiar with writing treble clefs, writing notes in the grand stave - having hand writing that is legible on the stave. I normally don't rely on the theory book to teach my students - for most students it works like this: We work on technique and repertoire (separately but also seamlessly - in the sense that we work on scales which is something that is purely technical, but I make sure that they apply what they learn from their scales to their playing) and if there is something that needs working on (e.g. a student was accentuating the wrong beats of every bar, so we talked about time signatures, meter and pulse, I talked about it conceptually with her, we draw the note value tree together. I play to her how something should sound like and how something should sound like and get her to pick the right one.) I use the textbook to reinforce what I have taught - I get the student to fill out exercises so that they remember and understand the concept thoroughly.

When I brought up the topic 'theory' to this kid, he said to me he hated it because he hated doing worksheets and he said that theory was pointless ... he whinged about it and threw a mild tantrum.
_________________________
http://colouredsilence.wordpress.com/


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#1985624 - 11/12/12 06:58 AM Re: Students who hate theory [Re: Nannerl Mozart]
keystring Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/11/07
Posts: 11676
Loc: Canada
Well, maybe theory via worksheets does feel pointless. How does it relate to music? If he sees a use for theory, and a relationship to music, then you have him on board. Then the next step is for him to find a way to learn the things that need learning since he is a thinker. Your idea of composition goes in that direction. Or just plain ordinary --- You need to become able to write notes on the staff, to be able to draw a treble clef: find a way to learn these and show me next week so that you don't have to use a workbook. Or - if the student is to remember what you taught - what can he do to remember it? If he is independent, can you use that?

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#1985632 - 11/12/12 07:28 AM Re: Students who hate theory [Re: ROMagister]
Overexposed Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/22/08
Posts: 2647
Originally Posted By: ROMagister
He would dislike Gil de Benedetti's theory printable pages more than the book you're using ?
http://www.gmajormusictheory.org/Fundamentals/workbooks.html

They combine "lesson", examples, written exercises and to-try-at-keyboard exercises in a very nice, 'adult' way. Definitely appealing for a knowledge geek. Maybe give him the Privilege, not the Chore to explore these ;-)


Thank you for sharing this website!

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#1985711 - 11/12/12 12:38 PM Re: Students who hate theory [Re: Nannerl Mozart]
keystring Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/11/07
Posts: 11676
Loc: Canada
I became aware of that site a while back, and the person doing it seems quite serious. He also does advanced things like learning to transcribe what you hear (and to hear). He keeps adding and improving, and for a year there were updates if you subscribe. I seem to remember that he has had to limit that now - can't remember the details. It's a good site that is rich in material.

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#1985751 - 11/12/12 03:20 PM Re: Students who hate theory [Re: Nannerl Mozart]
MaggieGirl Online   blank
Full Member

Registered: 09/18/11
Posts: 482
I am throwing this out there...could it be he hates writing? Any writing? What does his penmanship look like?

Can his theory be done on a computer?

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#1985953 - 11/13/12 12:34 AM Re: Students who hate theory [Re: MaggieGirl]
LoPresti Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/07/10
Posts: 1304
Loc: New York
Originally Posted By: MaggieGirl
I am throwing this out there...could it be he hates writing? Any writing? What does his penmanship look like?

Can his theory be done on a computer?

Now, THAT should improve his penmanship AND his writing!
_________________________
In music, everything one does correctly helps everything else.

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#1985962 - 11/13/12 01:47 AM Re: Students who hate theory [Re: Nannerl Mozart]
Theme&Variations Offline
Full Member

Registered: 06/19/10
Posts: 135
Loc: Melbourne, Australia
Sorry to hear your student hates theory even though you're using the Blitz book with him - I love that series and find it much less dry than most other theory series.
_________________________
Private piano teacher since 2003
Member:
ASME (Australian Society for Music Education),
ANZCA (Australian and New Zealand Cultural Arts),
KMEIA (Kodály Music Education Institute of Australia).

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#1986086 - 11/13/12 10:40 AM Re: Students who hate theory [Re: Theme&Variations]
MaggieGirl Online   blank
Full Member

Registered: 09/18/11
Posts: 482
Handwriting difficulty can be disgraphia. My best friend's son has this and no matter how much practice and help with an OT he did, his writing never improved.

There are many factors for poor writing. Laziness and not enough practice are rarely the issue.

Is the purpose to learn theory or to struggle with penmanship?

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#1986222 - 11/13/12 03:18 PM Re: Students who hate theory [Re: MaggieGirl]
LoPresti Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/07/10
Posts: 1304
Loc: New York
Originally Posted By: MaggieGirl
Is the purpose to learn theory or to struggle with penmanship?

Like it or not, children need to learn to function in the real world. If it is an either/or situation, then the kid better spend his time learning to write properly.

Theory, by its very nature, IS a high verbal skill, and is demonstrated primarily in reasoning and writing. Just philosophically, if a kid is not developmentally ready to write, is s/he really ready for music theory?

[[ OK, KeyString, I am prepared for the BLAST! ]]
_________________________
In music, everything one does correctly helps everything else.

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#1986254 - 11/13/12 04:14 PM Re: Students who hate theory [Re: Nannerl Mozart]
MaggieGirl Online   blank
Full Member

Registered: 09/18/11
Posts: 482
If the student does not like theory on paper, but excels doing it on a computer is that skill less valuable?

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#1986256 - 11/13/12 04:19 PM Re: Students who hate theory [Re: MaggieGirl]
AZNpiano Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/07/07
Posts: 5486
Loc: Orange County, CA
Originally Posted By: MaggieGirl
If the student does not like theory on paper, but excels doing it on a computer is that skill less valuable?

It's like cursive writing. Should schools still teach cursive writing, in this day and age when everybody types?
_________________________
Private Piano Teacher and MTAC Member

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#1986258 - 11/13/12 04:25 PM Re: Students who hate theory [Re: MaggieGirl]
LoPresti Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/07/10
Posts: 1304
Loc: New York
Originally Posted By: MaggieGirl
If the student does not like theory on paper, but excels doing it on a computer is that skill less valuable?

Exactly how would that work? The rudiments that Nannerl Mozart is describing are asking the student to draw the G and F clefs. Soon, they will be requiring the drawing of various value notes and rests, sharps and flats. Perhaps a nice CAD, or desktop publishing program?
_________________________
In music, everything one does correctly helps everything else.

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#1986261 - 11/13/12 04:36 PM Re: Students who hate theory [Re: AZNpiano]
LoPresti Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/07/10
Posts: 1304
Loc: New York
Originally Posted By: AZNpiano
Originally Posted By: MaggieGirl
If the student does not like theory on paper, but excels doing it on a computer is that skill less valuable?

It's like cursive writing. Should schools still teach cursive writing, in this day and age when everybody types?

In my opinion, an emphatic YES! Part of development is learning to form letters, numbers, and shapes - by hand. By doing so, it INTERNALIZES those symbolic objects, and the repetition makes them OWNED by the individual. The use of these symbols, created with the crudest tools, allows the individual to communicate at the highest of levels. It's sort of magic.
_________________________
In music, everything one does correctly helps everything else.

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#1986266 - 11/13/12 04:43 PM Re: Students who hate theory [Re: MaggieGirl]
AZNpiano Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/07/07
Posts: 5486
Loc: Orange County, CA
Originally Posted By: MaggieGirl
If the student does not like theory on paper, but excels doing it on a computer is that skill less valuable?

If "does not like theory on paper" merely means the student has poor fine-motor skills and can't write neatly, then doing it on a computer will be just fine. That's what IEP's are for.
_________________________
Private Piano Teacher and MTAC Member

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#1986267 - 11/13/12 04:44 PM Re: Students who hate theory [Re: Nannerl Mozart]
MaggieGirl Online   blank
Full Member

Registered: 09/18/11
Posts: 482
Could it be enough to know them? I am only talking about the most reluctant who aside from theory worksheets loves piano. Who might be too frustrated with the writing portion but knows the information and is fighting putting it to paper.

For example, one of my daughter's theory assignments was to view a series of music notes and then to write a answering sets of her own.

Why not have the student use a notation program to enter the notes as well as his response?

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#1986279 - 11/13/12 05:35 PM Students who hate theory [Re: MaggieGirl]
LoPresti Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/07/10
Posts: 1304
Loc: New York
Originally Posted By: MaggieGirl
Could it be enough to know them?

No, it is not enough. The act of responding, the act of printing or drawing, the act of first remembering the G clef, and then re-creating it from memory. Those are all critical too.

Is it enough for me to simply “know” the cube root of 27? I maintain it is not enough.

Originally Posted By: MaggieGirl
For example, one of my daughter's theory assignments was to view a series of music notes and then to write a [sic] answering sets of her own. Why not have the student use a notation program to enter the notes as well as his response?
What happens when the notation program is not available? Even more importantly, touching keys on a computer keyboard, or clicking a mouse, divorces one from the letters and numbers and lines s/he is creating on a screen. It does not foster the internalization and ownership and detailed memory of these symbols.

I believe I have written it enough times. (I feel like I am starting to INTERNALIZE it.)
_________________________
In music, everything one does correctly helps everything else.

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#1986285 - 11/13/12 06:03 PM Re: Students who hate theory [Re: Nannerl Mozart]
keystring Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/11/07
Posts: 11676
Loc: Canada
LoPresti, some questions, since we are back to the issue of basics which interest both of us. They interest me in terms of teaching them. They interest you in terms of insisting they should exist (but not necessarily in how they are acquired or taught).

So does learning the basics of theory necessarily involve the act of filling out workbooks? That is the real issue. Not whether someone can improve their handwriting, or other things that have come up. We seem to have an intelligent, thinking young man. How would you introduce basic music theory? Would you integrate the written part with music? (Which is my idea) If so, how?


Edited by keystring (11/13/12 06:04 PM)

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#1986288 - 11/13/12 06:16 PM Re: Students who hate theory [Re: LoPresti]
keystring Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/11/07
Posts: 11676
Loc: Canada
Originally Posted By: LoPresti
It does not foster the internalization and ownership and detailed memory of these symbols.

This is the start of something important. But it does not mean that filling out workbooks will foster this. Theory is often a segregated activity, a fragmentation. I think that there is something bigger here, and writing out notes by hand is only the tip of the iceberg. Plus it won't be good for everyone: people are wired differently, and getting at that wiring is part of teaching.

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#1986310 - 11/13/12 07:06 PM Re: Students who hate theory [Re: keystring]
LoPresti Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/07/10
Posts: 1304
Loc: New York
Originally Posted By: keystring
”LoPresti . . . does learning the basics of theory necessarily involve the act of filling out workbooks? “
. . . she asked rhetorically.

“Lets try something new: How about if I play a few notes on the piano, and you CAPTURE them, so we can look at them together, and find out what I did?”

“This is one way that composers work -- they play a little, and then write it down. Then they play a little more. . .”

“How are we going to remember what we played today unless we put it on paper? I know I won’t remember . . .”

“For the left hand, now we need the Grand Staff. Here is how we bracket. Do you know another name for the bass clef?”

I WOULD NOT insult a ten-year-old boy with the reward of stickers.

One of the first “gifts” my junior-high school band teacher gave me was a G. Schirmer spiral bound notebook of blank staves, and the simple verbal instruction, “Keep notes.”
_________________________
In music, everything one does correctly helps everything else.

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#1986324 - 11/13/12 07:35 PM Re: Students who hate theory [Re: Nannerl Mozart]
kayvee Offline
Full Member

Registered: 09/29/12
Posts: 135
Loc: Santa Barbara
Studies have shown that boys at a younger age will write better essays and accomplish more with their homework/work in general if they are allowed to type or work with a computer rather than write. This is linked to motor skills involved in handwriting, which develop slower for boys than girls.

I don't know if that's the case for this student, but it does provide some interesting food for thought about what younger boys should be doing to learn theory.

@keystring, I think you are ALWAYS highly biased with one idea: that EVERYONE out there is teaching theory as a very isolated and segmented concept. I seriously have no idea why each of your posts seems to hint at this when I think most teachers (especially here) try their best to incorporate theory as much as possible into the music. It's really not that revolutionary. Doing workbooks/sheets does NOT mean you aren't applying the theory. But, just as you need to take tests to show you've learned the material that you spent homework doing in order to practice the material, you do theory worksheets to help practice that same material.

PS: @LoPresti/AZNpiano, no, cursive writing shouldn't be taught laugh Handwriting, yes - but cursive, no.
_________________________
A linguistics major who loves piano and knows too much theory/history without knowing how to play it as well as he wants to be able to.

Let's hope that changes. Taught piano for almost two years and currently working on:
"Going back to the basics..."

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#1986339 - 11/13/12 08:18 PM Re: Students who hate theory [Re: Nannerl Mozart]
keystring Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/11/07
Posts: 11676
Loc: Canada
@Kayvee, why not formulate things as "My impression is ... is this what you mean?" You have twice ascribed thoughts and attitudes to me which are not mine. We must all do a certain amount of interpreting of where people are probably coming from but on an Internet among strangers we can miss the mark even more than in real life. I don't trust my own impressions for that reason.

No, I do not hold the thoughts that you have just stated. I have never said that "EVERYONE" does anything. These are concerns that have been discussed by various piano and music teachers as they look at the scheme of things. It's been bandied about in public and in private discussions I've been involved in. When I first came to this forum one or two senior teachers were trying to get people to have a second look at just this. It may not be revolutionary, but they did find it important enough to really push those ideas. It caught my attention 4 years ago.

I suspect that there are some misunderstandings to be cleared up.

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#1986411 - 11/14/12 12:18 AM Re: Students who hate theory [Re: kayvee]
LoPresti Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/07/10
Posts: 1304
Loc: New York
Originally Posted By: kayvee
Studies have shown that boys at a younger age will write better essays and accomplish more with their homework/work in general if they are allowed to type or work with a computer rather than write. This is linked to motor skills involved in handwriting, which develop slower for boys than girls.

Of course, the cynical side of me says, “That is simply because boys are lazier than girls.” And who says anyone “should” be writing before they are able? If they are unable, then they should not be writing yet. I think it is pretty simple.

Originally Posted By: kayvee
@LoPresti/AZNpiano, no, cursive writing shouldn't be taught laugh Handwriting, yes - but cursive, no.

Oh, O.K. – I was wrong.
_________________________
In music, everything one does correctly helps everything else.

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#1986419 - 11/14/12 12:40 AM Re: Students who hate theory [Re: LoPresti]
kayvee Offline
Full Member

Registered: 09/29/12
Posts: 135
Loc: Santa Barbara
Originally Posted By: LoPresti
Of course, the cynical side of me says, “That is simply because boys are lazier than girls.” And who says anyone “should” be writing before they are able? If they are unable, then they should not be writing yet. I think it is pretty simple.

Originally Posted By: kayvee
@LoPresti/AZNpiano, no, cursive writing shouldn't be taught laugh Handwriting, yes - but cursive, no.

Oh, O.K. – I was wrong.
I don't know. I know some pretty lazy girls and some damn motivated boys. But I also know some motivated girls and some lazy boys. Go figure.

And it really isn't that simple. Kids are often forced to write even if they aren't really able to - not only by [some] music teachers, but in school as well (as hinted at by the studies).

And yes, you were wrong. Cursive really isn't useful to anyone nowadays. People form their own individual styles in the end anyway. And, bar those with disabilities, uneducated in general, etc, people learn to read well invariably if they are exposed to it enough (and I don't mean 'read' as in 'interpret literature,' but read basic written form). They just need to be taught.
_________________________
A linguistics major who loves piano and knows too much theory/history without knowing how to play it as well as he wants to be able to.

Let's hope that changes. Taught piano for almost two years and currently working on:
"Going back to the basics..."

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