Re: Steve as an instructor.
I was at a cross roads of deciding who in the world to have as an instructor at Balfa Camp some years back. I tend think hard on things like that, leading up to the gathering and all. Just one of the pondering moments of getting pumped up and excited about doing something ya hope turns out to be a good one... shucks we all do that.... right?
While I had finally decided on Steve Riley as hopeful, I had wondered just what kinda personality and instruction I would be stuck with for a week. I tend to get turned off by the pompus shinannigans of some I have seen and delt with, perhaps about as much as I get gauled by the groopies that feed their egos (if they are the type to get god like). All said and done, I was absolutely moved by Steve's patience and ability to teach an assortment of levels comprised of his class members. There was great dignity and respect, as if we were each special people to him for the time we devoted to his instruction... believe you me, we pay a hefty cost to be there and he treats that very well for knowing it.
I walked away (after a week) pretty dang inspired and impressed about this young masters influence to my miserable playing. His traditional technique for Cajun remains my favored style (I have favorite Cajun and favorite chosen Creole styles).
Perhaps one of the three best instructors I have had and/or encountered over the years (Riley). Now, I have had many instructors that are great artists mind you, but for some reason or another, they just lacked the ability to effectively get through to me on an instructional level (perhaps I am funny like that)... You can't go wrong with young Mr. Riley in my opinion.
I for one, would support, and, I would enjoy getting his instructional video (although videos and I have never really did that well over the live in your face saturated emersion method).
So let me ask everyone this question:
What are the specifics YOU guage as a fine instructor of accordion?
Do VIDEOS work for you?
Obviously, nothing beats one on one instruction, but if you aren't in La, that can mean few and far between sessions. The videos I have, I transferred to DVD, and that has helped a lot. I see videos and DVDs as just a piece of a learning process. If nothing else, a reinforcement, or even a cobweb duster.
As far as instructors go, my experience was with fiddle workshops. I walked away from each with something of value, but it is rare to find that perfect player/instructor combination. I found many players had a difficult time getting across to the class, maybe because they just play the stuff without thinking about it. A good example was Ralph Blizzard. I don't think he ever played the same thing twice, and though his playing was stellar, in a workshop, it let to lots os frustration in his classes. Great for moderately advanced players, but not for any level below that.
So, my opinion, look for someone with patience, someone who can articulate, someone who can see your level instantly and procceed accordingly.
But even having said all that, the other piece of the puzzle is emersing yourself in the music, and realizing what level you are at. You wouldn't want to sign up for an introductory math class and discover it's Steven Hawkings lecturing on worm holes. Well maqybe for entertainment value.
And Steve's teaching at Augusta this year, along with the other members of the Mamou Playboys. They and Keith Frank/Soileau Zydeco are the house bands.
I think one can learn from videos.. if they are done slowly enough, song broken down enough, notes held long enough, and some silence between held notes helps.
The good teacher sees learning in segments.. dosed from easy to more difficult..builds on previous knowledge.. and incorporates old moves into new songs and contexts.
Good teaching recognizes process more than product.. ( Marc Savoy's vids are the product.. Dirk Powell's vids are about process ). ?
virtuoso playing does not mean good teaching, but doesn't exclude learning. A mediocre player who can teach well is a better learning resource. IMHO.