Some Thoughts Concerning Studying Methods

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Some Thoughts Concerning Studying Methods

Post by MrHickoryHam » Mon Jul 02, 2012 8:53 pm

Quiz Bowl is an activity that demands practice, preparation, and hard work from teams what wish to do well. The following is a guide that outlines a few key ways in which a player can improve in Quiz Bowl. The order of this guide runs from the most basic study strategies for novices all the way to advanced strategies for more experienced players. PLEASE NOTE: this guide is focused on High School Quiz Bowl, so please don't expect me to discuss how to prepare for ACF Nationals or Chicago Open or something. Thanks, and enjoy! Any feedback, suggestions, comments, etc are appreciated.

I. The Starting Block

Choose the category(ies) that you are best at, or that interest you most. Please keep in mind that your favorite subjects at school may not be your preferred Quiz Bowl categories, so do not make the assumption that you must be good/bad at certain categories based on your performance in those classes at school. Try studying all categories at first – you will quickly realize which categories you like and which ones you don’t.

Get exposed to the canon. The most difficult step for all novice/beginner-level Quiz Bowl players is developing a sense of which topics to study. Quiz Bowl is a canonical realm – certain names and terms will appear much more frequently than others. To make matters worse, there are different canons for different levels of play. But luckily, there are guides such as NAQT’s “You Gotta Know” section that will aid you in gaining a better understanding of which answers are part of the novice canon. The cool thing is: higher levels of play have canons that include everything in the novice canon as well, so having a good grasp over the most basic elements of the canon is essential to even the most advanced players. And of course, being exposed to the canon requires one to start reading packets. At this point in one’s career, one should not be researching the lead-in clues or the in-power clues of any question yet – developing a solid sense of what topics are likely to be asked is the most important objective.

Learn Beginner-Level Theory – Good vs. Bad Quiz Bowl. To be honest, studying is not the most exciting activity. Therefore, everyone wants to get the most out of the time spent studying. With that in mind, it is certainly helpful to know what types of information to study. There are certain types of clues that are considered “Bad Quiz Bowl” and are therefore not used in questions. These clues include the exact birth dates of people, exact areas (like area in square miles) of countries, and other facts that do not contribute to a better understanding of a topic. QBWiki has excellent guides on Good vs. Bad Quiz Bowl.

Begin to Look at Lists. I am aware that lists are considered a classic example of Bad Quiz Bowl. Simply memorizing the names of Nobel Prize winners or things like that does not help any player at higher levels of play. More difficult tournaments have tossups of 8 lines in length. The terms that appear on these lists will always be placed after clues that mention more detailed information about those terms, so that any player with any in-depth knowledge is guaranteed to get the question before the player with only binary-match list knowledge. So why look at lists? Well, all sophisticated, in-depth knowledge stems from basic knowledge. It is horribly insufficient to only study lists, but taking a list and researching each term further goes beyond simple memorizing and will certainly help the player. Consulting a list of facts (Authors and their works, etc) can help introduce a player to the types of topics that he/she needs to study in order to improve at QB. In other words, lists are like doorways that lead to more in-depth, more useful knowledge – they are a means to an ends, not vice versa.


II. The Intermediate Stage

More theory – intermediate level. Studying more theory will allow for more efficient and comprehensive conversations about Quiz Bowl. Learn what stock clues are, learn what “frauding” a question is – all of these terms will contribute to a better understanding of how each question works, which in turn, will allow players to have better anticipation and awareness in matches. Alongside the vocabulary, one should aim to slowly read everything on QBWiki – there are many entries worth reading in the “Quiz Bowl Lingo” and overall the “Quiz Bowl Basics” sections.

Begin writing some questions. Eventually, it will be a good idea to raise funds and/or have some fun by hosting a house-written tournament. Writing questions (and staying true to pyramidality, of course) forces a player to research any and all topics he/she writes about. This practice not only improves a player’s knowledge (the act of having to read information and create clues out of it helps to cement that knowledge in a player’s memory), but also allows for a headstart on what will be needed for any future house-writes.

LOOK AT LOTS OF PACKETS. How do you know which topics to study? Look at past tournaments! Quizbowlpackets.com and the QuizBowlDB site are great places to look. You will quickly learn which tournaments are the most well-known, and which provide the best studying material. Remember that canons are manifested in tournament questions – the topics asked in one tournament are bound to overlap with those in another. Canons are built, revised, and expanded based on happenings/trends at these tournaments, so the best way to obtain a good grasp on any canon is to study the tournaments.
(Cont.) At this point, since we are at the intermediate stage, players should begin to study not only the last (giveaway) clue of each topic, but should start studying all parts of the question. If a question summarizes the plot of an author’s work, memorize the title AND plot. More in-depth knowledge always helps a player at future tournaments, especially more difficult ones. Use of a highlighter is recommended.

Improve on knowledge of the canon. At this point, players should be getting better at distinguishing between different levels of Quiz Bowl. Players should be well on their way to developing an idea of what is “common” and what is “obscure”, what is/is not “stock”, etc. Basically, players should be able to prioritize which topics are worth studying for each desired level of difficulty.

Pay attention in class. Some things that you learn in school are utterly useless for Quiz Bowl, but many facts are worth noting. For example, many of the topics in history class will show up in Quiz Bowl tournaments. So DO NOT simply slack off and go to sleep in history class when facts are being taught. In fact, I argue that at easier levels of Quiz Bowl (middle-high school), history is the school subject that has the most applicability in Quiz Bowl.


III. Advanced Methods of Study

Look up terms in reference sources - legitimate ones. Now we are in the land of people who want to prepare for difficult tournaments.
In order to follow the rule of not writing unreasonably difficult questions, writers will certainly use many of the terms that one has heard about in studying previous tournaments. However, the writer will try to avoid using previously-used clues and may even create tossups out of terms that may have been mentioned only once in your studies. If you only go so far as to memorize those names and titles, you will be hopeless at even moderately difficult tournaments playing against competitive teams. Reserving your knowledge of a topic to the giveaway phase of a question is as good as giving your opponent free points. So do the right thing, and actually look up the terms.
Now that you know what you should NOT do, let’s talk about what you should do. Look up the topics AT LEAST on Wikipedia/Sparknotes/misc. sources so that you actually know some in-depth information on each topic. Ideally, these encyclopedic sources will never yield as much depth and understanding as studying the topic in a class, but at the high school level, there are very few available classes that discuss the types of early clues that appear in Quiz Bowl (how are you going to ensure that your literature class is specifically going to read “When I was one and twenty” by A.E. Housman?). So at least these encyclopedic sources give you decent information on, say, a book’s plot and who some of the important characters are. Underline some key words or phrases in the question that talk about the book, and supplement it with your own notes in the margin, where you briefly jot down some key plot points. This practice is not perfect, but better than blindly memorizing clues.
Finally, it is important to know why this habit of researching terms and taking notes on them is important. The theory on the order of difficulty of tournament questions goes as follows. The “novice” level is limited to certain answers and certain clues. The “intermediate” level simply involves adding more obscure clues to the topics used in novice tournaments, with additional, more difficult topics. The “elite” level of Quiz Bowl involves adding considerable amounts of very obscure clues, adding obscure tossup topics, and above all, taking terms that are used as clues in intermediate Quiz Bowl and writing tossups out of them. For example, intermediate tournaments may ask questions about Johannes Brahms in which the clue “this composer of the German Requiem…” appears. At PACE NSC 2010, the topic “German Requiem” by Brahms was made into a standard, 8-line tossup. Players who researched this piece when they first came across it could certainly have gotten it in power or slightly after power. Those who didn’t put in the research time would have had to wait until after the giveaway.

A Quick Note on Researching Visual Art…LOOK UP THE ART ON GOOGLE IMAGES OR SOMETHING. There are countless ways to describe each piece of artwork, so it is essential that Fine Arts players have running images of the art they study in their memory. Additionally, clues on works of art do not tend to have obvious buzzwords so don’t try to listen for them. It is only through piecing together (in your mind) the images in the clues that you can virtually recreate the painting, sculpture, or other type of art work from the clues and then match it to a piece of artwork in your memory.

Talk about Quiz Bowl/Finish Learning Theory. Discuss strategy and material with your team. Talk about which tournaments are worth studying, which new references you have come across, etc. Most importantly, make sure that every category is covered between the members of your team. Don’t have everyone study science and leave the other categories blank. Winning consistently against competitive opponents requires your team to have the best possible chance of answer every question (a.k.a you need all the help you can get) – never deliberately leave knowledge gaps in certain categories.
(Cont.) In terms of theory, make sure that your team is familiar with psychological strategy in Quiz Bowl. Know the “Romero Method”, “MacKenzie Method”, etc. Having a good grasp over these terms allows team members to quickly develop strategy within a match, depending on how the match is going. A good team must be in agreement over whether to be aggressive or passive, lateral or exact in their play. Having the wrong mindset can lead to unnecessary risks or slowness, which may result in negs/late buzzes and then losses.

Notebooks and Note-Taking. Notebooks for writing down clues/notes are truly optional, but some players prefer this method to printing out the packets and highlight/annotating. And of course, as mentioned in a previous point, note-taking of some sort is essential to improving knowledge. Of course, there are many who prefer taking electronic notes, and that is fine.

Recommended, but optional: House-Write! Schedule for your school to host a tournament and divide up question-writing responsibilities amongst the team. The need to write good questions will force you to do research that you otherwise might not have done. It’s a great way to study while helping your team raise money for tournaments/trips. It is not mandatory for a team to do a house-write - writing questions for NAQT or other organizations/tournaments will also help a player improve. It's just that doing a House-Write can help players recognize and practice engaging in many of the roles they don't usually fill in the Quiz Bowl world (moderating, writing, editing, maybe even tournament directing etc)

Read about terms that aren’t mentioned in previous packets. Just because you have never seen a term mentioned in a packet you’ve studied does not mean it’s not important – especially the works of famous people. Sooner or later, those terms will be incorporated into the canon, and most likely, you will not know that the assimilation has happened until you come across it in a tournament. I am not suggesting that you study every work of every person, but if there’s a work that has never been mentioned but is considered one of a famous person’s best works, or a Nobel laureate that has never come up in tournaments, then it is worth looking them up.


IV. Myths Regarding Studying Methods

1. “Reading the actual novels, plays, etc is the most efficient way to study literature”

Now, I will admit that reading REALLY famous works is helpful, especially on answering tossups on said works. But one should not devote 24 hours a day to reading "Forest of the Pygmies". There are simply too many works of literature that one must study, and one simply does not have the time to fully read everything. There will, of course, be some clues that can only be known through real reading. But realistically, do you believe you will have time to read EVERY work of literature you come across? Perhaps if you limit your canon to novice high school, where writers cycle between Great Expectations, The Scarlet Letter, Brave New World, and The Great Gatsby all day. But certainly not if you ever plan to move onto higher difficulty levels.
Don’t take this the wrong way. Reading is great, even in Quiz Bowl. You will definitely get questions on books you’ve read faster than those on books you’ve never read. It’s just that you can, at most, fully read less than 50% of all literature that is asked (and that estimate is being really generous), and that’s if you don’t spend any time doing anything else, including homework/sports/other extracurriculars/being with friends. My argument is that while reading may be the most comprehensive way to learn literature, it is not the most time-efficient.


2. “Computational Math is worth studying for Quiz Bowl purposes.”

NO. Math VOCABULARY is worth studying, but what are you going to do with comp math? Research the different clues that one writes for the answer line of “36”? Oh, I'm sure that knowing that "36 is the derivative of 36x" will help you a great deal when you are years away from even touching the subject of calculus. And no comp. math clue is likely to be repeated, so don't expect to take shortcuts by memorizing clues. It is important to pay attention in math class, but there is no point in trying to learn EXTRA computational math just for Quiz Bowl purposes.

3. “Listening to works of music helps everyone improve at answering Fine Arts questions.”

This might be my most controversial argument, but I do not believe that everyone benefits from listening to works of music for purposes of Quiz Bowl improvement. Yes, if you take a class, watch a lecture, or have some sort of analytical discussion on a piece, then you can buzz on clues such as “This piece opens with descending triplets in A Major”, but the average listener cannot tell the key in which a small segment of music is played, and fewer listeners actually note that in their memory banks naturally. Those who have indeed analyzed a piece of music will see the significance in these seemingly obscure-sounding clues and therefore be able to get a question off of them, but the reality is: most people have not had the privilege of carefully scrutinizing every well-known piece of music. Therefore, for the sake of pyramidality, I am not suggesting a change in the types of clues that are used in music questions, but am rather just alerting novice players to the fact that blindly listening to a piece will not help you nearly as much as reading a Sparknotes entry on a work of literature, for example. To a player who does not recognize the significance in specific small segments of each music piece, a clue on musical structure is just as useless as a visual art lead-in that goes “In this painting, there is a tree.” I remember reading a thread on the HSQuizBowl forums where one individual was suggesting that clues on musical structure and notation were bad – I am not suggesting that. But I am adamantly stating that players (especially novice players) with no at-least-somewhat decent understanding of music as a whole will never benefit from blindly listening to pieces of music without any idea of what they are listening for.
Again, I highly recommend listening to music in general, but it is not the best use of your time to listen to music purely for Quiz Bowl purposes if you do not understand the language of music well.


4. “Quiz Bowl practices are a good way to study.”

Definitely NOT. Practice is a great place to train the skills that cannot be developed while doing research and taking notes: teamwork, reflexes, strategy, etc. Practice is also a great place to apply the knowledge you have gained, and it is a good idea to write down new, unheard topics in practice. But to actually research the topics? Definitely not in practice. And to believe that “hearing a clue once in practice” means “committing the clue to memory and magically acquiring in-depth information on that clue”? Definitely not valid, though it would be cool :)

EDIT: Changed "Torrey Pines Database" to its replacement: "QuizBowlDB"
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Re: Some Thoughts Concerning Studying Methods

Post by blizzard » Mon Jul 02, 2012 9:20 pm

I think this is a really good guide for learning how to study. However, I disagree with saying that practicing is not a good way to study. I think that depends on the individual person. For me, practicing Is the best way to learn new topics/clues. I find a lot easier to remember a clue if I have heard it in a question than if I look it up. Also, practicing with good players is a really good way to learn new information because if you can see what clues they buzzed on for certain questions. Even if you don't know anything about a topic, you can still learn clues for it. When I first started playing quizbowl and was practicing with my team, I remember hearing questions on The Handmaid's Tale. There would always be a buzzer race on the clue about playing Scrabble, so I associated playing Scrabble with The Handmaid's Tale. At that point, I knew nothing about The Handmaid's Tale; I didn't know what the plot was about, who the main character was, or even who the author was, but I did know that they played Scrabble, and eventually I would win buzzer races on it because of that clue. I eventually did study The Handmaid's Tale and I learned about it, but at that time simply being at practice led to me getting tossups on it. I guess what I am getting at is that is that practicing can be a good way to study for some people, and is not necessarily a bad way to study.
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Re: Some Thoughts Concerning Studying Methods

Post by Tanay » Mon Jul 02, 2012 11:15 pm

This post has a lot of good information, but I think it's worth clarifying (for any true novices reading this) that:
MrHickoryHam wrote: Perhaps if you limit your canon to novice high school, where writers cycle between Great Expectations, The Scarlet Letter, Brave New World, and The Great Gatsby all day. But certainly not if you ever plan to move onto higher difficulty levels.
is hyperbole.
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Re: Some Thoughts Concerning Studying Methods

Post by Urech hydantoin synthesis » Tue Jul 03, 2012 12:59 am

MrHickoryHam wrote:Recommended, but optional: House-Write! Schedule for your school to host a tournament and divide up question-writing responsibilities amongst the team. The need to write good questions will force you to do research that you otherwise might not have done. It’s a great way to study while helping your team raise money for tournaments/trips. It is not mandatory for a team to do a house-write - writing questions for NAQT or other organizations/tournaments will also help a player improve. It's just that doing a House-Write can help players recognize and practice engaging in many of the roles they don't usually fill in the Quiz Bowl world (moderating, writing, editing, maybe even tournament directing etc)
I wouldn't exactly recommend it to all top-[insert number] teams, especially if they aren't prepared for it (as outlined here)
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Re: Some Thoughts Concerning Studying Methods

Post by Sen. Estes Kefauver (D-TN) » Tue Jul 03, 2012 1:07 am

Yeah, that's not advice we need to be giving right now. Too many people housewrite sets and not enough of them are good enough to be worth the effort. Write your own questions for fun and studying, but don't force them on unsuspecting innocents, please!
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Re: Some Thoughts Concerning Studying Methods

Post by MrHickoryHam » Tue Jul 03, 2012 1:25 am

blizzard wrote:I think this is a really good guide for learning how to study. However, I disagree with saying that practicing is not a good way to study. I think that depends on the individual person. For me, practicing Is the best way to learn new topics/clues. I find a lot easier to remember a clue if I have heard it in a question than if I look it up. Also, practicing with good players is a really good way to learn new information because if you can see what clues they buzzed on for certain questions. Even if you don't know anything about a topic, you can still learn clues for it. When I first started playing quizbowl and was practicing with my team, I remember hearing questions on The Handmaid's Tale. There would always be a buzzer race on the clue about playing Scrabble, so I associated playing Scrabble with The Handmaid's Tale. At that point, I knew nothing about The Handmaid's Tale; I didn't know what the plot was about, who the main character was, or even who the author was, but I did know that they played Scrabble, and eventually I would win buzzer races on it because of that clue. I eventually did study The Handmaid's Tale and I learned about it, but at that time simply being at practice led to me getting tossups on it. I guess what I am getting at is that is that practicing can be a good way to study for some people, and is not necessarily a bad way to study.

I think that by the definition of "study" that you presented, you are absolutely right. Hearing a particular question in practice does help you be better prepared to answer it in the future. Also, it is true that hearing questions in practice helps expose you to newer clues. I should have been more clear on the definition of "studying" that I was using. By "study", I was referring to the learning of more comprehensive, in-depth information on a particular topic beyond what the clues in the question reveal. For example, using your The Handmaid's Tale reference, my definition of "study" would have been learning about Offred, Serena Joy, the Chauffeur Nick and his revolutionary group Mayday, etc even if they are not mentioned in the clues that you normally hear (since there was always a buzzer race on "scrabble"). Like you said, even as you were winning buzzer races on the "scrabble" clue, you did not really have a solid understanding of the overall plot of the book. Therefore, on a different question of the same answer line that did not have the "scrabble" clue, you would not have been able to buzz as quickly. In fact, even on a bonus set that asks for any of the names I mentioned above, you would have been stuck back then. On the contrary, if you truly "studied" the topic and researched it, you would be able to get many different questions on The Handmaid's Tale, each with different clues. What I was getting at in my post was this: thinking that learning the clues to one particular question on a topic is all that one needs to be able to answer any question on that same topic is a misguided belief. Hearing a topic being asked verbally is helpful to one's learning, but it cannot replace the necessity of researching that topic more in-depth to develop a comprehensive cognitive map of it. One should always be looking to expand one's knowledge of a topic to the point where one can buzz on any clue regarding that topic - only then can one answer questions on that topic at competitive levels of play. Still, I do agree with you on your point that hearing a question certainly helps some players more than looking it up does - it is definitely true (Idk why I didn't think of that initially).



Tanay - yes you are correct. I do not think anyone would be confused into thinking that some level of Quiz Bowl only has 4 works in its canon, but thank you for the clarification just in case.

Horned Screamer wrote:Yeah, that's not advice we need to be giving right now. Too many people housewrite sets and not enough of them are good enough to be worth the effort. Write your own questions for fun and studying, but don't force them on unsuspecting innocents, please!
Good point - I sort of meant that part for teams that are past the novice level (I think I put that suggestion in the "Advanced" section). I wrote about how teams should write questions as a learning tool in an earlier section. But yes, I want to echo your point (and Ben's point) that Housewrites should only be for high-caliber, knowledgeable teams.
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Re: Some Thoughts Concerning Studying Methods

Post by Auroni » Tue Jul 03, 2012 1:39 am

Good point - I sort of meant that part for teams that are past the novice level (I think I put that suggestion in the "Advanced" section). I wrote about how teams should write questions as a learning tool in an earlier section. But yes, I want to echo your point (and Ben's point) that Housewrites should only be for high-caliber, knowledgeable teams.
Actually, this isn't quite right either. Several extremely good TJ teams in the past have produced horrendous housewrites. I think the ability to put together a good set is tangential to what you're trying to discuss here, which is the ability to improve at quizbowl.
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Re: Some Thoughts Concerning Studying Methods

Post by MrHickoryHam » Tue Jul 03, 2012 2:03 am

Tokyo Sex Whale wrote:
Good point - I sort of meant that part for teams that are past the novice level (I think I put that suggestion in the "Advanced" section). I wrote about how teams should write questions as a learning tool in an earlier section. But yes, I want to echo your point (and Ben's point) that Housewrites should only be for high-caliber, knowledgeable teams.
Actually, this isn't quite right either. Several extremely good TJ teams in the past have produced horrendous housewrites. I think the ability to put together a good set is tangential to what you're trying to discuss here, which is the ability to improve at quizbowl.

Yea I was afraid of misinterpretation of that statement - I think that amidst all of that, what I'm trying to say is: putting together a successful housewrite is not essential to improving at Quiz Bowl. the experience is valuable, and those who do put together a well-written tournament will obviously benefit greatly. but I don't want players to feel like doing a housewrite is the be all end all of Quiz Bowl improvement - thats why I labelled it "recommended but optional" - its beneficial if you choose to do one (assuming its a good one), but its not necessary for player/team development. and that "high-caliber, knowledgeable teams" part - im not saying all good teams will write good housewrites. im saying that the potential to create a good housewrite is pretty much limited to teams that know what they are doing. and as you mentioned, even then you cannot guarantee a good housewrite. thats why i never wrote that success in housewrites is guaranteed or anything, because its certainly not.

hope this clears things up.
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Re: Some Thoughts Concerning Studying Methods

Post by Muriel Axon » Tue Jul 03, 2012 2:27 am

Horned Screamer wrote:Yeah, that's not advice we need to be giving right now. Too many people housewrite sets and not enough of them are good enough to be worth the effort. Write your own questions for fun and studying, but don't force them on unsuspecting innocents, please!
Not to mention that even if you are a good question-writer, there are other options than writing housewrites. I don't recall NAQT having a huge glut of good questions, and writing for them will probably be more rewarding in knowledge and $$$ than making a housewrite for most people.

As for classical music - I don't know why you [referring to the OP] would think that what you're saying is controversial at all. Of course listening to classical music without any knowledge about music, or attention directed toward its musically interesting structures, isn't going to get you points.* I would add the corollary that if you want to be a good music player, instead of solely memorizing clues from packets, you should learn about how to listen to and analyze music. (Having scores to the pieces you listen to helps sometimes.)

*Caveat: Often, listening to a piece will help people remember its title and associate it with a particular style and composer. Obviously, this is helpful.
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Re: Some Thoughts Concerning Studying Methods

Post by Sen. Estes Kefauver (D-TN) » Tue Jul 03, 2012 6:32 am

Actually, to be good at high school music you really don't need to know more about music than familiarity with what the major works by famous composers are, their historical style, what the instruments in the orchestra are, and, like, what the most common types of composition are (concertos, symphonies, sonatas). If you have all of that baseline knowledge, all you really need to do is start to listen to the music and you should be able to power lots of questions and beat almost everybody (and I mean that empirically - almost nobody knows anything about music that plays high school quizbowl in absolute terms).
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Re: Some Thoughts Concerning Studying Methods

Post by Muriel Axon » Tue Jul 03, 2012 11:10 am

Horned Screamer wrote:Actually, to be good at high school music you really don't need to know more about music than familiarity with what the major works by famous composers are, their historical style, what the instruments in the orchestra are, and, like, what the most common types of composition are (concertos, symphonies, sonatas). If you have all of that baseline knowledge, all you really need to do is start to listen to the music and you should be able to power lots of questions and beat almost everybody (and I mean that empirically - almost nobody knows anything about music that plays high school quizbowl in absolute terms).
Okay, yeah, fair enough. I mean, in high school, one regularly sees tossups on guys like Tchaikovsky go dead. It's probably one of the easiest areas to get good at, just because most people aren't.

I don't really see how listening to the music factors into that, though. In theory, you could just memorize a bunch of lists.
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Re: Some Thoughts Concerning Studying Methods

Post by Ethnic history of the Vilnius region » Tue Jul 03, 2012 12:06 pm

The Eighth Viscount of Waaaah wrote: I don't really see how listening to the music factors into that, though. In theory, you could just memorize a bunch of lists.
Listening to the pieces that come up is helpful because it helps one internalize the composer and the piece's name. For me, if I haven't actually heard the piece, I'm much more likely to forget who composed it later on if I just studied it from a list. Like, as a younger player, for whatever reason I could never remember that Grieg composed Peer Gynt. But then I heard "In the Hall of the Mountain King," and, well, I haven't forgotten it since. One could get to be a decent enough art player in high school just by memorizing a list artists and their works, but it would probably help one retain the information better to actually see the artworks as well. Same goes for music, books, everything else, imo.
MrHickoryHam wrote: 1. “Reading the actual novels, plays, etc is the most efficient way to study literature”

Now, I will admit that reading REALLY famous works is helpful, especially on answering tossups on said works. But one should not devote 24 hours a day to reading "Forest of the Pygmies". There are simply too many works of literature that one must study, and one simply does not have the time to fully read everything. There will, of course, be some clues that can only be known through real reading. But realistically, do you believe you will have time to read EVERY work of literature you come across? Perhaps if you limit your canon to novice high school, where writers cycle between Great Expectations, The Scarlet Letter, Brave New World, and The Great Gatsby all day. But certainly not if you ever plan to move onto higher difficulty levels.
I think reading the works is actually a pretty efficient way to learn a lot of lit quickly. Plays aren't that long; you could spend a week reading George Bernard Shaw plays and, presto, you are now going to get a lot of tossups on a guy that comes up in every tournament ever. Same with short stories, novellas, etc.
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Re: Some Thoughts Concerning Studying Methods

Post by MrHickoryHam » Tue Jul 03, 2012 2:25 pm

Ethnic history of the Vilnius region wrote:
Listening to the pieces that come up is helpful because it helps one internalize the composer and the piece's name. For me, if I haven't actually heard the piece, I'm much more likely to forget who composed it later on if I just studied it from a list. Like, as a younger player, for whatever reason I could never remember that Grieg composed Peer Gynt. But then I heard "In the Hall of the Mountain King," and, well, I haven't forgotten it since. One could get to be a decent enough art player in high school just by memorizing a list artists and their works, but it would probably help one retain the information better to actually see the artworks as well. Same goes for music, books, everything else, imo.
I agree with your point on looking up the artwork to help improve at visual arts questions, but that's because visual arts clues largely focus on the content of each painting, sculpture, etc which is easy to recognize and remember. It is different from music questions - here is what I mean: on a question about, say, The Arnolfini Marriage. When one examines the painting, one will notice the "cherry tree outside the window" even if one has no knowledge of how/why the painting is considered important or whether, for that matter, the cherry tree is important. In music, there are very few works that contain sections that are memorable to those who do not understand anything about the piece (example: the high bassoon solo in The Rite of Spring). The difference, I believe, lies in the inability of the novice listener to note which sections of a piece are worth "memorizing" if there is no obviously memorable theme in the piece (like there is in "In the Hall of the Mountain King"). Even then, Quiz Bowl clues on works of music will mention specific note sequences or specific tempos for individual movements - how does the average listener tell exactly what notes are being played in a specific segment of music? and do we expect the average listener to memorize the tempo for every movement in a musical work or to magically "know" what movements are significant? (if you were an average listener, how would you somehow know that the Largo movement of Dvorak's Symphony No. 9 is more significant than the other movements?). Yes, I agree that you will be less likely to forget which composer wrote which piece if you heard the piece, but I'm arguing that listening to a piece blindly won't help you answer a question about a musical work off of those musical notation/structure clues that appear very frequently in the early parts of questions.

In spite of the situation in music questions, I feel that even novices in the visual arts who have no knowledge of how a work of art can be considered significant can still power visual arts questions just by looking up the art works. For visual art, common sense can lead even the most clueless viewer to have a decent idea of what is "important to memorize" about a particular work of art - the aspects that are unique to that work or simply stick out at the viewer. In music, seemingly everything is "unique" to that particular piece, so no one knows what is "special" and worth memorizing. In art, certain aspects of each piece simply cannot be made into clues - for example, I don't know how useful it is to write a clue stating "this work sees a man dressed in blue" (is it a Renoir? is it "Breaking Home Ties" by Rockwell?). Therefore, those who study visual arts (even with no real understanding of the visual arts) have a much easier time deciding what to memorize about art works and can therefore benefit just from looking up each art piece, compared to the novice music player who may never know what parts of a musical work are worth memorizing and can therefore never buzz on an obscure musical notation/structure clue after simply listening to a piece.

Ethnic history of the Vilnius region wrote:
I think reading the works is actually a pretty efficient way to learn a lot of lit quickly. Plays aren't that long; you could spend a week reading George Bernard Shaw plays and, presto, you are now going to get a lot of tossups on a guy that comes up in every tournament ever. Same with short stories, novellas, etc.
Yes, if all literature was short stories, short plays, and novellas. when you begin to study longer questions and you come across a question on an author that mentions 5 books and they're each 400 pages long and you have to study like 30 questions a day, then actually reading the literature is not time-efficient. for the types of literature that you mentioned, I agree with you that reading them is time-efficient, but I'm discussing literature as a whole here. and I'm assuming that the player studies at a decent pace where he/she comes across new works quite often. you will never read quickly enough to cover all that you come across . so what does one do for all that one does not have the time to read? well, seems like you would have to resort to less time-consuming ways to study those works than actually reading them.
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Re: Some Thoughts Concerning Studying Methods

Post by Muriel Axon » Tue Jul 03, 2012 2:45 pm

Ethnic history of the Vilnius region wrote:Listening to the pieces that come up is helpful because it helps one internalize the composer and the piece's name. For me, if I haven't actually heard the piece, I'm much more likely to forget who composed it later on if I just studied it from a list. Like, as a younger player, for whatever reason I could never remember that Grieg composed Peer Gynt. But then I heard "In the Hall of the Mountain King," and, well, I haven't forgotten it since. One could get to be a decent enough art player in high school just by memorizing a list artists and their works, but it would probably help one retain the information better to actually see the artworks as well. Same goes for music, books, everything else, imo.
I don't personally have much difficulty memorizing names of works and associating them with composers without having listened to them, but at this point it's just my words and preferences against yours. I still find careful listening useful, since of course there will often be clues about the works. And because some of them are awesome.
I think reading the works is actually a pretty efficient way to learn a lot of lit quickly. Plays aren't that long; you could spend a week reading George Bernard Shaw plays and, presto, you are now going to get a lot of tossups on a guy that comes up in every tournament ever. Same with short stories, novellas, etc.
Plays and short stories are definitely useful to read at al levels. Same with short poems - especially since questions on poems will generally quote them directly.
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