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Soon to adopt a concertina--what advice?
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Author:  michaelpthompson [ Thu May 23, 2019 7:42 am ]
Post subject:  Soon to adopt a concertina--what advice?

Thanks to a friend who has tired of it, I will soon be the proud parent of a concertina. Always thought this was an interesting instrument, smaller than an accordion for those long, cramped sea voyages, but versatile enough to play dances and such.

All I know so far is that it's a 20-button C/G. I'll supply more details once I've acquired it. Any advice on the best way to proceed learning it? I have experience with woodwind and stringed instruments, so I'm familiar with the music anyway.

Author:  fatmac [ Thu May 23, 2019 9:25 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Soon to adopt a concertina--what advice?

Lucky you. :)

I think you will just need to know the note layout, hopefully your friend will be able to draw you a schematic to get you going, best of luck with the learning process. :thumbsup:

Author:  michaelpthompson [ Tue Jun 04, 2019 2:26 pm ]
Post subject:  Adopted a concertina--what advice?

Well, I now have a nearly new (and new to me) Anglo style C/G Hohner 20-button concertina. I have started off with Gary Coover's book Easy Anglo 1-2-3 and so far have learned to play a C scale. Well, almost. Any advice and encouragement appreciated.

I watched several YouTube videos on playing the Anglo concertina. Several admitted that the button/note layout can be a bit mystifying, but none were able to offer a rational explanation. Is there some hidden pattern that will make learning easier, or is it just a matter of rote muscle memory? History buffs?

Anyway, I can now post about other music besides Anasazi flute.

Author:  busterbill [ Tue Jun 04, 2019 7:38 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Soon to adopt a concertina--what advice?

I've been playing the concertina for quite a while. It is complicated, but simple at the same time. Sometimes you will approach the tunes linearly (playing the notes along the rows) and sometimes geographically (using notes from both rows in a pattern that might make you think of a square.) That will take a while to figure out. It isn't so important right away, but eventually you will find you want to use the c or d or g on a different row because it makes sense for getting your fingers ready to hit the next note in a tune. Or you want to find a note that will sound the same but in a different bellows directions so you can catch up on air or for emphasis or ornamentation. You will gradually find out where those are. But don't fret about it.

Anglo concertina is pretty intuitive after you figure out where your notes are. With a 20 button you are missing a very important key C#. This is not critical for playing for a while or playing for yourself. Though eventually you may find it limiting if you want to get out of the key of G or C or their relative modes. But there are a lot of tunes you can play in those keys. Early tunes I learned were Maggie in the Woods, Rattlin' Bog and Britches Full of Stitches and the Kesh Jig.

I tried the books with cassettes back in the olden days, or Cds, but they may be more difficult to deal with than the videos that are out there now. I'd check out the Online Academy of Irish Music for their free beginners classes. I think they give a week trial. And I believe they teach you quite a few tunes in the key of G in the beginning. If you delve deep into the concertina and don't have a teacher nearby they cover ornaments very well, and there are other online teachers that can help you build up the ornaments we use in Trad too, but my limited experience online has been with the 3 concertina teachers who give lessons with the Online Academy of Irish Music. So I don't know what other online teachers are like.

Basics are great for now. A 20 button is the way many of us started. It gives you an idea if you want to invest the time to learn the instrument without laying down too many dollars. Have fun!

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