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Beginner Concertina for child..

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Guest Peter Laban
That's why I said the right size. She's 6 years old

 

That is also why I put up the top picture, that girl was very young, not even six I'd say, and her instrument was a Stagi, (relatively) big and ponderous. Yet she was firing off polkas without much of a problem (she had only been at it for a very short while so she had only polkas, two of them)

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I'm not really sure I understand the need for a "child size concertina" at all. Kids are resilient enough to work wonders with the tools at hand. Some classics from YouTube in the small hands.

 

Twinkle Twinkle Concertina

 

Una Concertina;-)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5FkREv9wgOQ&fmt=18

 

Darlin Clementine

 

They sound like they're having fun learning, and I don't think they see a limitation at all.

 

And also I don't think anyone told them they can't play like this, as it supposedly takes almost 10,000 hours to get good:

Eloy

 

Ciaran FitzGerald on Concertina ComhaltasLive #283-3

 

Concertina Aine FitzGerald

 

The Rowsome sisters on the Late Late Toy Show 2008

(fast forward to 2:45)

 

I'm with Peter; I think it's a nonexistent problem.

 

Thanks

Leo

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Which probably means a good entry+ level Lachenal with brass reeds and 20 buttons will be more than adequate. Not very expensive, with great feel, small and light, easy to fix (relatively). Lots of spare reeds, replaceable. Great look. Better bellows. Not very loud, yet sweet sounding.

Rochelle is what? $350? Lachenal will cost you $400-$500? Where is the economy? 30 buttons is not an issue, as she is going to play folk music by ear. If you are going to teach her to read, do her a favor and get English (there again, 48 button brass reeded Lachenal).

But what's wrong with small one reed accordion?

I did some recording just to show that it sounds just like concertina, but is cheaper and easier for a child to hold.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t_Y8FSqFFDU

Here's my recording of the same tune on my 20 button brass reeded Lachenal.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QWgyMtAZ7Bc

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Michael,

 

Since I could be seen as being biased in this (being the Irish dealer for Rochelle concertinas) I wasn't going to get involved in this thread, but seeing that you've sent me an email directly asking me to give my opinion, I'll make the following points in reply to your queries:

 

The general consensus seems to be the Rochelle, but ( and it's a big one in this case ), I've noted that people say this is probably the biggest of the anglos and that some adults have difficulty reaching the air button.

They are a bit bigger than most other 30-key Anglos (though, if I remember rightly, the Stagi W-15-LN is of similar size, and plenty of 20-keys are as big), but concertina-maker Wim Wakker (who designed the Rochelle) made it that way deliberately to provide more wind for the accordion reeds that are used in it (just as they are in all the other beginner-grade concertinas, like the Scarlatti and Stagi ones too!)

 

I'm very surprised to see that complaint about the air button since it is in pretty much the exact same place as on either a Stagi or a Scarlatti, whilst the Rochelle is the only Anglo in its class that has all the buttons in the same position they are in on "proper", professional-quality instruments that cost thousands more - so anybody who couldn't reach the air button on a Rochelle wouldn't be able to reach it on anything else either...

 

In any case, the rail (handle) could easily be moved closer to the buttons on a Rochelle, to suit a smaller hand.

 

A man I met recently had his son start off on a Scarlatti 30 key which he thought was absolutely fine.

They're based pretty much on the Stagi Model W-15-MS, but the button spacing is significantly wider on them, which a child might find harder to manage, whilst even an adult player would have problems readjusting to the spacing when changing between one and a more regular concertina.

 

Now I've gotten confused as there are several entry level instruments priced the same or a little cheaper - namely Ktone and Stagi Concertinas.

The Italian Stagi brand has been around for quite a long time now, though the the quality has certainly disimproved and they've always been prone to problems (after a while) with buttons disappearing inside the ends, so that notes sound continuously. Their larger, black W-15-LN model has an improved mechanism that doesn't have this problem, but the buttons of those are too far from the rail for even an adult hand.

 

I'd never heard of the Ktone before, but the instrument I saw when I Googled them is the same large, black Chinese model that forms the basis of the Rochelle - only without the Rochelle's quality control or major design improvements.

 

If all goes well we'd hope to move her up to a better quality instrument in a couple of years. Would the Scarlatti or similar hold their value at all?

No, but some Rochelle dealers offer you your money back if you trade up with them.

 

I've read around on the net about the instrument and one comment made me think twice about the Rochelle - namely that it's an accordion in Concertina clothing (!), very large in the hands and the bellows are stiff even for an adult.

As I've mentioned, all the beginner-grade and, for that matter, the intermediate ("hybrid") new concertinas use accordion reeds, to keep costs down significantly, but the Rochelle is the only beginner concertina that has individual rivetted levers and buttons that pin into the action-board like a higher grade model - the rest all have more accordion-like mechanisms, with multiple levers on rod axles.

 

In my experience, the only people who comment on the size of the Rochelle are adults - children just pick them up and play them! (Whilst they're still only half the size of a beginner button-accordion.)

 

The bellows are essentially of the very same construction as the ones on the Scarlatti (quite likely they're made by the same people), but the Rochelle is better designed and better built, plus the bellows are larger - all of which results in a "tighter" feel because they don't go in and out as fast (i.e. waste such copious amounts of air) as their rivals. Beginners may mistake this for a "stiff" bellows.

Edited by Stephen Chambers

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But what's wrong with small one reed accordion?

I did some recording just to show that it sounds just like concertina, but is cheaper and easier for a child to hold.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t_Y8FSqFFDU

Here's my recording of the same tune on my 20 button brass reeded Lachenal.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QWgyMtAZ7Bc

 

I like those little melodeons (theres'a a baby 2 row around - very expensive!)

BTW I think the tune is "tripping up stairs"

(ships are sailing is a reel)

 

Chris

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Given the fact hundreds of young children seem to be managing OK with average concertina sizes I wonder how big of a priority this really is.

A very good point!

The idea of miniature instruments for children to learn on seems to be a violin thing. OTOH, millions of small children are set down at full-size pianos and expected to get on with it. I find this schitzophrenic <_<

I started playing the mandolin on a full-sized instrument at about 6 or 7, and it has the same string length, and thus finger spacing, as the violin - no problem! Piano keys, by contrast, are so wide that even some adults have difficulty stretching even an octave with one hand.

 

All concertinas have very compact keyboards - I, for one, would even call them cramped - so there's probably as little call for a 3/4 concertina as there is for a 3/4 mandolin, and much less need than for a 3/4-size piano :P

 

Edited to add that my resident teenager, on seeing this thread, remarked on the cheap option 'they're slow and they sound awful' (which he clarified as 'not like a concertina').

 

This is a good point, too. Apparently the child in question is in a position to hear "proper" concertinas played, and the inability to get a Wheatstone or Jeffries timbre out of an East German 20-b is going to be frustrating (I've been there, but survived!). That rules out the Rochelle, too. A metal-ended Stagi sounds better (more concertina-like).

 

As to price/quality: I firmly believe that the true fanatic will make progress even on an inferior instrument, as long as it's in tune and not broken. On the other hand, the true dilettant will fail to make progress, even on a top-class instrument. Between these two extremes, there are probably those who will be motivated by the ease of playing a good instrument or demotivated by the inconvenience of a bad one.

 

Cheers,

John

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But what's wrong with small one reed accordion?

I did some recording just to show that it sounds just like concertina, but is cheaper and easier for a child to hold.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t_Y8FSqFFDU

Here's my recording of the same tune on my 20 button brass reeded Lachenal.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QWgyMtAZ7Bc

 

I like those little melodeons (theres'a a baby 2 row around - very expensive!)

BTW I think the tune is "tripping up stairs"

(ships are sailing is a reel)

 

Chris

 

Ah, yes. "Tripping up stairs". Anyways, a "baby 2 row" can be a Castagnari. Mine is miniature "Schveizer Orgele" and I got it for $120 used. Very good instrument indeed, but in the key of Eb, I believe. But I noticed that playing single melody is more comfortable on Concertina, because I'm using both hands in "normal" range. So 20 button entry level Lachenal will do the job nicely.

Size has nothing to do with comfort, it's the button spacing. It is said that Rochelle's keyboard is the same size as standard concertinas. My Albion's buttons were cramped compared to spacious Jackie though. So Rochelle may be a little too big for small hands. Lachenal then. Can't beat.

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Guest Peter Laban

Obviously, if a child has set his/her mind on playing the concertina giving it a melodeon will thoroughly turn him/her off. They're not stupid you know, they know what they want.

 

 

edit to fix typo _typo__by_Sparky1232.gif

Edited by Peter Laban

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Obviously, if a child has sat his/her mind on playing the concertina giving it a melodeon will thoroughly turn him/her off. They're not stupid you know, they know what they want.

 

Absolutely! The same holds true regarding giving the child a harmonica as a substitute for a concertina, or giving him an English concertina instead of an Anglo, or a cheap 20 button instead of a 26-30 button. I intensely dislike the Stagis, Rochelles, and their ilk. Keep the car another year and get the kid a good hybrid. Or borrow the money. If at the end of a year the kid hates it then you'll get almost all of your money back. If the kid likes it then the good instrument will do for many years before the need to upgrade - and the kid will have music, which we all agree is a priceless gift to give to any kid.

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Obviously, if a child has sat his/her mind on playing the concertina giving it a melodeon will thoroughly turn him/her off. They're not stupid you know, they know what they want.

Reminds me of a friend's daughter, who started taking Suzuki lessons on the violin before she was 2 years old. (That's younger than standard, but apparently it was not her parents' insistence, but her own, and her demonstrated ability that swayed the teacher.) After a couple of months of lessons, her father took her to hear a string quartet. After the concert she went up on stage to talk with the violinists. She walked right past the cellist and violist. Though the violins were also much bigger than her own instrument (1/8 normal size, or was it 1/16?), she knew that the viola and cello were not violins, and so of no interest to her. B)

 

Last sentence edited to make it more clear.

Edited by JimLucas

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So 20 button entry level Lachenal will do the job nicely.

Size has nothing to do with comfort, it's the button spacing. It is said that Rochelle's keyboard is the same size as standard concertinas. My Albion's buttons were cramped compared to spacious Jackie though. So Rochelle may be a little too big for small hands. Lachenal then. Can't beat.

The problems with the 20-key entry-level Lachenal you're recommending are many - apart from the lack of a C# for playing Irish music (which is what it's wanted for), brass reeds are slower to speak, have a softer timbre and both go out of tune and break more easily, whilst the button spacing would be a formidable barrier for a small child, since the G row is where the C row is on most concertinas (including the Rochelle) and the C row where the accidentals row normally is. :huh:

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So 20 button entry level Lachenal will do the job nicely.

Size has nothing to do with comfort, it's the button spacing. It is said that Rochelle's keyboard is the same size as standard concertinas. My Albion's buttons were cramped compared to spacious Jackie though. So Rochelle may be a little too big for small hands. Lachenal then. Can't beat.

The problems with the 20-key entry-level Lachenal you're recommending are many - apart from the lack of a C# for playing Irish music (which is what it's wanted for), brass reeds are slower to speak, have a softer timbre and both go out of tune and break more easily, whilst the button spacing would be a formidable barrier for a small child, since the G row is where the C row is on most concertinas (including the Rochelle) and the C row where the accidentals row normally is. :huh:

I'm not sure I understood you remark.

My Jackie was second hand and I only had to open it twice or thrice to fix gurgling valves and bend the reeds to fix the gaps.

My Baritone was brand new and it simply didn't work off the shelf. Low reeds wouldn't speak, valves would clack, air button would not go in smoothly etc.

The potential of these instruments is great and once set up they hold on for a long time. But I'd appreciate a bit more care in setting them up before shipping.

Same set-up is needed with ancient Lachenal. Only once set up, it holds forever. Complaining that brass reeded Lach is slow compared to cheap accordion reeded Rochelle is loughable. Esp. that the child only begins and there are plenty of adults using them for decades with great success.

Brass reeds don't go out of tune so easily and if did, cheaply replaced. C# is not needed for Irish music. If 8 year old child shows up at the Pub to partake in session in D, her C instrument will not be the source of calamity.

As for distance from the wrist bar - you may have a point, but pictures of kids happily playing large and clunky Chinese made 2 rowers makes situation more optimistic.

On top of all the above, Lachenal is lighter and smaller, has better bellows, better looking and has natural wood finish compared to celluloid.

Don't get me wrong, I'm fond of my Jackie. But I'm adult, I can put up with plywood, celluloid, chinese reeds etc.

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On top of all the above, Lachenal is lighter and smaller, has better bellows, better looking and has natural wood finish compared to celluloid.

Don't get me wrong, I'm fond of my Jackie. But I'm adult, I can put up with plywood, celluloid, chinese reeds etc.

Children are just as individual as adults, who don't all share your tastes, Misha.

 

Some children can put up with far more than even a very tolerant adult. Others may be less tolerant than even a quite intolerant adult. At least as important, if not more so, is that things you feel need to be "put up with" may not matter a whit to another individual (adult or child), while things you don't notice or perhaps even prefer might greatly annoy someone else (adult or child). E.g., some individuals think both the buttons and their spacing on English-made concertinas should be greater, but I don't. I like the existing spacing, and of the various different button diameters I've experienced on English, duet, and especially anglo (the most varied), I prefer those of the smallest diameter.

 

I hope Michael (who started this thread, not Michael=Misha, to whom I'm replying) has a good awareness of what his daughter feels is important. Even better, I hope that they can find a way for her to try the different alternatives that he can afford, and that he can afford something that she can enjoy.

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On top of all the above, Lachenal is lighter and smaller, has better bellows, better looking and has natural wood finish compared to celluloid.

Don't get me wrong, I'm fond of my Jackie. But I'm adult, I can put up with plywood, celluloid, chinese reeds etc.

Children are just as individual as adults, who don't all share your tastes, Misha.

 

Lachenal IS better looking. That's why Rochelle's design is to emulate English made instruments, not the other way around.

Lachenal is smaller and lighter.

It's reeds are better made.

It's bellows are better made, with real leather.

It has no plastic parts, therefore it will hold forever.

It is not covered with celluloid for structural integrity, therefore it's cabinet is made better, with real wood vs. plywood of Rochelle.

Your child will hold a part of history, grow with it, learn to appreciate delicate detailing and quality of design.

Michael wants to send his daughter on a lifelong journey, is it not? Get prepared for the road, then.

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Some children can put up with far more than even a very tolerant adult. Others may be less tolerant than even a quite intolerant adult.

 

Indeed; a child's sense of wonder is often greater than an adult's sense of rationality...both are often inhibited by image-consciousness, naivete and ignorance (the adult, likely, more).

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Thanks for all that advice folks - much appreciated.

 

The main point people made seems to be 'buy the best instrument you can afford'.

 

In this case that happens to be a Rochelle, which people on the site seem to favour as a step above the cheaper chinese instruments ( Scarlatti etc ). Nobody has answered my question about this instrument - namely it's large size and possible suitability for a child. I've read around on the net about the instrument and one comment made me think twice about the Rochelle - namely that it's an accordion in Concertina clothing (!), very large in the hands and the bellows are stiff even for an adult.

 

Are the Scarlattis or Stagis smaller in comparison? I see some of the top end Stagi models here http://www.jollybox.co.uk/images/5conc.jpg priced in the around £350 and over. Are these still considered inferior instruments in comparison to the Rochelle?

 

I have to say listening to people on Youtube playing the brands mentioned above the one thing I noticed is they all sound like small accordions. Is that just me?!

I picked up a concertina for the first time about 4 months ago - after doing just what you have; reading and asking questions and agonizing over which instrument to buy for weeks beyond sense. Then I drove the 280 miles to the nearest concertina/accordion dealer (Smythes' in Oakland, CA). I spent two hours playing with the concertinas in that shop and I'm glad I did. I bought the Rochelle because for me it simply sounded and felt better than the Stagis in the shop. I've been in love ever since. My advice is just go for it. Don't worry about "best" or "investment" values; if your daughter falls in love with the Rochelle now, she'll probably find a way to obtain a higher level instrument if she needs too. Otherwise, she'll already have her "best" instrument. And the only instruments that provide "the best value" are the ones that are loved, because they get played.

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Guest Peter Laban

_caps__by_GirlFlash.gif

 

A bottom-line concertina will be outgrown in maybe six months. Children will know when they are held back by their instrument, especially if they're taking lessons and see other children with nice sounding concertinas. If anything children are competitive and they know when their peers have better instruments. Then you'll be looking at getting them a new one, the one you could have gotten in the first place. And six year old will indeed find a way of getting a better instrument: they'll come to you and make you buy it.

 

 

Zombierap__s_Request__Parody_by_VIPwnt.gif_comment__by_ScreamingGerbil.gif

Edited by Peter Laban

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Which probably means a good entry+ level Lachenal with brass reeds and 20 buttons will be more than adequate. Not very expensive, with great feel, small and light, easy to fix (relatively). Lots of spare reeds, replaceable. Great look. Better bellows. Not very loud, yet sweet sounding.

Rochelle is what? $350? Lachenal will cost you $400-$500? Where is the economy? 30 buttons is not an issue, as she is going to play folk music by ear. If you are going to teach her to read, do her a favor and get English (there again, 48 button brass reeded Lachenal).

But what's wrong with small one reed accordion?

I did some recording just to show that it sounds just like concertina, but is cheaper and easier for a child to hold.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t_Y8FSqFFDU

Here's my recording of the same tune on my 20 button brass reeded Lachenal.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QWgyMtAZ7Bc

 

I don't know about that $400 Lachenal... where do you find those? Aside from broken ones that need major work? I've been shopping around, and the best deal I can find in used/antique concertinas is a rebuilt 26 button lachenal for ~$2000. I'm sure a lachenal in good shape is a vastly superior instrument to the Rochelle, but I'd be weary of buying one that costs $400 unless you know it's in fully playable condition.

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