Hello. I am very interested in learning to play the concertina. My main reasons for learning are that I like the traditional styles of music that are played on it, and the sound in general, and also because it would be a small, portable, and versatile instrument. (And it's cool. )
The problem I have run into is figuring out what kind I want to learn. I'm sure that is a very common question among beginners, but I haven't been able to find the answers to my exact questions on here, so I'm posting this in hopes someone can help. I've done a fair bit of research but the internet has reached the limits of its efficacy. I am at the point where I need a real person with knowledge to answer specific questions, and I've had absolutely no luck finding anybody who knows anything about concertinas locally. (I live in Corvallis, Oregon, USA. Apparently concertinas are not big in the Northwest...)
I have played piano for about 18 years (since I was 6) so I am very familiar with music, can sight read very well, and I am very determined to learn, so I am not anticipating any troubles regarding the actually learning or playing of the concertina (beyond the normal learning curve of any new instrument.) So differences that effect ease of learning are not my main concern.
I have ruled out Anglo concertinas, for various reasons. So I am looking at English or Duet. My main goal is to have the most options as to what styles of music I can play. Though to be realistic, especially in the short run, the most likely music I will be playing (and one of the main things I want to be able to play) is traditional hymns. (If I get to the point where I can sit down and play hymns out of my hymnal for myself or even to accompany singing I will consider that success.)
From my research I had settled on the duet probably being the best fit for me, since it seems to be designed to easily play melodies and harmonies/chords (ideal for hymn playing). But I ran into the problems of cost and availability. I had decided that I could handle the cost of the Elise Hayden Duet from Concertina Connection, but then I realized that it is not chromatic. (I'm a pianist, so I'm having trouble dealing with the limitations of not having every note at my disposal!) How does one deal with that? Would you really just have to transpose any songs into the keys you have and hope there are no accidentals??
Is it possible to find chromatic duet concertinas that are not in the thousands of dollars range?
Or there is the option of an English concertina. From what I can find they tend to be more available/less expensive. And at least the version from Concertina Connection is fully chromatic.
I guess it boils down to this, which is more limiting to versatility: a duet concertina that is not fully chromatic, or an English concertina's layout?
At first I had thought that English concertinas were not well suited to something like hymn playing, but they were very big with the Salvation Army, so obviously they work with hymns. So is it possible but just more difficult to play melody and harmony/chords on English (leading to the development of the duet) or did they mostly just play melodies if they were solo and play in a concertina band if they wanted harmony?
Also, if I am starting with a less expensive concertina with fewer keys is it difficult to switch in the future to a larger concertina? i.e. Should I wait and invest in a concertina with a larger range to start with, or does it make no difference?
Do forgive this novella I've just written... This is why I really need an actual human person who knows stuff to talk to; there are many variables and probably some that I don't even know about yet... Hopefully my dilemma is understandable and my questions do not sound silly.
Grateful to anyone still reading,