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Beginner Concertina for child..


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#1 varney

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Posted 30 September 2009 - 01:11 PM

Hi Folks,

I've started looking for a concertina for my six year old daughter. It would be for learning Irish music so from what I can gather she'd need an anglo concertina ( 30 button ). The general discussions on beginner instruments which I've read here all seem to be for adults ( unless I've missed a few..). 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. If this is the case then it doesn't sound like the instrument for a small six year old kid - would people agree? I've looked at some Youtube videos of the instrument and it does look very big even in adult hands.

What would people suggest as an alternative bearing in mind it's for a small ( but determined!) kid?

A man I met recently had his son start off on a Scarlatti 30 key which he thought was absolutely fine. He's since moved up to something better. I see these on sale with case for around 200 stg, and was all ready to go out and buy one until I started reading around. Now I've gotten confused as there are several entry level instruments priced the same or a little cheaper - namely Ktone and Stagi Concertinas.

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?

I'm now wondering if it would make more sense to spend the money on buying a proper lachenal or similar which would mean she could stick with the same instrument if she progresses, but if she gives it up at least we can sell it on for what we paid.

Which option would you knowledgeable folks recommend? What sort of price would I be looking at for the right instrument? Where is the best place to buy?

Sorry for the heap of questions but we want to make the right choice for her and not put her off by getting a bad instrument.

many thanks,
Michael.

#2 Guest_Peter Laban_*

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Posted 30 September 2009 - 01:29 PM

It would seem sensible to talk to a teacher (assuming there will be lessons to get your daughter started). In my experience teachers are not too happy about the cheap options.

My own son started out at six or seven and we bought a mahogany ended 30 button Lachenal for him which was perfectly fine (he did use an old, borrowed, twenty button one for around six months, to see if he would stick with it) and lasted him for several years while going weekly to Edel Fox. At some point he moved on to Noel Hill's classes and at that time we got him a nice Crabb which, at sixteen, he still plays today (he took a break from it for a year, teenagers.., but came back to it a few weeks ago picking up where he left off pretty much without missing a beat).

Bear in mind the cheap options barely keep their value and will be quickly outgrown. The Lachenal we got was a bit of an expense at 800 but then, it sold for 1000 a few years later.

#3 michael sam wild

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Posted 30 September 2009 - 01:36 PM

Kids eh?? My 5 lads have all done something similar but get back to some form of music in time

They say 7 years listening then 7 learning and playing etc..


For any beginner on Anglo I'd recommend a simple mouthorgan in G for trad music to get the spirit of a diatonic instrument, what do others think?

#4 Jody Kruskal

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Posted 30 September 2009 - 02:48 PM

I say the same thing to any beginner regardless of age; get the best instrument you can afford. A good instrument will hold value and be more fun and easier to play. If you are fighting with a cheap Anglo then there is more chance of deciding that you don't like the instrument after all.

#5 Rod

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Posted 30 September 2009 - 02:54 PM

Kids eh?? My 5 lads have all done something similar but get back to some form of music in time

They say 7 years listening then 7 learning and playing etc..


For any beginner on Anglo I'd recommend a simple mouthorgan in G for trad music to get the spirit of a diatonic instrument, what do others think?


A decent quality miniature concertina with wrist straps might provide an appropriate start for a six-year-old child. Enough buttons for tiny fingers to reach ?

#6 asdormire

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Posted 01 October 2009 - 08:36 AM

This summer at the Dublin Irish Festival, I ran into a father carrying a Stagi thirty button that that he was renting for his 8? year old daughter who was taking lessons, but I didn't ask where they were located. My understanding that the instructor had arraigned the rental. I don't know if this helps.

Alan

#7 Frank Edgley

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Posted 01 October 2009 - 09:00 AM

Jody:"I say the same thing to any beginner regardless of age; get the best instrument you can afford. A good instrument will hold value and be more fun and easier to play. If you are fighting with a cheap Anglo then there is more chance of deciding that you don't like the instrument after all."

I agree with Jody. A cheap instrument will more than likely turn off a child to the instrument. He/she will not understand that it is a temporary situation and probably blame the instrument rather than the make. A better instrument will make the learning more fun (less frustration), and in the event he/she decides not to continue will have some significant resale value. A really cheap instrument is false economy when you consider the loss of the initial investment, the cost of wasted lessons, gas to lessons, your time driving & sitting through lessons, etc.

#8 tombilly

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Posted 01 October 2009 - 10:31 AM

I've seen a good children that sort of age play Scarlatti/ Stagi/ Boorinwood - whatever you're having as they are all basically the same instrument. They seem to do fine - the pressure to upgrade I've heard coming from Comhaltas teachers who think the kids will do better in competitions if they have a concertina with proper reeds. We have children and I'm all too familiar with the dilemna - currently it's trumpet but we've been through flute, fiddle, bodhran, concertina, trombone.. each time, they'd swear this was what they wan't to do. You can't just be buying the best instrument in each case!

Edited by tombilly, 01 October 2009 - 11:07 AM.


#9 varney

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Posted 01 October 2009 - 12:30 PM

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....mages/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?!

#10 Guest_Peter Laban_*

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Posted 01 October 2009 - 12:55 PM

Is that just me?!



No.

#11 Daniel Hersh

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Posted 01 October 2009 - 01:05 PM

The Stagi models I've seem are somewhat smaller than a Rochelle. Whether Stagis or Rochelles play/sound better, worse, or about the same is a matter of opinion. The Stagis definitely cost more unless you can get a good deal on a used one. Some people find the air button placement on the Stagi to be awkward even for adult-size hands. My impression is that a Scarlatti is a step down from either a Stagi or Rochelle, but I've never played one so I can't say for sure.

Re the sound, to my ear all these instruments sound somewhere between a concertina-reeded concertina and a single-reed accordion. I'd say the same about the intermediate/hybrid concertinas, but they're closer to the concertina end of that range than the cheaper ones are.

If you have a chance to have your child try some of these out, that might be helpful. I realize that's not always possible.

Daniel

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....mages/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?!



#12 Dirge

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Posted 01 October 2009 - 01:32 PM

What about an antique two row?

That would be small and light, real reeds and not a huge investment. We just had examples of how much you can do with them and well known players that use them cited in the 'Where do all the 20's go?' thread.

#13 Bill N

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Posted 01 October 2009 - 02:02 PM

You might consider a Morse Ceili from the Button Box. It's a well made 30 button anglo and is much easier to play than a Stagi or Rochelle. I would think it would be a long time, if ever, before someone would need to move up. The button placement is standard, which might not be ideal for a 6 year old hand, but it is compact and light because the action board and reed pan are combined into one unit. I've tried an Edgley, a couple of Lachenals & Jeffries and a Dipper and it is much lighter than any of those. (not impuning any of them- they were all wonderful to play- just heavier than the Morse)

From what I've seen they hold their value pretty well.

Edited by Bill N, 02 October 2009 - 12:11 PM.


#14 richard

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Posted 01 October 2009 - 02:28 PM

Hello

An ideal concertina for a child's hands would be one like my "smaller" Lachenal 26. I understand they are very rare. But wouldn't it be a great innovation for all those 6 year old beginners out there if there were more instruments of this quality and scale available?

here is a link to pictures of it.

http://www.concertin...showtopic=10055



R

#15 Rod

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Posted 02 October 2009 - 01:49 AM

Hello

An ideal concertina for a child's hands would be one like my "smaller" Lachenal 26. I understand they are very rare. But wouldn't it be a great innovation for all those 6 year old beginners out there if there were more instruments of this quality and scale available?

here is a link to pictures of it.

http://www.concertin...showtopic=10055



R


Presumably Concertinas are designed primarily for adult hands and for the youngest children therein lies the problem. True Miniature Concertinas, which surely have severe limitations for ambitious adults, could come into their own as ideal starter instruments for children as young as six, (see original posting), who would benefit from the miniatures reduced size and weight but provide sufficient scope to reveal the extent to which the child shows future potential. Hand straps, not usually evident on minatures, would, I reckon, be an essential requirement.

#16 hjcjones

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Posted 02 October 2009 - 05:28 AM

For any beginner on Anglo I'd recommend a simple mouthorgan in G for trad music to get the spirit of a diatonic instrument, what do others think?


Sorry, I don't agree. I play anglo and melodeon, but I've never got on with a mouthorgan and can barely get a tune out of one. I find them unpleasant things to play - I don't like all that sucking and blowing, and I end up dribbling everywhere :( .

Don't get me wrong, a gob-iron is a fine instrument in the right hands (mouth?). If someone can get on with a mouthorgan then it may indeed be an excellent and cheap introduction to other suck-blow instruments, but if they don't then it could put them off completely. And for a child in particular, if they have their heart set on playing concertina anything else simply wouldn't do.

If you want to play concertina then start with a concertina, in my opinion.

For an adult, I would probably recommend a Rochelle if they didn't want to spend too much at the beginning. From what I can gather there is some demand for second-hand ones, so you could recoup at least some of your money, which is probably not the case with most of the other entry-level instruments. However they are large, probably too large for a child (although I think the actual buttons are spaced the same as a normal-sized instrument).

Alternatively, a vintage or hybrid is the way to go, and although they will cost you more you can expect to get your money back when you come to sell.

So far as the OP is concerned, I think your biggest priority should be finding one the right size for your child, otherwise they won't be able to play it properly and will lose interest, and your money will be wasted. This may mean investing more in an instrument than you might have wished, but you should be able to get that back if they give it up, or move on to a better instrument in due course.

#17 Guest_Peter Laban_*

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Posted 02 October 2009 - 05:49 AM

I think your biggest priority should be finding one the right size for your child, otherwise they won't be able to play it properly and will lose interest, and your money will be wasted.



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.


Posted Image


FWIW: All of the young players in the pic below are still at it, ten years on


Posted Image



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').

Edited by Peter Laban, 02 October 2009 - 11:01 AM.


#18 hjcjones

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Posted 02 October 2009 - 12:03 PM

I think your biggest priority should be finding one the right size for your child, otherwise they won't be able to play it properly and will lose interest, and your money will be wasted.


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.


That's why I said the right size. She's 6 years old - if she can handle a normal-sized concertina then no problem, but if not... The problem then would be getting hold of a smaller one. Even then, many (if nto most) smaller instruments still have the normal button spacing.

I must admit that I have no experience of teaching children, but gut instinct tell me that if they can't physically handle the instrument then they won't make much progress. and will lose interest.

Perhaps the answer is to try a normal-size instrument and see how she gets on. If it's too big for her, put it aside for a year or two, and in the meantime she could try something like a whistle, to maintain her interest in music and to build up a repertoire of tunes.




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