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Tips For Playing While Standing, Anyone?

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#1 CZ in AZ

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Posted 13 August 2014 - 03:18 PM

Hi all - need some tips from the experts, here. 

 

I would like to play my C/G Anglo while walking in a parade in September and need some advice (I normally sitting with the left side on my left knee).  Does anyone have some tips on how to play standing without A) hurting my concertina, B) playing the notes I actually want to play.   No need for ornaments, just want to hold it up and play the basics of the tune. I don't think I can tighten the straps enough to make much of a difference because of my hand size.  I have thought of building something to perch the wee thing on, but can't quite construct how that would work - so thoughts on that might be useful too. 

 

Thanks for your time - looking forward to hearing your ideas,

Claire  



#2 Łukasz Martynowicz

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Posted 13 August 2014 - 04:07 PM

I don't know if this is aplicable to anglo bellows techniques, but on a duet this is one possible solution: neck and shoulder strap  (placed over one arm and under another). If you don't want to drill any holes you can try to attach the strap to side screws (on some sort of rigid "L" shaped thingy moving the pivot point over the center of the side) or with belts around wooden ends (just next to the bellows), secured by the same screw that holds the handstraps in place.

 

Neck and shoulder strap with carefully chosen lenght imitates your sitting position quite well, as the "under the shoulder" side stays in place while the other can move quite freely. 



#3 Alan Day

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Posted 13 August 2014 - 04:52 PM

The only way I can do it is to hold the concertina (Anglo)so that my fingers if stretched out face the sky.This enables the concertina to rest on the bottom of the palms of your hand thus creating a platform.The back of your hand slightly curved against the strap to hold it firm.Sometimes the chords are a little difficult to get to, but practice makes it better.You will find many Morris players adopting this position playing outside.

Al



#4 Wolf Molkentin

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Posted 13 August 2014 - 04:57 PM

The only way I can do it is to hold the concertina (Anglo)so that my fingers if stretched out face the sky.This enables the concertina to rest on the bottom of the palms of your hand thus creating a platform.The back of your hand slightly curved against the strap to hold it firm.Sometimes the chords are a little difficult to get to, but practice makes it better.You will find many Morris players adopting this position playing outside.

 

The same works for me with the Engish, but as the OP has mentioned, I would have to quit much of the ornamentation then...



#5 Jody Kruskal

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Posted 13 August 2014 - 08:19 PM

I've tried a few techniques. None work as well as sitting, but they all work.

 

1. Put your little fingers under a low button on both sides. The button works a bit like the pinky holder on an English concertina.

 

2. As Alan suggests, bend your elbows to put the box up near to your chin. The weight is on your palms.

 

3. Play just the right melody side with the left hand only being used to push the left side of the box against your middle.

 

4. If standing still, you can cock one leg up onto the toe with your weight on the other leg. The concertina gets supported against your hip helped by the thigh being at an angle. This works on either hip.

 

These all have their various advantages and disadvantages. 

 

How about helium balloons?



#6 gcoover

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Posted 13 August 2014 - 08:44 PM

I can't remember where I saw it, but I remember seeing where someone had loosened the left hand strap enough to put their thumb through a new loop next to the handrest. I tried it while playing standing up and it worked really well for a few moments, until a complaining arthritic thumb joint would have no more of it.

Gary

#7 Rod

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Posted 14 August 2014 - 12:27 AM

But Claire tells us that she is contemplating walking or marching in a parade whilst playing her concertina. I would think that the two operations are totally incompatible if the object is to produce a respectable and worthwhile musical performance, but I am happy to be proved wrong.

#8 Tradewinds Ted

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Posted 14 August 2014 - 04:37 AM

Playing in a parade is certainly compatible with a respectable musical performance, marching bands throughout the USA do this at every high school and university football game, and on several holidays.  (admittedly some of those performances are more worthwhile than others.)

 

I played Alto Horn in my high school marching band many years ago, and more recently played in a street samba band. a few years ago.  I've not tried playing my Anglo in a parade, but I know there are a few things to keep in mind.

 

The obvious one you have already identified and that is the difference between playing while sitting, and playing while standing.  For me it isn't an issue, because I normally don't rest either end or any part of the bellows on my knees or lap while playing.  Yet I no longer keep the straps very tight, although I admit my hands are probably larger than yours.  So maybe that is a place to start.  While still sittng, try playing with the instrument completely off your lap.  That probably means pointing your forearms upward somewhat above level, but it doesn't necessarily mean pointing them at a steep vertical angle, which would feel awkward.  I should also admit that I primarily play a 20 B wooden ended Anglo, and I do appreciate the light weight.

 

Next consider that it is tiring if the parade is very long.  Consider the route of the parade; just how often do you take a brisk walk over that distance while lifting an object the size of your instrument?  And playing for an extended period is tiring too.  Of course participating in the event is exciting, so that helps.  But it is a good idea to try walking a bit with your instrument as a method of preparation, so you know what you are getting into.  It does take some upper body strength to avoid letting your arms drop toward the end, and fingers get clumsy when arms are tired.

 

Next, consider whether you will be walking freely, or marching in time to the music.  After those years in marching band, and many years of dancing since, I find it easier to step in time to the music than to just walk, but that certainly wasn't the case at first.  So if you are marching in time, you need to practice that as well, and consider what pace those steps will need to be for the various tunes you expect to play.  Some tunes just aren't paced for marching, and you may not want to take a step on every beat of a fast jig!

 

If after trying it for while, lifting the instrument free hand seems like too much, a neck strap could be fastened to secure webbing loops tightly fastened around each of the ends.  Wrapping the webbing around the ends could eliminate the need to screw something into the instrument, or unduly stress an exising strap screw.  The neck strap would then support the ends at whatever height you find comfortable, while still allowing lateral movement for playing.  It would put stress on your neck of course, and I don't think I would like wearing it, but it might be a solution for you.  Again, try it out thoroughly before the day of the parade, and not just while standing still.   I've seen more than a few last minute solutions fall apart halfway through a procession.  Same goes for any type of platform.  I really wouldn't expect that to survive.

That left hand thumb under the strap idea might work too.  I also saw a thread here some months ago where someone was doing that with both thumbs because they hadn't seen the usual hand position, but once the difference was pointed out, they still seemed to prefer it.

 

Your concertina shouldn't suffer any harm as long as:

a - You don't drop it.  Remember that hands get clumsy when tired, and arms tend to droop downward over time.  But if you choose to use a neck strap, don't trust that with the full weight of the instrument either, but just use it to assist your arms in holding the concertina up.  If you take your hands away from the instrument and let it dangle you can't feel when it starts to slip.

b - You prepare in case of rain.  If it is raining, don't take the concertina.  But even if it isn't supposed to rain, remember that you won't be able to get to shelter immediately if the weather shifts, and the length of time you will be at the event is much longer than the time while in the parade.  It usually involves lining up a while beforehand, and likely involves standing around for speeches and celebrations after, and almost certainly means walking back to where you started as well, so keep a sturdy plastic bag in your pocket, just in case.  Rain damage wasn't an issue when marching with a brass instrument like the horn, but that horn got rained on many times.  ( I see you are in Tucson - well, it could happen.  I've not been to Arizona yet, but I've been rained on in summer in New Mexico and Colorado a number of times.  Of course If it doesn't rain you should take water for yourself though, as you must already know if you live there!)

 

I hope I haven't made the whole process sound too daunting.  Playing in a parade is great fun, and I hope you get to enjoy it!


Edited by Tradewinds Ted, 14 August 2014 - 03:40 PM.


#9 Alan Day

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Posted 14 August 2014 - 07:08 AM

It is a good idea before any parade to organise some sort of water protection for your concertina if it rains.An ideal solution is a loose fitting waterproof top that you can play underneath.Do not play your concertina in the rain without protection,most old concertina bellows were constructed with flour and water paste so getting the instrument soaking wet could ruin it.

Al

Oops already mentioned above, but it is sound advice.


Edited by Alan Day, 14 August 2014 - 07:09 AM.


#10 Anglo-Irishman

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Posted 14 August 2014 - 07:13 AM

The only time I've ever played on the march was in a pipe band, where I stood in for an absent tenor drummer one 12th of July (very important parade in the North of Ireland!) My friend, himself a tenor-drummer, orchestral percussionist and timpanist, taught me the rudiments in three days, and the important thing was to practise while marching, or at least marking time, rather than just standing. The drum hangs in front of your left thigh, and if you march normally, lifting your knee, the drum is all over the place and you're aiming at a moving target all the time. The trick is to keep your left leg stiff - doable, but takes practice! There may be some analogous trick for the concertina ...

 

That was back in the 1960s, when drums were still hooked into a ring on a leather shoulder-strap. Nowadays, many marching Drummers have rigid metal frames that rest on both shoulders and have a bracket lower down to support the drum, which is then stabilised clear of your leg. I wonder if this might be a way to go for the "marching concertinist." Metal strips (padded appropriately) curved over the shoulders, with a rigid ledge or tray just below waist level to support your concertina.

 

Just a thought!

 

BTW, before my crash course in tenor drumming, I had been in the Boys' Brigade and the CCCF, so marching was second nature to me. And the regular movements of marching in step keep your playing in time with everyone else's. Of course, we played only marches on the parade. I could imagine that just ambling along playing reels or slow airs would be a lot more difficult.

 

Cheers,

John



#11 Myrtle's cook

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Posted 14 August 2014 - 07:33 AM

A number of Liverpool marching concertina bands include Anglos alongside the more usual Maccans. It may be worth searching youtube to see what strategies these players adopt. Two names worth searching in this respect are:

- Bootle Concertina Band

- Colonel Saunderson Band

(sorry for not looking for these links myself - am presently posting using a phone that struggles with youtube)

 

I would expect these will bear out many of the suggestions above - and it's always reassuring to actually see what other people are doing.

 

Good luck!



#12 CZ in AZ

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Posted 14 August 2014 - 10:44 AM

Hey everyone,

Thanks so much for all your excellent ideas.   And Jody - Hi - hope your doing great!  Just to clarify, this is a goofy dress up, march around a festival with a mob of musicians - which is held every year at the Walnut Valley Festival (in Kansas) and is lead by the Carp campers at the festival.  It is great fun and usually I play my drum, but would like to play my concertina this year.   We are generally "marching" for over an hour, so I will probably need to use every hand-hold and will start my practicing straight away.  I also think I should have a safety net to avoid droppage. I will give that webbing idea a try or some other safety net idea, cause in the excitement of the moment it is really easy to lose hold.  If it threatens rain, I will likely just revert to the drum, but usually it is beastly hot, so I might try to strap on some shade somehow.  

 

I am also psyched to google these concertina marching bands and will post the links if I find them. 

 

Again thanks to all... I will play Scotland the Brave and the other marches with you in mind. :)

Claire 



#13 Tradewinds Ted

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Posted 14 August 2014 - 10:47 AM

If you find you need more ideas about a neck strap or harness, have a look at the ergonomics forum.  There is a thread enititled "Shoulder Harness" which shows a harness designed for binoculars adapted for an English Concertina.  There was also a separate post suggesting that strapping in only one end of an Anglo might work better.

I can't seem to link to them though. The link dialog box keeps hanging up on my computer when I try. :(  So you'll have to search for them yourself.  Both were in 2012 though, so just on the 2nd page of that forum.

 

You may well find other ealier suggestions there too!  Good luck.


Edited by Tradewinds Ted, 14 August 2014 - 10:48 AM.


#14 Rod

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Posted 14 August 2014 - 11:38 AM

Way back in my days as a military musician there were two amongst us who were always excused ceremonial marching duties. One was our pianist and the other was our piano accordion player. I always thought the reasons were abundantly obvious. The sousaphone player was also excused when there was a gale blowing, for what I also thought were equally obvious reasons, and I never remember our xylophone/vibraphone player being invited to join us. ! As a trombonist I was always in the front row and having no rear view-mirror may have missed out on what was going on behind me !!

#15 Wolf Molkentin

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Posted 14 August 2014 - 11:46 AM

Well, regarding the PA player I can't see anything obvious...



#16 Rod

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Posted 14 August 2014 - 12:36 PM

The piano accordion was, and probably still is not a generally accepted component of a conventional ' Military Band ' but we performed at many other functions other than ceremonial parades and he was a featured soloist on many of those occasions. It was obvious enough to me why he didn't join us on the parade ground.

#17 CZ in AZ

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Posted 14 August 2014 - 01:06 PM

Here is the link to the harness post in the ergonomics section

http://www.concertin...oulder +harness

It has pictures too....looks like webbing is wrapped around the ends, then fastened to straps that fit onto a harness going around the body.   Easier to see in the picture than to explain. 

 

Cool!



#18 Wolf Molkentin

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Posted 14 August 2014 - 03:54 PM

The piano accordion was, and probably still is not a generally accepted component of a conventional ' Military Band ' but we performed at many other functions other than ceremonial parades and he was a featured soloist on many of those occasions. It was obvious enough to me why he didn't join us on the parade ground.

 

O.k., I can see that - I was just thinking that while the piano man wouldn't carry his instrument along with the parade, the PA player might, in case there would be a demand in terms of music, of course...  ;)







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