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  1. If you are right handed, then the left hand will be hard to get the hang of as it's the weaker hand. Play the left hand only many times until you are more confident. Count out loud 1-2-3-4 to get the oom-pah rhythm going. When it comes to putting the 2 hands together, don't try and get through the entire tune, break it into sections. eg, the pick up and then 2 measures. Then move onto the next 2 measures (which completes the melody phrase). Then just work on that phrase. In this way you'll learn the muscle memory for coordinating both hands.
  2. I second the Edinburgh University's music theory course as a self-paced course. For learning and memorizing tunes I also recommend Brainjo - Josh Turknett is a neurologist who also took up banjo while a medical student and became fascinated with how we learn music. All the advice about playing in different environments is spot on - you have to get past the distraction of strange environments - other people, noises etc. Someone coming into the room while you are playing is the distraction. Playing in a park will be a challenge due to being outside your home, and random people around etc, but over time it becomes a little easier and less distracting. But you also need to encourage automacity to happen- (internet definition below) "Automaticity is the ability to do things without occupying the mind with the low-level details required, allowing it to become an automatic response pattern or habit. It is usually the result of learning, repetition, and practice." Using a metronome while learning a tune will tell you if you're reaching the stage of automacity or not. If you can focus on the sound of the metronome and successfully play the tune, you've hit automacity. If you have any hesitancy in your playing, you're not there yet. So don't wait to use a metronome until you've got it perfectly memorized and just want to increase speed - start using it earlier. I recommend reading through his series called "The Immutable Laws of Banjo". The earlier chapters are especially helpful. Scroll down to bottom of the page for the table of contents for each chapter. https://www.banjohangout.org/blog/35794 Also, freebie ebook here (tho I haven't read it, as I just read the online content): https://clawhammerbanjo.net/smartpractice/
  3. Gentry, I don't know how far north you live in the DFW are, but in Mansfield there is a monthly slow-ish session for Irish music, held the 3rd Friday of each month in the evening 5-7pm at Dirty Jobs Brewing. (10/15/21 - is this month's session date.) There can be up to 3 concertina players who attend. Send me a message for details. I know someone who attends regularly has a Rochelle that he no longer uses and he probably would let you try it out at the session for you to get a feel. You're also welcome to try out mine - I have a Minstrel. I was thinking of a Wren last year and decided the Minstrel was a better buy. I've not played a Wren but I'm happy with my Minstrel and it will take a long time for me to outgrow it.
  4. Hi Gentry, there is a concertina maker in the DFW area, Seth Harmon. His concertinas are not in the beginner budget price range though, but something to aspire to. Where abouts in Texas are you? There's a handful of concertina players in the DFW metroplex. Are you familiar with the Old Pal festival held in Palestine each year around Easter? It's an old time acoustic music festival (concerts, workshops, jams) with a concertina component. It is going to be held next year - and you should definitely attend. See Dan Worral's posts in this forum for more info and get onto his email list.
  5. I bought a used Minstrel through the Button Box & I'm happy with it. Being female I have smaller hands and had found the Rochelle too big for me and cumbersome. Bellows are easier to manipulate than say a Stagi, but still a little on the stiff side - the only other one I have to compare is a Herrington that has easier bellows. The buttons are smaller and aren't as high (sticking up height) as others. This may make it a little more tricky for larger fingers. Whenever I try to play another person's concertina, this is what's most obvious to me. As for action, it seems fine to me and I can do ornamentation (beginner level rolls/triplets/cuts) without problem. I'd say that when trying to go fast I've noticed the notes get clipped & don't sound fully - a partial skipping sound. That's me really pushing the speed though for me and not playing realistically at my skill level. For moderately lively pace it seems to play fine, going faster is probably a lot to do with my level & not the mechanics alone.
  6. I can add my 2 cents worth as I started on G/D. I bought a concertina on Ebay and discovered it was a G/D. I enjoy the chording harmonic style but also wanted to play Irish trad. I discovered some Irish tunes can be played and some not as well. You'll end up doing a lot more fingering on one side than the other, meaning everything is mostly happening on the right hand side, with only an occasional dip to a note on the left hand side. I used to try and figure out how to involve the left hand more as I didn't want the choppy in-out bellowing all the time. (Just my preference) I was deliberately trying to play cross rows as much as I could even though some tunes automatically fall along the rows. Last year I bought a C/G and started over from scratch learning on that. While I've learned brand new tunes on the C/G I have transferred over a few Irish tunes from the G/D. Some proved to be easier on the C/G than the G/D. EG, I could never get the hang of Off to California or The Butterfly on G/D, but they were easy tunes to learn on C/G.
  7. Apologies, the link I provided is to his subscription course - which only whets your appetite of course unless you play a secondary instrument - fiddle or banjo. This is the better link- it breaks down his theory of learning to be a musician into digestible chunks. https://clawhammerbanjo.net/the-immutable-laws-of-brainjo-deconstructing-the-art-and-science-of-practice/ Index to all the lessons: https://www.banjohangout.org/blog/36259
  8. Re Memory training: Can you hum the tune without difficulty? Easily bringing it to mind? For me this is the key. It means my brain has "taken in" the melody so when I attempt to play it even if I get a note wrong I know instantly it's wrong. The process of how we learn is a fascinating study. I found the information at Brainjo helpful. This is a book/ blog by a neurologist who also plays banjo and explores how the brain learns and remembers and how you can use these ideas to learn a music instrument as an adult. https://www.brainjo.academy/aboutbrainjo/
  9. RE OAIM 6 months is far better value. Put it this way, if the beginner lesson set is 18 tunes, then that's 3 tunes a month to learn. A busy person who is working should be able to fit that into their schedule. If you have more time, go outside the set of lessons and explore the other tunes offered by other teachers, plus take time to learn to play along with the VR session tunes. Getting up to their full speed can be challenging. I found that if I pushed myself I could get 2 lesson tunes a week under my belt, but I couldn't keep up that pace for long. After a month of that, I'd drop back to 2 tunes a month. So for me, the time taken to really learn a tune well (fully memorized) and enjoy the learning process was more valuable than rushing to finish. As for the ICL course I understand the options are an annual subscription or month by month.
  10. As I'm getting towards the end of these beginner lessons now, I've fallen into this approach of how to use those animation graphics. They show me the sequence of buttons to play to make the melody and I don't worry about the red/green buttons and what they mean. I then watch her bellows which tells me whether to push or pull. Listening as I play along with her confirms whether I have the sequence correct or not.
  11. Good luck with it! Another aspect I liked in the 18 beginner lessons is that you're not stuck in the same key for all the tunes.
  12. I'm currently working my way though the OAIM beginner Edel Fox lessons. My goal is to get through the 18 lessons then take a breather for a while before re-subbing. Things I like: Edel does variations which you can ignore if you just want to play straight melody, or else use her variations as a guide to ornamentation. She explains more as the lessons progress, eg compare 1st lesson (Maggie in the Woods) with lesson 7, (One Hundred Pipers) which has chords and triplets added. The play along jam recordings are very useful once you're familiar with the tune. There's often more than one version of the play along jam track so you can have a change of instruments. Also on a computer it's possible to download the play along jam track at your preferred speed and so have it accessible on a mobile device. I also like their VR set tunes, although I only know 2 of them at this stage. If you listen to the playlist on their Youtube channel, and find a tune you really want to learn, it will be one of those VR set list tunes. There's currently 4 concertina courses - a beginner, 2 advanced beginner/intermediate and an advanced intermediate level. Also a single lesson tune by an instructor who only appears once. Just recently a 2nd advanced beginner/intermediate course was added, so plenty of course material to keep you busy. Plus many other tunes from various other instrument courses to explore, including their 50 most common session tunes list. So you could spend a long time here learning many tunes if you go outside the concertina lessons. Things I don't like: Recording quality of the beginner Edel Fox lessons. Often the concertina is way louder than Edel's voice. So if I have to keep the volume a little low for the neighbours I can't hear what she's saying. The animations showing which button to push are confusing as it's green button for push on one side of the bellows, and red for pull, but this is reversed for the other hand and I can never remember which way round it is. So I end up learning by ear instead of watching their graphics - which is how it should be - but initially it is helpful to have the buttons to show you the pattern at least. Edel tends to rush a bit through teaching the tune, as in trying to feed you larger chunks of the tune than is comfortable. (But that's what slowing down the video and re-watching over and over are for anyway.) I noticed this because I've also tried the Irish Concertina Lessons website to compare and I think that teacher's pacing is better for beginner when it comes to teaching by ear. With her lessons I didn't have to slow it down or repeat sections nearly as much as I do for Edel's lessons.
  13. Looks like O'Flaherty's Irish Music retreat will be held online this year. This is usually held at the end of October, Midlothian TX. Details: https://oflahertyretreat.org/
  14. Muse Score (free music composing software) is a place to try and find the music for popular tunes from video games, anime etc. Of course you have to be able to read music and maybe transpose. This link has several examples of music from Sailor Moon - there's a simple melody one that might work for you if transposed up an octave. I don't know how accurate it is though to the melody. Other suggestions are search google images. https://musescore.com/sheetmusic?text=sailor+moon+theme
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