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tunelover

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    music of most types (traditional, folk, ITM, OTM, classical baroque and chamber music, ethnic-international, jazz), movies, tennis, magicians, figure skating
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    western Pennsylvania

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  1. There have been many replies but except for those early responders that resonated with my observations, nobody has actually addressed the issues I have raised here. Instead, the lion’s share of responses have focused on what I should be doing differently. Instead of talking about me, why don’t we address the core topic here: impediments to maximal learning FOR BEGINNERS. Nobody has yet explained the compelling good sense of assigning names to buttons for beginners to memorize that have nothing to do with their location. Nobody has yet explained the compelling good sense of starting beginners off with tunes they have never heard before. Nobody has yet explained the compelling good sense of leaving out from the musical staff the notes that make up chords to be played, and not even mentioning these notes by name underneath the staff. I am puzzled by people ignoring the substance of my observations, instead responding in ways that suggest they feel attacked. None of this is about me or about you. Its not about anybody being at fault. It is about trying to be helpful to others. As a beginner, I can speak with some authority about the perspective of a beginner. Those posters who referred to their own early learning resonated to the concerns I identified. Let’s focus on removing any barriers to learning that may exist.
  2. I am not trying to convince anyone to alter the current practices. I am simply pointing out, as appeared in the title of the original post, that there exist hindrances to learning that are widespread in most available tutors, that make it harder rather than easier for beginners to master their instrument. I am not asking for advice or help with this; I have already managed to navigate around this in my own practices. I make these observations in the hope that future efforts to teach the concertina take into account what is important to the learning of beginners. If you are not trying to help a beginner to identify the location of the notes on the keyboard, you are not being helpful.
  3. No, but that is a good idea. Thank you.
  4. I have been looking for this Jody Kruskal CD but cannot find a copy new or used for sale. I understand it is long out of print, but in most cases that does not stop me from finding a used copy. Does anybody have any leads on how I could acquire this?
  5. Mikefule: "my problem" is not having too many tutors. The issues I enumerated apply to evey single one of them except the Bramich books, and even here, several of the issues apply. Nor is any of this "my problem". These are the problems encountered by every beginner who tries to learn with tutors whose poor choice of language, use of questionable metaphors without identifying them as such, and invention of completedly nonintuitive tablature, make learning much more difficult than it needs to be. I did not start out with so many tutors. They were acquired, one by one, as my initial experience with each proved they were difficult to learn from. The issues I have identified here whould all be equally valid if I had only a single tutor. The core issue here is NOT that they are all different; it is that they make no sense. Diverting attention to the number of tutors rather than their poor design is a straw man. Why use arbitrary designations for buttons which must be memorized because they have no intrinsic relationship to the button, when instead you could use positional coordinates (Side-Row-Ordinal Position) which tell you exactly where the button is located, and are intuitive and meaningful so that nothing needs to be memorized? Tablatures which are not tied to a button's location do not have beginners in mind (so one might ask why do they exist at all as advanced players need no tablature). At a minimum, the top button in every row should have an equivalent designation reflecting that position. Several of the replies to this post corroborate that other highly experienced players had the very same concerns from day one when trying to learn concertina from these tutors. If my concerns are seen as not valid, address the issues specifically rather than dismissing them because of their number, or because you question my learning style. If there is a problem with the specific issues, let's have a discussion. Ad hominem attacks are uncalled for.
  6. I very much like the idea of a color system for indicating bellows direction. In my own hand-made notations, I use green to signify "Push" or "In" and use maroon to indicate "Pull" or "Out". I like to mark off bellows changes on my sheet music and find that colors are more intuitive and involve less mental processing than symbols. I am not familiar with the duet diagrams referenced, but I will try to look them up.
  7. Don: I think that even learning to play by ear requires acquiring some initial familiarity with the sounds generated by the notes/buttons first. This initial familiarity I believe is accelerated by trying to play tunes whose melody is well known to you. The option you present is an attractive one but probably not as a first step. arkwright: Of course I have figured out what is referred to by the "top row". Its just that this choice of descriptor implies something that simply isn't true: "top" can refer to position (but this row is outside, not on top) or to relative frequency (but the notes in this row are not higher frequency than the others). Of course the origin of the descriptor appears to be the natural consequence of rotating the rows from vertical (literal representation) to horizontal (figurative representation) and the resultant distortion of reality places the outer row "on the top" of the rotated diagram. None of this is helpful to a beginner in orienting them to their instrument, however.
  8. I agree with you completely about tunes like "Hot Cross Buns" or "Three Blind Mice" - simple but boring, and intolerable for endless practice repetitions. I was thinking more along the lines of tunes that I can clearly hear in my head, are not overly complex, but are quite pleasant when repeated. Examples might include "Edelweiss", Scarborough Fair", "A satisfied mind", "Climb every mountain", "Scarlet ribbons", "You are my sunshine", "Can't help falling in love". Even as I get to more advanced tunes, I need initially to hear them in my head. Examples might be "Greensleeves", "Cockles and mussels", "The Ash Grove", "The South wind" and "The Valley of Strathmore". I am at a beginning stage where if I can't hear the tune in my head I am lost.
  9. I have nine hard-copy anglo tutors, seven additional older tutors in electronic form, and am familiar with several online tutor sites for anglo concertina. Although I have generally survived the communications quirks found in these tutors, I wish to identify hindrances to learning in these tutors and to “translate” some of these quirks in ways that will make sense to a beginner with no prior experience with concertinas. The following is generally addressed to those beginners, but relevant to all interested in maximizing outcomes in teaching and learning. Veterans of the concertina will have become accustomed to a number of traditional conventions of communication involving figurative rather than literal representations of concertinas which are quite confusing and misleading to beginners. For example: You will first notice that the outside row of buttons is not called the “outside row” but rather, the “top row”. Likewise the inside row is not called the inside row but rather the “bottom row”. Vertical rows of buttons are always depicted as if they were horizontal, with the outside vertical row (furthest from your body) pictured as if were located at the top of the keyboard, while the inside vertical row (closest to your body) is depicted as if it were located at the bottom of the keyboard. The top of the left side keyboard is always pictured on the right side of the diagram rather than on top, but the top of the right side of the keyboard is always shown to be on the left side of the diagram. The button BELOW a certain note is called instead the button to the LEFT of that note. The button ABOVE a certain note is always called instead the button to the RIGHT of that note. The top button center row on the left side is always labeled “5”. Except when it is labeled “10". BUT the top button center row on the right side is labeled “1". Except when it is labeled “6". BUT to compound the confusion, the top button in the left side inside row is not labeled “5" or “1" or “6" but rather is labeled “10". Except when it is labeled “15". To make sure you are thoroughly confused, the top button in the right inside row is called, not “5", not “1", not “10", not “15", but rather, “6". Except when it is labeled “11". The outer row top button can be known as “5", “1", “6", “1a” or “5a” depending on what makes compelling sense to the author. So far I have not been able to discern why all the top buttons, being located at the top, in the first ordinal position (i.e. they are all the FIRST button), are assigned many different numerical identities seemingly at random (I am aware of the stated or implied internal logic, but to a beginner they appear utterly arbitrary and random). Each author presents their numbering system as compelling and self-evident, yet the numbering systems are all different. Tutorials generally label the forefinger or index finger as “finger number one”, whose home position is the first button at the top of the center or C row. Yet finger number one, whose home is the first button, rests on a button whose identity is either “5", “10", “6", or “1". Why is the first button, played by finger number one, not button number one? To recap: The top button of a row may be called either “5", “10", “1", “6", “15", “11", “1a” or “5a”. Depending which tutor you happen to acquire, you will encounter numerous different “tablature” systems in which buttons are assigned arbitrary names which must be memorized to follow the text BUT WHICH PROVIDE NO ACTUAL INFORMATION ABOUT THE LOCATION OF THE BUTTON. To illustrate, let’s take as an example the button which houses the notes B and c (B4 and C5) on the left side inside (G) row. Depending on the tablature, this button is identified as either “9", “14", “4", or “2". There is no consistent identity assigned to this button, and none of these identities tell you where the button is located! The key initial task of a beginner is to remember spatial locations of notes on the keyboard. The great mystery, then, is why nobody uses spatial coordinates similar to latitude and longitude to specify the location of the notes. If I asked ten random passersby to “Show me button number 9", nobody would be able to do it. If I asked them to “identify button 14" or “button 4" or “button 2" likewise the task would be impossible. But if instead, I asked them to “Show me the button on the left side on the inside row second from the top”, 100% of random passersby would successfully identify the button. If we want to identify a button located on the Left Side (L), G Row, second (2) from the top, we could simply call it L-G-2 – IF we wanted EVERY beginner to know EXACTLY where it is without having to memorize ANYTHING. So why doesn’t anybody call this button “L-G-2" instead of “9" or “14" or “4" or “2"? Apparently we don’t want it to be too obvious which button it is from what we call it. So we must all memorize an arbitrarily constructed diagram to find notes on the keyboard, and then have to relearn a different diagram when switching to a different author. All of the various inconsistent tablatures are based on some internal logic, often related to progression of notes from low to high or some other basis in musical theory (but oddly never about location). Since each tutor is based on a logic that its author found compelling and self-evident, yet every tutor is different from the others, we must conclude that the logic is neither compelling nor self-evident. Yet another concerning issue: Very quickly beginners come to realize that it is critical to initially practice songs/tunes whose melody you already know very well to begin with. This is enormously helpful to getting the timing and rhythm correct, which leads to early success and a feeling of accomplishment. However, I couldn’t help but notice that virtually all anglo tutors contain mostly songs/tunes never heard of in North America (unless you are not really a beginner and have an ITM background already). This approach enormously increases learning difficulty, as timing and rhythm information is the most difficult for a beginner to incorporate correctly without the help of knowing the melody already. Therefore, I strongly recommend you acquire sheet music for melodies you already know and like as your tools for initial learning. This approach, of course, renders 90% of the content of anglo tutors irrelevant. One other matter might be puzzling to you. In tutors that include chords, the actual notes contained in the chords do not appear anywhere on the staff/stave or on the page in the musical notation. Instead, beneath the musical notation one finds the tablature’s notation for which button to press in what direction. This obtuse tablature notation must be decoded by referring to a diagram in the book to see which button to press. To determine what musical note is played by pressing that button, one must find yet another diagram in another location in the book which shows which notes go with which buttons. For many of us who can read musical notation to begin with, several extraneous steps could be avoided if all the actual musical notes that need to be played (by both hands) are included on the staff (or stave) as is the convention universally in the musical world. The quicker you can memorize which notes are played by which buttons in which direction, and the quicker you can teach yourself musical notation, the more quickly you can toss your anglo tutors and concentrate on learning from sheet music of tunes whose melodies you already know. The only “tablature” that makes sense to me is the provision of spatial/positional “coordinates”: Side (L or R) - Row (C or G or X/A/T/O) - Ordinal Position From Top (Top = 1) e.g. L-G-2 R=Right side L=Left side C=C Row G = G Row Number = Ordinal Position from top of row However, the only real tablature that matters after a few weeks is the notes themselves using standard notation: C, (C3) C (C4) c (C5) c’ (C6) Sadly, tutors tend to focus on their made-up language for talking about buttons to press (their tablature) and relatively infrequently even mention the actual notes being played. One well-known tutor with 2 CDs virtually never mentions actual notes, preferring to talk only about button numbers throughout the 2 CDs (though none of his arbitrarily assigned button numbers match those of any of the other tablature systems). Since there is no intrinsic relationship of the made-up button number to the actual button, this becomes nearly impossible to follow. In closing, I wish to single out one tutor author for commendation. Mick Bramich is the only tutor author I am aware of that actually labels the top button of every row “button number one”. Since the top button is the first button and is always played by finger number one, this is the only schema that deserves to be called “self-evident”.
  10. Thanks for the helpful comments. Unfortunately, I appear to have developed a chronic pain in my left wrist, which I am guessing was triggered by concertina practice causing strain to the area. I am going to have to lay off the concertina for a little while (hopefully) while this heals.
  11. I am a new member here. At the age of 71 and with no musical background, I decide to learn to play the concertina. I just love the sounds its produces, especially when harmonic chords are played. My beginning was a bit rocky. I bought a Stagi W-15 LN 30b in C/G. The air button was impossibly far from my thumb and it was ludicrously strenuous on the draw - it felt like weight lifting to pull the bellows. I returned it within fiur days. My next mistake was a Trinity College 1230A in C/G. Although the air button was suitably located and pulling the bellows was easy enough, the G Row was a full inch closer to the hand rest than the standard design, so that playing the G Row involved ridiculous contortion of the fingers. I returned this one also. My third mistake was buying a 30b Lachenal on ebay. Rather than the two keyboard ends being parallel to one another, they were attached at roughly right angles to one another, making it impossible to play. I sounded each note to discover that every button on push as well as pull sounded the same single note. Apparently, all but one of the reeds had been removed. I returned it within an hour of its arrival. There is a happy ending. I contacted Chris Algar at Barleycorn and he fixed me up with a 20b Rosewood Lachenal with steel reeds. It fits my hand perfectly, all buttons are easily reached, it draws without strenuous effort, and it sounds glorious. I am the earliest stages of mastering where the notes are located. I know where everything is but have to think for a moment first, especially playing two notes at once. I realize that practice and repetition is required for this to become automatic. In the early going, my biggest difficulty is keeping the instrument stable on the draw, especially when playing low notes on the left side, particularly playing two notes at once. Since the left fingers are busy and the strap must be loose enough to reach all the buttons. there doesn't appear to be an obvious way to anchor the concertina on the left side when the right hand is applying force rightward, which tends to drag the instrument to the right and pull the left fingers from their buttons. I have acquired virtually all tutors in print for the anglo concertina, and oddly enough, none of them address this issue. I have watched a number of YouTube videos but cannot detect what they are doing to stabilize the concertina on the draw. A second issue is regarding transition from one note to the next. So far I haven't got the knack of smooth transition. At first I was gradually releasing the buttons, which introduced a mechanical noise (the valves?). I am working on abrupt release of the buttons which results in a cleaner sounding. Of course, at this stage my timing, rhythm, flow and bellows management are hopelessly poor, but I realize I have to be able to play the notes first. Any help, especially with keeping the concertina stable, would be much appreciated. Ed
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