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Gary

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  1. Hello, as a beginner on the EC I'm wanting to start adding ornaments to my music, I'm finding it very difficulty to know what note or notes to put in. All music I see for the concertina is just the melody,(tune o tron, ABC) so I suppose it's up to the individual to put in his own gracings,rolls,crans,ornamentation etc. If this is the case can all types of tunes for the EC benefit from ornamentation? Or is it a question of tempo where slower tunes need less ornamentation. But what and where, and of course how. The how doesn't seem important at the moment because that would just be a question of practice but the what and where is the question I suppose at the end of the day everything will just come with practice and the most important thing is just to play but I would just like to know where to start with ornamentation. a few simple examples would be great, is there any stock phrases that I can use, for example in bag pipe music you have very common gracings that appearing time and time again they are used to make a note stand out. See the attachment of the music for the Skye boat song. I know the EC is a totally different instrument but it would be interesting to know if such a thing existed. Thanks again. Gary.
  2. Hello, I'm learning to play the chanter at the same time as learning the english concertina, a jackie. I play the tunes I'm learning on the chanter on the concertina. For example, Brown haired maiden, Scots wha hae and She moved through the fair. Although I can play the melody I would very much like to play the grace notes too, on the concertina. So how do I do it, is it possible to play the very same gracing as it's printed on the sheet music or should I just go for a sound alike. Do you have any links for youtube etc that I can hear or see a pipe tune being played on a concertina. Thanks. Gary
  3. Hello, this seems like a good idea and also a good time to let you know how I'm getting on learning the English concertina. I've been learning since November 2006, but before I purchased my Jackie, I did loads of research. I especially spent ages on this site and forum following links and gathering great information. What appealed to me was the fact that the English was fully chromatic and I would in my view have to learn to read music. Months before I even bought the concertina I discovered a program on the Internet that flashed up a note on the stave and you had to guess what it was. It also allowed you to add sharps and flats. So by the time I got my concertina I had a better understanding of reading music. Now I know the arguments for and against the use of dots, but personally speaking it was a black art that I thought I couldn't do. ( A bit like fly tying!) Then I wanted to know how to play it, but that really isn't the question, the question is how to practise, how to make the most of your time. Being in my late thirties I like to make the most of the time I've got. I asked questions about practise and searched this great forum and I discovered different views on practise and learning. From scales to breaking tunes into chunks etc. The ABC tune-o-tron is amazing, in fact the whole ABC thing is fantastic.I would pick a song I liked, say Dark Island and print off the pdf and listen to the midi in fact I would find two or three tunes with their midi and copy the midi onto disc and have all my learning materials together in a folder with the track info written on the pdf printout. I would try to choose tunes in different keys so as to get my fingers moving, but because of the scales practise, my fingers and ears understood what was going on. I play just single notes with no decoration or chords yet, but that may come with practice. Basically that is what I do just now, I love music in all forms and I'm lucky that I live on the Isle of Skye because there's a great tradition of music here. But and it's a big but, the English concertina has directed me to other traditions of music, I love the Morris tunes and if you search for eastern European tunes in ABC you get a chance to use flat and minor keys, this can only improve your playing. I play blues harp in a local blues band and I understand the joy of playing with other people and that brings me to playing the concertina in what is generally called a session. How do you do it if you're a beginner, a learner or a newbie. After visiting a lot of forums I discovered you have different levels of sessions, some open to beginners some not. If you're lucky enough to have friends who are learning an instrument what ever it may be, even if it doesn't fit into the common traditional genre, just get together and have a go. Also I discovered a great site that sells CD backing tracks at different speeds, very slow to begin with and building up the proper speed with the instruments joining in. This gives the learner a chance to get the feeling of playing with a group. Well that's where I am, I can play one or two tunes but need the music in front of me but after following the advice in this forum I will try not to sometimes. I have also learnt from speaking to other musicians that traditional music just doesn't revolve around Irish and Scottish tunes, do a bit of searching and you'll discover some beautiful stuff out there on the net. One final word on learning to read music, I always wanted to learn to play the bagpipes, firstly I have to learn the practise chanter, and because I can read those nine notes already a huge part of learning is already covered. Kind regards Gary.
  4. As a matter of personal preferences, I have to agree with Doug. In irish sessions, as a melody player I find it very annoying when another melody instrument joins along without actually knowing the melody. If they are carefully and quietly trying to figure out and piece the melody together, sessioneers are usually pretty patient. All too often though a musician (with their heart in the right place) picks up a pennywhistle of the right key (or some other melody instrument) and plays along enthusiastically with random abandon. Then I have to decide if it bothers me enough to say something (after all, it's not MY session...), and if so, how to say something constructive (tips?). If you're playing with a bunch of passive personalities, the situation may never be confronted, and the session can become quite unsatisfying for everyone. As a matter of self improvement, I also think Doug is right on the money. Every time you go to a session and hear a tune you like, ask about the title and possibly the source, then go home and learn it note for note! Record it at the session if you have to. If you learn at least one tune you really like from every session, you will quickly find yourself acquiring a satisfying arsenal of tunes. Scales are GREAT practice, but when a tune is being played, I think only a rhythm instrument (guitar/bouzouki) can get away with scales, and only if they are used very infrequently. And you can't really learn a tune until you can hum or sing the melody to yourself. All you need to do is listen to it carefully a few more times, then try it again. It will come. Thanks folks, great advice yet again. I'll keep you informed of my progress from time to time. Cheers Gary.
  5. Hello all again. I have a question about playing with other people in a session when you are a beginner. I have an English concertina. I have been practising now since November and I'm coming on. I have been practising my scales on a daily basis and I'm happy with C, G and D. My question is this. Can I accompany other musicians by playing the appropriate scale underneath their playing of a tune if I don't know the tune ? I play the guitar and if I know the key of the tune but not the tune note for note I can still play little passages of notes etc just to be involved and contributing. Can this be done with the concertina ? Or I could just turn up with my concertina and play Dark Island, then retire to the bar ! As a beginner I'm sure my questions have been asked before but your help in this matter will be greatly appreciated yet again. Kind regards Gary.
  6. Hello, sorry. I have an english concertina, and I have been playing for about 4 or 5 weeks now, but I put in the practice. So if you can suggest something simple that would be great. On a kind of related subject, I was speaking to a friend the other day who wants to learn a new instrument and we discussed the merits of playing with other musicians, we talked about how many local musicians we knew and the very high standard of playing.( I live on Skye ), and it struck me that everyone has to start somewhere and the internet and forums like this give the learner a chance to discuss their problems and hurdles without meeting any kind of negativity. We then decided we should take this positive attitude a step further and form a local learners club. Where it's kind of stressed that only learners can participate, I suppose there would have to be a core of at least one really good musician involved probably one with great patience. I was wondering if anyone else is involved in something similar, and could offer guidance. Kind regards Gary.
  7. Hello, and a Happy New Year to one and all. I was wondering if anyone knows of a simple tune that a beginner can play on Burns Night. I have the honour of reciting the Toast to the Haggis, so if I'm up for it after that I may play a tune for the first time in public. I look forward to your help in this matter Thanks. Gary.
  8. Hello, I thought I'd let you know how I'm getting on with the concertina from a complete beginners point of view. Firstly after trying the Anglo and the English out I decided to go for the English because I really wanted to learn how to read music and to me personally the English seemed the right choice. I went for a Jackie from The Music Room and found the staff there very helpful indeed, because I live on Skye I couldn't pop in to see them so the time they spent answering questions on the phone was much appreciated.( A big public thank you to Jill !! ) Because I was new to the instrument and also new to the concept of practise I decided that scales seemed the way forward first of all. It also struck me that one of the problems learning any instrument was being familiar with tunes.Tutor books may have tunes to learn that you are unfamiliar with but a scale is very familiar and forces you to read music and works the fingers. So when it comes to learning a song in say G for example at least your fingers are used to the patterns. I put in half an hour each night seven days a week anymore and I get tired and loose concentration. I find if you walk away after half an hour feeling happy and not frustrated you feel confident to go back the next day. I also keep a small note book of my progress and so after a week of playing I can play two scales up and down, the tune London Bridge and I'm working at Good King Wenceslas. I'm very pleased with my progress and hope other people who have a yearning to learn this wonderful instrument will take the plunge. Can I also say that this forum is very supportive to all beginners and the help is much appreciated. Kind regards Gary.
  9. Thanks for the advice the other day. I think I had a bit of a break through last night during practice but I don't know if it's the correct procedure. I was learning " Oro " from the John Williams DVD, and he started to introduce double notes and I think octaves, I wasn't too sure, it was all too much for my small brain at the time. I think I understood the concept of doubling up on the push and pull where applicable but is it all right to play another note with the right hand if it "sweetens" the melody even if it isn't the same note, if you get my meaning. At the end of the day it was great to play with two hands although very slowly. Thanks again for all the help. Regards. Gary.
  10. Hello all, I have been learning for 1 week now on a borrowed Hohner 20 button Anglo, and I just have a few questions about practice time and structure. I have two books I'm using, Melbay's book by Frank J. Converse, which seems to represent the 20 button Anglo I'm using very well. Also a book by Roger Watson but I think this is more for the 30 key Anglo. I have also got John Williams DVD which on first inspection seems good but may need me to use the pause button on the remote a lot. My question is about practice, what to practice, how much time to practice and the content of that practice. Are there any warm up exercises I should do as a start to a practice session, scales for example. learning tunes in the books are difficult when I don't know what they sound like, although this does push you to learn to read music notation properly from scratch, but a resource of tunes in mp3 or wav would be great. Is 1 hour a night enough and how do I structure my time properly. Your help in this matter will be gratefully appreciated. Apart from the initial frustrations of anything new I'm really looking forward to progressing with this instrument, I'm actually having great fun learning. Kind regards Gary.
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