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Alan Miller

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  1. A couple of years after I received my Dipper, I received a notice from Massachusetts seeking payment of use tax, interest and penalties. Based on my quick research at the time, it looked like the use tax was valid although in many cases it is probably overlooked--such as purchases on the internet. I hadn't even thought of it. They based the notice on a review of import duty documents which listed the sales price. I paid the use tax and interest, and they waived the penalty. It is not as high, however, as VAT in Europe. I think Massachusetts was about 6.25%. Other states will be higher or lower. Let us know how you resolve it with Illinois. Alan
  2. For what it is worth to any buyer on this site, I offer the following information re dating of Dippers. Mine entered the U.S. (as a new instrument) on October 19, 2007. It is a County Clare Model 3, #476. The badge is pearl and it does not include the Heytesbury address.
  3. Steve: There are sessions in the Boston area virtually every night. One good example is at the Green Briar (in Brighton-about 4 miles from downtown Boston). On Monday, there is an intermediate session at 7 which sometimes has over 40 players and an advanced session at 9 led by Larry Reynolds who was Comhaltas musician of the year a few years ago. Another good example is the Groton session on Wednesday (http://www.thegrotonsession.com/) that often includes a "name" leader. Or the session every Friday at the Irish Cultural Center in Canton. On most Sundays there is a session followed by a ceili in Watertown. On Tuesdays there is a session at Skelligs in Waltham,and also one at Stones (http://www.stonespublichouse.com/) in Ashland. Some of the pubs in Dorchester & Jamaica Plain have regular sessions. What days of the week do you expect to be in Boston, and where in the area will you be staying? I'll be happy to give you leads when you know more. Alan P.S. Steve, when I wrote the above, I focused on Irish Traditional Music. If that is not your interest, there are many other opportunities for music in Boston including frequent concerts at Berklee College of Music (http://www.berklee.edu/). Berklee is known for jazz but it promotes many different styles including Celtic. There are many folk music sites in the area and also many venues for great classical music. I don't know, however, where you can go for sessions other than Irish Trad, but I am sure you will get suggestions. .
  4. David: I am taking lessons from Flo Fahy when she is available. She is just back from a couple of weeks back home, and she is working 5- 6 days a week. Chris Stevens is teaching at the Comhaltas Music School on Saturdays again this semester. Both Flo & Chris are excellent. George Keith is not teaching concertina, although he does teach fiddle at Comhaltas school. I can put you in touch with with Flo or Chris. As I say, both are great players and excellent teachers. Alan
  5. My Dipper County Clare is Number 476 completed October 15, 2007. It is 30b rosewood finished end frames with ebony moulded banding, green bellows, and is 5 7/8 across the ends. It is a Model 3 in the County Clare series. Colin used gaskets to match the humidity conditions here in the U.S. It has acclimated beautifully, and I have had no reason to open it for at least the last two years. Colin told me that it is the third version of the County Clare, and that it has become quite popular. He cannot use the County Clare for other tunings such as Bb/F because of the size of the reeds needed for those tunings. I love the tone on mine, particularly in the left hand buttons. To my ear it has continually improved with age (or hopefully it is also me that is improving with age). It is incredibly fast, and has been played and admired by many of the top Irish players during lessons and workshops that I attended. Many of them have ordered a similar model. My appreciation for it continues to increase, as does my thanks for having such an instrument to play. Alan
  6. I strongly encourage you to bring your concertina. There are sessions of varying levels every night. I attend a "slow" (but not really) session on Monday night, and there is a similar session nearby on Friday night. There is a great learning session in Groton on Wednesday night. http://www.thegrotonsession.com/ I would be happy to take you there if you are staying near downtown Boston. I live in Back Bay--essentially downtown--and am 15 minutes from the Monday night session. Last night (Tuesday) I went to a strong session in Ashland, a suburb, but also could have gone to another strong session closer on in Waltham. If you send me a PM, I will be happy to try to hook up with you, or at least steer you in the right direction for sessions. Where will you be staying? Alan Miller
  7. Leo: It worked!! It sure helps me in keeping up with topics. Thanks so much for this technical assistance. Alan
  8. I used to be able to scroll though the posts on a topic. Now I only see the posts in outline (tree) form, and I have to click on specific replies. The "help" feature says that there is an option box on the top of the forum page. I can't find an "options" choice on my topic heading. I use Safari (on a Mac), but also tried Firefox with the same result. So, how do I change the way I view the posts? For convenience I have copied and pasted the info from the "help" feature below--but I just can't find that damn "options" menu. I assume that it is in front of my nose and I will be embarrassed by the answer but I am getting frustrated. Please help. Alan this is from "help" At the top of each topic, there is a 'Options' menu. Clicking this menu will expand the options menu. From this menu, you can select from the following options: Track this topic - this option will allow you to receive e-mail updates for the topic, see the 'Email Notification of new messages' help file for more information on this Email this topic - from here you can email a link of this topic to someone by entering their name, email, and desired language. Print this topic - this will present the current topic you are viewing a printer friendly format, removing most images and using a standard layout. Download this topic - will show the topic in a number of different formats. 'Printer Friendly Version' will display a version of the topic that is suitable for printing out. 'Download HTML Version' will download a copy of the topic to your hard drive, and this can then be viewed in a web browser, without having to visit the board. 'Download Microsoft Word Version' will allow you to download the file to your hard drive and open it up in the popular word processing application, Microsoft Word, for viewing offline. Subscribe to this forum - will allow you to receive e-mail updates for any new topics posted in the forum, see the Notification of new messages' help file for more information on this You can also select one of three topic display modes: Outline - shows you one post with a list of the remaining posts at the below it, in tree format. Standard - this display mode shows the topic in the standard layout of one post above another, in the order selected by the administrator. Linear+ - is similiar to standard with the added benefit of having the first post of the topic always shown at the top, no matter what page of the topic you are on.
  9. I am sorry that I can't attend but I would like to put a plug in for Florence Fahy. I have seen her play, mostly at Winkles (now gone) in Kinvara. She is a typically excellent County Clare player with great rhythm, phrasing, and quite enough ornaments. She played with her father Martin, also an exellent concertina player. The two of them blended great together. Martin is still playing in Kinvara. I saw him ealier this year at Connolly's. Connolly's is a small hidden gem at the quay in Kinvara. I saw Tim Collins there in April this year, and Claire Keville and Jackie Daly last month. If you are in the Galway/Clare area, I recommend it for great music. Alan
  10. I play exclusively Irish. When I ordered a Suttner almost 5 years ago, I went with the 38 button A4 in C/G. In the interim, I was able to buy a couple of great C/G's with 30 buttons, including a new Dipper. So, I felt that I had no use for another C/G, even if it had 38 buttons. One additional factor was the spacing of the buttons. Juergen said they were closer together on the 38 button model. So when my Suttner order came to the top I changed to an Ab/Eb A2 (30 buttons plus drone). (I already have an excellent Bb/F from Wim, or I would have chosen that tuning.) I am very happy with the Ab/Eb, and play it often when playing alone. It has a beautiful tone that gives wonderful warmth in Eb & Bb (equivalent of G & D). The point is: no matter what you choose now, you can change your mind later, and (at least in my experience) Juergen will not penalize you in price for making a switch. Good luck, Alan
  11. This is one of the first tunes I learned, and is a nice learning tune. After trying several different fingerings, I ultimately settled on playing the first phrase all in the C row (except obviously the F#) then on the B c# d I switch to the G row (except obviously for the c#.) It works for me. So basically you play the F# on G row and go to the C row up to the B c# d, which is played in the usual fashion--all on the push. Then stay on the G row till the B a couple of bars later. Then it is back to the same pattern. Use the B on the C row except when it is part of a B c# d series, then use the push B on the G row. I also think this is the way that Noel Hill would recommend.
  12. Thank you to Rich and everyone who offered an opinion. All of your responses were very helpful. Humidity is indeed a problem here in New England, and I have suffered a bit with concertinas in the past in terms of slight gaps in the reed pan from the frame, and even in a pivot post becoming loose. So it is good to learn that steps taken to reduce the problem of excessive dry and humid conditions can be addressed, at least partially, without sacrificing tone. Two issues were raised in the responses that are interesting. 1) Does the use of fabric as a filter make a difference, and in particular, can it take some of the "edge" off of notes such as the high A & B? One of the reasons I like a Bb/F (other than in sessions) is that those notes are not really in play. Although, what I hear as a bit of a screech in thoe notes is not necessarily heard by others whom I have asked to listen. 2) Rich makes the point that the ends are just filters, and not resonators like the reed pans. So I wonder whether the wood in a reed pan makes any difference. I have heard of mahogany, maple and spruce used for that purpose. Alan
  13. I would appreciate thoughts on the respective qualities of rosewood and ebony. Ebony is reputed to be the hardest wood, and to sound the best but is there really a difference between it and rosewood? Even if ebony sounds marginally better, I suspect that it is more susceptible to humidity changes and problems such as cracking in areas like the Northeast U.S. where the humidity swings from 10% indoors in the winter to over 50% indoors in the summer. So I am curious as to what people with either rosewood or ebony think about its sound and is compatibility with humidity swings. I ask because I expect to have an opportunity to get a Bb/F in the next year or two and will have a choice. Alan
  14. RIchard: I also have taken workshops from Edel Fox and Tim Collins at Irish Arts Week in the Catskills. Both are excellent, and you will be happy with whomever you choose. Here are my impressions. I took a beginner workshop with Edel the first year that she taught. She is an excellent teacher and exceptional player, as well as a very nice person. She is flexible in her fingering, and she teaches by taking a new tune each session. She will choose reels and jigs, including slip jigs. She passes out the dots or at least will give the letters for the tune, and then she will play it slow then fast with and without ornaments. You will be expected to play it back the next day but some people opt out of that "performance." She will take the class as far as you want to take it. That was a bit of a challenge for some in the beginner class who were less interested in leaning, but I doubt that would be a problem in an intermediate class. Bottom line is that she is a geat player with a friendly approach, and a person who tries to get to know the students. She will teach as much as you want to learn, and she knows how to do it. Tim Collins is a fabulous teacher, and extremely considerate. My experience with him is more through individual lessons than through workshops although I did attend his Catskills workshop for two days last year. In that workshop he took one tune and contintued to work on it by adding ornaments the day after he intially gave it to us. He is less about learning tunes, and more about learning to play the instrument. I have had individual lessons from Tim several times over the past couple of years, including three lessons at his home in Crusheen this past month. His approach is not to teach his style but to help you develop your style. As he puts it, we are all on an individual musical journey. He will help you find the trail markers for that journey. For me, that has meant much emphasis on rhythm, including a form of exercise that I am to do every practice for the next year with the promise that it will make a difference. So, at least in an individual lesson, Tim will work with your own ability and your sense of music, and will try to guide you to make the result musical. I am signed up for Tim's intermediate workshop in the Catskills and look forward to seeing you there. I did not sign up for a second workhop because when I did that in the past, I found myself trying to learn tunes rather than enjoying all that the week has to offer. For me, one workshop a day is enough although it is always tempting to do more because of the collection of great teachers. Alan
  15. Stephen: Thanks. The TG4 link will be good for several months then will cycle off. TG4 is a very interesting source that is fun to check every once in a while. Leo: The YouTube links should be on a long time. Your detective work is worthy of Columbo. Also helpful is your Nov. 22, 2007 post on downloading. Alan
  16. Over the weekend TG4 presented a fascinating program on the styles of Music in County Clare. It includes extensive descriptions from Noel Hill and Mary McNamara, and also some film of Kitty Hayes and Paddy Murphy. To see it go to TG4.tv and click on Ceol on the left side, then click "play" on the 23/5/08 program. I suppose there is a way to put a link directly in but I couldn't find how to do it, so if someone is able to insert a direct link, it would be helpful. Alan
  17. Older gentleman in red sweater looks like Sonny Murray. Don't know the younger fellow. Nice clip. Thanks for the tip. Alan
  18. If you search thesession.org, you will find that two sessions are listed for Roanoke that accept beginners. One has been dropped, but there is contact information for that site for people interested in playing. You will find friendly people playing Irish Traditional Music if that is your interest. Possibly they can help you find another concertina player. In any event, a session is a great way to get into the music. But there is a lot of learning involved, and that requires patience and practice. The practice is fun. The patience is often a challenge. It is worth it. Alan
  19. Jim: This is a further note on the Fallon double case and your comments. I do not believe that accidental opening of the latch is possible. In any event, there are two of them, and both have to be opened. I can't conceive of that happening. Re foam inserts: I gave John Fallon the measurements of my concertinas, and he blocked the inside to those measurements. The blocking is secure. The entire case is lined with foam, and I regard it as very good. Alan
  20. Jim: I bought one from John Fallon recently, and am pleased with it. The tolerances allow for a tight fit. It has a shoulder strap that makes it easy to use. It also counts as only once piece of carryon luggage when flying. It has a single lid but two latches. I find it much easier than carrying two cases. Alan
  21. Bruce: Because of limitations in the homeowners coverage, I have my concertinas insured as scheduled personal property. That covers not only theft but many other possible causes of loss. I simply give the agent a copy of the invoice for the concertina with a full description. Then I insure for a specific dollar amount of my choice that is greater than the invoice price. It is replacement coverage, and I tell the agent that I am insuring for an amount higher than the cost because of the difficulty in obtaining a replacement. They accept this. If I were to have a loss, I would be able to recover the cost of replacement up to the limit that I have insured for. Alan
  22. I have a Stagi (W 15 LN) that I no longer use. I bought it from Button Box in October 2003. Everything on it works, and it was good enough to get me addicted to the concertina. After approximately 3 months I ordered a hybrid, and found the difference in playability to be huge. Then I later bought a concertina reeded instrument which I now prefer. I don't even take the Stagi out of its case any more. I have seen others learn on a Stagi including a couple of people I am taking classes with. I have no experience with a Rochelle but I do greatly respect Wim Wakker as a dedicated and knowledgable person. I do think that if you like the concertina, you will want to upgrade quickly, and probably want to sell whatever you use as a starter. While I have not taken any steps to sell my Stagi, I would sell it to someone who is interested in "trying out" the concertina, but I do so with the very strong caveat that that difference between a good Stagi (the W 15 LN is the best) and a good "hybrid" is great. The bellows on the Stagi are stiffer, the sound is somewhat muted, the buttons are spaced a bit differently, the buttons need to be fully pressed down to sound, ornaments are impossible (for me). If, despite all of this, you are interested send me a PM, and I will sell for a reasonable price just for the benefit of seeing someone else become addicted. Alan
  23. I believe there is much meat in the comments from Paul and Larry. They raise a point that is recurring frustration for me. When I attend week long workshops such as at Irish Arts Week in the Catskills or at the NHICS, tunes are given out in the morning and afternoon, so that I find myself swamped with material to learn. This may be ok for advanced players, but for me it means that less time is spent (and feedback given) on matters such as rhythm. In contrast, when I take individual lessons or in small groups, I try to stay with one tune for a while. This has led my recent teachers (Chris Stevens and Tim Collins) to exhort me to slow down and concentrate on rhythm above all else. I am beginning to feel/hear the difference but it may take the "thousands" of hours that Paul mentioned before it really drives my music. This takes me to Larry's comments about the fact that the recognized and recorded Irish musicians started early in life. Clearly the young person has some advantages in learning. I think that an "older" person can also learn to play well, although perhaps the learning will be at a different pace. I suspect there are many reasons for this, but one may be that the older person has so much information and desire, and he/she may not have the patience to learn the basic steps of walking before running. I think that today we have "advantages" over earlier generations that should make music much easier to learn, but in fact it may motivate us to try to do too much in the beginning. Today we have incredible access to CD's of great musicians. We can listen to them in our homes, in our cars, and when we walk or workout. We can slow them down to try to play along with, and to break down the ornaments. We have so much information to process, that we may lose focus, and we may try to do too much. We don't often have the opportunity to sit at a kitchen table and work on basic concepts with a knowledgeable musician. I have been able to do this a few times with Tim Collins at his home, and the experience is incredibly helpful. I look forward to renewing it when he is in the U.S. in the Winter and Spring. Paul's and Larry's, comments that really reinforce what teachers (Chris and Tim) have told me, that it is essential to feel and nail the rhythm on each tune. The impatience of an adult learner, combined with the desire to emulate one of the great musicians, may be a distraction to the basic learning process. On the other hand, the sheer passion, and dedication to practice of an adult may compensate for many of the advantages that a younger learner has. I hope that Paul has overstated the number of required "hours" in his comment that it is necessary to "devote thousands of hours of practice to nailing the rhythm just right." I am still working on my first thousand hours, but I am encouraged by his comment that rhythm is something that others have to work on, and requires lots of practice. That sure is true for me. Alan
  24. You will also see some familiar faces, including mine (I am avoiding the obvious and not saying "old faces.") It was a great Fall class, and I look forward to the Spring continuation. Alan
  25. I have a business trip to London next week, and would be interested in knowing if there is a session for Irish Trad on Wednesday or Thursday that would be welcoming to an intermediate learner. I searched thesession.org, and found some leads but also quite a bit of outdated information. Any suggestions or information would be appreciated. Also, if there is smoking in the venues, it will eliminate them for me, and that may nullify all possibilities but I figure that it is worth a try to see if there is an available session. Thanks
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