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Jody Kruskal

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  1. I have been using a Microvox concertina mic unit for 30 years. I liked it for dances and other performances where traditional mics on stands were not so handy. Now, it has finally given up the ghost. I don't believe they are made anymore. I have a local repair person who might be able to fix mine but finding parts that will fit in the power supply could be a problem. So if you have one that works or one that does not, I would be interested in buying it from you.
  2. Yes, please describe the details of your tablature system. I can't even guess what those number mean. Nice tune though. I've been playing along with this youtube and I'm having fun.
  3. Good tune choice for C/G Anglo. Starts in Dm then at the chord change it goes to F. Dm F Dm F then there might be a C or Am in there too.
  4. I bought a Bb/F Anglo from Crabb many long ears ago. Tho old bellows needed replacement and for the new set I was given the option of papers or plain. I opted for plain and never regretted it. 100 pounds cheaper was fine by me. It has also been handy to have this Bb/F box look different from the others I play, at a glance. There is one advantage to having papers on an old instrument that needs bellows maintenance and repair. Bellows wear and tear can often be fettled by adding a bit of very thin leather to patch a leak. If the patch is on the inside then less cosmetic care is needed, but if I'm adding a bit of leather to the outside, then I want to make it look as seamless as possible. By cutting the outside patch to make it butt right up to the paper edge, the patch edge kind of disappears and you can hardly see it, even when looking closely. Without the contrasting value of the light colored paper, that patch would be much more visible. I've spent many happy hours patching an old Anglo bellows to keep it alive for another decade or five. I remember... One day in Wiltshire, I was looking over Rosalie Dipper's shoulder as she was patiently cutting out bellows papers with a scissors from a printed sheet. She had such a sure hand, that it sort of looked like she was knitting. I asked her, "Surely that task could be automated with some kind of punch? Mm?" She looked at me with a sharp and a withering eye and bragged to me in no uncertain terms, that "Our concertinas are completely hand made." She then went on to explain that in their business, instrument sizes were variable and hand cutting the paper trapezoids was really the only practical way to go. Also, she said that she preferred the hand made look, where each paper was ever so slightly unique in shape. Those Dippers. Such craft-person-ship. Go for the granular!
  5. In my last post here I went into detail about my fabulous new concertina learner. This person practiced Mad World studiously and then wanted to sing the song while playing. I was dubious at first, but encouraged them to try. Sure enough, in the next weekly lesson, with further encouragement they were belting it out with feeling while squeezing at the same time. Amazing! Then they picked the Carter Family’s Sunny Side of Life as their next song. A much more complicated affair but they were up for the challenge. I made them a text tab arrangement document (much like Mad World) and they are working on it, with a ways to go, but coming along. At the end of our last lesson I asked if there might be a new song they wanted to tackle next. They asked me for the punk rock White Stripes classic, Seven Nation Army. You must have heard it somewhere along the way, it's so catchy and simple and angry. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0J2QdDbelmY This is totally doable on C/G Anglo in several keys, especially since their spouse is a drummer who might join them and they could play together. What do you think?
  6. For me, concertina and fiddle blend so seamlessly. They both reinforce each other and make something that is greater than the sum of their parts. That’s my favorite. But I am also very happy with the sound of a grand church organ paired with concertina that I used on my album “Sing to Me, Concertina Boy” for the Unitarian hymn “Unrest”. 16 Unrest.mp3
  7. Of the 60+ students I’ve worked with over the years, most of them have been adult beginners. I’ve found that the hardest thing about playing (or teaching) the unruly Anglo concertina is student motivation. If you want to challenge yourself to play with rich harmonies and self accompany the melody as I do, well... it’s hard to do, yet that’s what I teach. Each finger has to move independently and the bellows has to support the rhythm. This is an extreme form of manual acrobatic multitasking. Because it is no easy task for a beginner to learn their first song or tune, they have to really want to knuckle down and do it. I show them how to beak down a seemingly impossible task into smaller learnable chunks and practice efficiently. The first tune I suggest to my students needs to be both easy and satisfying. Twinkle Twinkle Little Star is a delightful little tune. Mozart loved it and many of my beginners struggle and sweat to learn it. I have performed Twinkle for young audiences many thousands of times and I have not grown weary of its charming twists and turns. Variations just spring forth. Still, many of my students have loftier goals. They long to play the songs and tunes that are more meaningful to them. As a teacher, I need to pay attention to their strongest motivations and guide them to a place where they want to put in the considerable time and effort to practice and learn. I try to align my teaching with my student’s musical desires and aspirations by helping them decide what music they want to learn next. Song selection is key. This is especially true with my students who can’t read written music or have meager skills and little knowledge of music theory. If they already know and love a song, then they are way ahead of the game in learning to play it. Such a student is my fabulous new concertina learner. With no previous musical experience, They have thrown themselves into the Anglo world on a Rochelle. My job is to help them do it. After a few lessons it was clear that they were not finding enough practice time in their busy schedule to progress. Yet, they clearly loved the concertina and wanted to play. Together, we discovered their new song choice. It was not too hard to play and it spoke to them... that classic EMO anthem, Mad World. Mad World, by the British band Tears for Fears was big in 1982 and generated lots of covers and a vast following over the years. My student could sing it from memory. The perfect choice for their first serious concertina challenge. Here is my arrangement for C/G Anglo written in a modified Coover text based tab. This notation only works if you know the song already, yet if you know the rhythm, melody and structure of the song then it gives you everything you need to play it on the Anglo. Here is the original song video. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u1ZvPSpLxCg Mad World for c.net.pdf
  8. Yes David, I think you are right.
  9. When I play the Anglo concertina, I feel as if I have two distinct ways of thinking going on. Let’s call them Reading Mode and Free Mode. Reading Mode requires me to think analytically in symbols off a page. I see a static idealized representation of the music and try to play what I see, all the while, my ears tell me if I am playing correctly. Even playing with my eyes closed, I might well be in this analytic mode and thinking... “Gotta get ready for that tricky fingering” or... “Let’s try an Em instead of a G here” or something like that. Something that gets me out of my head and into the mechanics of performance. Free play, on the other hand, leaves my mind able to only concentrate on listening and responding musically. I’m free to shut my eyes or look at wherever spot I want. I like to watch the dancers, my fellow musicians or the audience. Often though, my gaze is at some indistinct spot up there on the wall. It’s almost as if I were staring at moving pictures living inside the back of my head. Concertina players of all stripes share this “concertina gaze” and it’s a common condition. So what are we all looking at anyway? To illustrate the question, here are two limericks I wrote awhile back. They both failed to win honors at the NESI poetry contest. John Kirkpatrick’s sly banter is fun In concert he told everyone “While playing this hard tune My mind exits the room I’ll see you all soon when I’m done” While playing concertina we stare At nothing, blank walls or thin air When starting to play My mind slips away I’m sure it’s here somewhere, but where? In Reading Mode my goal is to play clearly and correctly. Good for a performance that will be lower risk with fewer possible mistakes. It feels like I’m playing a very nice bunch of notes. Free play takes risks and can end in failure or brilliance depending. It feels more like I’m singing. It’s useful to consider these two modes separately. Somehow it seems to feel as if they are each activating different physical sections of my brain. Of course, actual play requires both modes to be in operation at the same time but I believe that I have learned to shift focus from one mode to the other as the need arises. By practicing this focus shifting effort consciously and deliberately... it’s hardly a surprise that I’ve gotten better at it. At this point my Reading and Free modes talk to each other with ease while I perform. Comments?
  10. My band Grand Picnic plays our first dance in years. It's the great pandemic re-opening of spring 2022. I hope it lasts.
  11. No concertinas, but here are a few Chastushki, translated by google: "Our Masha got sick, wanted milk didn't get hit by a cow but got hit by a bull." And at the Kiev railway station The ceiling is broken. They say there the Omsk choir Quietly sang. I had a cute real crocodile, How it opens its mouth I'm afraid to go there! The money flew by. Autumn has come. My darling got married and the ring broke. I loved the Lieutenant And then the political officer And then higher, higher Got to the shepherd. Baba Manya and grandfather Vanya took a long bath in the bathhouse, the bathhouse was shaking, apparently they had not grown old. CHASTUSHKI IN ENGLISH
  12. What a cool genre I've never heard of. I like this example very much. Translation please?
  13. Lots of fine music can be had from a 20 button Anglo. Still, those 30 button instruments allow you to play left hand harmonies with greater authority and other right hand benefits.
  14. The first tune is “The Wonder” by Newcastle fiddler James Hill around 1850. https://thesession.org/tunes/337 We know #2 as Delahunty’s, an Irish hornpipe https://thesession.org/tunes/309 The third is back to Newcastle, called Parnell's March from the playing of Northumbrian piper Andrew Watchorn
  15. Yes Jesse, we play whatever tempo the dancers require. This slower and jaunty pace that you see here is really a pleasure to play, though we sometimes play it faster. As you might notice in the video, the pavement was very wet as there was a downpour on Elliot Street just before we started and so we kept the pace relaxed to avoid any dancerly slips. Dance musicians have to be adaptable and play according to conditions.
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