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Fiddlehead Fern

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Everything posted by Fiddlehead Fern

  1. There are some good ideas here, but I think the most important thing is to find a song-learning method that works for you. Some people find listening to lyrics over and over again easier, and others find reading them to be more effective. If you don't know what works best, try them both, and then try combination of them. My personal way of learning songs usually goes something like -hear song once, hum it a few times -listen to it again to fill in gaps in my memory and procure recording if I can and listen to it over and over, singing along as I go -once I'm fairly sure of the words, listen to and sing along with a verse, pause recording, sing it alone, repeat through through the end -once I've got to the point that I can sing most of the way through without having to stop and relisten, just practice it. -if it's still difficult, then write out the lyrics longhand, singing a verse and then writing it, sometimes line by line if I must. By the end of that process it's generally pretty firmly lodged in my skull. This is by no means the only way, if, for some reason, I can't find a recording I like, or the words are undecipherable or I like the way a performer sang a song, but not en's lyric choices, I find alternative lyrics to the ones I dislike and go with them, looking at them only to remind myself of how to start when I get stuck. If I'm going to perform something I generally make sure that I can sing it on autopilot, while reading something else or concentrating on a different task. Recording devices are good if you want to be super-careful about this, do a quick recording of yourself singing the song in question while you do something else that takes at least some of your attention, then listen to it over to make sure you got all the words and in the right order. When you've got something that automatic trying to play while you sing will be way easier. I'd still recommend just humming the first coupe times you try to put it all together though, as it generally makes my brain explode when I try to do it all at once. As I said though, instead of squabbling over the best way to learn a song or lyrics for everyone, focus on the best way to learn a song or lyrics for you.
  2. If the weather outside is different than the weather inside, give the instrument some time to acclimate in its case before opening it up and playing. Keeping it in its case will give it some insulation that will slow the climate change and reduce condensation and other nasties that may arise from a fast change. Think about how awful it is getting out of the warm covers on a cold morning when the heat went off during the night...much better to take your sweet time about it and peel off each blanket layer by layer.....well, maybe not. But just anthropormorphise the little beastie for a moment and I'm sure you'll figure out a way to keep everyone happy. Er, playing well.
  3. During my travels this summer I found myself in Milwaukee for a week. Happily it turned out to be the same weekend as Milwaukee Irish Fest, but I digress. While in the Denis Sullivan crew lounge I noticed a flyer on the bulletin board for "Art's Concertina Bar", unfortunately I didn't get there. But I wasn't sure if it was still in operation? I vaguely remembered hearing about it around the forums, but couldn't remember exactly *what* I'd heard. So, next time I'm in the fine port of Milwaukee, is it 1.) still open and 2.) worth a visit? I mean, with a name like that it's got to be good, but what exactly should one expect?
  4. This sounds awesome. I'm about to leave behind the internet all summer, but when I come back I might see about this. I have skype, and I'd like to improve my concertina playing. Would you teach a not-so-great player? I've been teaching myself for a few years now, but I consider myself an advanced beginner. Also, I'm in the states. In any case, I'd be interested if it's a possibility.
  5. A friend of mine who is a piano tuner has sometimes gotten yelled at by patients in nursing homes when she's working for "not playing it right", as anyone who's heard a piano being tuned will know, it can be a slightly disconcerting experience and is not at all pleasing to the ears. When she's done tuning, however, she always plays music for them and has found that the patients with Alzheimer's and similar conditions will remember hymns and Christmas carols perfectly and respond to them in a positive way. As for myself, I know that listening to and/or playing music has probably saved my life a few times. Whenever I hit a rough patch, what always seems to pull me out are the people I love, the everyday beauty one notices when contemplating ditching it all, and the music that I love to hear and play. Melodies, harmonies, lyrics, whatever it is, it definitely has an impact, sometimes if for no other reason than the realization that someone else, at some point, has felt exactly the same way as I have, and managed to create some beautiful thing out of it. And when I'm happy I'm always making some sort of noise. Singing, humming, tapping fingers or toes, skipping, whatever goes.
  6. What kind of gloves do you see people playing in? (Material/fit) I've never played wearing fingered gloves, but if you wore a pair that was thin and flexible enough it would probably work well. The only problem I would think would be that one's fingers would slip off the keys since the fabric is slipperier than bare fingers. Perhaps there would be a way to put something on them to keep from slipping? It might be worth experimentation.
  7. This is awesome. I'll have to see if I can convince my friend (who has an iPhone) to get the app so I can steal it to play with....hmmmmm. Not so sure whether he'll spring for it, but if I ask very nicely....
  8. Ohh! Symphonium! No wonder it sounded familiar to me, I remember reading a short note on one in a book, declaring it a very early type of concertina, or something along those lines. I didn't make the connection because of the lack of bellows, ooops, my bad. That sounds like it would be fun to play, much better than the harmonica, which I absolutely fail at, despite the crash course I got when playing with a few friends. ("Here, this one is in the right key. Just do whatever sounds good.") Oh dear, I think this might be another thing going on my wish list.....
  9. Greetings! While at the Boston Museum of Fine Arts today, browsing the musical instruments collection (which was quite lovely), I spotted a familiar name on this critter. The label said it was a mouth organ (or "symphonium") invented by none other than Charles Wheatstone. I found it interesting, took a few pictures and thought you all might be intrigued as well. Attached are a few pictures, sorry for the poor quality, but the sign should be legible. The instrument itself had writing on, but it's barely visible at best in the picture.
  10. That's awesome! Unfortunately I haven't got either an iPhone not an iPod touch, though I have friends who do....But I play English system, alas. This looks like a lot of fun though. Though it's possible to play some tunes on a regular phone too, with the button tones and keypad. Trust me, boredom and a strong desire to procrastinate leads one to do things bordering on either insanity or brilliance, though most likely the former.
  11. Congratulations to Agnes! It's good to see another teenage girl playing English Concertina and acting in a Shakespearean play! Both very good things. I must say though, iPods are not a wholly bad thing. I one myself and use it very much for learning music. And yes, I've been known to play the concertina and fiddle with the earbuds lodged firmly in my head (I was practicing a piece along with a recording to see if I could play it up to speed). I won't even start on texting....... But at any rate, Agnes looks like a great person, the kind we need a lot more of. PS I admire the hair. Wish I was that brave sometimes.
  12. I play with three fingers, index (first) finger plays the top two rows, middle finger plays the third row, ring (third) finger plays the fourth row, same on both hands. I hold the concertina on my lap, and the few times I attempted to take my little fingers off the pinky rests I didn't feel like I was able to control the bellows at all. Might it be because I don't tip the instrument? More experimentation necessary I suppose. Rod, there are probably plenty of people better suited to answer your question, but my guess is the layout of the buttons. I've looked at those Anglo hand straps, then back at the thumb strap/pinky rest combo on my 'tina and seriously wondered what I was thinking to choose English style. But the Anglo buttons seem to be laid out in a more horizontal pattern, on the English it's a bit more vertical. The thumb strap/pinky rest combo lets you get the playing fingers further down to reach the low notes. It seemed impossible when I first started playing that one could reach down there, but it's surprisingly easy. I've heard tell of some English style players using straps that go around the back of the hand, and I actually played a friend's concertina once who had put on hand straps, but I found that they just got in my way and didn't help me play at all, so I just ignored them along with the neck strap.
  13. Nice pic, Fern! From the flare of the bow, I'd date your ship to well within the concertina era, however, so you look authentic enough BTW, do any of you "dress up" for gigs? Like navy-blue ganseys for sea songs, kilts for Scottish music, etc? I notice, Fern, that you have at least one authentic nautical dress feature - bare feet! There's a story of an old admiral who was interviewed on his retirement after a glorious career, and was asked why he had joined the Navy in the first place. He told how, as a very young boy around 1900, his father took him to see a warship on an open day. He had new shoes on that day, and they were stiff and uncomfortable, and his feet were "killing him." So when he saw the Jack Tars running about the deck barefoot, he decided on the spot that he would become a sailor. Nothing to do with pirates, of course - quite the contrary. I think I'll just go and play "Admiral Benbow" (in C) and "Tom Bowling" (in G, two of my favourites on C/G Anglo). With my shoes on. And my RNLI sweatshirt. Then I'll clew up my bellows and get back to work. Cheers, John (Edited for typo) The ship in question is the US Brig Niagara, she fought in the Battle of Lake Erie as Admiral Perry's relief flagship during the War of 1812. The year is 1813, so a bit earlier than concertina, but close enough for jazz. Or old-time. Actually, regarding the bare feet, I was off-watch, otherwise I would have been wearing shoes; splinters aren't looked upon kindly and shoes are required while working. As far as dressing up goes, I've been involved in living history since I was about 5, so to me period dress (mainly 18th century) feels just as comfortable a jeans and a t-shirt. I'd like to get involved in War of 1812 period, and perhaps do a sailor's impression. Again, too early for the concertina, sadly. I have, however, performed in costume upon occasion. Most recently with a shanty-singing group, I was willingly shanghaied in, payed for my dinner ticket and was a great time to boot, what more can one ask? RE: Grog: Grog is rum mixed with water. One way I've heard the story was that Edward Vernon, nicknamed "Old Grog" was the first to standardize the ratio of water to spirits, and the sailors called it grog after him. A similar, but not quite exactly the same story is on the Contemplator's site: http://www.contemplator.com/history/grog.html In any case, if you haven't heard of the site before, by all means look it up. Fascinating resource for songs, tunes and lore.
  14. Yar! So glad ye've all remembered this fine holiday. I must sadly admit that I didn't play any tunes on me "Pirate Accordion" today, as I spent the day in the 18th century, alas. Though this picture does suggest that sailors have, at some point, had concertinas on board with them. Not the greatest picture, but you can kind of see the 'tina.
  15. Hmm. I haven't seen the film (yet) but it sounds interesting. Of course, I don't really know much at all about Morris dancing, either, though I believe there is a group not to far from where I live, so I'll have to look into it. I'd like to see the movie though, glad that it'll be available.
  16. Well, I'm home now. I had an amazing time, though not as much as music as I'd have liked when we did get to play it was great. Probably the best time was in Port Colborne, when the world's most looked forward to banjo arrived via Intern's parents, Michael got out his mandolin, Brad took the guitar and we sat outside of the ship on the sidewalk and played for the fun of it, old-time, bluegrass, a blend of everything and it was great. We all somehow managed to be dressed old-timey (long skirt, plaid shirts and hats, etc) at the same time, and attracted a pretty good crowd from those passing by the waterfront. It was awesome, a few people stayed and danced, our shipmates wandered back and sat listening, the sun set and the street lights came on, and we kept going. It was what music is all about to me, and so, so, so much fun. Life is good, it really is. Sailing was incredible too, but since this is mostly a musical site I figured I'd point out that aspect of my trip......
  17. Greetings everyone! I've been having a blast this month, sailing and learning so much, with some great jam sessions in the evening with some of my shipmates. I did bring both concertina and fiddle, and I'm glad I did. There are several guitar players on board, a few quite good, who I've had the pleasure of playing with when we get time off. One of them picked up a mandolin in Montreal as well, and another got his banjo when his parents came to visit us here in Port Colborne, so I'm looking forward to a chance to hear him play that with the fiddle and/or concertina, since he plays a lot of great old-timey tunes that I know. Good times, good times. There's also an accordian player in my watch, but he doesn't have it with him, so we'll not talk about that..... Unfortunately I didn't get to see a great deal of Montreal, mostly just wandering around town within walking distance of the harbor, but it's a beautiful city and I hope to return someday, and get to Hurley's! Unfortunately I had to work all day when they had a session, andI never did get down that far, but alas. It's been great though, when I get home I'll return to lurking on here, but I thought I'd let you all know I'd not completely fallen off the face of the planet, just nearly. Fair winds and following seas to you all!
  18. Showing off? Nah, just sharing one's super ninja music skillz. (Sorry, couldn't help that one...) For fiddle I tend to do the Mason's Apron or Harvest Home, those aren't too hard but sound nice and have some fun string crossings that look and sound impressive. On concertina I'm partial to Morrison's Jig and Drowsy Maggie played as a set. But I just love to play those anyway, so that probably doesn't count.....
  19. I dread to think what Greenpeace would have to say about the baleen (whalebone) in the matching undies ... Speaking of which: concertinas don't have any parts made of bits of endangered species of plant or animal, do they? Are the "bone" buttons on older concertinas really bone, or is that a politically correct euphemism for ivory? Cheers, John Actually baleen (which is actually the part that acts as a sieve in the whale's mouth) is available LEGALLY through the Inuit that hunt them traditionally. I've heard. Apparently it's not even that expensive. I don't know about concertina buttons, but I did hear once (I think) that for harpsichord keys (earlier 18th century) bone was preferred over ivory. I can't remember why, though.
  20. sounds like quite the adventure. what I'm thinking is: one month in an enclosed enviornment with other passengers, I haven't been on too many square rigged vessels, but I imagine the accomdations are somewhat cramped. Your biggest fear may not be getting your concertina soaked, but watching it sail over the horizon as your bunk mates reach thier "Concertina Limit". Yes, I've thought about that, close quarters and as they say "you trust your life to the knots your shipmates tie" or something along those lines...I'm hoping to not annoy anyone and keep my fingers in working order. Hopefully there will be others bringing musical instruments too so I at least have a chance of not being the only annoying one. But I don't think I snore, so maybe they'll cut me some slack! You are in for a wonderful experience. I hope you get a chance to get off the ship in Montreal. My wife is an ex-Montrealer, and it is my favorite Canadian city. Very walkable, and a very cool and European feeling waterfront and downtown. There is a very good session on Saturdays at 3:00 p.m. at Hurley's Pub. Irish music of course, but some good Quebec and Maritime music last time I was there. Hurley's. I'll remember that. Hopefully I'd be allowed in (minor and all), but if it's during the day that would be good to, since I'm not allowed out late while standing watches, etc. Thanks!
  21. Yeah, well not many other kids my age I know play the concertina. Or are interested in sailing tall ships, for that matter. So maybe I'm being individual while furthering a stereotype? Hmm, how does that work?! (I'm drawing the line at the eyepatch and wooden leg, however.) Well if that doesn't qualify I think I'm sufficiently weird in other ways so I won't worry too much about it.
  22. Re: Waterproof bags: That's a good idea, though I'm more concerned for the overall effect of humidity than, say, dropping it overboard. In the material they gave us to read it mentioned that there was a special dry place to store instruments if someone brought one. I mostly just meant things that I wouldn't expect, a rather bad example from the fiddle, one time while playing in the rain (under a canvas fly, in a deluge) all 6 of us fiddlers who were shooting the breeze noticed that, besides the expected tuning issues our bow hairs were all going slack and we'd have to tighten them after every set. I was looking for less obvious things that might happen with free reed instruments exposed to conditions that I haven't seen them in before, basically. Re: Great Lakes: I'm sailing on the brig Niagara, who's home port is in Erie, PA, so yes, I'll be in Lake Erie as well as Ontario. We'll also be stopping in Oswego, NY, so if there's anything I should see there let me know too! And John; I know I can enjoy the concertina anywhere but I love square riggers anyway, and I figured I might as well bring the concertina and further the "sailors always play the little round accordion" stereotype, right?
  23. Hello all, this summer I'm going to be spending a month on a square rigged sailing ship on the great lakes. Quite looking forward to it too, as you might guess. Well, I'm planning on taking the 'tina, since a month without making music (besides singing) is just too frightening to contemplate, and it's small and hopefully won't be affected as much as my violin would be. Though if I can pack my things very carefully my second fiddle may well make the trip too. That's to be decided yet. Anyone have any advice on what I should do (besides "don't take it swimming") whilst sailing along with the concertina? Dry and secure place, check, instruments allowed, check, and yes, I'm careful (to the point of being annoying to some non-instrumental friends) about making sure the heat, humidity et all is reasonably level and safe as possible in the circumstances before subjecting my "little pals" to it. It's freshwater sailing, I'll be in the great lakes and St. Lawrence seaway up to Montreal. Then comes my second question....what should I do and see (if I'm able) in Montreal? Music to hear? Landmarks to take cheesy tourist pictures in front of? I don't know how much time I'll have ashore, nor how far I'll be able to go (walking...) nor even exactly where I'll be. But, if anyone has recommendations I'll keep them in mind. I do know that the ship I'm going to be on was invited up as part of a festival, but I haven't been told what that festival is and I'm not entirely sure what the dates are, I haven't looked at the schedule for a bit. So that's all. Ways to keep the 'tina from getting too seasick, and what to see in Montreal. Fair sailing!
  24. Too right there ; and... a picture of one? A picture of a viola da gamba? Try the Viola da Gamba Society of America. No, not of a viola da gamba. I meant a picture of a piano, since we were on the subject of them. But I guess it's no use of having a picture of a piano if you already have a real-life one. Our piano takes up most of the house....no place to put a picture of one!
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