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RP3

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  1. The only things covered by the NHICS non-disclosure agreement for 2008 are the copying of any printed, audio, or video materials made during the class. The agreement is very simple and merely requires that you not re-distribute anything you get from the class -- videos, recordings and sheet music included. I doubt that the non-disclosure restrictions would apply to other family members. It's focus is only to inhibit the unauthorized commercial reuse of his performances, his teaching methodologies, and his arrangements of traditional Irish tunes. Now, if we can stop kicking this dead horse, I'm going to pack my bags and head off for the Mid-West class. This is my twelfth year and I'm sure I'll enjoy it as much as I did my first one. And with luck, it won't be my last either!! Ross Schlabach
  2. I think all the responses have been very well restrained and on-point, but I am inclined to believe that the question was intended to "wind us up"! If not, accept my apology but understand that many instruments that reside more in the folk than the classic realm are disregarded by classic music's self-appointed critics and gurus. Hence, there is little emphasis in "our" world on applying labels such as virtuoso. We know who some/most of the premier concertina players are but most of the outside world does not. It doesn't bother us much but then again it probably keeps these folks from earning the kind of living that they should from their music. All the more reason for us to support them at concerts and through the sales of their self-produced CDs, and the like. I now relinquish the soapbox to someone else. Ross Schlabach
  3. Hi Lawrence, Being as I retired last August and am not that far away from you in western NC, put me on the list. I would like to learn more about the event, so if there is a website with any information about past events, I'd like to have a look at it if you can direct me accordingly. Hope it all comes together well, and if needed I can chip in with an additional contribution for expenses. Ross Schlabach
  4. I too remember that thread -- and not very fondly either. This idea sounds good but then many of the Socialists' ideas sounded good but never worked -- or failed miserably. We tried a similar thing in having a scholarship fund that would be used to support "deserving" students help attend Noel Hill's school. To my knowledge we only did it a limited number of times and IMHO it didn't really work out as well as intended -- and consequently died. As far as this proposed fund is concerned, who is going to decide who gets the money/instrument? At best we will have one hopefully happy person but many more disgruntled people who were not chosen -- and their parents/relatives. There are many instances where people with means or extra concertinas will make a grand gesture and loan an instrument to someone they consider deserving. This is probably the best way to go with such a decision based on a one-to-one personal relationship. If you follow classic music at all, there are a number of instances where virtuosos have lost very valuable instruments that are on loan to them. One has to ask if they would have lost that same instrument if they had had to come up with the money for it? Or put another way, you will never have as much appreciation for something that is given to you as something you have worked to EARN. I will admit there are undoubtedly exceptions to this statement, but the underlying truth remains. I suggest that each person truly interested in the concertina will find a way to get one that suits his/her needs, talents, and/or means. If individuals want to help individuals, go for it. But don't try to institutionalize something like this; it will create more anger and harm than good. And the recipient will come to feel "entitled" which is just what many of us felt was so outrageous about the ideas set forth in the former thread. Ross Schlabach
  5. Hi Jerry, You didn't say what kind of concertina you have gotten. I live in Tryon and have played Anglo for 13 years and participated in noel Hill's classes here in the states for 12 years. I don't consider myself any great expert, but if you are starting out on anglo, I could probably get you going in the right direction for while. Drop me a message off-line if I can be of help. Best regards, Ross Schlabach 828 no 894 spam 5504
  6. Hi Jerry, You didn't say what kind of concertina you have gotten. I live in Tryon and have played Anglo for 13 years and participated in noel Hill's classes here in the states for 12 years. I don't consider myself any great expert, but if you are starting out on anglo, I could probably get you going in the right direction for while. Drop me a message off-line if I can be of help. Best regards, Ross Schlabach 828 no 894 spam 5504
  7. Since many of us concertina players can't limit our free-reed obsessions to just concertinas, I'm hoping that this crowd can help me find a quality 3 reed flat keyboard BC box. Right now my attention is focused on a Cairdin or a Castagnari Dinn III - preferrably in Swing tuning. In case you are wondering, I've already checked out the Button Box. If you have one that you'd like to sell or know of someone who does, please contact me via the PM. Thanks, Ross Schlabach
  8. A lot of the replies have touched on key issues both in favor and against the 38 button instruments (weight, need for chords, it was the only thing available, etc.) but I don't think anyone has mentioned crowded keyboard. I have big fingers and they don't handle 38 button layouts well. I made the mistake some years ago of changing my order with Suttner from a 30 button to a 38 button A/E. Big mistake! So if you think you "need" 38 buttons for whatever reason, do make an effort to try several 38 button instruments to be sure that you are comfortable with the button sizes and layout -- to see if it fits your hands. On a different part of this same thread I can remember conversations with Noel Hill where he has said that 30 buttons is plenty and more aren't needed. Now I expect that his response was from his point of view and playing style. And he has backed this up by playing tunes in a wide variety of keys on the same 30 button C/G instrument. But we're not Noel Hill and styles do differ and players who do a lot of chord work may find a 38 button instrument offers more chord opportunities than a 30 button -- taking into account the push and pull issues of the instrument's layout. So it seems that there is no right or wrong answer to the original question. It boils down to style, preferences, and instrument availability. We all must go our own ways on this one. Ross Schlabach
  9. I have attended Noel's classes since 1996 and have grown to believe that his school is very beneficial to all who attend and work to really absorb what has been taught. Never in all these years did I feel that Noel was unreasonable in asking the students not to share his teaching materials or methods. Otherwise what would stop someone from attending one year and then attempt to open one's own school using the information learned -- very much akin to Ken's experience. Never in all these years and with all the other students I have met did I hear anyone complain about having to sign the release. To help everyone understand Noel's position better, you should know that Noel spent several years putting together material that was to be a concertina tutor. And then, at a music festival (I think), all that material was stolen and years of hard work were lost. Now in this thread we have a person griping about Noel's non-disclosure requirements. As was pointed out, Noel is a single parent of two great kids and all three of them need to eat. He makes a substantial portion of his annual income from teaching here in the states and he has every right to protect his source of income. If you can't appreciate that concept, then by all means go somewhere else for concertina instruction; but to allege that Noel is being unreasonable or that something is taken away from the experience by having to sign that form is pure poppycock and very self-serving. Ross Schlabach
  10. Gary, I'm an eleven year veteran (victim) of Noel's School. Micheal's comment about the benefits of being able to read music used to be accurate but are not as important now. When I started back in 1996, Noel did teach some very hard tunes -- even to early players like myself. It's hard to memorize a three part tune and so reading sheet music was an important way of dealing with the challenge. In the intervening years, both the students and Noel himself have grown in their abilities. I believe Noel has become much more astute in selecting tunes that match the abilities of the three different groups in the school (beginner, intermediate, and advanced). So with these advances, the need for sheet music is much less. Noel will encourage every student to try and learn tunes by ear but he won't be a tyrant about it either -- except maybe with his advanced students, and even they get cut a little slack too, if needed. As one who resisted going without sheet music, I must admit I was a real idiot to be so insistent on having the paper in front of me. When you learn from hearing, your ears and brain pick up so much more information than is on the paper. Try it, you'll like it. One other important point, IMHO. Don't expect to absorb and have everything you're taught planted firmly in your mind or your fingers by the end of the week. I have found that the tunes given out over the week (two per day for Monday thru Thursday and more or less on Friday) will keep you occupied all winter. It's not that these tunes are so hard; there's so much that you can learn to add to them: chords, ornaments, drones and the like. So bring a good recorder with lots of media and batteries. Absorb what you can during the week, and dive back into your recordings once you get home and you'll have a treasure of material to keep you busy during the cold months. Best regards and I'll see you at the Midwest class. Ross Schlabach
  11. Hi Dave, I'm a long-time anglo player, and Jeffries owner, and I don't live all that far from you. I live in Tryon, NC and Charlotte is only about 1-1/2 hours away. If you need somebody to open the instrument up to evaluate its condition for potential buyers, just send me an e-mail. I have the experience to do check this out and can help you with photos too. I'm recenty retired, so time is not a major issue. You can reach me through my e-mail address on this site. Best regards, Ross Schlabach aka rp3
  12. Alan, In my experience, the position of the palmrest seems to be very arbitrary from maker to maker. Wheatstone & Lachenal anglos have the palmrest very close to the first row of buttons -- suggesting that the positioning was selected to accommodate people with small hands in Victorian England. No surprise here. Also, the rows of buttons are stacked very close to vertical. Crabbs/Ball Beavons, and Jeffries instead are positioned more comfortably for people with larger hands -- with more space from the palmrest to the first row and the rows of buttons are stacked with more of an angle between rows, and these brands seemed to find great favor in the hands of Irish farmer musicians and the like -- your humble scribe included. I should note that there is even variety in the centering of the palmrest position and this can affect row access too. Another issue is the positioning of the air button on the righthand side of these instruments. Some are positioned much lower on the instrument -- forcing one to bend one's thumb down to reach that button. With my big hands, I most favor the air button position on Crabbs and Jeffries. With that all being said, even these limited choices are not enough to accommodate the variety in peoples' hands. Wally Carroll is making his new concertinas with an adjustable palmrest to deal with these individual differences. He can tell you the limitations of this movement, but it can be set individually for the left and right side of the instrument. The height of the palmrest plays into this issue too. A taller palmrest (1" or more) will ease access to first row buttons even if the palmrest is closer to the first row of buttons than would normally be comfortable with a standard height palmrest (5/8" to 3/4"). Wally can work with you on palmrest height as can Dipper. In fact my Dipper came standard with a taller palmrest. I don't know why, but I'm glad it did. Of course, Colin did have a tracing of my hand and so he knew I had problems with the more traditional setups ala Wheatstone. BTW, I find it difficult to reach the lower lefthand first row buttons, and a slight rotation of the palmrest eases my access to those buttons. But it's a delicate balance. Improve access to the low buttons on the left and you may restrict access to the higher notes near the top of the instrument on that side. Strap tension can either improve or restrict range of motion too. So take your time, try out different combinations, and don't do anything you can't undo. Good luck, Ross Schlabach
  13. That makes three of us that haven't been able to get an e-mail response. I was checking into the Ireland class since I've now retired! No, not from playing concertina. Ross S.
  14. Peter, I can't answer your question about Noel's Jeffries definitively but I can tell you from personal experience that he is able to almost instantly "reprogram" his fingers to deal with changes in the accidental rows on various concertinas. He has played both my 30 button Dipper and my 28 button Jeffries -- both of which have different outside rows -- and he never seemed to miss a lick! I've seen him do the same with other students' concertinas as well at the NHICS classes. Ross Schlabach
  15. This instrument has been sold. Thanks for your interest. Ross
  16. I am not surprised at the number of changes being requested for anglo concertinas -- although I was surprised to hear Rich say it is mostly beginners. The anglo is a diatonic instrument and as such does not have the full range of notes as a chromatic instrument. I also play the hammer dulcimer -- another diatonic instrument -- and have seen over the years a wide range of changes in layouts to achieve more comfortable access to those accidental notes. If you think that there is no justification to switch notes on an anglo, just try ripping off a quick A scale. With the G# on the outside row and then the ending A on the inside row -- in relatively awkward relation to each other -- it is a bitch. No wonder there is an assortment of tunings for the anglo! (Of course, I must admit that I don't know what changes to a 30 button anglo would solve the key of A problem without creating more in the process.) I have nothing but the highest regard for those among us who can fly thru tunes in the key of A (on a C/G of course) -- and other keys I can't even think of. And what about the layout differences between Jeffries and Wheatstone? And even many Jeffries are not consistent with regard to the low A or D on the G row. So switching notes was an issue back in the early days of the instrument -- and it wasn't just limited to the outside row. If you think the problem is just limited to the odd switch of an accidental or two, think again. I play both a 30 button Dipper and a 28 button Jeffries. On the Jeffries, all the notes on the left outside row are shifted down one button since there is no top button - and the bottom two notes are lost. So the low A is on the press on the lowest outside button -- and no low draw A on the G row! So we have an instrument whose note placement is like nitroglycerine -- highly unstable! Ross Schlabach
  17. Yes Sarah, there is a Santa Claus. And there is also a "woman's accordion". In a paper published in the PICA Mary 2006 issue Gearoid O hAllmhurain referred to the "bean chairdin" or, as he translated it, female accordion. The anglo concertina was favored by women in Western Ireland, particularly Clare, and they gave the instrument its start in Ireland. Read his article and you'll learn a lot more about it. Ross Schlabach
  18. Sure looks like a Lachenal to me with the big ovals on each side for the label and the filigree pattern in the metal. But lets wait and see what the experts say! Ross Schlabach
  19. Aogan, I was introduced to your playing by the two very fine sets you recorded for Suttner's website and I too second the need for you to sit your tush down in a studio and bang us out some lovely tunes. So I await your humble announcement. Best regards and welcome to this mad but merry little band, Ross Schlabach "Of reasonably sound mind, but terribly slow fingers!"
  20. Hi Alan, I've been going to Noel's classes since he first started doing the school up at Bucksteep in the Berkshire Mountains of Massachussetts. The school has been going for 12 years I think and I'm heading back for my 11th time. Each year I find more to learn and enjoy. It charges my musical batteries and gives me lots of material to challenge me for the following winter. I moved from the original NY class to the Cincinatti class because it was far closer and therefore more economical for me. If you have a real interest in the anglo, you can't find a better, more dedicated, teacher; and the environment is excellent. Unlike other schools that cover a wide range of instruments -- resulting in myriad distractions -- everybody here is focused on the concertina and traditional Irish music. So you have a real opportunity to learn and share a common interest with a group of like-minded individuals. The school is quite a bargain and yet very challenging. You should know that Noel has each student play a piece or two so he can judge what level is best for that student. Usually the students are broken into three groups (beginner, intermediate, advanced) and the classwork and tunes assigned are based on ones' capabilities. That way you're never in over your head and Noel can customize his teaching to the level of students. Noel does teach some specific fingering which gives you a better base to grow and advance on the instrument. During my first year, I suffered for a few days as I learned his way of doing things, but I never looked back. It was well worth the effort to learn his way of playing. You have two class sessions -- one each morning and another in the afternoon and a new tune is taught at each class session. Usually there is at least one evening concert during the week. We had two last year -- one for the students only on Tuesday and another on Thursday when the public was invited. I make a point of carefully recording the concerts and the class sessions and consider these concert recordings real treasures to enjoy again and again. So, bring a good recording device (I recommend the mini-disc recorders) and you won't regret it. As David pointed out, the surroundings at the Cincinatti site are very pleasant. The grounds are great for a walk or a relaxing place to practice. Food at this type of event is never expected to be Five Star, but last year's fare was varied and there was plenty to eat. They even had some fruit and cookies available for unrepentant snackers like myself. We did everything in one building, and it was impeccably clean and well air conditioned. We had a large lounge where classes were conducted and the dining room was just across the hall. The bedrooms were small but nice -- with a sink. The showers and toilets were down the hall so a robe and flip-flops are advised. No TVs but then we didn't need or want them. We had lots of room to stretch out at the retreat with an empty room between each occupied room, so we could practice without much intereference from ones neighbors. To quote the old TV ad: "Try it. You'll like it!" Hope to see you there, Ross Schlabach
  21. Hi again everybody. I appreciate your comments and encouragement. We are starting down the road to formal puppy training in the morning when we visit her puppy shcool. We are using a crate effectively, have established outselves as the pack leaders and have a good routine set up for her. Even at only three months she knows that outside is for doing her business and she has plenty of "cheap" toys to both help entertain her and help with the growth of her teeth. Better them than our furniture or my concertinas. She's getting lots of exercise and good initial people socialization. Dana, I do believe that you chose an even more high-energy dog than we received. The one thing we need want is for this job-oriented puppy to become self-employed! I am committed to getting my music practice into the routine and having a well-behaved and well trained dog too. We just need to stay with it. Thanks again to all, and Happy New Year. Ross Schlabach
  22. Just thought I'd share my dilemna with the rest of the group -- for laughs if nothing else. This Christmas my two grown children presented my wife and I with a 3 month old Australian Shepherd puppy as our Christmas gift. This was out-of-the-blue but understandable since we had been forced to put down our ailing 14 year-old Aussie last summer. The puppy is delightful and full of energy -- wherein lies my problem. Aussies are dogs that need a job and currently her job is seeing to it that I spend almost all my free time keeping her entertained or taking her for walks to do her business. If I try to take time away from her to practice on my concertina, she becomes self-employed and the results of that can be disasterous to the house, furniture, and clothing! Hopefully I can channel her energies into non-destructive pastimes as she gets a little older so that I can have some music practice time. If not, Noel's going to give me a hard time at class this August. Any suggestions would be appreciated - commiserations also accepted. Happy New Year, Ross Schlabach
  23. I am one of the people who has been attending Noel Hill's class since 1996 and DPMCCABE's assumptions about the class are incorrect but would neverthelss be irrelevant. Most of the students in the early classes were Intermediate or higher. Some people had waited years for a special concertina they had ordered some time before. A few had been lucky enough to find a fine concertina at a reasonable price, and others had merely paid what the market demanded at the time to have a quality instrument. All shared some degree of devotion to the music and the instrument and generally tried to obtain the best instrument they could afford. Others decided that they didn't need a high-end instrument and were happy with much less. But each type made their own decision regardless of skill, talent, or NEED. For someone else to assail these people saying they are not worthy to have these fine instruments is pure rubbish. There are always a few people who believe they are "entitled" to something and they denigrate those who have what they desire but cannot either acquire or afford. Most of the inhabitants of the developed world have more than they "need" but that is a characteristic of a capitalist economy. I would much rather have that type of economy with its quirks and supposed inequalities than any of the others that have been tried and failed in this world. Quality concertinas are difficult but not impossible to obtain. Sometimes it takes perserverence, sometimes it takes patience, sometimes it takes money or a combintation of the three. Most current owners of quality concertinas had to have one or more of these characteristics to acquire the fine instrument they now own. I cannot and will not condemn them for having that fine instrument even if their level of talent does not appear to justify that ownership; and no one else has that right in our world. If you believe you need something badly enough, you do the work or make the necessary sacrifices to achieve your goal. One feature of our little concertina world is that supply and demand is not always in balance. The fact that an instrument can be delivered one day by Dipper or Suttner or any of the other fine makers and be resold the very next day for a much bigger price suggests that the makers are not getting the full market value for their instruments. They could employ different sales practices and likely obtain a much greater return for their hard work. But this would favor only the most wealthy, so it seems fair to conclude that these makers have made a commitment to an instrument and a type of music that they love. They would rather have their instruments in the hands of those willing to make the commitment to wait for that special concertina. Let those who are unwilling to wait go to Lark in the Morning or participate in one of the auctions (eBay or otherwise) and let them pay the inflated price those markets demand. Most of our concertina community have accepted these conditions and limits willingly, strange though they may be. I think that if you can't accept these conditions, you might be better off elsewhere.
  24. Just to follow up on the issues relating to the 38 button instruments. Not only is there the extra weight to consider but also a degree of crowding of buttons. I regularly play 30 button anglos but purchased a 38 button Suttner. When it finally arrived, the tone was a delight (not harsh) and the construction was top quality, but I found the button spacing somewhat challenging. It may very well boil down to a "what are you used to" issue, but I would suggest that if your hands are large or you have big fingers, then you might want to pass the 38 button concertinas by. Many excellent players, Noel Hill included, do not find the need for more than 30 buttons, so you may not either. I too had past RSI issues but subsequently found out that my condition was more a result of excessive time on the PC keyboard and bad office ergonomics -- and not the concertina. So hopefully this will not be a serious issue for you. Since you live in Ireland I would hope you might have access to lots of different instruments. If so, try to get a chance with as many different instruments as possible. You might find, as I did, that there are instruments that really fit you much better than others. My experience is that Wheatstones are easier for people with small hands to negotiate while the Jeffries, Crabbs, and Kensingtons suit those with larger hands. The Carrolls are patterned after an early Wheatstone Linota, so they will be like the Wheatstones in favoring smaller handed players but Wally Carroll can make adjustments to give you more room if you need it. Then too, button height can be a comfort issue for some. So if you can hold off on placing an order until you get some playing time with varied instruments, you may save yourself some grief down the road. Good luck with your concertina hunting. Ross Schlabach
  25. Good morning Sidesqueeze, Like you, I have large hands (don't read that as long fingers -- just hefty ones with large palms). I find Wheatstones rather difficult to negotiate -- especially the inside row. Lachenals are normally less troublesome. I find the 28 and 30 button Jeffries ideal and ditto for the early Crabbs. 38 button instruments get a bit too crowded regardless of the brand. The length and height of the palmrest may help alleviate hand problems. Shorter (in height) palmrests make reaching the inside row more difficult while taller palmrests work better. That was part of Dipper's solution for me as well as moving the buttons a bit further out. The Dipper palmrest is about 1 inch tall while the old Crabb and Jeffries palmrests are barely more than 1/2 inch tall -- and relatively short in length. If the palmrest is too short in length, your hand will be very uncomfortably pinched and your access to the lower buttons on each side will be restricted. So for the short-term, my recommendations to you would be to look for a Lachenal or a Crabb (or Jeffries if pocketbook & circumstances suit). While some may consider this sacrilege, even these instruments may fit you better if you replace their palmrests with ones made to fit you (longer & taller). If you do, keep the original ones so that they can be restored to the instrument whenever necessary. Unfortunately, moving the palmrest back away from the buttons to give you more room to access the inside row, can throw the instrument out of balance -- causing the ends and bellows to tip as you draw and press rather than remaining parallel as you play the instrument. Longer-term, the custom builders (Suttner, Dipper, and Carroll for sure cause I have experience with each) are willing to adjust their instruments to suit you. Usually this limited to adjustments to the palmrest but as I mentioned earlier, Dipper even moved the button layout out to keep the ends in balance. I sent Dipper a tracing of my hands, and the instrument he sent me fit perfectly with no adjustments required -- even the strap was perfect. Unfortunately there's that interminable wait no matter which builder you choose. One pleasant exception may be Dana Johnson's Kensington Concertinas. His wait is not near as long and his palmrest is taller and unique in shape and may fit you well. He shares the trait of large hands himself and so is sensitive to the issue. I highly recommend him. Best of luck, and fire away with any additional questions. Ross Schlabach
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