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CZ in AZ

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  1. Hi all, Thank you for your thoughtful replies. To me, a player needs to communicate the rhythm and lift of the tune, by using ornaments and held or punched notes to both accomodate the intrument and enhance the tune's lift and drive. I agree with Edel Fox's comment "ornaments that are sparse but precise". I also do not necessarily think meeting the needs of the dancers is the final word on pace and I would say that most people can play faster in a session, where they are supported by a bigger group. I suggest that playing reels competantly at 100 bpm and jigs at 115 BPM would be a good milepost for considering that you could comfortably take an advanced class. Most recordings may be faster than that, but most people recording are pushing the tops of their ability and they are also generally more expert than those of us taking lessons. Other milestones might be the ability to add ornaments without any hesitation and spontaneously, being able to play variations or to key in alternative ways on the fly, and to pick up quickly by ear to suite the faster pace of an advanced lesson. I meet these criteria, so technically, I think I could manage in either one, but which one would help my playing the most? Truthfully, this probably depends on the individual teachers methods and tune choices. So, beyond our own abilities and whether we qualify, what do we get in an advanced or intermediate workshop? Of course this will vary with each teacher, but probably both advanced and intermediate will include some element of repertoire and style. Personally, I am fascinated by better bellows control, fingering choices that increase the rhythm, and I love learning tunes that are accessible enough that I can master them and introduce to my local players. I want to know the teacher's fingering and ornament choices and to follow those in the class, even if I do not always stay with them in the long run. I am also practical - I don't particularly care to labor over a tune that has been transposed into a key for easy concertina playing even though nobody plays it in that key at sessions. So from our collective experiences, do we get these things in both intermediate and advanced workshops? Love hearing your thoughts Claire
  2. I received the following when I inquired about what level workshop to attend. "If you can play jigs and reels at a good pace, with embellishments... then consider yourself as advanced." Emphasis is mine. It made me think about what exactly a "good pace" is and what qualifies as "embelishments" I play anglo and in this case I am talking about Irish music. I am really curious how others would define good pace with embellishments, and in what context, ie in a session, playing alone, playing with a single rhythm player. Interested to see what you think.
  3. Hi all..... I have been researching this and building on David M.'s post in the previous thread. After learning more about sound waves and how they propagate, here is my summary explanation. Enjoy! String instruments resonate in a chamber, so their near volume is a sum of coalescing, reflecting, and circulating sound waves, some of which translate into propagating far-field waves. These larger sound-producing units (violins, guitars, bass, etc.) behave as extended sources, and thus produce more near-field power relative to their far-field signal. A small free-reed emits waves more like a perfect point-like source, and the output radiates into the far-field, like a pure dipole source. Although the concertina and accordion do have overtones and do not create a perfect sine wave, the overtones are produced from the reed, not by resonating in a chamber. Likewise, other far-carrying instruments, banjo, and fife, are more like a point-source, penetrating cleanly into the far-field. When close to a sound-emitting object, the sound waves behave in a much more complex fashion, and there is no fixed relationship between pressure and distance. Very close to the source, the sound energy circulates back and forth with the vibrating surface of the source, never escaping or propagating away. These are sometimes called “evanescent” waves. As we move out away from the source, some of the sound continues to circulate, and some propagates away from the object. This transition from circulating to propagating continues in an unpredictable fashion until we reach the threshold distance of 2 wavelengths, where the sound field strictly propagates (the far-field.) This mix of circulating and propagating waves means that there is no fixed relationship between distance and sound pressure in the near field, and making measurements with a single microphone can be troublesome and unrepeatable. Typically, measuring in the near field requires the use of more than one microphone in order to accurately capture the energy borne by the circulating and propagating waves. Note that the wavelengths involved are in this range: lowest note on a bass (E) = 27 feet; lowest note on a guitar (E) =13.5 feet; lowest note on fiddle (G) = 5.6 feet; middle C = 4 feet; and 440 A = 2.5 feet. So in a jam, everyone is in the near field regime for those that are close to them, but it depends on the note and the volume of the instrument whether you are in the near-field for those sitting across the jam, particularly if the circle is more than 8-10 feet across. If you are outside the jam, more like 20 feet, you are still within the near-field for the bass, but probably not for other instruments.... for them, you are just hearing the sound that is making it into the far-field. The directionality of the instrument does not make a difference in the far-field, but it can strongly affect the near-field.
  4. Hey everyone - particularly those versed in the physics of sound. I play in a lot of music jams, some of which are outside in festival settings. On occasion, I have been told by those walking nearby, that all they can hear is the concertina until they get close enough that the fiddles, banjos, guitars, bass, etc fills in the sound. Inside the jam, the concertina is pretty well balanced with the other instruments and no complaints. I experienced this myself at a recent festival where I heard a cajun accordion playing, and as I weaved my way through the cars and RVs to get to it, I started to hear all the other instruments. I assume this is the same phenomenon. At some sessions, particularly if it is a large room, the concertina seems louder in comparison to the other instruments the farther you get from the musicians. Why is this? One of my friends suggested that the string instruments depend on a resonating chamber to make the sound. As a result, the sound is more diffuse at its origin and therefore attenuates more quickly. In contrast, a reed instrument has air pushed through a very small opening and thus the sound is actually more concentrated at its source and travels farther. Another person suggested that reeds produce fewer overtones. The clear central tone travels farther, but it is not necessarily louder to players that are right next to you. I don't know enough about the physics of sound to know why this happens, but I sure would like a simple explanation. Has anyone else experienced this and do you know why it happens? Looking forward to hearing about your ideas and experiences! Claire
  5. Hi all, I decided to keep the Edgley for a few more years. Does anyone else head out from work at lunch to play concertina? I do and this is my lunch concertina It really is such a lovely instrument. All the best, Claire
  6. Hi BMD, Yes, I could sell it. Please email me to discuss this further. clairezu247@gmail.com. Thanks! Claire
  7. Yes it is. I have a potential buyer locally and she is using it this week. If you are interested, I should be able to get an answer back from her in a week or so. Claire
  8. Thanks to all for your thoughtful replies. It is helpful to hear your ideas. I go to the doctor tomorrow and hopefully will move a bit farther toward figuring this out. I am not sure what movement I am making with my pinky other than just playing, but I do think it is related to playing tunes that feature a lot of fingering on the low end of the instrument. As I study my playing, I also think that I lack control in my pinky and ring finger and so tend to pounce (snap down) on the buttons rather than gently depress them. I am working on that aspect. I have an ongoing issue with being too far from the buttons, in general, so it is probably related to that. Yet another thing to think about. It is probably not helpful that I type at work and then practice more than an hour at home most days. I will keep you posted, Claire
  9. Hi all, I play a C/G anglo and many of the tunes I enjoy are active in the lower part of the left hand. My pinky, on the left, has been getting progressively more sore over the past 6 months and while I am pretty sure it is some sort of repetitive stress, I am not sure what to do about it. FYI, I regularly stretch the pinky and hand, but this does not seem to affect the aching or progressive nature of the symptoms. The main symptom is that it is very stiff, i.e. when I bend the finger it feels like the tendons/muscles are having to stretch and it does not loosen much after playing. Also, the middle joint is sore and somewhat enlarged (swollen?). This has become somewhat chronic so that it aches much of the time and more when I type - not good! Perhaps I should go to a hand specialist or physical therapy or take glucosamine or ibuprofen? More or different stretching? I have tried playing with my pinky more bent rather than semi-straight, but that does not seem to help and it needs to be somewhat straight to reach the A/B button on the inside row. Any thoughts or suggestions would be most welcome. Thank you! Claire
  10. For Sale: Edgley C/G concertina - great condition. Asking price $2100 (not including shipping). It has a modified Jeffries layout, 30 button, with C#s on the draw and press top inside right button and also on the press on the next button. It is in great condition and was fully refurbished by the button box about 4 years ago. It has not been played very much in the last couple of years because I have another instrument. It is a hybrid model, meaning that it is a high-quality concertinas made using Italian accordion-style reeds. The sound is really lovely and it plays very easily - no bellows leaks at all. It is number 286 as you can see in the pictures. It comes with a hard case, which was originally for another concertina. FYI, I am located in the western U.S. Thanks, Claire
  11. Dear all, The most amazing thing happened - my concertina was returned! I want you to know that this listserve is the way that the person found me, so if this happens to you, I highly recommend posting on this site. Thank you for all your support! Claire
  12. It is a professional model (hybrid). The serial number is 286. Thank you so much for keeping an eye out for it. I have no idea if it will re-surface or not, but one can always hope. I am so pained by the thought that it is in the garbage somewhere. I think I will call all the Phoenix music stores next. I tried the local pawn shops as well, but no luck. It is really nice just to know you all are out there on the look. Claire
  13. Hi everyone, I am very sad to report that my Edgley C/G concertina has been stolen. I have filed a police report and called all the local Tucson shops. I am checking ebay regularly, but is there anything else I can do? This was my spare concertina, since I got my Carrol, so I did not play it all that frequently, but I still loved it and am really really sad about it. If you see this instrument, please let me know? It was a Wheatstone layout, modified to have C#'s as followed (rt outside row) Push/Pull: C#/C# C#/D# G#/G high-C#/high-D# high-A/high-F Thank you for any ideas on how to look for it! Claire (520)-869-8553, clairezu247@gmail.com
  14. I have been taking from Flo over skype for a couple of years and she is great. I also took a lesson from her in person when I had only been playing a month - and she was really a good teacher for both levels. She definitely teaches the Irish style. She is clear in her instruction and has an amazing ear, even over skype, to catch little stylistic bad habits. If you are looking to eventually include ornaments, octave playing, chords, etc, she will definitely get you off on the right foot. Best of luck and have a blast!
  15. I agree with all the advice here about playing at the tempo that suites you and building up using a metronome or amazing slow downer or similar app. And I agree with Al about trying different pathways to play the tunes to increase speed. However, I want to bring up the topic of muscle memory for moving really really fast and the value of just moving your fingers that fast. I just got back from my weekly foray to Winfield Kansas, where I play in a giant jam of 60+ musicians, playing a great variety of tunes (all keys) at top speeds. With that many musicians, an occasional wrong note is completely unheard because everyone is filtering to hear the right notes. I have been playing these tunes for years on the drum and more recently the concertina, so they are firmly in my brain, which greatly helps. Playing in this setting can free you up to work out the structure of the tune, if you do not know it, and then to fill in the fancier bits. If you know the tune, it allows you to play it at high speeds, but to also step back to the gestalt of the flow for each phrase and really work to hit the timing of the tune. Early on, before I knew any of the tunes, I would merely move my fingers that fast without making a sound, just to get the feel of fast movement on the instrument. I think this has a lot of intrinsic value - just moving that fast, stepping back to the overall patterns and ingraining them, hitting the emphasis notes harder than the rest (dynamic practice). This may not transfer into your solo playing right away, but it is practice for your future self and it makes your fingers nimble and your brain step back from the minutia. I have rarely heard this type of practice mentioned here on the list, probably because we all want to play better in a solo or small session setting. However, I have found it to be immensely useful and satisfying. So if you have the opportunity to play this way, I highly recommend it... in general I think we don't let ourselves freely flow with the music nearly enough. Claire
  16. Hey Jody, My band STEAM is playing the NYC contradances December 9 and 10, but we won't be there for a Monday night. I don't play a lot of concertina with STEAM, mostly percussion, but we always like to jam afterwards and will be around that neck of the woods all day on the 10th. PM me if you think something could work out - how cool would that be! Have you ever considered coming to Winfield Kansas and join in the Carp Camp frivolities (Sept 14-18 for the festival, but much before that for the constant jam scene). What a blast it would be to have you there! Claire
  17. Hey Jody, It is great to hear that you get such a warm reception in that scene. I have wanted to go there for a long time (as a clogger), but now it would just kill me to go if I could not also play my anglo. I actually started an old time jam here in Tucson (just to get to play more old time) and so I have built up some great friendships with old time players here, many of which make it out there on occasion. It will be a few years til I find the time to get there, but it is great to know you are setting a precedent! I love the way anglo blends into the old time fiddling sound. Thanks for sharing! Claire
  18. I played an Edgley hybrid until last winter when I got a Carroll with true concertina reeds. From my experience, the Edgley hybrd was very responsive and fast and also played with great tone, albeit a hybrid sound. I think they are great instruments. The bellows was tight and allowed for good ornamentation, so sending it into Frank would definitely be a good first step. That said, the Carroll (and probably most high end true concertinas) plays cleaner and with much more dynamic in each button... .like driving sports car. Each note starts and stops with a clean edge, if that makes sense. This means that the ornament is better defined and all the notes of the tune are more precisely sounded. The feedback to your ear helps you tighten up your rhythm and also makes it painfully obvious when you are sloppy and just a bit off. I liken it to putting on a pair of reading glasses and seeing the edges of the letters - you could read the page before, but could not distinguish the type set. All of this does not mean you will play faster, but you may better enjoy playing slower because there is more depth/nuance in what you hear from your instrument. One other thing I have noticed is that the reach on the Carroll is better for me, making it easier to get to notes that are outside of the central area with my poor desperately stretching pinky finger. This will be different for every layout and may or may not suite your hand size. Regarding volume, the Carroll plays evenly at low volumes and you have to take care not to screech on the high notes because they can be piercing. You have more control and can put more volume-driven pulse in the tunes. If you can afford it, I would not hesitate to move up into one of these instruments, and I believe Edgley is making them as well now. That said, I do love my Edgley hybrid, and still enjoy playing it when I pick it up. Hope this is helpful, Claire
  19. Thanks Bob, That is basically what I have been doing, so that is helpful confirmation. Although I have been playing for a while, I would say my playing in the key of A is just starting to to enter the fluid stage. In other keys, I found it helpful to generally stick to a cross the rows pattern in the early stages. As my comfort level grew, I was able to vary from that and play more than one pattern within the tune and now I definitely follow your type of route when choosing a pattern for a tune in D or G or a minor tune. I am interested if anyone has a basic pattern in A - maybe not - it is tricky around that G#. Best, Claire
  20. Dear all, I was wondering if anyone has standard fingering suggestions for smoothly incorporating the G# when playing A tunes on an Anglo C/G. Given that it may vary because of the notes in a particular tune, I wonder if anyone has a standard pattern that works most of the time. For example, when hitting the mid-range G# on the outside row, first button, and moving to or from that G# to an A, do you shift to play the A on the outside row as well (second button), or do you generally stick to the middle row A and go to catch the G# with your middle finger (which of course complicates getting to E button after that). I seem to have more problem getting to this G# than I do the high one, which I generally get with my ring finger, which is not typically being used. Thanks for sharing your ideas, Claire
  21. This has long been a struggle for me, and as hjc says above, it is often the instruments directly around me... for example, sitting next to a loud fiddler can be especially tricky because their instrument is up beside my ear, while the concertina is on my lap. Another concertina is the worst because my ear is so tuned to pick up on concertina tones that I pick up another person's playing as much as my own. At various times I have found it helpful to sit in cross knee position to raise the concertina, to sit next to a wall for sound reflection, even putting my ear down to hear certain notes. I find it easier to hear true concertina reeds than the hybrid because the tone is cleaner, but that also makes it more obvious when you hit a wrong note - so I have to be sensitive to that. I find it much easier to hear myself, when I am leading a tune or truly own it, but when I am playing along, there is necessarily a lot of matching of tones and audio feedback involved. In these cases, I find it really critical to know what key I am playing in and to have the framework of the tune before I start making runs up and down between the main framing notes. I have often found that in a large jam or session if you play the right note, you can hear it, but when it is a wrong note, your ear filters it out in favor of all the right notes playing around you - and if you know the tune in your head, you naturally hear the tune's correct melody. I once played a whole tune in a wrong key in a giant session of 60 people (Carp camp, Winfield KS), and never heard a wrong note out of my instrument... When I discovered this (thinking it was too good to be true, which it was) and with chagrin asked my neighboring musicians, no one around me heard anything wrong either. It was all filtered out by the joyous mass of right notes flying everywhere... sort of freeing eh?
  22. So many reasons that we play the concertina (in addition to, or instead of)..... Its portable - but why do we like it portable? Because we are naturally obsessive people and want to surreptitious bring it on all family trips, in case there is just a "moment" to play. and/or because we are already lugging so much other crap, that out of necessity for our aching backs and full suitcases, we must think small. It's tone - clean, bright, uncluttered, quick - it turns our heads in a session and makes us happy to hear it and/or because it cannot off pitch (only wrong noted) and we singers and fiddlers are tired of worrying about being on pitch all the time... sheesh! Its is culturally connected- it has a history and role in history that we can explore and connect with (thank you Dan Worrell), an authentic sound to our ear, and/or it is respected in a session and you won't be expected to take turns for crying out loud (ie bodhran/guitar/zouk) and you generally won't get thrown out of an old time jam (especially if you start your own). It is hard! - although you can get a nice tone early on in your playing (good early feedback loop), there no short circuit to play these well - lots of time, practice, lovely ups and downs, always more to learn (so fun) AND - its confusing to all those great musicians (fiddlers, etc) that you play with, who will pick it up and say- jeez how do you even do that? This prevents them from taking the instrument out of your hands, easily demonstrating that extremely challenging bit, thereby driving you to drink, which would, in turn, not improve your playing!
  23. Hey Susan, It is interesting to hear your back and forth on the many ways you practice (concentrating one day, just running tunes another day etc.). I think that is very much in line with the way adult learners work. We approach things more holistically, probably because we are more cognizant of our end goals, which can be both frustrating and inspiring. Plus we take in the information differently than children. I recently heard a podcast about deep proficient learning that included 4 elements: interest, aptitude, deliberate practice and hope. I especially love the hope one, which is what drives us on a variety of levels - eh? I have been playing for about 5 years and I have definitely seen plateaus in my abilities, often feeling like I am slipping backward because I have picked up the speed without increasing the level of pulse in my playing. Re-fingering can be a real issue since the patterns get so ingrained and I have only been able to do that successfully recently. I take lessons from Flo Fahey and she suggests that you not spend too much time re-fingering early tunes, but move on to new tunes with better fingering. As you learn to put in octaves and leave space, or to play the same notes on different finger sequences, those patterns will naturally filter back into your beginner tunes. I have found that to be the case, and also now that it is coming more naturally, I can re-finger and actually remember the new fingering. So, my advice would be to move forward (which is very motivating) and only re-finger when it really bugs you. Have fun! Claire
  24. Concertina is a relatively new musical adventure for me. Having been involved in trad music (Old time, Irish, contra) for 20+ year in various capacities (singing, bodhran, clogging,calling) I feel like the tunes were already firmly wrapped around my brain before I played my first note. I feel a bit like a kid that grew up in a musical family, but didn't take up my instrument until my teens. So, while I use the dots to learn "all" the notes, to notate ornamentation, or to remember the starts, once I have the tune that is running in my head connected to my fingers, I try to tell my brain to go take a rest. I would say I am an ear player who those occasional dot check-ins to keep me in line. Let me preface my next remarks by saying that I absolutely love music jams/sessions and playing in ensembles, because I am drawn to the way people coalesce when they both play and listen. Listening actually twists the way people play their tunes; one has to improvise on the fly to match and compliment, even while staying within the structure of the tune or idiom. So, this has always been, and will continue to be, my end game. So, yes I use the dots, but I also put myself in situations where I have to play by ear. I started an old time jam in my town, in part to work on my ear training, but also because I love old time and it is way easier to catch onto a tune. For those of you who are unaware at a typical old time jam you stick in one key for an hour or more, you play one tune at a time and play it til you are thoroughly grinningly done with it (10-15 times). As a result, I have a much better feeling for what it means to play in a certain key - the runs that are common, the notes that are commonly bent etc. I know way more tunes now and many of them I have learned by osmosis. When I sit down to learn one of these, I go look at the notes, hear a snippet, and it is much quicker to get it into my memory. Also, all this playing along means that I also know way better how to fake it, play really quietly, catch onto the framework of the tune and fill in the diddly bits when it comes around again, add the chords as I am more comfortable. On the flip side surfing tunes, can make your playing sloppy, because you are feeling your way through and depending on the rigor of your music buddies. So, to counteract, I take Irish lessons and work with my teacher to play more rigorously. I study and bear down on the written notes to make sure I learn "all" of them, not just the ones I like. I also prepare and make myself lead the occasional set at the session or jam. I want to be able to lead as well as follow, so that, in the future, others can glom onto me and just flow happily along and so that I can play well enough to really hit the high of communicating with my fellow musicians through the tune. I wonder how my of you have a similar route in the way you push/pull yourself up to the next level, whatever that may be. It is really fun to hear all your perspectives. Claire
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