Why Is The English Concertina Played Sideways? in Concertina History Posted February 6, 2014 [Am I wrong in saying that Simon Thoumire learned to play without any information or guidance about how the instrument should be held and played?] Yes. You are incorrect about that. Per interviews I've read with him, Simon Thoumire was well aware of how the EC was "supposed to be" held and played. He took responsibility for his own development as an artist and made his own decisions as to what worked for him. Actually, no: Playing the English Concertina--My Technique How did your technique come about? I think it came right from the start when Edinburgh player Tom Ward got me the 48 key wooden ended Lachenal. He didn't teach, but he gave me a copy of Alistair Anderson's beginners instruction book "Concertina Work Shop" and I taught myself from there. As far as I can remember, there were no pictures in the book to show how the instrument should be held, so, instead of holding it straight down with the buttons going horizontal to my leg in what I later learned was the conventional manner, I started off holding it at an angle of 90 degrees so my hands were quite far up. Six months later, when I got my 56 key Wheatstone Æola, I got into the habit of holding it with my hands at 45 degrees, probably because it was a heavier instrument. Also, I decided to not use the pinky holders because I felt that it was really restrictive and stopped me getting down to the notes. He persisted with holding it instead of relearning to play in the conventional manner for whatever reason: inertia, sloth, artistic basis; but the initial reason was simply lack of guidance. Most good button accordion players make a veritable art form out of fingering, with no end of finger swapping, sliding, crossing over; and also, paradoxically, eschewing the pinky, even though you'd figure that losing a finger would hamper your abilities; but in busy music it's actually more helpful to be able to hop over other fingers than always be utilizing the little digit. Playing the EC with fingers parallel might necessitate the same kind of ability to hop and skip around.