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Jim Burke

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About Jim Burke

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    Male
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    Irish Trad
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    United States

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  1. Jim Burke

    Handrest

    Ann, a few thoughts: This can create problems. In my opinion, the primary contact point for pressing should be where the thumb touches the hand rest. I think you want the pressure points for in and out contact to be on the same vertical plane. This allows you to keep the two sides of the instrument more or less parallel as you operate the bellows (or if not parallel, at least on the same attitude pushing and pulling). If you press with the heals of your hands, the bellows rocks back and forth on a vertical axis, as well as in and out. This cuts down on speed and control and is inefficient. Your wrists, muscles and tendons are working harder than they need to. Here is a clip of Michael O Raghallaigh. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7elrAvT-_mI He doesn't keep the faces parallel, but the comfortable angle he favors does not change with direction. I don't think this is a mistake or a bad idea, for reasons stated above; and I don't see any problem with allowing some of the inward pressure to be shared between the thumb and the button finger. This contributes to keeping the faces of the instrument parallel. In my own playing, I find that my palm comes in light contact with the hand rest on the push (I play with loose straps); but it doesn't really bear any inward pressure. That is all the thumb and the button finger. If you break your wrists with every bellows direction change (which I assume you are doing now), your thumb will rub along the inside edge of the thumb contact point on the hand rest. If you are really keen, and you're playing a lot, that is bound to hurt. If you play with your wrists straight, your thumb will stay in one place on the rest bar. What I am saying here is just my opinion, of course. It is based on a lot of time spent watching good players, and on my own trial and error. Others might have different ideas. I hope it helps. If you have any questions, PM me. Good luck.
  2. Jim Burke

    Niall Vallely

    Susan, I have this DVD and I would be happy to send it to you. I just need your address.
  3. Jim Burke

    Hand Position

    You say that you are struggling to land the pads of your fingers on the buttons. That might be part of the problem. My own preference is to contact all of the buttons, regardless of the row, with the tips of the fingers. The fingers arch and the tips come down perpendicular to the face of the instrument. I have pretty large hands and long fingers, but I don't have to slide my hand under the straps. I do move my hand back and forth a bit, but the straps are loose enough so that the point of contact with the hands doesn't actually shift. The straps rock back and forth just a bit as needed.
  4. Jim Burke

    Rhythm

    I'm a fan of playing along with recordings to get the hang of a tune. Metronomes are fine for helping you maintain a steady pace, but they don't have much to offer when it comes to capturing the phrasing and the "lift" of an ITM tune. They don't phrase; they don't "lift." If you get a good quality computer playback program designed for musicians (Amazing Slow Downer or Anytune Pro + to name a couple), you can put up a recording of your favorite player, loop any part of the tune you want, and slow it down a lot while keeping the pitch.
  5. Jim Burke

    A Lot Of Newbie Questions

    Well you certainly have a good few questions here. No doubt others will chime in, but I'll give it a go. What is a good structure for a practice session? Sounds like you're on the right track here, but I would not spend too much time playing faster than you can. That can just build mistakes into your muscle memory. Should you be working in music theory time? I don't know what music theory time is. If you mean playing the notes with the exact same time values as written on the page, then the answer (for Anglo/Irish Trad, at least) is more often than not no. In jigs, not all of the eighth notes have the same time value (the first in any set of three is longer, and the second is shorter). In hornpipes, many of the notes are actually played as dotted. Exactly how much liberty is taken with the time values as written can vary with the player and regional style. A good teacher can work all this out with you. Will tablature hurt you in the long run? As to tablature, i don't know that that is. I don't think I have ever seen concertina tablature. How do you not run out of air? Depending on the key, you might be ending up too "closed" or too "open." There are a couple of ways to deal with this. First, you can substitute the push D on the inside row, left hand for the pull D on the middle row, right hand. If you are like many beginners, you are using the pull D, and this change to the push D can pave over a lot of "air trouble." Second, you can try to find that happy place in depressing the air button while playing a note that allows you to get the necessary bellows position to play the rest of a phrase. This can be very tricky, especially on an instrument that is not of good quality. How do you compensate for the lack of air pressure when using the air button during a note? This might be a problem with your concertina. A teacher can say whether in your case it is the instrument or the player. That said, you should not be needing your air button on the overwhelming majority of the notes you play. If you find that you are running out of air no matter what fingerings you are using, you might have bellows or valve leakage problems. A few minutes alone with a friend's good concertina might answer your questions here. As to the last question, it sounds like your instrument has some mechanical issues. A competent repair person could say if they are reparable. On a decent instrument, buzzes can usually be fixed with some attention to the offending reed or valve. Good luck.
  6. Jim Burke

    Bad Habits

    Hello Ada, I'm a bit late to this thread, but my suggestion is that you single out Doug Barr's short, excellent advice and follow that first. If you want to avoid acquiring bad habits, your best bet is to get one-on-one help from an experienced, competent player. The Anglo is not intuitive, and without help it is easy to adopt approaches that feel “natural” but make things much more difficult in the long run. Get yourself a guide. This is the first thing I did when I started, and now, years later, I benefit from that decision every day.
  7. Jim Burke

    "christmas Concertina Tunes"

    Both of these tunes are Christmas related. The second, in an obvious way, and the first not so much: The tune sometimes goes by other names, but it is often called "Christmas Eve." The concertina player is Brenda Castles. She is currently touring the Eastern US, and this summer she taught concertina at Catskills Irish Arts Week. She is a great player, and her first CD is a thing of beauty. If you like this clip, you'll love the CD, "Indeedin You Needn't Bother." You can get it on Itunes among other places.
  8. Jim Burke

    Absolute Beginner

    Here is a link to a free OAIM video clip with Edel Fox. For most of this clip Edel is holding the concertina on her left knee to keep it stable and using the right hand to move the bellows in and out. Ignore the part where she crosses her legs and puts the concertina on her right knee. I think she is just doing that to make sure the concertina is captured in the camera shot. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=axi6TrtNd_4 You might also consider making a clip of yourself and posting it here. There are many experienced players on this forum who could help you.
  9. I had classes with both teachers last week as well, though maybe not the same classes as beryl. Either Brenda or Caitlin would have been well worth the 8-hour drive to East Durham, and the chance to learn from both for a whole week was fabulous. Tons of very solid content delivered with patience and good humor. Awesome. BTW, if you happen to be in the Maine/New Hampshire area, Brenda will be in Portland, Maine tomorrow night (at Blue) along with Caitlin's sister, Bernadette (fiddle) and Eileen Gannon (harp). The three are in Durham, NH Thursday night.
  10. Jim Burke

    Digital Music Recorder

    I'm not sure about free-standing recorders. I record on my phone (there are several free or almost free apps for both iPhone and Android) and then use separate software to work with the recording. If you are a PC user, you can transfer the phone recording to your computer and use Amazing Slow Downer. It is excellent and costs around $40 to $50. If you use an iPad (or an iPhone, I think), you can use Anytune Pro+. It is very good and much less expensive. Both Amazing Slow Downer and AnyTune Pro+ will slow the music down and keep the pitch, and do lots of other excellent things too.
  11. Jim Burke

    How Does One Choose Fingerings?

    Halifax, since you mentioned The Kesh: Assuming a simple arrangement, if you employ the rule I described in the previous post you'll play the entire A part with only your first fingers, except for the F# on the G row in the last measure. As for the B part, all of it will be first fingers except for the high A and B (second finger, right hand) in the last phrase.
  12. Jim Burke

    How Does One Choose Fingerings?

    I have been to a couple of Noel Hill camps, and as I understand him, he favors using the stronger finger where you can (in order of priority, the first finger, then the second, etc.) If you do this, you'll be pushing the D on the G row with your first finger almost all the time, instead of pulling it on the C row on the right side. You'll also usually be pulling the E on the same G row button instead of pushing it on the C row. I do this in my own playing unless I need to depart from the rule to avoid hopping. I find that it helps a lot with phrasing, contributes to a staccato feel (which I personally like), and enables me to play within a fairly narrow bellows range (you can recover a lot of air and stay in pretty close if you consistently push the first finger D).
  13. I have one of these Claire, and it is spectacular. I got it in August of 2014. I have owned two other Carrolls, and though both were very good, the Noel Hill model is better. Enjoy.
  14. Jim Burke

    Getting Worse Instead Of Better...

    Susan, I have been playing now for about three years and nine months. I still play some of the tunes I learned early on, but now I play them with very different fingerings. In some cases, I deconstructed the fingerings and put the tunes back together, played they that way for a few months, and then based on some new revelation, I tore them apart again and put them back together. I think (I hope) that this process ends at some point. The point of this is that with a new fingering, even if you are just altering a single phrase, it can feel like the tune is a shambles. It can take a while to get back into the feel of the thing. J
  15. Jim Burke

    Chopping?

    Susan, the first note in this tune is a quarter note. There is plenty of time to move the first finger from the G to the e, even at a brisk session pace. I don't think Noel would have suggested using the first finger on both notes if the G was an eighth note. Think about it this way: If the melody called for an intervening eighth note (say a RH B on the C row), you probably would use the first finger on the G and e and not question it. I think a useful approach to the "don't chop" rule is to apply it when the space is an eighth or less, but to not worry about it when the space is a quarter or greater. J
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