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  1. Hi all, might be a long post coming up so bear with me! I recently acquired a new-to-me Rochelle and have been enjoying the last week or so, practicing an hour or two a day. I'm working through the beginning of Gary Coover's books Easy Anglo 1-2-3 and Anglo Concertina in the Harmonic Style. I'm planning on setting up a couple lessons with a teacher soon, but wanted to plunk around for a little while first to get a sense of what challenges I might be facing. I have a feeling a lot of my questions will be addressed when it comes time for one-on-one lessons, but this community seems like a wealth of talent and experience. I have some questions that I'd love input / feedback on from a concertina player's perspective - thanks for anything you have to share Practice Questions 1. What is a good "structure" for an hour-long practice session? Currently I start by playing a few of the "easier" songs from Gary's books to nail in the muscle memory. As they've become easier, I focus on consistent note length, tempo, and general "smoothness". Sometimes I see how fast I can or can't play something. The bulk of the session is then moving farther "right" in the practice books, getting to the next song down the list that I can't play easily yet. I enjoy that Gary's books seem to slowly introduce new skills with each song - slowly adding the G row, then the pinky finger, and so on. 2. Should I be working in music theory time? And is learning to play solely via tablature going to hurt me in the future? I'd like to make sure I'm "learning the instrument" and not just "learning songs". I have experience reading music / playing music from trombone in school for 6-7 years, but this instrument is, well, quite a bit different from low brass. Instrument Questions 3. How do I not run out of air? It seems like I'm constantly ending up with the concertina "closed". Maybe it's just the beginner songs I'm playing, but I don't often have enough "pull" time to compensate for how much "pushing" I do. I end up taking "breaths" via the air button between phrases, but this inserts a big pause into the music and isn't very smooth. 3a. How do I compensate for the lack of air pressure when using the air button while playing notes? I try to fix #3's problem by using the air button while playing notes, but then whatever note I'm playing loses a LOT of power. I'm not very good at compensating by simultaneously pulling/pushing harder -- is this the right approach? 4. One or two of my middle row buttons on the right side sounds very "tinny" when I play it - is this an instrument problem? The fourth button "down" in the right-hand C row has a sloppy buzz to it when I play - is this a function of a relatively cheap concertina, or could this be an instrument repair problem? I could record it tonight if it makes it easier. It's a little disappointing, I must admit. **EDIT** 5. Totally forgot to ask - the left side of my concertina sounds SO much louder than the right side. Is this expected? It seems obvious that the deeper notes would be louder than the thinner upper register, but is there a way to compensate for this while playing? Watching youtubes and such, I haven't noticed the low end completely overpowering the high end, but when I sit and play it definitely seems like the low notes are really "in front" of the higher ones. That's pretty much what I've been dealing with for a week now. I appreciate any advice y'all might have to share.
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