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Teaching Anglo concertina lessons at home and on skype all over the globe has been a continuing pleasure. My students come to me for a variety of reasons and I try to figure out just what they need to get the most out of the customized lessons I offer. A recent example... Some friends of mine in the theater recommended me to Doug Shapiro. He asked me to teach him how to play a few concertina songs for a theater production, now in rehearsal. He described it as “an audience immersion Avant-Garde show” ... well alright! His theater company had bought him a pretty little vintage red East German Anglo 20 button box for $50 off ebay. Doug fondly named it “Tchotchke Rosie” but he had no idea how to play it. Doug is an actor and singer with a high school level of musical training. He sent me three guitar and vocal audio recordings of proposed original songs. I agreed to meet him for a lesson at my studio here in Brooklyn, New York, to help him join the band for his new show. I thought that this effort was unlikely to work out, given the limitations of a 20 button ebay instrument, but you never know. When I tried his “Tchotchke Rosie” I was in despair. So crude, so out of tune and a high D/A tuning to boot. I told him that it was unlikely this junk box concertina would work, but I would give it a try and started in playing along with the audio tracks on his red junker. Amazing! It sounded pretty good and the keys they were playing in made the D/A box actually easier than a C/G would ever be. I made him some paper arrangements on the spot and sent him home to practice. A few days later, Doug had done his homework and could plausibly play complex chords along with the recordings. He impressed his fellow thespians in rehearsal and they decided that Doug should sing and play solo for some additional intermission entertainment. His plan, he told me, was to sing a few well known Christmas songs... in Yiddish. Oy vay! Sounds strange, but that’s what they are into. Apparently, Doug has done this sort of thing before, though he’s not Jewish and does not speak Yiddish. Check out his performance of the country classic “Your Cheating Heart.” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kLkV_QO8fqE So now, I have had a few more lessons with Doug and he’s a natural concertina player. He knows how to deliver a song, and for him, the concertina just fits right in without effort. I’ve just made him charts for “Walking In a Winter Wonderland” and “Feliz Navidad.” I’m sure he will do fine, singing his Yiddish translations of these fine Christmas classics.
I'm flying out to Russia where I'll be staying with friends for a couple months. I know that the Accordion and Melodeon is still well established even in modern Russian music, so I'm hoping to be able to adapt it the concertina. I'm bringing with me my newly acquired 30-button Anglo concertina and I was wondering if anyone might now a good resource for finding Russian songs (both folk and modern), as well as older Soviet Era songs that can be played on the Anglo. Thanks!
Traditional music duo 'Blyde Lasses' are once again bringing the sounds of Shetland to Skye, Glasgow, and Stirling this coming weekend! The pair performs traditional, contemporary and self-penned Shetland material with Frances Wilkins on English concertina and Claire White on fiddle and vocals in their story-rich concerts. Frances will be guest tutoring at this year's Swaledale Squeeze in May, and this is a chance to hear her in action prior to the event. Scottish Mini Tour Dates March 2014 Friday 21st March Shetland Night at Breakish Hall, Breakish, Isle of Skye. 7.30pm. £6/4 on the door. Free Shetland Beer tasting sponsored by Valhalla Brewery. Sunday 23rd March The Old Hairdressers, 20-28 Renfield Lane, Glasgow G2 5AR. 7.30pm. £7/5 on the door. Monday 24th March Stirling Folk Club, Stirling County R.F.C., Bridgehaugh Park, Stirling FK9 5AP. 8.00pm. £8 on door For more information please see attached posters, visit www.blydelasses.com, or contact Frances Wilkins on 07780 504930 or firstname.lastname@example.org Hope to see some of you over the weekend!