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synchopepper

An Ill Wind Blows

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Having recently moved from a six-fold larger tenor EC to a six-fold smaller treble with more sensitive bellows I find that maintaining steady bellows control has become an issue. This is particularly acute when standing. When sitting and resting the left endplate on the left thigh controlling the bellows via the right hand is much easier.

 

I have read that angling the endplates away from the body puts the arms in an optimum position and provides a fulcrum with the partially closed side of the bellows to enhance stability. I find this position is awkward for me. Angling the faceplates toward the ground instead of away from the body seems to provide a measure of control while being more comfortable.

 

I may also exacerbate the problem by playing with my bellows over extended. While bellows movement seems pretty much second nature at this point I find playing close in makes me paranoid about running out of air.

 

How do other players handling these issues? Does anyone have any pointers that will help me stabilize my bellows control?

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Here are a few thoughts for starters:

 

I am one who has never mastered playing "airborne" for more than about two minutes at a time. If I want to "play tall", I use a tall folding stool and a guitar foot rest so I can raise a knee.

 

Back when I was beginning to play for Morris and at renaissance festivals, I fashioned a neck strap for the instruments I had at the time. I found that the neck strap helped a lot while standing or walking, but I always worried if it might eventually stress or damage the instruments. Within a year or two I was consistently playing melodeon for such events and it became a moot point.

 

I expect you'll encounter a variety of opinions about the use of a neck strap. I would need a compelling reason to go back to using one now. However, the Concertina Connection seems to advocate their use, and they offer them for sale: http://www.concertinaconnection.com.

 

As for other tips to improve bellows control, here's an idea that just occured to me: I'm left handed and I prefer to work the bellows with my left hand, but I can readily do so with my right. I wonder if learning to work the bellows with either hand while seated may improve bellows control when playing "airborne"?

 

Brian

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