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emmz

Where to start?

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HI all,

 

I signed up with this fantastic forum about a year ago when I bought my first concertina - since then, I have to say due to a number of things I've not played it enough. I am getting more familiar with it and my partner has put stickers below each button showing me which note is which (very helpful).

 

So, i have decided to revisit now i feel Im in a better position to start seriously practising. Ive bought myself an instructional DVD and Ive also sourced a possible concertina teacher in Hastings, where I live - so things are looking up! ive got to give him a ring later this evening :)

 

What I do need help with though, is where to start??

I have a 20 button anglo which I bought new at Cambridge Folk Festival from Hobgoblin - its the red shiny one that cost around £100.

Ive heard people saying that 30 buttons are possibly better to start with? Would my 20 button be redundant?

 

Im not sure which style Id like to learn, or indeed, which styles are which!! All i know is that i love folk music, trad and more recent. Ive seen lots of people play live including concertina players and just new its what i wanted to learn. Also, i cant read music and learn guitar by ear. Luckily my partner can read music, so I have a good teacher on my doorstep. WOuld i need to read music to play concertina?

 

What should i do first?

 

Many thanks all and best wishes :)

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Reading music is helpful but not essential if you've got a good ear. 30 buttons give you more flexibility but 20 can be ok for some kinds of music. I'd suggest that you stick with the 20b for now until you have a better idea of what you want to play. If your possible teacher works out for you, he may be able to be help you sort out what you want to play and what kind of instrument you need.

HI all,

 

I signed up with this fantastic forum about a year ago when I bought my first concertina - since then, I have to say due to a number of things I've not played it enough. I am getting more familiar with it and my partner has put stickers below each button showing me which note is which (very helpful).

 

So, i have decided to revisit now i feel Im in a better position to start seriously practising. Ive bought myself an instructional DVD and Ive also sourced a possible concertina teacher in Hastings, where I live - so things are looking up! ive got to give him a ring later this evening :)

 

What I do need help with though, is where to start??

I have a 20 button anglo which I bought new at Cambridge Folk Festival from Hobgoblin - its the red shiny one that cost around £100.

Ive heard people saying that 30 buttons are possibly better to start with? Would my 20 button be redundant?

 

Im not sure which style Id like to learn, or indeed, which styles are which!! All i know is that i love folk music, trad and more recent. Ive seen lots of people play live including concertina players and just new its what i wanted to learn. Also, i cant read music and learn guitar by ear. Luckily my partner can read music, so I have a good teacher on my doorstep. WOuld i need to read music to play concertina?

 

What should i do first?

 

Many thanks all and best wishes :)

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No, you don't need to read music. I could read music when I took up the anglo, but it played no part in my learning process. What I would suggest is to try to work out, by ear, some simple melodies that you already have in your head. Could be 'Three Blind Mice', 'God Save The Queen', 'Donkey Riding, 'Pop Goes The Weasel', whatever. Personally I would also suggest that you try these tunes out on the right hand upper row, to begin with - although I realise that this basic choice (as opposed to learning a tune from sheet music, using your little note labels) will of itself push you towards right hand melody as opposed to both-hands melody, which is the most fundamental decision you will ever make about playing style.

 

Try 'When The Saints Go Marching In' (assuming you know it already). You'll find the whole tune on the first three buttons of your right hand upper row. Figure that one out and you're on the way to understanding how the instrument works.

 

Excuse me if you're already beyond this stage, but this is the advice I would give to anyone setting out with an Anglo, unless they were committed to playing Irish music, in which case the advice would be different. I feel quite strongly that the process of translating dots on a sheet of music, to sticky labels on the instrument, to your fingers, is cumbersome and works against an instinctive feel for the anglo.

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Ive heard people saying that 30 buttons are possibly better to start with? Would my 20 button be redundant?

 

Im not sure which style Id like to learn, or indeed, which styles are which!! All i know is that i love folk music, trad and more recent. Ive seen lots of people play live including concertina players and just new its what i wanted to learn. Also, i cant read music and learn guitar by ear. Luckily my partner can read music, so I have a good teacher on my doorstep. WOuld i need to read music to play concertina?

 

What should i do first?

 

Hi, emmz,

 

In a recent forum thread, it emerged that quite a lot of people started playing the concertina on a reasonably priced, 20-button instrument. I'm one of them. So don't worry on that score.

 

What to do first?

I'd say, make yourself familiar with the concertina as such. Play familiar tunes on it, try to find chords and harmonies that fit. Above all, get accustomed to playing scales using that push-pull pattern until you can make a pretty good stab at playing a tune you know but haven't yet played on the concertina.

 

The 20-button push-pull arrangement has always been the system of choice for musical people who didn't want to bother learning to read music, or who didn't have the opportunity to do so. It really was a folk instrument right from the start. You can exploit pretty well all the capabilities of the 20-b Anglo without having to play something that someone else has written (this is not true of the English concertina, for example). I would say that it's even easier to learn the Anglo than the guitar by ear (I've done both).

 

When you're comfortable with the instrument, you can decide what style to play. Play as many different tunes as you can in the learning phase, and you'll notice where the Anglo is taking you! :)

 

As to redundancy: the 20 buttons of the simple concertina are at the core of the 30-button Anglo and the Bandoneon. So you can transfer your 20-button repertoire to them for a start, making your old concertina - theoretically - redundant. You don't have to re-learn anything - just learn to use the added capabilities. But there may be more rugged situations - camp-fires, boating trips, etc. - where you can make do with simpler music, and might not like to take a larger, more valuable instrument along.

 

But first priority: get your mind and fingers round the concertina's push-pull 20-button system until it becomes second nature!

 

Cheers,

John

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Thats fantastic, thanks so much everyone, for the replies.

 

I can see that there are problems already with having labels under the buttons. For example, someone said to me the other day - play C,G,D - which is fine for me to play on a guitar, but when it came to the concertina, i found myself searching for the right buttons VISUALLY as opposed to "feeling" and "hearing"where the notes were instinctively. So I in part agree that the labelling may be a hindrance and may stunt my intuition.

 

Also glad to hear that although 20buttons are limiting, that my concertina isnt down the plug hole!

 

So the best way forward at the moment is to take familiar tunes - simple ones, and play them over and over and this way I wont even need to read music (at this stage). I havent phoned the possible concertina tutor yet, Im going to do it tomorrow morning.

I also have an 8 bass accordion that ive been tinkering with - im learning a tune on that too, but find when i switch over, i forget the whole push pull thing!!

 

Thanks again all - very much appreciated also as i realise this question has been asked time and time again here!

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30 buttons can be a little daunting for some people to start on, so don't write off a 20 key immediately.

If you make good progress, then is the time to start thinking about moving up, but do some research, play as many as you can get your hands on, and seek some advice - don't buy the first 30 key that comes your way (unless it has one of the magic words on it, or is a real bargain)

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30 buttons can be a little daunting for some people to start on, so don't write off a 20 key immediately.

If you make good progress, then is the time to start thinking about moving up, but do some research, play as many as you can get your hands on, and seek some advice - don't buy the first 30 key that comes your way (unless it has one of the magic words on it, or is a real bargain)

 

I can't see how 30 buttons can be daunting. All English concertina players start with 48 buttons and

don't find it at all daunting. Learning to play a musical instrument is a matter of determination

and persistence. How do people of all ages learn to play the piano with all those keys to cope with?

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