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Taking it a stage further...


I keep threatening to have a go at the saxophone. I'm very tempted and have an offer of one on an open ended loan, but as someone said earlier, it seems better not to divide your fire

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I'm a multi-instrumentalist - I play treble English concertina, tenor English concertina, baritone English concertina, and i have tried a bass English concertina!!:)

In between all that, I am still practising on a Hayden duet concertina.:rolleyes:

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six or seven years of piano as a kid. not a virtuoso, but good at the level of, say, the simpler mozart sonatas and popular or religious arrangements i played at some weddings and at church for sunday school class---weird CV for a future pagan/agnostic....


as a grownup, fell for oldtime music and started oldtime clawhammer banjo, which i play proficiently though not at fast speeds....through oldtime, encountered and fell for itm and thought i was going to devote the rest of my life to fiddle, a fruitless quest due to de cuervein's syndrome in my bowing hand. so devastated by that disappointment i could not bear to be around itm for a while. spent two or three years learning PA (a leg up on the learning curve because of the piano years), but not for ITM, more tango, musette, klezmer stuff. was not a stand-on-your-head-improvising virtuoso, but good enough to gig at weddings, art shows, stuff like that. then returned to ITM and spent a number of years immersed in b/c box, which i play competently and still love playing at relaxed speeds, but have never really gotten at the hyper speeds. followed and overlapping with five or so years of mad obsession with anglo concertina which supplanted b/c box and has gone very well. however...i don't like to confess this, but the fact is that i have become annoyed by anglo's limitations, and have been neglecting it for my latest and perhaps henceforth main axe, cba. i already know the basses from my PA period, and the button system is better for me ergonomically than PA. really a blast to play. and itm sounds great on it, though in a paddy carty articulation paradigm rather than a one-row melodeon articulation paradigm. i can use it for itm, musette, tango, and jazz, and for reasons it would take a book to go through, but related to the extremely limited opportunities in my locality to play ITM in the manner that i love it rather than in the hyper-fast "star band" style, and curtailed travel resources to get that need fed in ireland as i was doing for a while there, i am lately really needing other outlets, and CBA does it all. through cba, now fascinated with unisonoric concertina, and eyeing bandoneon as well.....when i need breaks from free-reed obsession, i practice clawhammer banjo as well as (extremely elementary) excursions into ragtime/country-blues guitar picking. extremely elementary. like, with tablature...

Edited by ceemonster
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EC tenor/treble (and soon baritone/treble) - for dance music & song accompaniment.

I also dabble with härjedalspipa, willow flute and Swedish zither.

I've even been known to play melodeon (does that count as an instrument? ;) )

I also sing.


ed. ...and I forgot, started learning Crane duet.


ed^2 ...have been playing some harmonium too recently.

Edited by SteveS
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play better than concertina: (so-called French) horn, trumpet

Am decent now on Anglo concertina

advanced beginnner on fiddle and on tenor and bass recorder

dabble on English concertina, Cajun accordion (one row BA), two-row BA

dying to try several more!



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I've performed or played for dancers on Anglo concertina, hammered dulcimer, piano, piano accordion, tin whistle and recorder. I've done a little bit of studio work on Anglo. Played clarinet then bassoon when growing up. Getting pretty decent now on Hayden and Crane duet concertinas. Can play mountain dulcimer, Chemnitzer concertina, autoharp. bombarde and simple chord zither well enough to demonstrate them to curious onlookers. I may be forgetting one or more others.

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as my profile pic suggests, i was originally a flute player. i started on the silver (boehm) flute when i was 11, always with the intention of learning irish music. i added the whistle soon after and then the concertina when i was about 17. after that came the irish flute, at 19, as well as some dabbling in piano.


i can play scratchy, out of tune and out of time violin (but never in public). if you put a set of uilleann pipes in my hands i could squeeze out some simple jigs and airs, as long a you don't ask me to turn the drones on. i don't considered myself much of a bodhran player, but my grandfather taught me to play as a child; i can keep time and won't trample on the tune.


lately most of my focus has been on concertina, but i have finally learned how to do piano accompaniment in the irish style. you're not likely to catch me playing the flute or whistle in sessions, even though i suppose i am just as proficient (or bad... take your pick) at them as the concertina.


EDIT: looking at dan's response above, it reminds me: when i was in high school i played the contrabass clarinet as my main instrument for 2 years in the school band. :rolleyes:

Edited by david_boveri
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I had several years of piano lessons as a child, and played it again as an adult about twenty-five years ago to accompany Sunday school music. I now use the piano to practice the alto parts for choir songs. After college I learned to play recorder and autoharp. I can still play recorder with a bit of practice, but I do not do it often. I played guitar for about four years in the late 80's to accompany myself singing folk songs. I relearned how to play guitar three years ago, and was at the intermediate level but my guitar playing has regressed because I bought an English concertina 14 months ago. I play folk song tunes and simple classical pieces fairly well on the EC. I dabbled with a borrowed anglo concertina for two months playing carols and Irish slow airs on it. I bought a Crane duet four weeks ago. I feel as though I will be a beginner on it for a long time.

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"If you count voice as an instrument" - absolutely and definitely. Singers are musicians just as much as those who use a mechanical device (and in fact it's a far more sensitive instrument that demands a lot of care and attention)


"Can't everybody count voice at a pinch" .. I'll agree with Geoff on that one Dirge! We've all got one, but not everybody knows how to use one!


In my case, I think I would have to say that my voice is my main instrument (well you can't do unaccompanied singing and not claim it as one of your panoply ...... can you?)

I'm learning to play Maccann, so at the moment it's second string; I played guitar to accompany myself for a good 20 years until I broke my elbow some years ago (and had reached my own level of incompetence and dissatisfaction on it) and maybe I should go back to using it again and redevelop the calluses. I learned to play piano to a basic level while at school, but am exceedingly rusty; dabbled with tin whistles in my twenties, and also played Appalachian dulcimer for a few years then. (I'll whisper the fact that I possess and have been known to use a shakey egg as well).


The one who really should be posting up (and I suspect he may not ) his panoply of instruments played to a decent level (and some of them indecent ) is Ralphie Jordan. (Listen to his CD Eloise for examples of some of the instruments he has under his belt ... or elsewhere upon his person .):rolleyes:

Well, My Dad was a church organist, and we had a piano at home...(lots of Gilbert and Sullivan recitals from Mum and Dad!) So, I started there.

At school, I took up percussion, and ended up in the London Schools Symphony Orchestra for one season (Now that's posh!). Meanwhile I started on guitar, and then via various folk clubs in South London, fell under the spell of a certain Mr Wooff (of this parish) who persuaded me to to take up the Duet.

(I've never looked forward since!)

Other instruments? Bouzouki, Mandolin, Banjolele, Melodeon (sorry!), Bass...both acoustic and electric, Harmonium (Dads influence) Swedish shepherd flute, and for one particular project, Balalaika, Valve Trombone.

Did enjot the Tympani, hard to get 5 of the buggers on a bus though!

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I started on fiddle in manchester in 1945 age 6 but gave up when the local bully threw it off the railway bridge. It was sent off to be mened but never came back and I stopeed nagging about it! Regretted it ever since. Then messed about on Irish Gran's old wooden German concertyina and a metal ended Jeffries which mysteriously was sold by my Dad in the early 50s. Nobody else was interetsed apart from my young mate who also listened to Seamus Ennis on As I Roved Out on radio


Then mouth organ aged 10 when I joined Cubs for songs round the camp fire. Taught myself £2 skiffle guitar in 1950s and played some rock rhythm guitar. Then stuck to unaccompanied singing for many years until I got a red toilet seat perloid C/G melodeon in 1962 when my Dad went to East Germany on a Trades Union conference. I had asked for a concertina as I had heard of 'Anglo-German' instrument. Started playing Irish music again on tin whistle then flute in pubs in Sheffield in the 70s when the Irishmen were working on the M1 motorway and we had lots of sessions.

Started to play D/G Hohner pokerwork melodeon with Sheffield Morris in 1975 inspired by Tony Hall and John Kirkpatrick and then in ceildh bands and sessions at Fagans and The Dog and Partridge and The Red House with an Erica and a Corona III..


Always had a fiddle around and an old Italian mandolin, later a flat backed one and a flat backed John le Voi bouzouki to pick tunes on at home. Moved to C#/D melodeon after hearing Jackie Daly in the 70s ( never liked the Paolo Soprani big B/C) but when I could afford it got a C/G concertina in the late 90s and that is where I will stay . It's great for Irish, English tunes and songswith chords in a variety of keys C,G, D, Dm, Am, Em ,F Bm and a few other accidental tunes. Luckily I dropped onto the Royal Concertina session at Dungworth and the very knowledgeable gang there.


I may get a D/G Hohner Erika melodeon conversion for light weight and sessions and sell off the bigger boxes. Tim Edey and Mally can do wonders on D/G and so can John Spiers so nice to have one. Not too interested in a Costalotti wooden Italian melodeon actually.


That's it I reckon at 72 unless I get stuck into the fiddle or flute again.! The Jeffries Duet and the Maccann Duet are pension money I think and get played for fun but not serious stuff as I haven't the time to devote to them, until Duet International comes out perhaps ;)


I suppose the constant theme has been to make communal music with others in whatever session or dance and song scene and style operates locally to the best of my ability and to do my own thing or with a few friends and that is mainly Irish traditional music and song the constant thread I started out with.

Edited by michael sam wild
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I'm another "voice as first instrument" multi-instrumentalist. I could soak up and reproduce music before my hands were big enough to play any instrument, and I had a good voice as a child - my first music festival was in the "boy treble" class. Later, I had singing lessons and entered festivals in the "baritone solo" class (once winning a silver medal for oratorio), and with one of the three choirs I sang in as a student.


However, multi-instrumentalism was thrust upon me by Fate.

My parents owned and played a fiddle, a Neapolitan mandolin, a mouth organ and an old German autoharp, and I started to play with them as soon as I was big enough, and soon learned to play on them. Dad showed me how to play a scale on the mandolin, and I took it from there.

Later, he showed me how to hold the fiddle bow and pointed out that the fingering was the same as on the mandolin. I didn't find the intonation on the fiddle too difficult - and, more importantly, my parents didn't find it too hard to listen to, either, although they both had a good ear for music!

The autoharp just sort of taught me by itself.

And when I'd been told that the mouth organ went "blow, suck, blow, suck, blow, suck, suck, blow", and that you could do chords on it by opening your mouth wide, that was easy, too.

When I was about 10, my father was given a derelict 5-string banjo, which he restored in his pragmatic fashion. He also bought me a simple tutor for it, and I learned 3 chords and 3-finger picking.


I was thus well equipped for the Folk Scare of the 1960s. I already knew a good many Irish songs, and had the voice to sing them, and the means to accompany them - chiefly on the 5-string, à la Luke Kelly or Tommy Makem.


However, one of my earliest musical memories was the Triumph Duet concertina that I had heard at the Salvation Army as a small child, and I always wanted to have a concertina. When I finally got one, at 18, I think, all that was available in the Belfast shops was a 20-button, double-reeded German anglo. I learned this quickly because of my early mouth-organ experience, and even used it to accompany hymns at church!


I long resisted the lure of the guitar (mainly because every folk singer had one), but on a visit to Germany I bought a used guitar-lute, learned the chord shapes from the appendix of a song-book, and had a further accompaniment instrument. I later bought a Spanish guitar, which supplanted the banjo as my main accompaniment for solo gigs.


Over the years, our old fiddle gave up the ghost, so I don't fiddle any more. Since I started playing with a folk group 20 years ago, I have procured a couple of better banjos and a better Anglo; replaced the old mandolin; bought a modern autoharp and modernised my playing technique; and taken up the whistles.

Recently, the wheel has come full circle, and I obtained a real, ex- S.A. Lachenal Crane/Triumph, which is gradually emerging as a further gigging instrument.


So in my folk group, I'm responsible for vocals, 5-string banjo, mandolin, Anglo concertina and whistles.

For solo singing, my accompaniments are on 5-string banjo, guitar, autoharp or Anglo (with Crane Duet emerging).

For instrumental solos, it's classic finger-style banjo, chromatic autoharp or Anglo (with Crane Duet coming soon, I hope).


I must admit that I'm a jack of all trades and master of none, and lack the proficiency to hold an audience's attention for a whole evening of instrumental solos on any one instrument. But songs with varying accompaniments interspersed with different instrumental solos make quite a varied programme.

And when it comes to writing songs, each instrument assists me in its own individual way. Often, the best results come when I arrange a tune that I've composed on one instrument for another instrument.


Yes, I'm a convinced multi-instrumentalist, though I do admire people who have the focus to become really proficient on one instrument! :)







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I wouldn't count my voice as I can make a noise that's an approximation of singing doesn't mean I'm a singer...in the same way just coz I have ability to run doesn't mean I'm gonna enter 100m sprint. ;)


Recorder - badly- at infants school.

Keyboard - if you count occasionally being allowed in lessons at senior school to press some keys.

Guitar/Bass Guitar - gave up because I really didn't get on with it

Penny whistle/harmonica - gave up after 2 days as it made me dizzy

Anglo Concertina - 2008-today

Melodeon 2009 - today

Fiddle - 2010- today


I would say though main instrument is melodeon, with concertina coming second and fiddle third.

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Voice as first choice, but I prefer to sing harmonies to another's lead, particularly where I can invent different ones for each verse to highlight the mood of the words.


The first instrument that I owned was a guitar and I spent 25 years finding out that I just wasn't made for an instrument where your fingers had to spread sideways while curled round a neck - my finger tips all converge.


I play Anglo in its many forms and keys. I have also perfomed with melodeon, accordian, whistles (lots of keys), spoons, bodhran, hammered dulcimer (a long time ago) and keyboard.


I have had some success with trying out tabor pipe, hurdy gurdy, and bombarde and can manage a melody line on guitar, mandola or bass guitar.


I didn't get on with violin, basson or clarinet and I have trouble with the lips when it comes to flutes and fifes. My practice set of pipes gave me all sorts of problems but following reports from friends who have borrowed them it's not all my fault!


Robin Madge

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The one who really should be posting up (and I suspect he may not ) his panoply of instruments played to a decent level (and some of them indecent ) is Ralphie Jordan. (Listen to his CD Eloise for examples of some of the instruments he has under his belt ... or elsewhere upon his person .):rolleyes:

Well, My Dad was a church organist, and we had a piano at home...(lots of Gilbert and Sullivan recitals from Mum and Dad!) So, I started there.

At school, I took up percussion, and ended up in the London Schools Symphony Orchestra for one season (Now that's posh!). Meanwhile I started on guitar, and then via various folk clubs in South London, fell under the spell of a certain Mr Wooff (of this parish) who persuaded me to to take up the Duet.

(I've never looked forward since!)

Other instruments? Bouzouki, Mandolin, Banjolele, Melodeon (sorry!), Bass...both acoustic and electric, Harmonium (Dads influence) Swedish shepherd flute, and for one particular project, Balalaika, Valve Trombone.

Did enjot the Tympani, hard to get 5 of the buggers on a bus though!



Aha - I stand corrected! However, you've left out one or two out? Hammond organ,and cittern ,hammered dulcimer on that difficult first solo CD , and crumhorn in the earllier days?

About time you took up the Mongolian nose flute, I reckon ! ;)

Edited by Irene S
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Further to my earlier post and a possible debate on 'multi- Vs uni-', I'll be sticking to concertina for the record i.e. for any further musical development - not conventional training or playing by ear, as I can't, but by following written work. I won't be taking Guitar/Uke learning further and will be happy to remain content on my current proficiency on these for the time being.


However, I do hope to continue to use guitar and the uke for voice accompanying/development as I've already long known how to chord and site-read since a teen in the 1980s. like driving in a way, it never leaves you. Like EC, I don't/can't play by ear - I need to know the chord and see or memorise what's written. I'll persevere with the strings until the calluses appear again - I'm still looking into a solution against this inevitability as per my recent "residue build up" post and hope to get back on my findings - I'd imagine that the Harp would certainly be a more compatible bedfellow as a [fingertip friendly] stringed instrument.


I recall an earlier thread section that had debated 'playing concertina while singing simultaneously' - definitely a worthwhile topic. Singing-along helped me to focus on my tasks, but at the end of the day singing may affect the playing - irrespective of the player's familiarisation with the piece - which, for me, I'll be able to determine after my first attempt to record shortly. I said in one of my own recent comments on another thread that Roberton's 'Mingulay Boat Song' arrangement was definitely a challenge for me due to the rhythms [postscript: and very different phrasing demands] clashing/swapping occasionally between some voice and piano parts - then again isn't this a skill that some possess/boast (?) - An older relatives EC lesson was to see how long both pupils could play different songs simultaneously!


Some priorities and other thoughts:


My priority is going to be EC throughout. I don't think that Duet Concertina is going to be an option after having a quick look at the 64 key Hayden online [postscript: this is because the extra few and far between bass notes that I'd gain do not run chromatically until A2, i.e. I'd gain a B2; A2; G2 and F2, that's all, but it's tempting on second thoughts - tone quality (and difficulty?) would be the deciding factor/s. Again, my TT has been equipped with a Bf2 so like my thirst for a BT (on the same EC button layout) I'm in no rush for an extra few bass notes, as explained below, yet]!


My range preference remains:


1) tenor-treble EC (have); then

2) baritone-treble EC (don't have) [ps: plus perhaps Duet (don't have)]; then

3) bass EC (don't have); then

4) extended treble EC (have)


Some of the notes I have to play are outside the bass range of the instrument. I then have to decide on what notes/bars or section of bars that I can raise an octave where necessary in order to retain the character of the piece. Some of these are deep double octave notes jumping down to the Bass EC range, which I'm happy to lose without detriment to the piece. This can all be pulled off by using either a TT or BT depending on the written piece. I'm lucky to have the extra low Bflat (Bf32) instead of the duplicate D#3, which helps minimise the need for the BT - meaning I can get on with a quite a lot until the latter can be acquired. I'll definitely be able to complete or extend upon my planned repertoire if so.


Bass EC 3rd on my list is one of my fancies should [if I win the lottery!] I try my hand at layering/recording the clefs independently; or in the unlikely event that I'd find a dueting partner to share the piece with. This 3rd option won't ever oust the TT [or BT?]. It would simply be experimental - forgive my greed by this point - since a treble's tonal quality is unlikely to be matched, even where the few pieces on my repertoire are doable within a bass' range, not to mention the probable added difficulty of tackling the occasional deep double octaves that I argue are unnecessary.


That said, some arrangement classics are wholly within the range of even the standard TT (e.g. Roberton's 'Mingulay Boat Song' in F, 1938), which don't go below C3, but are rare - here the pianist's hands will be pretty close to each other, almost touching at points! This is an easy one to start with as there are simply no more than 4 notes to press at any one point, but beware of a second version - I've had the unfortunate pleasure of being mesmerised by my own family get-together band's wonderful rendition of this, which I have to temporarily de-embed when on the Roberton version. As the actual Roberton arrangements are fairly bear, singing-along simultaneously is absolutely essential.


My 4th choice of EC (ET) will be for when I finally get onto: 1) high end violin/piccolo range classical soloing; and 2) traditional fiddle styles [mimicry (?) - that's what I'm doing with the piano sheet music, I think I can do the same with some of the itm books that provide ornamentation and player transcribed notation, such as the "Ceol Rince na hEireann" series; including Scottish equivalents. I have to date enjoyed some of the Kerr's "Collection of Merry Melodies" series, but admit I need to give more attention to the publisher's prescribed ornamentation, which I'd begun to start doing recently, although it might not be the best plan for all I know].


I checked my vocal range today. I marginally Fell short of a full 4 octave C3 to C7 (at Ef3 to B6). This won't explain how I can't sing (instantaneously) along to the famously high Bf6 falsetto note in Bohemian Rhapsody although I can reach half a note higher within a typical scale test on that particular register – same goes for the extreme bottom end of my vocal range. Although I'm pleased to be finally reaching some common low notes without losing the high notes when I get to them - i.e. in all those [gliding up and down] vocal notations within the 1930s standards.


If an official music teacher reads this comment, I'm outta here! I should of course be learning to conventions(!)


Or is it okay to have your own? Another debate for another post!



Edited by kevin toner
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Well OK. Here's the list of stuff I've played in public over the years in no particular order.


Trumpet (and cornet and flugelhorn..do they count??)


Hammered dulcimer


English concertina (Treble-Tenor and Treble)

B/C Box

autoharp (terribly out of shape)

Bass and side drum in GHB pipe band (but not for some years)

Percussion except mallets.


Those I play, though I really think of the Box as an "anti-alzheimer's instrument." It keeps me honest.


I've played harp and guitar in public, but that was really to the public's detriment.


What I play best though is people, and I've spent about 50 years conducting choirs, wind bands, musicals, chamber orchestras, stage bands, brass ensembles and various other groups. Nothing beats the moment when things fall into place....

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I learned recorder at school, but really wanted to play guitar but my school wouldn't give lessons, and I wasn't interested in classical music or orchestral instruments. I was given a uke when I was about 8, and then a guitar when I was about 9, but I was teaching myself and didn't really learn to play chords until I was about 12. Then I got into folk, which led me to the whistle, but I got confursed by remembered recorder fingering so went back to that.


I heard Tony Rose playing English concertina on an album and liked the sound, so I got a concertina. Turned out to be anglo (you mean there are different types?) Also built myself one of John Pearse's table-top Appalachian dulcimers. There was a local enthusiasm for hammered dulcimers at the time so I got one of those. Tinkled a bit with mandolin but it was a rubbish instrument and I never took it very far. Played enough bodhran to realise I shouldn't, and also bones - sparingly,. I sing.


Some years later I took up melodeon. These days this seems to be my primary instrument, with concertina a close second, although I'd like to play guitar more than I do.


The current active list is:






Hammered Dulcimer




Self-taught on all (apart from primary-school recorder).

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