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Multi Instrumentalists Among Our Ranks

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I started on the piano at age 6, kept it up and in 4th grade added a wood recorder. In Jr. High (now called middle school) I joined the school band and played the clarinet and flute. I have since learned to play the lever harp, D keyless flute, ukulele, and anglo concertina. The harp and the concertina are my favorites. I took up the concertina because my grandfather played one and I always liked the sound.

Edited by chouston14
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I started solfege around the age of 6. My mother wanted a Jasha Heifetz and ended up with an Emmett Kelly. I was too impatient for the violin and went through many classes and teachers. I learned the trombone and trumpet. Picked up an EC sometime around my 18th or 19th birthday and that was it. Dropped everything else. In my 20s and early 30sI had a musical acrobatic clown act with multiple instruments of which none were played with great precision. Except the EC.

I play a mean blues harmonica!


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Started on recorder which I still play regularly. Mostly bass and contrabass these days or soprano or tenor for folk music.


Dabbled in harmonica as a kid and now take it more seriously. Not really a blues player but give it a bash sometimes.


Was given a keyless wooden flute which I play regularly


Tried DG Melodeon, still have it but don't play it now


Play Anglo Concertina regularly


Most recent is ukulele


I also sing - which was the reason for the ukulele. I tried singing with the anglo but it was too much rubbing stomach while patting head. Still have a couple of songs I can manage.


I'm not sure which is my first instrument. I like them all in rotation ;)


Oh, and my daughter's knitted doll likes her anglo as well :D

Edited by Tootler
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I've always liked the sound of free-reed instruments, ever since I first heard a recording of Larry Adler playing his harmonica, when I was around 5 years old. I got my first harmonica when I was around 10 years old but never became very proficient on it. I bought an accoustic guitar in my mid-teens and tried learning it but couldn't get beyond the three chord trick, so gave up. Fast forward to my late forties, by then a committed folkie, and, hankering to learn to play some sort of free-reed instrument other than the harmonica, I decided to buy a DG melodeon and learn to play it, as I thought a concertina would be too complicated to learn with all those tiny buttons all over the place. I got on quite well with the melodeon, playing just the melody on the treble side, but couldn't get the hang of the bass accompaniment (still can't!), however, a few years later, armed with a small repertoire of tunes, all learnt by ear, I decided to take the plunge and have a go at learning the concertina. The English system seemed a natural choice to me, so I bought a restored basic Lachenal 48 key treble on Ebay and within 2 weeks, surprised myself by being able to play half a dozen tunes from my repertoire on it (not very well, I might add, but it was a start). Six years and many hours practice later, I consider myself to be reasonably proficient on the EC. Emboldened by my late flowering musical progress, I recently decided to go back to strings and have a go at learning to play the fiddle and mandolin. The EC will always be my instrument of choice, though. I love the way they are constructed and their portabilty.



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More or less in sequential order, I have played and mostly dropped away from:


Bass Trombone






Anglo Concertina (Baritone)


I probably could pick up the trombone again without too much effort, and I recently started working on my fiddle music again, but the one I will never give up is my concertina.

Edited by NoNaYet
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Instruments I can play:


Voice (primarily baritone, but I have a fair amount of range if you count falsetto and what I term 'male whistle tone'...for laughs I call myself trans-sectional)

Basic Guitar (major/minor chords, not that good at it, but good enough for campfire sing-alongs)



Instruments I have played in the past:


Trombone (played for four years until high school, haven't touched it since)

Piano (took for two years when I was still in single digits, then again in college...haven't kept it up)

Violin (took for two years when I was very young, I know the way to hold one, but have forgotten everything else)



Instruments that I dabble with:



Digeridoo (I'm having difficulty with the proper embouchure and the proper breathing techniques)



Instruments I'm currently learning:


English Concertina (my Jackie, which will someday give way to something greater...I dream of a Dipper)



Instruments I'm considering learning:



Hayden Duet

accordion (two of my favorite music artists feature them - They Might Be Giants and Weird Al Yankovic, but I figured the concertina was a better instrument to get under my belt first)

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Instruments, in chronological order:


Voice (currently sing tenor/contralto). Not that great a soloist, but can harmonize tenor & alto with a suitable degree of proficiency. Soprano in a pinch but only among friends. Been harmonizing nearly as long as I've been breathing. Sing in services weekly, at the top of my lungs, with 2 other like-minded meshuggeners. Sing occasionally in my shul's choir. Chant liturgy and scripture.

8 years of piano lessons. Consider myself a dabbler.

Treble and sopranino recorder. Play badly.

Piano accordion. Professional. Main axe.

Tinwhistle. Professional.

English concertina. Professional.

Harmonium, dabbler.

Lap dulcimer, badly. Truly awful.

Clawhammer banjo. Semi-pro. Competent dance player. Soloist, not so much. Chops in need of improvement but not much incentive, certainly not financial. :(

Anglo concertina, dabbler.

GCF buttonbox, dabbler.

Nearly forgot. Took fiddle lessons (traded for accordion lessons for about a year, from a professional concert violinist) but didn't have the dedication to become any good so I sold it. I do know a thing or two about bowing though, and use this in my concertina playing.


Came to the English concertina by accident. Was playing tinwhistle in an ITM band and looking to play an instrument that would allow me to flap my jaws at the same time. BC playing friend was selling his Bastari treble English because Bill McComiskey told him he needed to learn Anglo to play ITM. That was it. Took me many moons to get a handle on the thing. What finally did it was coming down with the flu, and having to lie awake in bed bored out of my skull. Too sick to play whistle but the concertina was perfect. One day, something just clicked and I began to be able to actually play tunes instead of just practicing scales and chords. I found the instrument satisfying to play not just auditorially (is that a word?). I find coordinating finger dexterity and bellows action to be physically pleasant. It's also fun to analyze what one is doing in order to teach others.

Edited by wendina
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I got a late start. At the age of 10 my father advised my music teacher I had no talent or skill therefore a grade of D was more appropriate than a B. So, for 30 years I admired those of you with any talent at all. On my 40th birthday my wife gave me a Scholer 20 button concertina by mistake. What I really thought I wanted was the Hurdy Gurdy Spencer Tracy played in "Captains Courageous". I thought it was a concertina (thanks, Dad :blink: ). I was in graduate school at the time and the computers crunching my data were so slow that keep from going crazy I tried to teach myself how to play that concertina. That worked -- sort of. Fast forward 15 years and 500 miles further north, I got the bug for a "real" concertina (by this time I knew it wasn't a hurdy gurdy). So, off to San Francisco for a Sea Man's 20 button. Wow. That little thing could really make noise and it sounded good to me and a poor neighbor desperate for entertainment (her TV was broken). By now the Internet was cooking along better than that old computer and I discovered more concertina's. So, back to San Francisco for advice. Too much of a good thing. I backed off. Then I discovered Sean Minnie in South Africa and that nice fellow sold me a Wheatstone Anglo 30 button CG. Ah, love. But, I dabbled, then got serious, then dabbled. I played at playing.Biggest problem was trying to get the bass line going as suggested by Bertram Levy. Just couldn't do it. Then got the idea that a one row melodeon would show me how to do the bass line. So, I got one on Craig's list and that turned out to be really fun. By now I'm beginning to learn something. While I'm scouring the Internet for a harmonica with big holes because the guy who bangs away at a guitar with me wanted to learn harmonica but said the holes were too small, I found Mountain Ocarinas. So I bought one in C to match the button box. Now while I'm waiting for the wife to finish shopping I can toot the ocarina to help memorize tunes. Then I go home to play the concertina so I know what the tune is supposed to sound like (sort of) before I pick up the button box to try and get a bass line going. My wife (a reformed violinist) says I'm doing really well and sound just great. But, she loves me. Anyway, I'm having a good time with my concertina and it's adjunct instructors. :D

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I've messed around playing fingerstyle guitar for 40 years, mainly ragtime/blues/folk, with no great expertise.


I wanted to play concertina ever since I saw Steve Turner a few times at the Grove in Leeds in the early/mid 80's, although I had no idea that there were different types of the beast at that time. When I finally got round to doing something about it, 25 years later (!) I promptly wrecked a thumb which delayed matters again until surgery sorted that out and I eventually acquired an anglo in late 2010 from Theo when I moved back to the North East. A visit to a North East Concertina meeting had an unforeseen result - I discovered that the same venue was used for the Cleveland Branch meeting of the Northumbrian Pipers Society...... so now I'm a novice Northumbrian smallpiper as well :o

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I'm surprised I haven't joined this thread until now.


I started playing the cello at age 10 and presently lead the cello section of the Delmar Community Orchestra.


I'm a pretty serious recorder player (all sizes).


Most of my playing these days is on the concertina (Hayden duet).


I have studied classical guitar and am a member of the local classical guitar society. I occasionally perform at their gatherings, but it is mostly on the "back burner."


At earlier times in my life I have been pretty serious about the hammered dulcimer, 5-string banjo (clawhammer style), and pennywhistle, but I rarely play any of those anymore.


I dabbled with mountain dulcimer for a while but never got as serious as the above.


I continue to play pipe & tabor.


[edited for typo]

Edited by David Barnert
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  • 4 weeks later...

I never thought there were so many multi-instrumentalists out there until I started going to jam sessions....and saw all these people lug in all sorts of instruments to use in a 2 hour jam session...I was awed to be exact....now there's nothin' stopping me!!


I started with clarinet when I was a child. My father was a professional jazz saxophonist, so he required that my siblings and I all learn an instrument and to read music. Best gift he ever gave me.


I started guitar when the Beatles came out....still have it and I take it out occassionally.


I began penny whistle when I fell in love with Irish trad...the reason for the rest.....


I am a painter and sold a painting for the exact amount it cost to get my father's fiddle refurbished (he started on violin when he was 10, but then fell in love with jazz--bought a clarinet and then a sax) I got it fixed up and started playing Irish fiddle.


Piano...someone was throwing a GRAND PIANO AWAY...it cost me $150 to get it tuned and cleaned...so I HAD TO LEARN IT! Love playing jazz standards and classical. I'm at the intermediate range right now. I love playing it and my fiddle.


Lastly, and most recently...I fell in love with the concertina two summers ago and HAD TO HAVE ONE!! Had to wait for finances and I bought a Rochelle last fall...and I LOVE IT TOO!! I not only play Irish trad with it, but I play other melodies...Sound of Music, Moon River, Disney songs..."When you wish upon a star" and others. Love the sound of the concertina.


Needless to say....I don't clean my house very often...just clean enough for my instruments to be happy. I can't pick a favorite instrument...I love them all. I currently put in the most time on the fiddle as it truly is THE DEVIL'S BOX...and you have to be more stubborn that it is....but I'm turning a corner and don't want to stop. But I love picking up the concertina and playing away!!


Loved reading everyone's responses!

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I have always sung, although I didn't get serious about it until I was in college. I still usually identify voice as my main "instrument."


I had piano lessons as a child, but they didn't take. I settled on cello at age 8, but mostly gave it up at 14 when my family moved and the orchestra at my new school didn't amount to much. But in college I picked up the guitar (and studied theory) and the guitar has been my primary instrument since then (other than voice). I played in a band with a mountain dulcimer player for a few years and got the bug to take up MD, which I have come to really love. I have definitely found that dulcimer has influenced my approach to the guitar (and vice versa, naturally). Then about 15 years ago I added an octave mandolin (4 course cittern). More recently I have taken up electric bass.


Came to the Anglo in about 2001 when I stumbled across a used Stagi at a local music shop at a price I couldn't resist. I realized quickly that my experience playing the harmonica gave me a head start. After playing it enough to get really interested, I sent it off to Bob Tedrow to have the action hot-rodded. I've played concertina regularly since then and acquired a few others, including an Elise (but I try to stay focused on the Anglo).


Over the years I have occasionally dallied with other instruments - piano accordion, 5 string banjo, bodhran - and eventually given them up. Currently taking its turn is a lap steel... can't quite decide whether to keep at it or sell it on. The thing that I've got my eye on now is upright bass - better than bass guitar for the folk music I usually play. Oddly enough, when I failed the audition for a youth orchestra on cello at 14, I was advised to switch to double bass. I didn't take the advice because I still loved the cello too much, but in hindsight, it might have been a good move... so I guess we'll see how it turns out.



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Just got back into anglo c playing yesterday...seeking "small" again.


A string player first: have performed classical, flamenco, salsa, reggae, dixie-style ragtime, rock, country, and folk styles of all kinds (ITM, scandi, cajun and numerous American old-time and bluegrass)


...on all strings except viola and cello (including doublebass, fiddle, 5-string banjos, guitars and mandolins of all kinds...pedal steel, lap steel, tenor banjo, ukuleles, saz, dulcimers, etc.)...grew up in the classical guitar tradition, but studied flamenco assiduously for a decade


Studied drums, jazz and Latin


button accordians, a little piano accordian (blues), and a couple of years of english concertina


currently playing keyboards in performing ensemble 1-2 times a week (all I have time for anymore)


play hammered dulcimer and lever harp for my own enjoyment


have dabbled with oud


still proficient on woodwinds (my first instrument at age 8)


In a nutshell, I've tried them just about all except tuba. Still wanting a hardanger fiddle, nyckelharpa, and dilruba

Edited by catty
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...when i was in high school i played the contrabass clarinet as my main instrument for 2 years in the school band. :rolleyes:



I have a bass clarinet (Eb) in my woodwind arsenal ... I'm still in possession of an extremely good horn, although I rarely get into it any more. Although, I'm thinking of bringing it into my current band as another texture..

Edited by catty
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I missed this thread... been too busy playing at college!


I started on Boehm flute at 9, took up oboe and cor anglais til I was 18. I played folk guitar at university and hugely regret selling my gibson acoustic... bought for a song, sold for more.


Then I had a 30 year break from music, after which I played the piano for a decade - but it was too lonely... So I went back to wooden flute ten years ago, so I could join in the local trad sessions.


I then wanted to diversify so I dabbled in piano accordion (too big for a small person to carry around), small pipes (to loud for a retiring small person to manage)... and accidentally discovered the concertina... which I still love playing, along with the wooden flute.


I've been doing a college foundation music course - and have gone back to playing the Boehm flute so I can join the wind band and baroque band... so that's the three for me now: wooden flute, silver flute and english concertina.


But I do find myself hankering to learn the guitar...



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hugely regret selling my gibson acoustic... bought for a song, sold for more.



ssssss...let's not get into that...I had a habit of buying for a song, then selling for a tune, when I could have sold for a symphony or two.


After 40 years away from woodwinds, I returned to them last year...I go about now like a woodwind charlatan--encouraging folks to pull out their horns from their closets and give them a go again. Shame that so many get shelved--along with folks' imaginations and creativity (not that school orchestras particularly engender these, but I digress..)

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