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The English Concertina Course Volumes One and Two

Jim Cush

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I wanted to relate my experience with "The English Concertina Course Vol's 1 & 2" from Pauline De Snoo's Concertina Academy (www.concertina-academy.com), based in Netherlands. The cost was 22,75€ payable through PayPal.


At this point, I have completed Volume One which consists of a manual and a DVD containing a variety of multi-media training files such as: video files demonstrating how to hold the concertina, fingering techniques, bellows control, etc.; .pdf files with supplementary exercises and mp3 sound files. A very unique approach to teaching you how to play the English Concertina.


Prior to coming across the Pauline De Snoo course, I think I must have acquired every tutor available but couldn't find any I liked. Most provide any where from just a few pages of instruction with the rest of the book filled with songs I never heard before to more instruction but the same type of songs. I had no idea if I was playing an exercise or song correctly. I could find some of the songs on the Internet but it was impossible for me to compare the notes I played with the highly embellished versions being played on YouTube.


The De Snoo course provides sound file examples of even the simplest lessons, played note by note on a concertina permitting me to compare and then mimic the notes and tempo she played. In later examples, the sound files not only provides her example of what it should sound like but supplements it with matching piano accompaniment of the song so you can play along. I think this a great idea. It permitted me to move quickly through the lessons without frustration while providing me the ability early on to play real music, which is why I wanted to learn in the first place. There is an optional 16,75€ "Play Along" book and CD containing sheet music for songs composed specifically for the concertina yet tied to level of the lesson material. Again, the sound files containing the music being played on the concertina, unembellished, with the piano accompaniment. The sound files, although playable on the PC, I download to a portable mp3 device so they can be played anywhere. I found these files to be a huge boost to learning speed, my self-confidence and overall enjoyment.


A wide variety of chords were introduced a step at a time, in an un-intimidating way. You start by playing thirds almost at the beginning, followed by triads about halfway through and the next thing I knew I was playing actual chords in a song. By the end of Volume One, I was able to play music in the Keys of C, G, F, B flat,A, and E flat with chords to enhance the presentation of the music. Minor chords and scales were also introduced.


The second volume is contained on a DVD which again contains video, .pdf and sound files, there is no manual. The exercises provided sequentially bring you to a level where you are capable of approaching even the most complex music with confidence. It is at this point, the lessons of Volume One come together initially in tunes played in thirds, then simple chords. Simple melodies are then played with what is essentially a single note note melodies with underlying drones. At this point, tunes using a melody with more complex chord structures are introduced. Finally, it all comes together in the form of segments composed by Donizette and Molique for the concertina. My original objective was to be able to play simple melodies because I thought anything else was too far beyond my reach. Now, who knows, I may be be able to play with a richness of sound and content beyond all earlier hopes.


The course is as close as you can come to live music lessons with someone who specializes in the concertina. Pauline DeSnoo answered any questions I had very promptly via email and is very supportive. I understand that lessons using Skype are available from her but my Internet provider is so poor I can't rely on access being available throughout an entire lesson. I obviously recommend this course.


I should also mention that the Concertina Academy also offers a similar course for the Anglo Concertina but I have no direct experience or knowledge about it.

Edited by Jim Cush
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