Jump to content

New starter

Recommended Posts

Thought I'd introduce myself and get a few pointers to get me started as a novice EC player.


I've picked up a Wim Wakker Jack as a (not too expensive) intro to Concertinas to see how I like it and am on day three of dusting off my music reading along side a bit of playing by ear.

I'm all fingers and thumbs...well, mostly all fingers at the moment trying to find the buttons but I know that will come with muscle memory.


I have some experience with guitar, piano, flute and G/C melodeon (only a little melodeon experience though) so not completely new to music. Not sure if there are many teachers in the UK...would love to have a few 1-2-1 lessons to get started right.

I've been playing through the intro book that came with the Jack which is nicely set up to introduce the keyboard and note or two at a time. Trouble is, the tunes aren't that engaging so I'd welcome some recommendations.

I've just downloaded Amsterdam Maid and All For Me Grog (from the excellent http://chivalry.com) as I love a sea shanty but I wonder if there are some simpler 'learning' shanties to help me learn the fingering?


In the mean time I'm reading back through many of the historical posts for the odd tip or recommendation.


I'm sure I'll struggle in the comming weeks so please be patient if I ask idiot questions.





English Concertina

Thatcham, West Berkshire


Link to comment
Share on other sites

Hi Michael,


First, welcome to the forum and I hope you get on with your concertina. It would be interesting to know what type of tunes you fancy playing, apart from shanties.


Not from your area, so can't comment on teachers.


If you can get some ABC software you can find loads of simple tunes (and not so simple), assuming that you can at least basically read music.


I'm sure others will come in with more recommendations.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Five days in and starting to feel a little less clumsy on the buttons...still fumbling around but getting more accurate with C to C' including F#...finding C# a struggle to reach today and haven't been anywhere near the bottom notes or the other sharps/flats.


I wonder what people's thoughts are on playing from scores vs learning by ear. At the moment I'm doing a bit of both as it speeds up learning tunes but I confess I prefer to play without music when I know a tune...is that bad?


I've plumped for a Jack as a starting box as I like to sing along to a tune so I understand a Baritone is better and certainly matches my (pretty embarrassing) singing range.

I'm still looking for some nice simple songs to get me started as pretty much everything I've found so far I've had to rescore to simplify the fingering. Quite open to suggestions from any genre so long as its a simple tune and has some lyrics. Song book (folk) suggestions?


Again, from a written music perspective I'm not nessessarily adhering religiously to the timing (note lengths) and hence rhythm...preferring to concentrate on finding the right notes and think about the bellowing. Am I setting myself up for problems later or is this the correct focus?


So far I can manage a passable Silent Night and a tortuous All for me' Grog :o)


Off to YouTube now to watch competent players and aspire to learn more...



Link to comment
Share on other sites

Christmas Carols, childrens songs or any tune you can remember is worth trying as a playing by ear exercise. Anything taken from a sheet music score is perhaps better if it is a piece that you already know and can sing the melody and thus correct the 'feel' of the timing. There are some starter tune books for students on many instruments and perhaps those for the Piano are going to be written in the easier keys.


Some website tune books are very usefull too and at least one of the members here has a site with many folk tune scores.


I do have specific thoughts on 'playing by ear' or 'reading the score'; I have used both methods since childhood and I usually use a mixture of the two if I can get them both (sounds source and written music) to learn a new piece. I feel that 'playing by ear' I am playing the instrument and that 'reading a score' is reproducing music on an instrument that I am not necessarily able to 'Play'.

To clarify what I mean... my current 'new instrument' is the Maccann Duet.. I can play anything I wish on it in a couple of keys but if I read a score on the duet I can play in any key but it takes a longer time to be able to memorise the new piece.


However, the main thing is that you are getting somewhere. Now is the time to have patience... play a little every day and it will soon become second nature .

Good luck and happy music making,


Link to comment
Share on other sites

When I was learning to play the Jackie two years ago, I used beginning guitar books to practice more tunes than the ones in the tutor. They did not include sea shanties, but had folk songs I already knew in the keys of C, G, and D. I also practiced Christmas carols because I found it easier to learn on tunes that I knew already. I always played with the music in front of me, but I am now forcing myself to try more tunes by ear. If you can do that, it is a great skill to have.


If you have access to a library, perhaps you can find a book of sea shanties, and play the easier ones. Unfortunately the ones I know are American sea songs: "Blow the Man Down" is very easy, and "The Drunken Sailor" is quite easy. I looked in a book called "The Folk Song Fake Book" and found a few English shanties that did not seem too difficult: "Donkey Riding", "Eddystone Light", and "Rolling Home". A friend plays "The Rambling Sailor", but that seems a bit more difficult to me.


Best of luck with your Jack.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Again, from a written music perspective I'm not nessessarily adhering religiously to the timing (note lengths) and hence rhythm...preferring to concentrate on finding the right notes and think about the bellowing. Am I setting myself up for problems later or is this the correct focus?




This question is not EC-specific, so here's my take on it.

When playing a tune for the first time on the instrument I find it better to play slowly (if necessary, very slowly!), but with the durations of the notes in the correct relation to one another. As you get more familiar with the tune and the instrument, you can just speed the whole thing up, and it will sound like the tune you meant.

Some people like to practise with a metronome, starting with a very slow setting and gradually increasing the beats per minute.


Little theoretical point: a tune is not just a sequence of pitched notes, not even a sequence of defined intervals between notes, but either or both of these on a fixed rhythmic framework that is often specific to that tune. Playing a note for the wrong duration falsifies the tune just as much as playing the wrong note!


You'll probably find that many tunes have a tricky bit in them that you can't play as fluently as the rest of the tune. This still happens even when you're an advanced player. Resist the temptation to play the easy bits as fast as you can and slow down for the difficult bit. Play the whole tune only as fast as you can play the difficult bit. To speed up, practise the difficult bit - perhaps just a short phrase or a bar of the music - separately, until you can get your fingers round it without thinking about it. Then slot it into the rest of the tune.


Hope this helps,



Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thanks for your pointers guys and gals. I've certainly found lots of tunes on here but I much prefer something with a few words to sing (to cover the mistakes!).


Mary, some good songs mentioned which I'd forgotten and thanks for the idea of a fake folk book...I'm off hunting t'internet now.


John, your advice actually made me cast my mind back to when I first started piano and rang true. I think the difficulty when you first start an instrument is keeping any sort of coherent timing (however slow) while searching for notes on the instrument or reciting "every good boy deserves fruit" trying to read the music! A week in and the music reading has come back and finding the notes is becoming more fluent and so the approach of slowing things down and playing the note values as written suddenly falls into place. Thanks :)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

  • Create New...