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owlgal
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Dan--

 

Is PICA still active? The ICA web site doesn't seem to show evidence of publication since 2008: http://www.concertina.org/papers-of-the-international-concertina-association-pica .

 

Hmmm. There is already quite a good review service operated by the ICA, via the annual Papers of the International Concertina Association journal.....quite a nice publication, edited by Prof Allan Atlas at CUNY. Roger Digby heads the reviews, and either personally reviews new CDs and books or assigns a qualified reviewer. They are good, objective and thorough reviews, as a rule, although not all or even a majority of new concertina CDs get reviewed, by any means - but significant ones tend to be. I recommend that all new authors send the ICA, via Roger or Allan, a copy of their work to be reviewed. All my various books and CDRoms have been reviewed there.

 

That is a membership journal, of course. Are you a member? Consider joining and supporting their effort; it is the only scholarly journal for our instrument.

 

Other than that, I'd say I always consider the source in reviews. In a website where most people are nameless, one never knows who is speaking about a work, and what their background and experience level is. I personally find the PICA approach, of having a designated reviews editor who works at his craft, generally more credible and useful than the anonymous wild west of the internet, but to each his own.

 

Daniel,

 

Yes it is still in print; I received my 2013 PICA a few months ago. It is just the process of posting the old issues to the ICA site that seems to be inactive. My recommendation to all: support the ICA and get their publications.

 

As far as the other comment from another poster that beginners shouldn't have to pay for a private journal to get their reviews....sure, but you get what you pay for. You have already paid handsomely for an instrument, and seem ready to pay for (sight unseen) tutors. There is simply no comparison between a properly researched review in a journal, written by an experienced player with some sort of recognized background in music or traditional music, and an anonymous two sentence long post by someone who a newbie, seeking information, won't know....the erstwhile reviewer could be yet another complete newbie, writing in his/her pajamas. It is fun to read these, and the best of them are indeed very useful at times, but they rarely are anywhere near as fully informative as those in PICA.

Edited by Dan Worrall
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Thanks, Dan. I was an ICA member at one time but let it lapse - they didn't do any kind of renewal notice, so I just eventually noticed that things stopped coming. I'll either re-join or try to buy the issues of PICA that I don't have, if they'll sell them.

 

 

 

Dan--

 

Is PICA still active? The ICA web site doesn't seem to show evidence of publication since 2008: http://www.concertina.org/papers-of-the-international-concertina-association-pica .

 

Hmmm. There is already quite a good review service operated by the ICA, via the annual Papers of the International Concertina Association journal.....quite a nice publication, edited by Prof Allan Atlas at CUNY. Roger Digby heads the reviews, and either personally reviews new CDs and books or assigns a qualified reviewer. They are good, objective and thorough reviews, as a rule, although not all or even a majority of new concertina CDs get reviewed, by any means - but significant ones tend to be. I recommend that all new authors send the ICA, via Roger or Allan, a copy of their work to be reviewed. All my various books and CDRoms have been reviewed there.

 

That is a membership journal, of course. Are you a member? Consider joining and supporting their effort; it is the only scholarly journal for our instrument.

 

Other than that, I'd say I always consider the source in reviews. In a website where most people are nameless, one never knows who is speaking about a work, and what their background and experience level is. I personally find the PICA approach, of having a designated reviews editor who works at his craft, generally more credible and useful than the anonymous wild west of the internet, but to each his own.

 

Daniel,

 

Yes it is still in print; I received my 2013 PICA a few months ago. It is just the process of posting the old issues to the ICA site that seems to be inactive. My recommendation to all: support the ICA and get their publications.

 

As far as the other comment from another poster that beginners shouldn't have to pay for a private journal to get their reviews....sure, but you get what you pay for. You have already paid handsomely for an instrument, and seem ready to pay for (sight unseen) tutors. There is simply no comparison between a properly researched review in a journal, written by an experienced player with some sort of recognized background in music or traditional music, and an anonymous two sentence long post by someone who a newbie, seeking information, won't know....the erstwhile reviewer could be yet another complete newbie, writing in his/her pajamas. It is fun to read these, and the best of them are indeed very useful at times, but they rarely are anywhere near as fully informative as those in PICA.

 

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Daniel,

 

They even have automatic renewal now, as I was reminded when I was sent a confirmation email of that recently. So if you choose that option, you don't even have the excuse, as I once did, of procrastinating past the deadline!

 

They still have the problem of being too much in the English concertina mold (the heritage of this goes back to the 1950s), while the world is heavily in the Anglo realm. They continue to need more participation from other places (like Ireland, the US, Australia and South Africa) to become as international as their name. They have been trying to reach out, and if more people join from outside Britain to support them, that can eventually happen. It won't if no one joins in.

 

There have been very nice strides made in their archives lately, both print and sound (including all the old Concertina and Squeezebox Reader's tapes from the 1980s). And as I mentioned in and earlier post, PICA is a proper journal....something we would not have without the help of the ICA. It's all well worth supporting.

 

The website is www.concertina.org

 

Cheers,

Dan

Edited by Dan Worrall
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There is simply no comparison between a properly researched review in a journal, written by an experienced player with some sort of recognized background in music or traditional music, and an anonymous two sentence long post by someone who a newbie, seeking information, won't know....the erstwhile reviewer could be yet another complete newbie, writing in his/her pajamas. It is fun to read these, and the best of them are indeed very useful at times, but they rarely are anywhere near as fully informative as those in PICA.

 

 

 

I'm not sure I'd agree that the opinion of a 'newbie' is invalid on the subject of tutor books.

 

We might need to establish some ground rules, and in extreme circumstances the forum moderators might need to suppress any bile-filled pieces that go beyond valid criticism of the tutorial under discussion; but someone who has only been playing a few months and found a particular book really useful, or indeed totally confusing, doesn't per se have a less valid opinion on the quality of that tutor book just because they haven't got an ICA membership number. The sort of person who writes for the PICA is going to have a completely different perspective on the concertina to someone who is just starting out on our wonderful instrument and is looking for a tutorial book.

 

I very much doubt that the huge success of Bert Weedon's 'Play In A Day' was entirely down to a scholarly review published in the research journal of, and accessible only to members of, the International Electric Guitar Association ...
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As far as the other comment from another poster that beginners shouldn't have to pay for a private journal to get their reviews....sure, but you get what you pay for. You have already paid handsomely for an instrument, and seem ready to pay for (sight unseen) tutors. There is simply no comparison between a properly researched review in a journal, written by an experienced player with some sort of recognized background in music or traditional music, and an anonymous two sentence long post by someone who a newbie, seeking information, won't know....the erstwhile reviewer could be yet another complete newbie, writing in his/her pajamas. It is fun to read these, and the best of them are indeed very useful at times, but they rarely are anywhere near as fully informative as those in PICA.

 

While I agree that you get what you pay for, and that reviews in a journal carry greater authority than reviews posted in a forum like ours, I don't think we're talking about anonymous two-sentence reviews. I certainly wasn't, and I thought I was clear about the need for reviews to be well-reasoned and not anonymous.

 

I also don't think it's necessarily the case that a newcomer has paid handsomely for an instrument. I've encountered many a beginner who comes to me with something along the lines of a beat-up Stagi or a Hohner D40 which they came by on the cheap; they've invested almost nothing and just wonder how to get started. And many more buy or rent a Rochelle or its ilk (it's great that the CC instruments come with starter books!), putting very little money on the line until figuring out whether the concertina makes sense and is rewarding to play.

 

Most such people are likely willing to spend ~$20 on a tutor book, but no such person is going to first pay membership dues to an international organization dedicated to an instrument they've not yet laid their hands on! These newcomers don't need extensively researched scholarly reviews; they just need something like

 

"Title-One is a solid book for a newcomer, starting at the very beginning and building up to playing melodies from Ireland and America. There's a lesson on how to read music, but all the tunes are presented with both conventional music notation and with button-number and bellows-direction. It assumes you have a C/G instrument, and it only contains tunes in C and G and how to play them 'along-the-row', so if you played the harmonica when you were younger, this book may not actually teach you anything you don't already know! If that's the case for you, you might consider Title-Three instead."

 

or

 

"Title-Two has lots of band and show tunes with full harmonic arrangements, but it presents them in conventional music notation with extremely minimal concertina-specific information: no indication of buttons or fingers, and only occasional mention of the bellows direction. If you're really keen on playing Sousa's Liberty Bell March, it's here and the arrangement is quite rich once you master it, but it may take you half an hour just to wade through the just first eight measures even if you're moderately competent at the instrument! Better notation would have made this a far more useful book. This is not for beginners!"

 

or

 

"Title-Thirteen is just awful. No, really. It purports to be for beginners, but after an introduction explaining a new and rather confusing system of notation, it just dives into tunes without even showing you how to play a C scale. To make matters worse, there are errors in the notation (lots of bellows in the wrong direction or left-hand swapped for right-hand)! A true beginner with little musical knowledge but even the stoutest of hearts would be lost and frustrated by page five; meanwhile, anyone who is even modestly competent at the anglo has already learned or figured out everything in this book. Title-Thirteen is that unfortunate book which seems to have no real audience."

 

Clear, simple reviews along those lines, or perhaps a bit longer, signed by the author along with a very brief concertina-biography: that's the service I'd like to see us offer to newcomers.

Edited by wayman
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The quote attributed to me here is actually from Dan Worrall...

 

 

 

There is simply no comparison between a properly researched review in a journal, written by an experienced player with some sort of recognized background in music or traditional music, and an anonymous two sentence long post by someone who a newbie, seeking information, won't know....the erstwhile reviewer could be yet another complete newbie, writing in his/her pajamas. It is fun to read these, and the best of them are indeed very useful at times, but they rarely are anywhere near as fully informative as those in PICA.

 

 

 

I'm not sure I'd agree that the opinion of a 'newbie' is invalid on the subject of tutor books.

 

We might need to establish some ground rules, and in extreme circumstances the forum moderators might need to suppress any bile-filled pieces that go beyond valid criticism of the tutorial under discussion; but someone who has only been playing a few months and found a particular book really useful, or indeed totally confusing, doesn't per se have a less valid opinion on the quality of that tutor book just because they haven't got an ICA membership number. The sort of person who writes for the PICA is going to have a completely different perspective on the concertina to someone who is just starting out on our wonderful instrument and is looking for a tutorial book.

 

I very much doubt that the huge success of Bert Weedon's 'Play In A Day' was entirely down to a scholarly review published in the research journal of, and accessible only to members of, the International Electric Guitar Association ...

 

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Dan Worrall has pretty much said it all: thanks Dan.

The International Concertina Association is very much still in business and sending out Concertina World three times a year and PICA once a year to its members.

The idea was to make PICA available on the website about a year behind paper publication. We have fallen behind on this for a combination of technical and personal reasons but we will catch up.

It is true to say that the ICA have something of a bias towards the Engish concertina at present although we have many members playing Anglo and duet concertinas. If you would like to alter the balance, join us and publicise your favourite instrument!

Submission dates and details can be found at

http://www.concertina.org/concertina-world-magazine/

The dates are the same each year.

Roger Gawley, Secretary, International Concertina Association

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Well, I hope I'm not treading on any toes by actually adding some reviews to this thread! None will be bad, because either they are all useful in different ways or else I can see they will/would be at a different stage in my learning.

 

I've been learning for a couple of months, on my own so far though I am now in touch with the WCCP and will be going to their January meeting. I have itchy book-buying fingers so have accumulated a pile of tutors. That I can even say that is amazing - when I first tried to learn concertina about 20 years ago, I went for the Anglo partly because there seemed to be so few resources for the English.

 

I started with Roger Watson's Handbook for English Concertina, so I'll start by reviewing that one. That was all I could find 20 years ago when I was trying to decide between Anglo and English, and it was all my local music shop had on the shelves this time round, so I bought it again. No doubt the old one is in the loft somewhere - probably with the old Black spot melodeon I never learned to play and either sold or packed so well that now I can't find it<g>.

 

This one fills the bill in that it gives you what you need to know to get started. The pages of chord shapes at the beginning are a bit scary for a beginner because it doesn't explain that you don't need to learn them at the start! It starts you right in on proper music with a C version of Winster Gallop which I like. It doesn't tell you much if anything about using the bellows - I was sawing away like on an Anglo to begin with, and using the bellows to control the length of notes too much. It doesn't have much in the way of music at each level, so you would need to supplement it with other simple music but in these days of internet downloads etc that isn't a problem. I wanted to learn carols for Christmas so downloaded PG Hardy's Christmas tunebook.

 

It's not my favourite, but it was there when I needed it and it does a good job so long as you have other music to broaden your practice.

Must work now! More another time....

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So, next up - the freebies. As someone with a number of 'minority interests', I love the internet! It's hard to even remember the days when your best hope was to find an outdated list of books and stockists in the back of a library book published 50 years earlier on a different continent!

 

So, whatever else you may acquire, you can download Alistair Anderson'sTutor for the English Concertina and Frank Butler's The Concertina. There seem to be two versions of Alistair's book online; one is a photocopy and less clear, where as the other seems to be a proper digital version and much better.

 

Both these books are well worth having, even if they weren't free. Frank's one gives more exercises etc, and Alistair's perhaps more about the expressive style of playing but both would do the job from start to finish. I also downloaded Paul Hardy's Xmas and Basic tunebooks and printed them out, and the Tunebook app on my ipad to read the abc versions. Carols are brilliant for practice as the well known ones are nice simple tunes that we all have ready installed in our brains.

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OK, now the latest additions. The English Concertina Absolute Beginners by Alex Wade and Dave Mallinson is great. You can also buy the accompanying CD which has all the tunes played at beginner speed with a counted intro by Alex, so you can eventually play along with them as well as listening to see what they ought to sound like. This is a really great book which has you playing real tunes right from the beginning and provides lots of material that is carefully chosen to introduce extra notes keys etc in a sensible and gradual way. It is also very helpful in marking bellows movements to assist with phrasing.

 

I only have one small beef with it - why oh why oh why did they choose to number the fingers in scale order rather than the order they occur on the human hand? In other words, unlike any other tutor I have seen, finger 1 is the index finger on left hand, finger 2 the index finger on the right, finger 3 the middle finger on left, finger 4 the middle on right etc etc. What? When I am trying to find a note, and see a number 2 above the staff, my natural response is to use my 2nd finger, not my first. Fortunately, only the first few tunes have this labelling, but I found it positively confusing and unhelpful. The terms 'first, second and third fingers' are part of the language, after all, not just a teaching convention and the 'scale order' is unhelpful for a beginner because that is what the book is supposed to be teaching you, not something you already know. However, it is a very small point about a fantastically helpful and enjoyable book.

 

Along with that, I also bought the book and CD for Dave Mallinson's Easy Peasy Tunes - not specifically for Concertina but very applicable and with lots to enjoy. Another great book, thank you.

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