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Bellows Practice - Beginner Air Problems


Merrygold
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Hi there,

 

I've had my Concertina for about two weeks now, so this might be a common beginner's problem, but it's really annoying me right now.

When I play more than 3 notes on the pull, I'm always out off... well, concertina. I have an old Anglo Lachenal with 5 fold bellows, so there should be enough space.

I don't have the same issues on the push. I'm a bit worried my bellows might be a bit leaky (Concertina doesn't stay completely airtight folded)

 

I've been wondering if any of you have some advice on how to use less bellows. On all of the videos I've been watching, no one even seems to pull their Instrument as wide open as I do.

Or is this due to playing too slow?

I also noticed that I do play quite staccato somtimes (pull a little for every note instead of continously pulling - I've been wondering if that was the issue)

And speaking of that - how do I use the Air Button without having too much of a gap in the playing?

 

 

Hope there're not too stupid questions here - sorry, I'm a complete beginner!

Thanks in advance :)

Edited by Merrygold
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Merrygold,

 

your concertina might need some adjustments by the way you describe your playing problems. Perhaps some reeds use more air than others , the leather valves may not be doing their job properly... or perhaps it is something in the way you are playing.

 

In any case, if I were you, I would be looking for a more experienced player that you can visit to get some advice directly, which is much eaiser and more accurate than asking people here to suggest reasons for the problem.

 

Good luck and remember..... 'it is always harder at the begining' :) ,

Geoff.

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Try to make each separate note with a separate tap on the button rather than a movement of the bellows - even consecutive notes on the same button. On the whole it gives more attack and bounce. There are times when you may choose the more slurred sound made by holding the button down and manipulating the bellows, but it's best to do so through choice rather than bad habit.

 

The air button is operated with the thumb, and each tune has places where it can be used more easily, often at the start of phrases, or where a run in one direction is followed by a run in the other. You will learn to spot these opportunities.

 

Use the air button in time with the music - I find I tend to use it most on the off beats, but not always. Use it to sip the air in or out in small quantities rather than having one big gasp every so often.

 

The air button takes some time to learn - it is the hardest note to play - but it will come very quickly once you start to get the idea.

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Merrygold,

 

your concertina might need some adjustments by the way you describe your playing problems. Perhaps some reeds use more air than others , the leather valves may not be doing their job properly... or perhaps it is something in the way you are playing.

 

In any case, if I were you, I would be looking for a more experienced player that you can visit to get some advice directly, which is much eaiser and more accurate than asking people here to suggest reasons for the problem.

 

Good luck and remember..... 'it is always harder at the begining' :) ,

Geoff.

 

Yes - if you can, get an experienced player to play your concertina and then you'll soon see if it's a technical issue with the instrument or something you can address in your own technique. Good advice for any beginner on any instrument.

 

Graham

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Merrygold, It takes a good deal longer than two weeks for a complete novice to satisfactorily master the co-ordination of bellows and air button control on an Anglo. Most Anglos have bellows with at least six folds, which provides a bit more ' breath ' to play with, but persevere with your five-fold bellows and don't lose heart at this very early stage.

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Merrygold,

 

One reason why a beginner on the Anglo runs out of air is that he or she plays hesitantly. While you're trying to remember where the next note is, you tend to hold the last note - and run out of bellows! This can happen even to an experienced player who's learning a new tune. When you play the tune more confidently and fluently - not necessarily any faster - the problem should go away.

 

Meanwhile, while you still have to think about where to find the next note, you could stop pressing or drawing the bellows while you do so. This would leave you with enough air to continue when you've found the lost note.

 

When you've learnt a few tunes fluently, if you still have problems with shortage of air, you might want to check the bellows and pads for leaks.

 

You'll find some pieces of music easier on the bellows than others. An essential part of Anglo technique is using the air button to deliberately leak air in or out while notes are sounding, in order to get the bellows ready for a long phrase in one direction.

 

Cheers,

John

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It is equally important to choose music that is appropriate for the instrument and its capabilities. This can be established initially through a process of trial and error. Some tunes just do not fit comfortably on an Anglo but fortunately there are no end of tunes which do.

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Hi all, sorry for replying so late! Hope you all had a happy easter!

 

Thanks everyone for their helpful hints and advise. My problem is that i'm not aware of any concertina players around here (southern Germany - do you know anyone?), so I can't have it checked by a more experienced player sadly :( I'm quite sure by now it's my playing style though.

 

 

One reason why a beginner on the Anglo runs out of air is that he or she plays hesitantly. While you're trying to remember where the next note is, you tend to hold the last note - and run out of bellows! This can happen even to an experienced player who's learning a new tune. When you play the tune more confidently and fluently - not necessarily any faster - the problem should go away.

 

That might be the problem, thanks John!

Also

Try to make each separate note with a separate tap on the button rather than a movement of the bellows - even consecutive notes on the same button. On the whole it gives more attack and bounce. There are times when you may choose the more slurred sound made by holding the button down and manipulating the bellows, but it's best to do so through choice rather than bad habit.

 

is a very good advise (thanks Mike!). I'm just staring to get more fluent on my first few tunes and I'm really trying to stop doing the "press Button - draw - press button - draw more" thing when I have more notes in one direction.

 

It's interesting though, I thought I would be struggling more with the fingering but what I really struggle with is the bellows control.

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A little suggestion forget playing the tunes just play fluently on the push and on the pull.Short sharp quiet notes..Make sure the pull notes equal the push notes in length.The tunes are confusing the issue.DO NOT stretch the bellows on the pull it will damage the instrument.

Keep practicing and it will gradually get better.

Al

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Merrygold, Bellows control is probably the most critical aspect of mastering an Anglo. You can be a wizard with your fingers but it all comes to nothing if the air is not there. I make life difficult for myself by using a lot of chord/harmony accompaniment to the melody line. Single note melody is probably a soft option by comparison but it is not a style I strive for. Chords are of course very greedy for air. English Concertina players cheat by having same note push and pull !!

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A little suggestion forget playing the tunes just play fluently on the push and on the pull.Short sharp quiet notes..Make sure the pull notes equal the push notes in length.The tunes are confusing the issue.DO NOT stretch the bellows on the pull it will damage the instrument.

Keep practicing and it will gradually get better.

Al

Merrygold,

Alan's advice is spot on. Many beginners play the notes too long and too hard (and too loud), I know I certainly did. A 5-fold bellows is an additional challenge - you will probably need to get very familiar with alternate notes in opposite directions. But fear not, you're just getting started, it will take a while for your Anglo to get you trained!

 

Gary

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Hallo, Merrigold,

 

I second Rüdiger on that point! The time I attended that meeting, there were players of all types of concertina present, if I recall correctly. Certainly plenty of Anglos and the related Germans. A very family atmosphere, very inclusive of newcomers, and a lot of expertise and willingness to share it. And, of course, opportunities to try out different types of concertina. Some of the participants (or their partners) also bring stringed instruments, so it never gets monotonous. I heartily recommend it!

 

BTW, whereabouts in the south of Germany are you? There might be someone near you. For instance, I live just south of Stuttgart (strictly speaking that's the South-West, but at least it's the proper latitude for you!)

 

Cheers,

John

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