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Home Position For English Concertina

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I'm sorry if this sounds like a daft question but is there a home position that your fingers should adopt when playing the English concertina or is it a purely personal thing, any advice would be most welcome

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I don't think it's a daft question at all. I would think it's a personal preference thing and depends on where your supporting little fingers rest on the bar and also how far through the strap you like your thumbs. I have my thumbs well through and the natural position is for the index on the left to hit the G and the index on the right to hit the A.

 

Apart from that, the best position is the one where I hit the right notes:-)

cheers

Mart

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I'm sorry if this sounds like a daft question but is there a home position that your fingers should adopt when playing the English concertina or is it a purely personal thing, any advice would be most welcome

 

Depends on what you mean by "home position".

 

On an anglo, one can play many tunes in an along -the-row style without ever moving out of a "home" position, i.e., with each finger essentially "fixed" on a single button (and vice versa). Using four fingers in each hand, working in that fashion gives slightly more than two diatonic octaves to work with.

 

But that concept doesn't work for an English. Held in the standard orientation* and with the fingers side-by-side, it's only possible to get four notes of a diatonic scale without moving a finger to another button. (Using 3 or 4 fingers per hand, it's possible to get 6 or 8 notes altogether without shifting, but those beyond four would be accidentals, so not used in most tunes.)

 

However, if by "home position" you mean a resting postion for your hands when you're not playing, which you use to orient yourself when reaching for the actual notes of a tune, then I'll make a suggestion:

 

When you first pick up the concertina (assuming a standard treble or baritone), find the lowest G in the right hand and the lowest C in the left hand... without looking. These are both at the "lower" edge of the button array, so they can be found by feel, by simply starting "below" the button array and moving your fingers "up" until you reach the buttons. It's usual to play both these notes with the index fingers of their respective hands. To that you can add your middle fingers for the lowest left-hand A and right-hand B.

 

Those buttons would be reasonable as "home" or "anchor" positions. For most of almost any tune your fingers would be away from those positions, but if you return you hands/fingers to those positions whenever you're resting, you will gradually...

  • learn the shape of your hands in that position, so that you will eventually be able to place your fingers there without first "searching" for the button array, and
  • learn to feel the distance and direction from that anchor position for each of the other notes you play.
  • Eventually, of course, you should be able to learn the directions and distances between each pair of buttons/notes, so you don't have to think about how to get from any note to any other note**.

All well and good, but depending on the key and range of the tunes you play at this stage of your learning, you might want to choose a different set of "anchor" buttons. If you play mainly in G and D -- rather than in C and G -- you might want to anchor elsewhere, e.g., one row higher in both hands... E and G in the left and D and F in the right (with your RH ring finger on the F#). To do that, you would find the above-noted buttons (left-hand A and C; right-hand G and B ) upon picking up the concertina but then immediately shift your hand/finger position one row higher and use that as the position you always return to when your hands are at rest.

 

But whatever you choose as your "home" position, with sufficient experience you should be able to pick up the instrument and hit whatever note you want without first having to "find" the buttons. That's because you'll learn to feel where your fingers are relative to the button array because you can "feel" where the buttons are relative to the unmoving thumb loop (and the finger plate, if you use it).

 

 

* An increasing number of folks are working with holding the concertina in a different orientation. Not surprisingly, the details are different from standard orientation, but none of them give anything like the anglo-style coverage of a scale, so there's little point in going into detail about each of them separately.

 

** Actually, I expect you'll learn to "feel" in your mind the entire button array (or at least the part you use regularly), so that you'll be able to reach accurately for the next note without consciously thinking about geometrical details.

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those are both great reply's and exactly the kind of advice I was looking for, it leads me to believe that it is a more personal thing rather then a set method, many thanks

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. If you play mainly in G and D -- rather than in C and G -- you might want to anchor elsewhere, e.g., one row higher in both hands... E and G in the left and D and F in the right (with your RH ring finger on the F#). To do that, you would find the above-noted buttons (left-hand A and C; right-hand G and B ) upon picking up the concertina but then immediately shift your hand/finger position one row higher and use that as the position you always return to when your hands are at rest.

 

That's my home position on picking up a tina, or resting between tunes - left index finger on G and adjacent on E, and right fingers on A and F#.

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I guess there's no such thing as a home position in my playing the EC, however re "standard" vs. "different" orientation or how to hold the instrument I have it rotated by 60 degrees (sort of rolling it upwards on my right knee), but have the thumbs still horizontal in rather loose thumbstraps, slightly titled and when needed pressing the thumb tips against the wood surface... (I'm quite rarely using the "pinky rests" at all since I mostly need my four fingers on each side for harmonizing).

 

Just to be considered...

 

Best wishes - Wolf

Edited by blue eyed sailor

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I didn't move the thumb straps, they're just wide open, and thus slightly thwisted as prompted by the tension created.

 

It might be added that I changed the fixation of the straps insofar as I replaced the usual wood screws with machine screws, heads towards the bellows' interior.

 

Best wishes - Wolf

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