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Request For Dvd And Book Reviews


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I was wondering if anyone could offer an in depth review of Alistair Anderson’s tutorial DVD? There’s been some discussion on these forums but I’ve only found one person who had actually watched it once and said they expected to learn a lot from it.

I’ve just purchased my first EC, (Lachenal New Model). I’m a fiddle player with loads of Trad, New England Contra Tunes in my head. I don’t need a tutor for learning to read music, nor do I need a book of tunes. What I need is to figure out how to get the tunes out of the instrument! I’m becoming familiar with the fingerboard and can play jigs and reels although certainly not at tempo. I’m ready to start adding a few chords to waltzes and do understand chord construction so it will just be a matter of choosing my voice and learning to control multiple fingers at once.

I’ve scoured these forums and picked up a lot of tips. I’ve downloaded the Butler and Anderson tutors. I’ve worked through the Butler book until the point where it focuses on keys that I never use. I’ve yet to work with the Anderson book but did buy the companion CD and look forward to using them together. I’ve watched all of Martyn’s videos.

Would anyone suggest the Anderson DVD or "Contemplating the Concertina" by Allan Atlas as my next best step in exploring this instrument?

Thanks for any suggestions and all that I’ve already gained from the forums.


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Contemplating the Concertina considers a number of more advanced topics IIRC. OK, found my copy, on page 1 he notes, "aimed at [those...] who 1) read music fluently ....can toss off [well known favorite tunes, e.g. Connaughtman's Rambles] without too much difficulty... 2) relish the challenge of improving their technique..." and more about having an open, thoughtful mind. A lot in his book, but I play anglo more than English, so we should see if anyone else more qualified than I will chime in here.



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I appreciate the feedback Ken. I suspected the book was something I'd like to have later. Your post confirms that it might be a bit too much information for me right now. Maybe I'll put it on my Christmas list :).


I was at a session this evening with a fellow fiddler who saw my request. It seems we have some closet concertina players in my neighborhood. He too is hoping to get a good review of the DVD. It seems odd that there's not more discussion about it.

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I got my first English concertina in 1974 and first met Alistair not long after. In person, I've found him a great teacher, with a keen awareness of what will help the student at each and every level of ability. And his original Concertina Workshop tutor was an inspiration... the first tutor that I felt tried to teach not just fixed arrangements, but how to make music, i.e., how to make it sound musical.


I expect the current DVD and tutor to be excellent, though I haven't yet gotten around to buying a copy to find out for sure, as my limited time and money have been spent elsewhere. Maybe this thread will be the prompting I need to make the purchase. Once I do, I will of course do a review. But don't wait for me. Here's the description from the Button Box web site:

On this DVD, Alistair Anderson works with student Vicki Elliott on playing the English concertina and explores various aspects, from articulartion to dynamics, ornamentation to phrasing, and helps to understand the vocabulary of the instrument. In fine and exhaustive detail Alistair gives the viewer a fascinating and rewarding insight into his performance style and is sure to give help and encouragement to every player, no matter what level.


Even after more than 40 years playing the English, I'm sure there's stuff there for me to learn. I can't imagine that you could go wrong buying this DVD tutor. And then you, too, could review it for all of us. :)

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Even after more than 40 years playing the English, I'm sure there's stuff there for me to learn. I can't imagine that you could go wrong buying this DVD tutor.

Okay, Marlene, I just checked out this thread, which must be the one you referred to where someone said they had watched through the whole video. The various comments in that thread seem to reinforce the Button Box description: It's not a step-by-step course on how to play the (English) concertina, but apparently more of a series of lessons in techniques which can help an already competent player get more spirit and musicality out of the instrument. You should keep that in mind in deciding whether that DVD is appropriate for you at this stage of your development. But if not now, I'm sure it will be useful at some time in the future.


Wishing you all the best in your progress.

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Thank you for your time and effort Jim. It sounds like something one could watch once a year and pick up a new tip each time. My guess is that most folks who have purchased it, watched it once or twice before putting it on a shelf. I've watched violin masterclasses at a local college and although I'm nowhere near the skill level of the students, I often come away with a little tip. I guess it depends upon what the viewer ready to absorb.


I'll just keep exploring for now and try to build some repertoire while training my ear to the instrument.


It would still be nice to hear from someone who has actually tried to use the DVD as a tutor.

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