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TimTim

Tips To Go From Sluggish To Bouncing?

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I've often seen a certain amount of sluggishness come from beginners trying to force the tune out of the instrument and thinking that pushing or pulling ever harder somehow will make it work better through brute force. That might work if you're a blacksmith, but not so much for enjoyable or danceable tunes!

There's a rhythm to forging too. If you try to force the metal you'll just end up injuring yourself.

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This may be obvious, but perhaps not: spend lots of time listening to recordings of concertina players you want to emulate. If possible, try to learn at least some tunes by ear rather than with sheet music, because sheet music rarely captures the kinds of subtleties you're concerned about.

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Ladies and Gentlemen,

 

I feel really embarrassed now - so much advice ! thank you. I've been having internet connection problems and thought that was the problem but I still can't upload my recording...

 

But having read all your comments I can see how my little piece is a textbook example of everything beginners do.

 

Daniel Hersh, thank you for yet another useful link.

 

There's a lot more discipline that has to go into it than I ever thought...

 

To sum up (for my sake):

 

- know the tune...really know it

- listen to more recordings rather than relying on music sheet (guilty as charged, even more damaging in my case as I'm not good at reading rhythm)

- record yourself (you wouldn't believe what it did to me, it was both mortifying and enlightening)

- review your position - stable but flexible

- vary vary vary

 

 

 

 

Edited by TimTim

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Ladies and Gentlemen,

 

I feel really embarrassed now - so much advice ! thank you. I've been having internet connection problems and thought that was the problem but I still can't upload my recording...

 

But having read all your comments I can see how my little piece is a textbook example of everything beginners do.

 

Daniel Hersh, thank you for yet another useful link.

 

There's a lot more discipline that has to go into it than I ever thought...

 

To sum up (for my sake):

 

- know the tune...really know it

- listen to more recordings rather than relying on music sheet (guilty as charged, even more damaging in my case as I'm not good at reading rhythm)

- record yourself (you wouldn't believe what it did to me, it was both mortifying and enlightening)

- review your position - stable but flexible

- vary vary vary

 

 

 

 

AND... in the end do not JUST blame yourself. The instrument has to take some critique too.

 

Many of those that are giving advice here, myself included, did not begin our concertina journey on one of the current ' starter models', there simply was nothing like this on offer years ago. The best thing that can be said of the Jackie, Jack, Rochelle and Elise is their great value for money. People on C.net recommend them as being the best of the super cheap. Their instant availability makes them ideal for someone who wishes to try the concertina for the first time, or see if a different keyboard type would suit them better. Perhaps one gets too much for the money and this leads to compromises which show up directly in the playability. They are harder work and I certainly would not want to use one in a dance band.

 

I do not mean to knock these offerings from Concertina Connection but I think one should view them as a sampler. The very fact that a money back trade-in is offered when one up-grades tells its own story.

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Thanks Geoff,

 

it's something I was quite aware of when I bought it - happy enough that I could afford it!

Besides I live in Brussels and don't know anyone who - should I get the money (! very unlikely) - could help me buy a better one.

I don't want to feel discouraged and give up, blaming everything (or a lot) on the instrument. There is a lot I can learn and improve with the Jackie, I'm sure.

 

 

[edit] I couldn't help myself : used 48 buttons Nickolds EC for 80$ :)

Edited by TimTim

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Oooh! I would not go there either TimTim . :blink:

 

An old clunker like that can be just as hard work to play if not harder.

 

If you need advice on what to look for as an up-grade I am sure you will get plenty on C;Net. :)

 

.

 

Thanks Geoff,

 

[edit] I couldn't help myself : used 48 buttons Nickolds EC for 80$ :)

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TimTim, thank you for starting this thread. As you can see from my description on the left, I've been around here for a little while. I'm not entirely new to this--but I'm picking up many helpful suggestions from the fine musicians who are advising you.

 

You might think you're only asking for yourself. In fact, your asking helps many of us. Please keep it up!

 

Mike

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No worries - I didn't go there !

 

Now working on a few tunes from Paul Hardy's Tunebooks and listening to their version on Youtube over and over...and having a great time!

If it means at some point working against the instrument rather than being helped by it, so be it! The reason I started the concertina in the first place was because I would push a button and sound would come out...really as basic as that :D . I'm already grateful and amazed at how much interest, curiosity and pleasure it has brought me.

 

(thank you Mike Franch, I love this forum. I've sometimes read threads I didn't understand just for the pleasure of seeing heated conversations about the concertina)

 

 

 

[edit] trying one last time to upload an audio file...it works ! I flunked the last few notes but I've struggled so much recording anything...

childgrove.mp3

Edited by TimTim

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Great discussion here. Allow me to jump in.

 

Hi Tim,

Nice playing there. I can hear the different durations in how long you hold down the buttons. Good choices. Keep posting, K?

I can suggest a few things as you try to get more bounce and what folks call “lift” in your playing. Here is one exercise.

Look at the first measure. There are four notes. Try playing them with the button durations of long short, long short. By long I mean that you play for the full length of the note. Short means that you pick your finger up sooner to make a brief silence before the next note.

There are two pairs of notes per measure. Take this a default scheme for anytime you have pairs of notes like these. Play them “long short”. Practice by exaggerating this feature and play every pair this way without fail. Notice which ones sound the best.

This should end up contrasting nicely with the faster runs which might be played evenly. In performance you can vary all the button durations in a thousand shades of long and short to make the phrases of any tune have a pleasing shape. Record yourself and listen so you complete the feedback loop and soon you will teach yourself how to play this tune in any number of ways. Add dynamics into the mix and you can play Childgrove to make it sound playful, dignified, pompous, like a bassoon or trumpet, introspective, or rowdy.

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Hi Jody !

 

Thank you for your comment and the exercise! Having practical things to work with is really a big help for me...

 

I've also tried the first "free" Irish concertina lessons on OAIM and they also explain the "cuts", which I found great and really helpful, so I'm considering subscribing (even on my EC I found that it was really helping me understand the instrument).

 

It's funny but those very "simple" things (in appearance) have really lifted my spirits.

 

[update five minutes later:] I'm not sure I'm doing your exercise right: I play each note twice, one long, one short, then move on to the next note. Maybe it's wrong but I noticed a change when I tried to play a phrase the normal way!

Edited by TimTim

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[update five minutes later:] I'm not sure I'm doing your exercise right: I play each note twice, one long, one short, then move on to the next note. Maybe it's wrong but I noticed a change when I tried to play a phrase the normal way!

I don't think that's what he meant.

 

Imagine the music goes 1 2 1 2 1 2 ... or 1 2 3 4 1 2 3 4...

 

Try playing it ONNNE 2 ONNNE 2 or ONNNE 2 THREEE 4...

 

Each bar of music should take the same time as before, so by placing emphasis on the first note, you are stealing a bit from the next note.

 

I may not have explained this very well, but definitely you don't need to play each note twice, once long and once short.

 

Think of poetry: The boy stood on the burning deck playing a game of cricket...

 

There is more emphasis on: boy, on, burn, deck, play, game, crick and less emphasis on: the, stood, the, ing, ing, a, of ,et.

 

A robot reading it would give each syllable equal weight. A person reading it would give it that bounce. That's what you're aiming for with the music. It's not so much the LENGTH of each note, but the emphasis that you put on it.

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Hi Mikefule,

 

your explanation is very clear, thanks, but that's even weirder than what I did then... and totally breaks the tune? But I can keep trying it!

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OK, let me add that you don't play each note twice. What Mike said is right. Don't break the tune. just pick your finger up fast on the short notes to make them more staccato.

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