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I know that this is a stupid question (yes I believe there are stupid questions).  I really don’t have a frame of reference on this as other than those I met at NHICS and my sometime instructor I don’t know anyone who plays concertina. I also realize we are a tiny segment of the music playing population. The only person I know who played thought it was too difficult and took up melodian instead.  I started a couple of years ago and quit for no good reason after a few months of playing.  Started up again several months ago and now play it more than the other instruments (all string).  Another of my fellow students at the “School” who was way more enthusiastic than I was has now quit. So.......

 

I know many of you probably know people who have started only to quit-why?  This question came to mind as I see people sell concertinas in the Buy/Sell sub forum.  It gave my curiosity a nudge.  I know lots of people give up due to physical ailments.  People often take up guitar thinking it will be easy only to quit in disgust.  

 

There probably isn’t any trend or common reason, but I’d love to hear them.

 

Thanks, Mike

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There is no single answer.

 

The first possible answer is very negative, and is certainly not universal, or aimed at any individual concertinist:

 

I used to do fencing (foil and epee) and we had a category of people whom I called "winner beginners".  They had done judo, or kendo, or karate, and therefore knew the basics of things like distance and timing, and they were not afraid to hit or be hit.  These people were usually the best in the beginner's group.  Then, as those who applied themselves to their fencing lessons started to overtake them, they started to make excuses, then became interested in kung fu, or aikido, or archery, and we never saw them again.  There is a type of musician who fits this pattern: they learn to knock out a tune on one instrument and this helps them to make rapid progress in the early stages of learning a new instrument.  They seem keen and talented, but once they get beyond those first few tunes and exercises and have to knuckle down to learning the instrument, they move on.  They get a lot of admiration for being "multi instrumentalists" because they can play the same few standard tunes on several instruments.

 

The second possible answer fits me, until I discovered Anglo.  I sort of half heartedly wanted to be able to play music.  I had no musical background, but was surrounded by folk singers and musicians.  I taught myself harmonica to a reasonable standard because it was cheap to buy and easy to learn, but I stalled at expanding my repertoire.  I then tried, in roughly this order, trumpet, piano, fife, melodeon, guitar, and English concertina.  I reached the stage of being able to knock a tune out of the trumpet, and being able to play melodeon for Morris dancing, but I never really enjoyed it, and certainly never practised in any meaningful sense.

 

Then one day, almost on a whim, I became interested in concertina.  I read up on it, decided that English made most sense, and  tried that but got nowhere beyond the C and G major scales, and I gave up.  Then I tried Anglo and immediately fell in love with it.  I started regular lessons, and practised every day.  Within 6 months, I had gone from wanting to buy one, to buying a Rochelle, to buying a Marcus.  Following a series of opportunities and trades, I now have 4 Anglos and play as near to every day as life allows.  I love it.

 

So, my second answer to your question arising from my own example, is that perhaps some people simply do not fall in love with the concertina.  If so, I hope that they each fall in love with another instrument, whether it be oboe, saxophone, melodeon or whatever.  You can only make progress with an instrument when you have to resit the urge to pick it up or force yourself to put it down.  When daily practice is a boring duty, it is no fun.

 

A third possible answer is simply where someone is in their life and in their appreciation of music at any given time.  Until recently, I had lessons with a chap who started playing in about 1980.  As a result of his head start, he is immeasurably better than I can ever aspire to be.  However, if I had started in 1980, or even 1990, I would almost certainly have  lapsed, because I was not ready to make the commitment that properly learning an instrument requires.  Who knows, if 15 or so years ago, on a whim, I had looked up saxophones, I might now be playing sax every day — or I might simply have a saxophone in the loft with my trumpet, fife, bodhran...

 

 

 

 

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I think people give up because it's hard, it's damn hard to play the concertina. It's one thing to memorize the buttons necessary for the tune, then you have to add bellows, and timing, and maybe some ornamentation (the learning of which may mean re-choreographing your buttons/bellows) and even when all this happens, the tune may not have the "swing" needed to make it musical. Or maybe you get the tune to a respectable level and then find that they play it at mach speed at your local session.

 

I play because I love love love my local session. If I didn't have the support of the musicians in town, and all of you on CNET, I'd have given up long ago.

 

Christine

 

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I have quit a number of instruments a number of times, and for me it always comes down to whether I have someone to play with or not. 

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4 hours ago, Mikefule said:

You can only make progress with an instrument when you have to resit the urge to pick it up or force yourself to put it down.

 

Amen Brother Mike!

 

 

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Me personally I’ve not quit that being said I can understand why some do.

 

i myself would say that’s it’s tits die with a couple of reasons. These reasons I will say in order of progression of an instrument from first day to next month etc.

 

the first week or so is about determination and pushing yourself as well as being able to teach yourself if necessary. When I started piano accordion I had never played anything seriously with any real intent of getting anywhere Other than harmonica  which is how I got to accordion because the melody was all lonely and needed some accompaniment lol. But seriously when I started I had no teacher couldn’t read sheet music and trying to get co ordination involved was extremely difficult to the point where I would have found it difficult playing row row row your boat. From here all I had was YouTube tutorials.

 

once I got my co ordination down to the point where I could just play a song I then moved on to the harder stuff which honestly is where I am still. Bass jumps dun dun duuuuun. Bass jumps I’m not going to lie to you are horrible because the way you learn these jumps are through repetition or so I here and then one day you just go to do it and all of a sudden you have got it. However the problem is the consistentcy of the quality of practicing to get it into muscle memory as well as the amount of time put Into it. What I do and have done is sometimes set a timer for practicing for an hour and repeat the same bass jump again and again and when I start to get it perfect practice the next part again and again until I can play it perfect then repeat to the previous section and practice that again.

 

the next part of all of this is trying to give a song it “character”. Sometimes you can play a song correctly note for note but it doesn’t have the same drive. behind it and no matter what you try you can’t seem to make it sound right.personally I have given up on one song “mario bros 2 theme”. This part is extremely frustrating because sometimes you record yourself playing and you think as you are playing it “wow I’m great no mistakes” but it still sounds very dull.

 

on every instrument there are different difficulties which one must overcome and that first part of determination comes into it.when I first started I got my first accordion song in a week which was ode to joy and honestly it probably didn’t sound that great and I remember thinking oh well here we go again for the next song and can I bothered or not but I did and so determination is a huge part of it throughout all stages but more so at the beginning.

 

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6 hours ago, Mikefule said:

There is no single answer.

 

The first possible answer is very negative, and is certainly not universal, or aimed at any individual concertinist:

 

I used to do fencing (foil and epee) and we had a category of people whom I called "winner beginners".  They had done judo, or kendo, or karate, and therefore knew the basics of things like distance and timing, and they were not afraid to hit or be hit.  These people were usually the best in the beginner's group.  Then, as those who applied themselves to their fencing lessons started to overtake them, they started to make excuses, then became interested in kung fu, or aikido, or archery, and we never saw them again.  There is a type of musician who fits this pattern: they learn to knock out a tune on one instrument and this helps them to make rapid progress in the early stages of learning a new instrument.  They seem keen and talented, but once they get beyond those first few tunes and exercises and have to knuckle down to learning the instrument, they move on.  They get a lot of admiration for being "multi instrumentalists" because they can play the same few standard tunes on several instruments.

 

The second possible answer fits me, until I discovered Anglo.  I sort of half heartedly wanted to be able to play music.  I had no musical background, but was surrounded by folk singers and musicians.  I taught myself harmonica to a reasonable standard because it was cheap to buy and easy to learn, but I stalled at expanding my repertoire.  I then tried, in roughly this order, trumpet, piano, fife, melodeon, guitar, and English concertina.  I reached the stage of being able to knock a tune out of the trumpet, and being able to play melodeon for Morris dancing, but I never really enjoyed it, and certainly never practised in any meaningful sense.

 

Then one day, almost on a whim, I became interested in concertina.  I read up on it, decided that English made most sense, and  tried that but got nowhere beyond the C and G major scales, and I gave up.  Then I tried Anglo and immediately fell in love with it.  I started regular lessons, and practised every day.  Within 6 months, I had gone from wanting to buy one, to buying a Rochelle, to buying a Marcus.  Following a series of opportunities and trades, I now have 4 Anglos and play as near to every day as life allows.  I love it.

 

So, my second answer to your question arising from my own example, is that perhaps some people simply do not fall in love with the concertina.  If so, I hope that they each fall in love with another instrument, whether it be oboe, saxophone, melodeon or whatever.  You can only make progress with an instrument when you have to resit the urge to pick it up or force yourself to put it down.  When daily practice is a boring duty, it is no fun.

 

A third possible answer is simply where someone is in their life and in their appreciation of music at any given time.  Until recently, I had lessons with a chap who started playing in about 1980.  As a result of his head start, he is immeasurably better than I can ever aspire to be.  However, if I had started in 1980, or even 1990, I would almost certainly have  lapsed, because I was not ready to make the commitment that properly learning an instrument requires.  Who knows, if 15 or so years ago, on a whim, I had looked up saxophones, I might now be playing sax every day — or I might simply have a saxophone in the loft with my trumpet, fife, bodhran...

 

 

 

 

I definitely agree with your second answer I play a lot of scqueezeboxes but none more than concertina and accordion. And the accordion well I have a few.... 5 and that’s just the accordions lol.

 

5 accordions

1 bandonika / 2 row melodeon

1 bandoneon

1 anglo

 

the only problem with me is I love all the old designs and art on them so I can’t ever resell them as it seems so one Elise other than me likes them. They were cheap out the factory but 50+ years later and they are 50 £ a pop

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9 hours ago, accordian said:

1)  What I do and have done is sometimes set a timer for practicing for an hour and repeat the same bass jump again and again and when I start to get it perfect practice the next part again and again until I can play it perfect then repeat to the previous section and practice that again.

 

2) The next part of all of this is trying to give a song it “character”. Sometimes you can play a song correctly note for note but it doesn’t have the same drive. behind it and no matter what you try you can’t seem to make it sound right.personally I have given up on one song “mario bros 2 theme”. This part is extremely frustrating because sometimes you record yourself playing and you think as you are playing it “wow I’m great no mistakes” but it still sounds very dull.

 

 

1)  A solid hour of practising one skill may not be the best way to get it into your muscle memory.  3 x 20 minutes of practice is better because it gives the skill time to "soak in".  A lot of muscle memory learning occurs in the down time between practices.  It's like putting the brandy into a Christmas cake: add a bit and give it time to soak in.  If you pour a lot in in one go, you spoil the cake.  In those (approx.) 20 minute sessions, play some stuff you're confident with, and try something completely new, as well as trying the one skill that you're really working on.  Also, try to find 2 or 3 tunes that use the same bass jump.

 

2)  An amateur practises until he can get it right.  A professional practises until he can't get it wrong.  When you can play a tune with 100% confidence, the character will start to come out all on its own.  Character or expression in a tune comes from subtle changes of volume, attack and slight changes of rhythm and speed.  I don't think the best musicians actively put expression in; they let the expression come out.  It's like playing along to the tune you can hear in your head: the version you hum to yourself in the shower.

 

There's a famous saying that compares "old time" and "bluegrass" music which sort of parallels this: "Bluegrass musicians use the tune to show how well they can play their instrument; old time musicians use their instruments to show how good the tune is."  (I have no particular views on whether this is true of these two styles, or in all cases, but the idea behind the saying is worth thinking about for any musician in any style.)

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4 hours ago, Mikefule said:

An amateur practises until he can get it right.  A professional practises until he can't get it wrong.

 

This is very true I reckon - however we then need to adjust to this idea somewhere in between, making the best of the time we can spare (reasonably, without being too tired from our working days asf.).

 

Anyway - we should keep at it, it‘s well worth it!

 

Best wishes - 🐺

 

Edited by Wolf Molkentin
typo

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5 hours ago, Mikefule said:

An amateur practises until he can get it right.  A professional practises until he can't get it wrong.

I expect this is true.

 

In my case, however, I don’t think any amount of practise would enable me to achieve the professional’s goal.

 

I take some comfort from Formula 1’s Lewis Hamilton saying that he has never driven a perfect lap😀

 

Steve

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15 hours ago, accordian said:

Bass jumps dun dun duuuuun.

Sorry, but I am not sure what you and Mike mean by a 'bass jump'. 

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21 hours ago, Mikefule said:

The second possible answer fits me, until I discovered Anglo.  I sort of half heartedly wanted to be able to play music.  I had no musical background, but was surrounded by folk singers and musicians.  I taught myself harmonica to a reasonable standard because it was cheap to buy and easy to learn, but I stalled at expanding my repertoire.  I then tried, in roughly this order, trumpet, piano, fife, melodeon, guitar, and English concertina.  I reached the stage of being able to knock a tune out of the trumpet, and being able to play melodeon for Morris dancing, but I never really enjoyed it, and certainly never practised in any meaningful sense.

 

Then one day, almost on a whim, I became interested in concertina.  I read up on it, decided that English made most sense, and  tried that but got nowhere beyond the C and G major scales, and I gave up.  Then I tried Anglo and immediately fell in love with it.  I started regular lessons, and practised every day.  Within 6 months, I had gone from wanting to buy one, to buying a Rochelle, to buying a Marcus.  Following a series of opportunities and trades, I now have 4 Anglos and play as near to every day as life allows.  I love it.

 

 

 

Quote

Mikefule,  I wonder if you would say more about your "second possible answer."  I've been playing EC for a year now and really enjoy it.  I suppose I choose the EC over the Anglo because the unisonoric system made sense and I was a bit leery of the bisonoric bellows.  However I sat in on the Chiltinas session in the UK back in October and watched a talented Anglo player at work - and was fascinated - and curious too I suppose.  Will you tell me more about your experience in switching from an EC to an Anglo?

 

 

Quote

 

 

 

 

 

Edited by McDouglas

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Mikefule,  I wonder if you would say more about your "second possible answer."  I've been playing EC for a year now and really enjoy it.  I suppose I choose the EC over the Anglo because the unisonoric system made sense and I was a bit leery of the bisonoric bellows.  However I sat in on the Chiltinas session in the UK back in October and watched a talented Anglo player at work - and was fascinated - and curious too I suppose.  Will you tell me more about your experience in switching from an EC to an Anglo?

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My hunch is people quit when they lack support and encouragement.  I live in Dallas, Texas where I am a church musician and although I've asked around I have found no other concertina players in the area.  (I've not yet been to the Palestine Old Time Music Festival in east Texas).  So I've spent most of the year slogging through and practicing in isolation.

 

By contrast when I was in the UK this past October through the kindness of Paul Hardy I sat in on two sessions: Greenshoots at the Black Horse Pub and Chiltinas at St Marys church hall in Maulden.  The sense of camaraderie and encouragement was wonderful.  Imagine my delight when in Maulden I sat in a room with eight other concertina players.

 

I am playing with a mandolin players and a fiddler on a program at church this coming Sunday evening and I must say I have motivation to practice.  Plus it's really fun to play with others and to isolate what you need to practice in order to play at tempo.

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So I am not sure how much you will find out about why people quit on this forum since most of us have not. 

I know I belong to the group that simply loves my concertina. I am 67 years old and it is the first instrument I have ever been able to play. Now I am a very poor player but I get better every day. I have no one to play with but I enjoy the music I play. It is the highlight of each day.

On Monday I had a hiatal hernia repaired and just got out of the hospital on Wednesday. Everyday even in the hospital I thought about playing. I am quite sore and pretty groggy from pain meds but I am going to give her a go right after I finish this message

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1 hour ago, McDouglas said:

My hunch is people quit when they lack support and encouragement.  I live in Dallas, Texas where I am a church musician and although I've asked around I have found no other concertina players in the area.  (I've not yet been to the Palestine Old Time Music Festival in east Texas).  So I've spent most of the year slogging through and practicing in isolation.

 

I've tried a number of instruments over the years and there is a pattern (very personal I'm sure) about the ones I stuck with and progressed on. First, I've never gotten anywhere without a teacher or group class, or some kind of guidance early in the learning process. Some folks are great at self-teaching but I am not, it seems.  Second, eventually I need to find a playing opportunity, whether a music association, class, small group, regular jam session, or even performance opportunity. That helps push me to work at serious learning - for me, music is ultimately a social act. In isolation it is not and never will be (for me) complete as a means of expression.

 

So largely a matter of chance and accident. I don't know about other people.

 

Ken

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34 minutes ago, mathhag said:

So I am not sure how much you will find out about why people quit on this forum since most of us have not.

 

Pretty obvious, and my first thougt as well... 😁

 

However, there‘s a variant of this question which I easily can relate to: Why do these discontinuances happen every once in a while?

 

I have frequently been discouraged by not having played for days, weeks, even months. There have been certain reasons each time, I‘m sure. But nevertheless (in my case at least) it is hard to regain the momentum when the „level“ of playing the instrument has tailed off.

 

In my reoccurring experience these breaks are not even a bad thing, as they allow for a fresh orientation and improvement which might not have taken place over continuous practising. So the restart seems much to be about anticipation of these probably soon-to-happen developments.

 

Very cool that you‘re taking up the instrument against all odds right now - get well soon!

 

Best wishes - 🐺

 

Edited by Wolf Molkentin
typo

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This is great stuff and was what I was hoping for.  I guess I was also in hope that those of you who give lessons would weigh in on why some of your students may have decided to stop playing.   I suspect there is no pattern, but still interesting.  I realize most of us here are “active” players and those who have quit most likely are not active on the forum.

 

Thanks!

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