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This is my first post here, so I’m sorry if this has already been covered somewhere else...

 

After four months of research and debating, I finally sprung for an Anglo concertina. I was originally planning on getting a Rochelle, but I couldn’t find one anywhere. So I settled on the Wren, but after searching through some of these forums talking about the quality, I ultimately switched to a Swan. I thought it would be better to spend more right from the beginning instead of having to spend twice. I thought it would be a good place to start, since it’s an affordable beginner instrument that seems like it has some quality (compared to some others I’ve seen). I ordered it a few days ago, and should be arriving in a week or two. 😁
 

I am slightly concerned about the learning curve of the Anglo, since this is my first experience with any kind of squeezebox. I have some limited guitar experience, but that’s about it. What should I expect going into this instrument? I know that it will take a while before I become competent at it, but I don’t want to develop any ‘bad habits’ that could end up negatively affecting my progress later on. In other words, is there anything I should know/avoid when learning the concertina?

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I started in more or less the same place. Luckily, the Anglo was designed to be easy to learn to play! There are also lots of learning resources available, both modern and historical. What kind of music are you interested in playing?

 

This thread in the "Teaching and Learning" forum is a great resource:

The most important thing, of course, is to have fun!

Mike

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14 minutes ago, MJGray said:

I started in more or less the same place. Luckily, the Anglo was designed to be easy to learn to play! There are also lots of learning resources available, both modern and historical. What kind of music are you interested in playing?

 

This thread in the "Teaching and Learning" forum is a great resource:

The most important thing, of course, is to have fun!

Mike

 

Thanks Mike! I am really excited to get started!
 

Lately I’ve been interested in traditional Irish music, which is how I ended up developing an interest in the concertina. I am also going to try playing some more modern music as well, which is why I chose Anglo. I have seen a large variety of different musical styles being played on Anglo, so I feel like it’s a good option for diverse music choice. I am definitely going to order some of those books; ‘Easy Anglo 1-2-3’ looks like a good place to start. Thanks for linking that thread!

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2 hours ago, MJGray said:

(1) This thread in the "Teaching and Learning" forum is a great resource:

(2) The most important thing, of course, is to have fun!

(1) Indeed! The books by Mick Bramich are my personal favourite. The tablature is simple, concise and

unambiguous, and the button numbering is symmetric (in the same way that novice piano lessons number

the fingers and thumbs). The tabs also map onto the system described in the Australian Bush Traditions

concertina tutor (albeit using slightly different symbols for sook and blaw). This is the only instance I know

of in which two different (and currently available) tutorial systems use the same button numbering scheme.

 

(2) Correct!

 

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1 hour ago, lachenal74693 said:

(1) Indeed! The books by Mick Bramich are my personal favourite. The tablature is simple, concise and

unambiguous, and the button numbering is symmetric (in the same way that novice piano lessons number

the fingers and thumbs). The tabs also map onto the system described in the Australian Bush Traditions

concertina tutor (albeit using slightly different symbols for sook and blaw). This is the only instance I know

of in which two different (and currently available) tutorial systems use the same button numbering scheme.

 

(2) Correct!

 


That’s interesting, I didn’t realize the concertina was that popular for traditional music in Australia! I’ll have to take a look at that tab system. I’m not really sure which tablature to use yet, but I’ll be exploring different options while I (impatiently) wait for my concertina to arrive! 😅

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4 hours ago, SliverOfSand said:

I am definitely going to order some of those books; ‘Easy Anglo 1-2-3’ looks like a good place to start. Thanks for linking that thread!

 

A most excellent choice for a starting book, even if I am a bit biased! You'll find the tablature is the easiest to follow, most of the tunes have corresponding videos via QR codes, and there are now well over a dozen other books that utilize that same notation and tab system, including 75 Irish Session Tunes for Anglo Concertina.

 

There is an absolutely bewildering array of tab and notation systems out there for Anglo, so be careful before you purchase - it's hard enough without trying to mix the different notation systems.

 

But having said that, the Anglo is very much an ear-players instrument too, so once you get it put the box in a closet and leave the instrument out where you spend most of your time, and you'll find you keep picking it up and trying things again and again until it starts to click for you. Listen to lots of recordings and videos of other Anglo players, and the inspiration alone will be worth its weight in gold.

 

For serious Irish style, you'll learn a lot from Caitlin nic Gabhann's online course - highly recommended. And she doesn't use any tab system at all, just teaches you which notes from printed music, slowly at first, and with lots of repetition until you can play up to speed.

 

The Anglo is great fun to play, either in ITM style or harmonic style - hope you enjoy it as much as the rest of us do!

 

Gary

 

 

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8 hours ago, SliverOfSand said:

That’s interesting, I didn’t realize the concertina was that popular for traditional music in Australia! I’ll have to take a look at that tab system. I’m not really sure which tablature to use yet, but I’ll be exploring different options while I (impatiently) wait for my concertina to arrive! 😅

Yeah, seems so. I know for a fact that the guy who looks after that site has dozens (hundreds?) of tunes for

which he intends to post tabbed scores when he gets time, which will make it even more useful...

 

The important thing is (as GC said in the post which will I think be 'above' this one) is to pick one system and

stick to it, otherwise you'll very likely get your knickers in a twist...

Edited by lachenal74693
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6 hours ago, SliverOfSand said:


That’s interesting, I didn’t realize the concertina was that popular for traditional music in Australia! I’ll have to take a look at that tab system. I’m not really sure which tablature to use yet, but I’ll be exploring different options while I (impatiently) wait for my concertina to arrive! 😅

If you're interested in the history of the Anglo concertina and the role it's played in music in countries around the world (including Australia), you can't beat Dan Worrall's "The Anglo-German Concertina - A Social History", available for free in two volumes on archive.org:

 

https://archive.org/details/bub_gb_1-thWE5XRmsC

https://archive.org/details/bub_gb_JKZO1aevsiIC

 

Fascinating stuff!

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1 hour ago, MJGray said:

If you're interested in the history of the Anglo concertina ...you can't beat Dan Worrall's "The

Anglo-German Concertina - A Social History", available for free in two volumes on archive.org:

 

Fascinating stuff!

Seconded! Unputdownable...

Edited by lachenal74693
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I started playing in November, true beginner with little to no

 music background. The Gary Coover books have me playing better than I ever expected to. It has been such a joy in my life these past few months.

 

Edited by GPKarl
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One more thing, If I have a problem, it is because I want to play so many tunes. I have about 20 songs I keep playing and have a hard time focusing and mastering one. I hobble through each one, every time sounding better, but feel I should buckle down and get a few down pat. I need a book or sheet music, as none are sticking in my head by memory...yet. The fun and learning continues. This whole website and it's contributors have been VERY helpful.

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9 hours ago, gcoover said:

 

A most excellent choice for a starting book, even if I am a bit biased! You'll find the tablature is the easiest to follow, most of the tunes have corresponding videos via QR codes, and there are now well over a dozen other books that utilize that same notation and tab system, including 75 Irish Session Tunes for Anglo Concertina.

 

There is an absolutely bewildering array of tab and notation systems out there for Anglo, so be careful before you purchase - it's hard enough without trying to mix the different notation systems.

 

But having said that, the Anglo is very much an ear-players instrument too, so once you get it put the box in a closet and leave the instrument out where you spend most of your time, and you'll find you keep picking it up and trying things again and again until it starts to click for you. Listen to lots of recordings and videos of other Anglo players, and the inspiration alone will be worth its weight in gold.

 

For serious Irish style, you'll learn a lot from Caitlin nic Gabhann's online course - highly recommended. And she doesn't use any tab system at all, just teaches you which notes from printed music, slowly at first, and with lots of repetition until you can play up to speed.

 

The Anglo is great fun to play, either in ITM style or harmonic style - hope you enjoy it as much as the rest of us do!

 

Gary

 

 


Thanks for the response!
 

Out of all the tab systems I’ve looked into, the one used in your books makes the most sense to me. I’ll still do some more research, it’s interesting how many different systems there are for one instrument! I also like the fact that playing by ear is encouraged, since that is how I play most instruments. Although, I always felt like I couldn’t seriously learn without some sort of notation. I have a lyre that I cannot find any tablature for, so I play some songs by ear every once in a while. Looking forward to experimenting with the concertina, with and without tabs!

 

I’m receiving three video lessons from Caitlin nic Gabhann which I got from purchasing the Swan, so I’ll see how those go; I might continue with her lessons if I find I click with her teaching style.

 

Also, I’ve been wondering what the difference is between ITM and harmonic style? Sorry if this is obvious, but I’m not quite sure what is different about them.


 

8 hours ago, lachenal74693 said:

The important thing is (as GC said in the post which will I think be 'above' this one) is to pick one system and

stick to it, otherwise you'll very likely get your knickers in a twist...


I’ll definitely keep that in mind!

 

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3 hours ago, MJGray said:If you're interested in the history of the Anglo concertina and the role it's played in music in countries around the world (including Australia), you can't beat Dan Worrall's "The Anglo-German Concertina - A Social History", available for free in two volumes on archive.org:


I’m definitely going to check that out, I love to learn about the history of instruments; it’s so interesting!

 

1 hour ago, GPKarl said:

One more thing, If I have a problem, it is because I want to play so many tunes. I have about 20 songs I keep playing and have a hard time focusing and mastering one. I hobble through each one, every time sounding better, but feel I should buckle down and get a few down pat. I need a book or sheet music, as none are sticking in my head by memory...yet. The fun and learning continues. This whole website and it's contributors have been VERY helpful.


I feel like I’ll be in the same situation... I want to learn all of the different songs right away, but I have to remind myself to stick to one or two until I can master it. I’m also glad I found this site, it makes it seem less daunting to commit to the concertina when I can read about other people’s experiences.

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15 minutes ago, SliverOfSand said:

Also, I’ve been wondering what the difference is between ITM and harmonic style? Sorry if this is obvious, but I’m not quite sure what is different about them.

 

Examples I pulled off a quick YouTube search (solo playing in very simple settings):

 

From Gary Coover, harmonic style - combining melody (mostly right hand) with chords and rhythmic harmony accompaniment (mostly left hand):

 

From Sarah Thomsen, Irish trad style - mostly a single melody line with lots of ornaments, similar to how other instruments are used in Irish music:

 

Gary and others can fill you in on the detailed technical differences, but my feeling, as a fairly unsophisticated musician, is that harmonic style playing is more old-fashioned and fits "more naturally" on the Anglo vs. ITM, which is more technically demanding, but has a dynamic living tradition with more active high-level players.

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Thank you so much @MJGray! This helps clear things up. I definitely want to explore using both styles. The ITM style fascinates me, since I love playing technical music like that on my other instruments already. I don’t have much experience with the more harmonic style, it seems similar to how a piano is played in a way. I’m eager to learn it though!

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If you are interested in learning the anglo concertina in the Irish Traditional style, along with all the great books mentioned, The Online Academy of Irish Music has a great set of lessons for concertina. (more than 50 I believe)  They teach step by step on video so you get to see what is happening as well as hear it.  The beginner lessons get you familiar with the keyboard and teach simple tunes.  Each lesson adds a new note or skill or ornament, so you are building important skills all the time. The advantage of their "call and response" learning by example technique is you will develop the skills to pick up a tune by ear.  This is really  handy later when you want to learn something your favorite artist has recorded, or for picking up a tune "on the fly" in a session.  But they don't leave you hanging if you're a sheet music person.  They provide the written notes for every tune they teach, as well as a mp3 you can download and listen to when your not online.  

 

They used to offer a week for free so check that out, and their price was in the $20 range last time I checked.  

 

I was actually fortunate enough to live in the same town as a world class player so I got some great lessons too.  But it was really nice to access OAIM at 2am or 6pm, or whenever I had a time to focus. 

 

Have fun!   Whatever

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22 minutes ago, LateToTheGame said:

If you are interested in learning the anglo concertina in the Irish Traditional style, along with all the great books mentioned, The Online Academy of Irish Music has a great set of lessons for concertina. (more than 50 I believe)  They teach step by step on video so you get to see what is happening as well as hear it.  The beginner lessons get you familiar with the keyboard and teach simple tunes.  Each lesson adds a new note or skill or ornament, so you are building important skills all the time. The advantage of their "call and response" learning by example technique is you will develop the skills to pick up a tune by ear.  This is really  handy later when you want to learn something your favorite artist has recorded, or for picking up a tune "on the fly" in a session.  But they don't leave you hanging if you're a sheet music person.  They provide the written notes for every tune they teach, as well as a mp3 you can download and listen to when your not online.  

 

They used to offer a week for free so check that out, and their price was in the $20 range last time I checked.  

 

I was actually fortunate enough to live in the same town as a world class player so I got some great lessons too.  But it was really nice to access OAIM at 2am or 6pm, or whenever I had a time to focus. 

 

Have fun!   Whatever


Thanks for letting me know! I’ve actually seen some of their videos on YouTube, so I’ll definitely look into their courses. Looking now, it says a 14 day free trial, so that should be plenty of time to try it out. It might be good to have a video tutor as well as books.

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6 hours ago, SliverOfSand said:


I’m definitely going to check that out, I love to learn about the history of instruments; it’s so interesting!

 


I feel like I’ll be in the same situation... I want to learn all of the different songs right away, but I have to remind myself to stick to one or two until I can master it. I’m also glad I found this site, it makes it seem less daunting to commit to the concertina when I can read about other people’s experiences.

Keep at the ones you know to be sure but continue to throw some new tunes in.  When you start a brand new tune you make a quantum leap.

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