Jump to content

Newbie false starts and early questions


Recommended Posts

I am a new member here. At the age of 71 and with no musical background, I decide to learn to play the concertina. I just love the sounds its produces, especially when harmonic chords are played. 

 

My beginning was a bit rocky. I bought a Stagi W-15 LN 30b in C/G. The air button was impossibly far from my thumb and it was ludicrously strenuous on the draw - it felt like weight lifting to pull the bellows. I returned it within fiur days. My next mistake was a Trinity College 1230A in C/G. Although the air button was suitably located and pulling the bellows was easy enough, the G Row was a full inch closer to the hand rest than the standard design, so that playing the G Row involved ridiculous contortion of the fingers. I returned this one also. My third mistake was buying a 30b Lachenal on ebay. Rather than the two keyboard ends being parallel to one another, they were attached at roughly right angles to one another, making it impossible to play. I sounded each note to discover that every button on push as well as pull sounded the same single note. Apparently, all but one of the reeds had been removed. I returned it within an hour of its arrival.

 

There is a happy ending. I contacted Chris Algar at Barleycorn and he fixed me up with a 20b Rosewood Lachenal with steel reeds. It fits my hand perfectly, all buttons are easily reached, it draws without strenuous effort, and it sounds glorious.

 

I am the earliest stages of mastering where the notes are located. I know where everything is but have to think for a moment first, especially playing two notes at once. I realize that practice and repetition is required for this to become automatic.

 

In the early going, my biggest difficulty is keeping the instrument stable on the draw, especially when playing low notes on the left side, particularly playing two notes at once. Since the left fingers are busy and the strap must be loose enough to reach all the buttons. there doesn't appear to be an obvious way to anchor the concertina on the left side when the right hand is applying force rightward, which tends to drag the instrument to the right and pull the left fingers from their buttons. I have acquired virtually all tutors in print for the anglo concertina, and oddly enough, none of them address this issue. I have watched a number of YouTube videos but cannot detect what they are doing to stabilize the concertina on the draw.

 

A second issue is regarding transition from one note to the next. So far I haven't got the knack of smooth transition. At first I was gradually releasing the buttons, which introduced a mechanical noise (the valves?). I am working on abrupt release of the buttons which results in a cleaner sounding.

 

Of course, at this stage my timing, rhythm, flow and bellows management are hopelessly poor, but I realize I have to be able to play the notes first.

 

Any help, especially with keeping the concertina stable, would be much appreciated.

 


Ed

Link to comment
Share on other sites

At the beginning, try playing sitting with one end resting on one knee.  Experiment with which knee and which end suits you. Later when you have some expreience you may revisit playing standing if you wish. Many players, even with experience, always play seated with one end on a knee.

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Ed,

 

If you fancy meeting up sometime, I'm in western Pennsylvania (well, most of the time) and am happy to share whatever aspect of playing.

 

Ken

Link to comment
Share on other sites

1 hour ago, John Wild said:

At the beginning, try playing sitting with one end resting on one knee.  Experiment with which knee and which end suits you. Later when you have some expreience you may revisit playing standing if you wish. Many players, even with experience, always play seated with one end on a knee.

Agreed! I always anchor the left end of the concertina on my left knee and only move the right end. This helps a lot with exactly the problem you mention.

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 2 weeks later...

Ed

I agree with the other answers above.  Rest one end on your knee while pumping from the other end, whichever way round suits you best.  If you play sitting and don't do this you're likely to rest on the bellows which is unstable and causes unnecessary wear to the bellows.  I can't see any reason to play standing unless you're performing and It doesn't sound as though you're at that stage yet!  Like you I'm 71.  I started learning a few years ago but haven't  been able to practice enough to become a really good player, but I find if I keep at it my playing is still improving.  Even at our great age we can still learn and improve!  Good luck with your learning and I hope it gives you as much pleasure as it's given me.

John

 

Edited by catswhiskers
Correction
  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thanks for the helpful comments.

 

Unfortunately, I appear to have developed a chronic pain in my left wrist, which I am guessing was triggered by concertina practice causing strain to the area. I am going to have to lay off the concertina for a little while (hopefully) while this heals.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

7 hours ago, tunelover said:

Thanks for the helpful comments.

 

Unfortunately, I appear to have developed a chronic pain in my left wrist, which I am guessing was triggered by concertina practice causing strain to the area. I am going to have to lay off the concertina for a little while (hopefully) while this heals.

All of us, especially when we are older need to take things slow.  As my name implies I am of a similar age, but started 10 or 15 years ago +- depending on how you count downtime.  It is very important to get yourself into the proper hand position to avoid injury.  I would suggest you book an online lesson with a concertina player to specifically deal with wrist position and angles and all that good stuff.  I was fortunate enough to start my lessons with an All Ireland pro who had learned from his stuff from the great players of his generation and the generation before him.  He was very good at setting me straight on how to avoid injury.  One of his early lessons was how to hold the wrists solidly with most movement coming from the arms and fingers, and exactly how to angle the wrist as you hold the concertina towards your lap. These details will help you avoid stress injury.  If there is no great player nearby, covid has given a lot of great players and teachers a lot of experience teaching online through zoom.  Even if the budget won't allow an extended set of lessons, many teachers are good at getting you started.  Nothing beats having someone watch you and notice details about your posture we might not notice ourselves.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

 Share

×
×
  • Create New...