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Considerate concertina playing while traveling

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I'm about to make a trip to the UK from Virginia and will be taking my EC (of course). The question is related to playing and practicing when you have no good option to be away from others. I don't need the quiet for practicing, but playing scales and arpeggios in a hotel room, on the street, in a park, etc., could be an imposition on others. I'm not shy about playing in public, but mindful of the imposition in public spaces. I've made a mute covering for both ends of the EC (with extra thick felt to absorb sound) but the muting effect is much too small to make the kind of difference I have in mind. (I have an older George Case with quieter brass reeds, but still the instrument is, I think, too loud for practice in a semi-public place or motel room.) What do others do? Maybe I'm just being too careful?

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If I am staying in a hotel, I usually have a few options. I can practice early in the morning in the "exercise" room or laundry room (rarely anyone there but sometimes it isn't easy to turn off the TV). Sometimes there is access to a meeting room or restaurant/bar that isn't used during the day. I sometimes ask a staff member if there is somewhere I can practice "so I won't disturb anyone."

If weather permits, I find a park or other outside seating area. During inclement weather, I find an enclosed parking lot or a little trafficked section of a public building (such as a bus/train station, convention center, university building).*

Even when people are around, they are usually more curious and interested than annoyed.

Be polite and leave immediately without debate (apologizing when appropriate) if asked to move.


* For example, In Charlottesville I have practiced in the Paramount Theater, The Sprint Pavilion, and the bus station.



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As you said 'travelling to the UK' don't leave an upturned hat or open concertina case in front of you, as it could be interpreted as busking for money. Shock! Horror!


There are legions of different local bylaws in cities and larger towns that either forbid busking or require some kind of licence or permisson. Most people won't be bothered, but you may encounter an official jobsworth or local police to hassle you. The railway and underground stations aren't good places either.


But don't let this put you off. Many of us have busked (for money!) without hassle

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Years ago, when I was just begging practice on my first concertina, a dotty neighbour knocked on the wall of our semi-detached home, and gave an apparent  compliment on what she could hear! Of course  it was a hidden criticism of the sound beneath her rather snobbish sole.

So I started to use an outer room, and it became my little study centre from then on!

She was "unbalanced" in the extreme because at one stage she had even complained about a toy windmill in our garden, and attacked it with a stick! 😁😁😁😁

Basically,I would say don't worry over sound and get on with playing it  instead: outside, inside, in the bathroom ( tiles give good echo)!.. besides it's a nice sound; imagine trying to practice on a Bag Pipe instead; now that woul definately cause a stir!!;😀😀😀😁

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When you get to customs/immigration in the UK carrying a visible concertina case, expect questions about your plans. They will be particular interested in finding out if you have a paying gig, which would be a no-no without a work visa. It's always complicated for me, since we go to perform (Morris), but not for money.  Some officials don't really understand the difference.


It's not a big deal, but it's best to be prepared.  It's worse going into Canada; I've had some real problems with that.

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