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First Time Concertina Owner


Bob36

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:) I just bought a inexpensive 20 button Anglo concertina to learn on. I have a music background on piano, harmonica and guitar. If all goes well with this latest musical endeavor of mine, I hope to move up to a better 30 button instrument. Now, to my question? Need help on the proper way to hold the concertina. Especially on how tight the straps should be on the hands and their position. Having a little trouble finding a happy mediam where I can expand the bellows and still move my fingers on the buttons. Any help or tips will be appreciated. Looking forward to learning and having fun on this board.

 

:) Regards Bob

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Trial and error! Not very helpful, I know, but different people find different things suit them. Try one degree of tightness for a while (a few days?) and see how you get on, before making an adjustment. I prefer the straps to be quite tight, but I do not rest the instrument on my knee as very many players do. You have to find your own balance between strap tightness and arching the hands/bracing with your thumb to get a comfortable reach to the buttons and feel in control of the instrument.

Welcome to concertina.net and the concertina obsessed world of those who post here!

Samantha

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welcome to concertina.net

 

As Samantha says you are going to get a lot of differing opinions on this, but you will have to find an optimum for you. As an illustration I have the straps as loose as possible (to allow movement of fingers to play chords) but play either with an end plate on one knee or standing with the concertina held at chest height - the wooden hand rails are usually between 90 degrees and 60 degrees to the horizontal when standing.

 

Have fun experimenting - just don't have the straps so loose that you might drop it :)

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I always play sitting down, but like my straps to be quite tight/firm otherwise I get into the bad habit of gripping the concertina with my left thumb. I definitely echo the advise above, try a few different tightness and see how it feels.

 

Have fun and Welcome to the wonderful world of concertinas :)

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Hi Everyone

 

Thanks so much for all of your suggestions. I was also surprised to get so many responces to my post, and so fast. Like you say there is no exact way to hold and control the concertina. I suppose with time and practice I will feel more natural and in control of it. Also it would be a lot easier if I had a better instrument. That will come later if I stick with. I always seem to do things the hard way. I remember my first guitar , a cheap $25 "Stella" way back when I was a young teen. I thought my hand and fingers were crippled for life learning to play that thing. What a difference when I got my "Gibson".

 

One other request. Can anyone tell me where I can find a good cord fingering chart for the C/G Anglo 20 and 30 button concertina. It would save me the time of developing one myself. Don't seem to be a whole lot of instructional material available for the concertina. Thanks

 

:) Bob

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Bob,

 

I note that you are in Phoenix. It's a shame you didn't get into the concertina a few months earlier, I just recently returned home after spending five months in the Phoenix area - we could have gotten together. I know of two other concertina players in the Phoenix area though, so maybe one of them will volunteer to spend some time with you. If not, there's a chance I may be back there again by March.

 

I don't know that you've expressed what sort of music you're interested in, but if it's Irish music, Phoenix has a small but active Irish music community. There's an Irish Cultural Center on Central Ave that offers lessons on various instruments (not concertina, unfortunately) and holds sessions and there are several nice pub sessions in the area too. If you explore the Arizona Irish Music Society website you'll find a list of venues and other information.

 

Bruce

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I hope that this is not a show of bad forum manners but i have been reading this forum for more than a few months now and never registered. I am a little obsessed with the idea of playing the concertina but right now I am still trying to figure out a way to scrape the money together to get started. I have also had a hard time finding any kind of instruction. None of the music shops in my immediate area have been much help and I work a shift rotation that keeps me out of the daylight most of the year. I also live in the Phoenix area and I don't know why I didn't look to the Irish Music Society. This is the first time that I have seen anything directly related to the Phoenix area and I just about fell out of my chair. Anyway I am sorry about taking the thread off topic but, Bob, I would love to hear how things are working out for you, and to everyone else, thank you for all your advice.--brian (ihopspike@yahoo.com)

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I highly recommend the learning suggestions found in the other, non-forum part of this site. Try going to:

 

http://www.concertina.net/learning.html

 

and browse around through there. That's what I did when I started obsessing over concertinas a couple of years ago. I recommend the Williams VHS and the Levy book/CD package for Anglos. I know there is other good material out there, but I personally have used the two mentioned. Other materials are reviewed in the learning area.

 

Have fun.

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Brian,

 

As I said in my prior post, the Irish Cultural Center doesn't offer concertina instruction but they do offer it in other instruments including button accordion. I didn't explore the instructional aspects, but were I in your position and looking for concertina connections I think I'd contact their button accordion instructor and see if he/she knows of any concertina players in the area. Also, talk to Pat at the gift shop, he knows the c.net concertina player that lives in the area and might be able to connect you to them.

 

If you're a bit bold, you might review this list and contact one of the semi-professional concertina players on it. I don't know any of them, but I note there is one (see Clusterfolk) that lives in the Phoenix area and a couple more located in the state.

 

There are some fine Irish sessions in the area if you like the music. The folks nearest you would be at Fibber Magees on Elliot Road in Chandler (Sundays from 4 PM to 7 PM as I recall). Expect to see twenty people or more playing and the place is typically pretty well full of customers. Don't expect to see any concertinas though; the first time I showed up at a private session attended by many of the "Fibbers" folks most didn't know what a concertina was.

 

Bruce

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  • 2 weeks later...

As the others have said, there's no "right" way, it's a question of finding what works for you. You need to find a balance between controlling the instrument and being able to move the fingers.

 

When you get better and try to play more complicated fingerings you may then find you need to slacken the straps a little. Sometimes I find I even have to shift my hand inside the strap to make an awkward fingering. By gripping the strap with the thumb I can keep it fairly tight but then release it when I need more freedom of movement.

 

I usually play with the right frame on my knee, although when I'm playing out with my band I'll often play standing up. I play English-style so the tune is on the right hand, and bracing this end means I can concentrate on playing the tune rather than supporting the instrument. Although playing chords with the left hand can seem difficult to a beginner, once you get used to moving all the fingers at once it's actually less "busy" than the right hand, and the left hand can pump the bellows without interfering with the playing. However I know people who also play English style who prefer to brace the left hand.

 

Avoid playing with the bellows across the knee, this will wear out the bellows.

 

One problem I had when I started was that I found I was breathing in and out along with the bellows - I nearly choked! Eventually my nervous system sorted it out and I can now breathe in one rythm and play in another!

 

Howard Jones

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