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I'm having problems "breathing" when I have to play a bunch of notes (3 or more) that are all pull or all push. I seem to always run out of air. If I only use the bellows lightly, I don't get much sound.

 

I'm a beginner, playing on a new Rochelle. Any hints, tips, excercises that may help this?

 

Thanks.

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Is the Rochelle an Italian make?

 

I play a C/G anglo Renelli, which is basically a Stagi from the 1960s, and I basically had the same problem, or rather, symptom. My real problem was that my thumb had to reach over the wooden handle to hit the air button, requiring a position that no longer allowed me to play melody with my right hand, especially on the inside G row. So I could only use the air button when my left hand took over melody on a pull note, or between notes altogether. These opportunities were infrequent in many irish tunes, causing my thumb to "dive" for the air button on an emergency basis, and stopping the momentum of the tune altogether. This may not be your problem. If not, someone else here can probably help you.

 

If this IS your problem, I fixed mine really easily. Essentially, I extended my air button to make it more accessible, behind the wooden handle. I took my concertina apart, drilled an additional hole (behind the wooden handle) on the metal end plate, then used thin strips of electrical tape to connect a hex wrench to the air lever. The short 90 degree section of the hex wrench sticks out of the metal end plate, making a cheap, unsightly, yet perfectly functional extension of the air button. If this is your problem, and you'd like to try it (obviously it's a modification to your instrument, and I don't know how valuable the Rochelle is to you), let me know and I can take pictures to help.

 

If the issue is simply with air management, I might encourage you to try playing the same tune(s) on a diatonic harmonica of the same key. You'll likely run out of air (or max out) in the same passages, then the trick (on both instruments) is anticipating these passages with the right amount of air in storage.

 

Hope that helps-

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If the issue is simply with air management, I might encourage you to try playing the same tune(s) on a diatonic harmonica of the same key. You'll likely run out of air (or max out) in the same passages, then the trick (on both instruments) is anticipating these passages with the right amount of air in storage.

 

I don't know whether this will be true or not, but the above advice is brilliant!!! Simply awesome :D

Ones Maya Plisetskaya, famoous Russian Ballerina, suggested to young pupils to take a coin and hold it pressed by their butts' cracks (sorry) throughout the lesson. It helps to tonic those muscles and support the back, which is the essence of strickt classical ballet training. Funny, I know, but I tried - works like miracle.

I should try your advice.

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I am relatively new to the Anglo, but things I have found include;

 

Making sure I pull the bellows out sufficiently before starting a tune reduces the risk of running out of air.

 

Playing tunes across the rows can help. Many notes are available on both push and pull so you can reduce the number of times you need to use the air button by judicious selection of the next note on a button which allows you to reverse the bellows. I used the Mick Bramich tutor and he teaches playing across the rows. It works really well if you are playing mostly single notes, but you need to think more if you want to play chords.

 

That brings me to a third thing I learnt and that is you need to plan how you are going to play a tune. I often spend quite a bit of time working on a tune, even if I know it well, so I can find the most effective way of playing it. Even more so if I want to play an accompaniment to sing to as I then have to work on getting the playing fairly automatic so I can concentrate on the singing. Even if you are familiar with an instrument, as I am with recorder, you still need to work on new tunes to make the most of them.

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I am relatively new to the Anglo, but things I have found include;

 

Making sure I pull the bellows out sufficiently before starting a tune reduces the risk of running out of air.

 

Playing tunes across the rows can help. Many notes are available on both push and pull so you can reduce the number of times you need to use the air button by judicious selection of the next note on a button which allows you to reverse the bellows. I used the Mick Bramich tutor and he teaches playing across the rows. It works really well if you are playing mostly single notes, but you need to think more if you want to play chords.

 

That brings me to a third thing I learnt and that is you need to plan how you are going to play a tune. I often spend quite a bit of time working on a tune, even if I know it well, so I can find the most effective way of playing it. Even more so if I want to play an accompaniment to sing to as I then have to work on getting the playing fairly automatic so I can concentrate on the singing. Even if you are familiar with an instrument, as I am with recorder, you still need to work on new tunes to make the most of them.

 

Excellent advice.

Samantha

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I used to have this problem,breathing in and out with the bellows movement and this subject has come up before.It is particularly bad when you have a number of notes on the pull or the push and finish up exhausted

and panting for breath. One way is to make more use of the accidentals or cross row playing to smooth out your bellows action.The way I solved it was by breathing normally and relaxed and playing a number of push and pull notes to practice breathing without following the bellows.You can also do this without the concertina and just imagine you are playing,once again using relaxed breathing.Playing the concertina then becomes relaxing and enjoyable.

Al

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You put the word "breathing" in inverted commas, and I'm not sure whether you are referring to your own respiration (as some have interpreted the question) or air control on the instrument (as others have done).

 

If it's the former, this seems to affect many new players and is something you grow out of with practice.

 

If it's the latter, I'm surprised you are having problems when playing only 3 notes in the same direction (unless they are very long notes!) I assume you are playing single notes rather than chords, which will of course use more air. Is there a problem with the instrument itself? For example, does it leak air, from the bellows or elsewhere? Is the capacity of the bellows adequate? some cheaper instruments skimp on the number of folds in the bellows. If there isn't sufficient air then you're going to face problems.

 

If it's a matter of making a few simple repairs to the instrument, then that's easy. If not, or if the cost of repairs is prohibitive, don't lose heart! Playing an instrument with insufficient air is a challenge, but will force you to think about air control, which will stand you in good stead even when you upgrade to a better instrument.

 

Air control is an essential skill on the anglo. It means planning ahead so that when you are coming up to a long run of notes in the same direction you can get the bellows fully closed/extended as necessary. Remember it is possible to use the air button at the same time as playing notes in order to increase the air flow and get the bellows where you want them. And look at alternative fingerings to get a change of direction.

 

My first concertina was a bit leaky, and could have done with bigger bellows. I was forced to concentrate on using the air button, which I am convinced has benefited my playing.

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Well, I may have solved the problem. Being a beginner, I believe I am allowed one or two acts of dumbness. My concertina seems to have been leaky. Lots of air was coming out in places where it should not have. Turning a few screws seems to have done the trick, and now I am having much less of a problem. Thanks for all the advice. I am sure I will be asking for more.

 

Thanks.

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Remember it is possible to use the air button at the same time as playing notes in order to increase the air flow and get the bellows where you want them.

This is a very useful skill to master. Once you've got it you can take advantage of any short note in the opposite direction to a long run to grab even a small bit of air that can make all the difference.

 

Chris

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Remember it is possible to use the air button at the same time as playing notes in order to increase the air flow and get the bellows where you want them.

This is a very useful skill to master. Once you've got it you can take advantage of any short note in the opposite direction to a long run to grab even a small bit of air that can make all the difference.

 

Chris

I find the air button remarkably useful, not only for getting air when you need it and keeping the instrument in the most responsive range, but also for helping to shape notes, soften the attack of a note and allow expression without large sound volume increase. Once you learn the skill of feathering the air button while you are playing notes, you may find it useful in many ways. The nice thing is that it quickly becomes automatic. I notice this happening in my students often in a month or so of practice. Usually they get the push direction first since their thumb has to push to open the air valve, but coordination for the pull direction soon follows. I know how frustrating this could be in the beginning, especially when you are playing more slowly and using a lot of air for the notes and it is always a treat to see students getting it without noticing they are.

Dana

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To expand this discussion a bit-- one of my English concertinas has an air button. I know that there were Lachenals with "bowing valves" and there are some instructions for use of those, but mine is a Wheatstone and there's just one valve-- a lever right next to my right thumb. My earlier Wheatstones don't have air buttons. Are there uses like the ones Dana suggests (for the anglo) on an EC as well? So far I mostly use it for closing the instrument at the end of a piece.

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Well, I may have solved the problem. Being a beginner, I believe I am allowed one or two acts of dumbness. My concertina seems to have been leaky. Lots of air was coming out in places where it should not have. Turning a few screws seems to have done the trick, and now I am having much less of a problem. Thanks for all the advice. I am sure I will be asking for more.

 

Thanks.

 

I found that holding the bellows as closed as possible and trying to play is a good experience. You'll have lots of pull action left, and it is easier to let the bellows out than "fold" them when extended im my opinion

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To expand this discussion a bit-- one of my English concertinas has an air button. I know that there were Lachenals with "bowing valves" and there are some instructions for use of those, but mine is a Wheatstone and there's just one valve-- a lever right next to my right thumb. My earlier Wheatstones don't have air buttons. Are there uses like the ones Dana suggests (for the anglo) on an EC as well? So far I mostly use it for closing the instrument at the end of a piece.

 

My Wheatstone English also has an air button, Larry. As the EC plays the same note in both directions, there would seem to be little use for an air button, as fitted to Anglos and Melodeons, except to enable you to silently close the bellows at the end of a tune, as you suggest. One possible other use, in playing, might be to use it to enable you to expand the bellows again quickly, when they are nearly closed, after playing on the push, to give more 'oomph', i.e. 'attack' to a note or notes coming up in the tune, which respond better to being played louder on the push of the bellows rather than the pull, if you follow my gist. Of course, there may not be enough time to do it, if it is a fast piece, and you have to push your thumb a bit further through the thumb strap in order to make contact with air button.

 

Chris

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Do not wear a T-shirt depicting an anglo concertina on front and back - that really plays havoc with your beathing!

Do not post on concertina.net - that really plays havoc with your spelling.

 

Seriously though, you have to treat a tune in phrases, some of which will be push and some pull phrases.

If two adjacent phrases are in the same direction, you have to take a break to get a quick slurp of air, or do a bit of cross fingering to get some notes in the opposite direction and automatically get your breath back.

 

Take a breath - swap rows!!

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