Concertina Beginner Help

Concertina Beginner Help

Hello everybody,

I recently acquired a 30 key anglo concertina accordion from a recently deceased relative. I can already read sheet music (piano).

That being said I have two questions

1) I intend to learn irish folk music (tell me ma, the mermaid, baretts privateers, whisky in a jar etc) and that’s all I want. I know I know the concertina is a beautiful instrument and I should learn how to play it but I’m honestly fine with just memorizing a few songs. Does anybody have any advise for how to memorize the concertina key locations. Is there some pattern like on the piano?

2) When reading piano sheet music how does one tell whether to use the right or left hand version of whatever key it is. I know the right hand are higher notes and the left are lower notes so is the break at middle c?

Re: Concertina Beginner Help

Your Q1 - key locations.

Don’t know if you already have a fingering chart, but here is a good starting point:
http://www.concertina.info/tina.faq/images/finger3.htm

The basic pattern is push-pull / push-pull / push-pull / pull/push - note the reversal of the last one.

This is to get the key note and its octave in the same direction.

Be aware that some tunes require that you use the free air button to equalise the amount of bellows movement for pull and push notes.

Your Q2 - dunno, I’m not a pianist.

Hope this helps.

Re: Concertina Beginner Help

Yeah, the break between the two clefs is at middle C. The left hand plays the bass clef, and the right plays the treble clef. If the melody of either clef goes beyond the C, I suppose you just keep using the same hand - right hand if the melody goes below, and left hand even if the bass melody goes above.

If your concertina is a C/G, your middle C starts on the middle row, middle button on the left side.

Re: Concertina Beginner Help

Bad news, I’m afraid. The first step is a small operation, where your entire brain will have to be rewired so you can begin to make sense of the instrument. It’s not generally covered by standard health insurance.

I’d love to play the ‘tina. Enjoy!

Re: Concertina Beginner Help

Hey everybody, thanks for the comments. One last question. I was noticing in a lot of songs I’m trying there’s a lot of consecutive "pull" notes and I end up pulling my accordion to the point where basically no music comes out. Is there some trick to avoid this

Re: Concertina Beginner Help

Yes there is a trick - using the free air button.

If the tune has a lot of pull notes, then every time you meet a push note then press the free air button *at the same time*. The bellows will move in a lot faster [be ready for this] but the wanted note will still sound. This sets you up for the next run of pull notes.

If the run of pull notes is really long, look for an alternative button that has the wanted note on push and use the free air button trick as before. For example , the D pull note on the Right-hand C row could be replaced by the D push note on the Left-hand G row.

This becomes automatic after a while….

BTW, on this site people talk of tunes when they mean the notes /melody and songs when they mean the words.

Hope this helps

Re: Concertina Beginner Help

To avoid confusion to OP, the concertina in Irish trad mostly plays the melody line - what might be the treble clef on ‘piano music’. Both sides/ hands are used for this, sometimes a particular note is played on the left side, other times with the right. It depends on the phrase and run of notes.

Irish trad players will also sometimes accompany the melody line, double noting is common (playing two notes an octave apart at same time) and sometimes chords. But these are separate techniques and would bear no relation to the bass clef in your ‘piano music’.

There are other style of concertina playing in other traditions that make more use of chords and so on.

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Re: Concertina Beginner Help

@ColinMc - "BTW, on this site people talk of tunes when they mean the notes /melody and songs when they mean the words."

Actually, the OP wrote "tell me ma, the mermaid, baretts privateers, whisky in a jar etc", so nothing wrong there.

Re: Concertina Beginner Help

You need to learn to use the air button while playing a note as there is not always time to gulp air with it between notes and anyway it sounds unattractive. Playing simple scales with the air button slightly depressed can help you get a handle on how much pressure is needed. But this is just the cure, there is also prevention. If when you are learning a tune you select a different direction of note at the right moment it can mean you almost never need to use the air button. And as you get further in you realise changing bellows direction at the right moment (ie. selecting the next note in the other direction) is a good way to emphasise a rhythm point.

Here is a clue, a rule of thumb for coping with air issues; I find D tunes and C tunes create fewer issues with air, and if you are playing a tune in G and running out of air, try swapping the higher parts of the A part and the lower parts of the B part from the right hand C row to the left hand G row or vice versa. A simple trick but often works.

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Re: Concertina Beginner Help

Himself is actually dead right above.
If you can forget everything you know ( well, almost ) about playing the piano, and just sit down with the instrument and let your fingers doodle, and get to know the instrument, so the next note you want is found without thinking about it.
Then you’ll be ready to start playing.

Re: Concertina Beginner Help

Pete, I hope not thinking works for you; because it’s something which most likely gets lost in the translation when posted on the forum.

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Re: Concertina Beginner Help

The patterns are different for every key apart from C or G, I am assuming it is a C G Concertina.

Re: Concertina Beginner Help

Being originally a ‘paper’ musician, ie could only play with written music in front of me (though I am now learning to play by ear a bit better), I needed some sort of guidance trying to pick up the concertina. Doodling without thinking, as suggested by Guernsey Pete, was not working for me and probably irritating the neighbours. I found the Online Academy of Irish Music (OAIM) had three free videos which got me started, and I was able to pick up the basics of finding some of the notes and play some simple tunes - which led to me playing lots of other tunes which I found written.
It is admittedly not the free and easy, play by ear, way I would like but for now it is a start and I am beginning to see some pattern in the layout of the buttons. Not a great, totally logical, symmetrical pattern I have to admit, but something I can latch on to nonetheless.
I recommend the OAIM for starters.