A relative of the harmonica and accordion, the concertina is a reed-type instrument having horns and rows of buttons on either end. It was pioneered separately in England and Germany almost simultaneously. The English style of the concertina was originated by Charles Wheatstone around 1830. On the other hand, the German version was pioneers a few years later by Carl Friedrich Uhlig. At present, the instrument was prevalent in numerous countries such as South Africa, Ireland, and England, mainly as a staple to various forms of music engaged in ballroom and classical dances. At the turn of the century, the German concertina gained a huge following among the masses as being associated with various dances, while the other version was more popularized by the upper class.
One should consider the following steps in playing the concertina:
1. Proper Handling of Instrument
The instrument should be held by means of its straps on both of its sides, with the thumbs remaining outside. In the normal position, the right hand should be positioned next to the air button. Make sure that your fingers are properly restrained to decrease movement; this can be done with proper regulation of the straps. Alternatively, the concertina may be rested on one leg while sitting or kneeling down; in this way, the left hand can move more loosely.
2. Positioning of the Playing Hand
By default, the fingers of your hand should be positioned on the buttons on the top row of both parts of the concertina. All of the fingers must coordinate properly to enhance the usage of the instrument. For people whose little finger cannot work its purpose compared to the other fingers, pre-playing drills using the fingers may be employed for further practice.
3. First Drill
For the first drill, the G and E notes can be played in various octaves; after that, you may proceed with another note. First try to play the two notes on the left side of the instrument. Proceed to the other side of the concertina soon after, while saying aloud the said notes to the tune simultaneously. These two notes are the most basic; hence, it is vital to gain customariness on these while playing a short melody along the way.
4. Increase the Difficulty
Once you become familiar with the aforementioned notes, proceed with the third one, preferably A. Once you gained customariness with the A note, try to tune the first 2 notes on one side, and the third on the other side. This becomes a tune that you can develop. Gain a familiar ground on this harmony while familiarizing the labels of the notes involved.
5. The Remaining Notes
Enhance the said tune by employing two more notes, preferably D and F. Once you are now capable of playing these notes, you become more familiar with the placement of the five learned notes all in all.
6. Practice Makes Perfect
Try tweaking the last three notes in different levels, while saying these notes out loud while playing. This is a good hearing exercise as you slowly develop the skill of playing the instrument by ear. After all, a great skill to develop in this instrument is playing by ear, specifically through ascertaining the specific notes to play and the sounds that each produces. Once you gain further customariness, try to add two notes further to enrich the melody that you play.