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ALEX WADE & DAVE MALLINSON - The English Concertina: Absolute Beginners

ALEX WADE & DAVE MALLINSON - The English Concertina: Absolute Beginners
Mally Music DMPCD1301 / ISBN: 9781899512805

Both of these books are accompanied by (sold separately) CDs – over 91 tunes to play along with – or at least to give you an idea of what you should be aiming for. These books hark back to the baroque ideal of self-help tuition – even Playford issued a book of instructions for learning the “Treble Violin” which consisted of a diagram of the instrument, with the fingering marked and then a sequence of tunes for you to learn. This extends that idea a bit further. It lives up to its name – attempting to teach you not only the instrument, but how to read musical notation (in one page!). However this is not compulsory as fingering charts are given for each tune and with the CD you can avoid this aspect altogether.

I’m a complete beginner, so I borrowed an Anglo concertina from Pete Grassby (you may know him as the Melodeon Repairer at many festivals) and gave it a go. It works. The advice is sensible and accurate and the tunes are well selected. I would suggest augmenting them with some of the other volumes of tunes which Mally has published and, if that is your thing, a rather more extensive guide on musical notation. It’s also a good book to use in conjunction with a real live helper or tutor. What it doesn’t give you is the time, effort and energy you will need to expend in order to reach your goal – but it’s a great goal to aim for. As long as you are determined and motivated, these slender volumes will prove invaluable.

Paul Burgess

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This album was reviewed in Issue 100 of The Living Tradition magazine.