So this is my pledge: I am going to post something here every day. Even if it’s (literally) a single line or just a photo.
Hey, if Samuel Pepys can do it by candlelight with just a quill, I should be able to do it on my MacBook Pro.
So, here goes with entry #1:
I’m teaching myself the concertina this summer. My friend John Glover gave me one when I was doing Canned Ham in L.A. last May. It’s an instrument I’ve always wanted to learn (I had one years and years ago that—I think—came from my grandparents’ attic, but it was old and brittle and the bellows eventually lost their air-tightness, so that came to naught.)
Being kind of handy on the accordion you’d think I’d have a leg up with this concertina thing, right? Unfortunately, no. In point of fact the concertina is a closer cousin to the harmonica. In two respects: it’s a diatonic instrument (just the white keys on the piano) and the same button plays a different note depending on whether you’re pressing or drawing on the bellows. It’s a real pat-your-head/rub-your-stomach kind of challenge.
Also, it’s mostly a single-line instrument (for the beginner, at least.)
I’ve been working on it now for about a month and can pretty well play simple melodies from the beginner songbook I ordered. Mickey hates it (and so, too, I imagine, do my neighbors here at the Art House apartments in Provincetown) so when I first started practicing it, I’d take it to the ancient cemetery a short walk away. No one goes there so it was just me and the long-deceased. Many of the songs in the book are old sea shanties from the 18th century and since many of the folks lying prone around (under?) me were seafarers from the 18th century, there was a nice poetic symmetry as I’d stumble through my concertina concert.
I discovered a virtuoso on YouTube who provides inspiration (and a few chuckles) to keep up with the practicing and I would like to think that when, oh, 10 or 20 years has elapsed, I’ll be as good as he. Until then, I’ll continue to stumble through “Oh, Nanny, Wilt Thou Gang With Me?” as Mickey runs under the bed.