Posted 01 April 2003
Instruction Manuals for the English, Anglo, and Duet Concertina:
An Annotated Bibliography 1
Randall C. Merris
This bibliography lists 183 “instruction manuals” for English, Anglo, and duet
from the 1840s onward. With some exceptions, the items listed are books (or booklets) published in the
United Kingdom or the United States.3
The bibliography is divided into separate sections for
concertina, with the entries (in alphabetical order by author or
title4) being numbered
successively within each
the first English, Anglo, and duet concertina entries,
respectively) to facilitate cross-referencing.
“Instruction manual” is broadly defined. I have included a publication if the title or subtitle contained
“tutor,” “instructions,” “learn to play,” “primer,” “method,” or other wording that implied instructional
content. Many publications are rich in instructions and exercises, while others are glorified tune books
that are short on instructional material. These often contain more on learning the rudiments of music (i.e.,
standard musical notation) than on playing techniques and exercises for the concertina itself. In fact, some
of the publications limit their “concertina instruction” to no more than one to three pages.
The titles of the manuals offer various names for the concertinas. The English and Anglo concertina were
often simply called “concertina.” Nineteenth-century Anglo tutors often referred to the instrument as the
“German,” “Anglo-German,” or “German-Anglo” concertina. From the 1860s on, the term “chromatic”
was used to designate Anglo concertinas that could play all the notes in the chromatic scale. Today,
“Anglo concertina” often refers to both the diatonic and chromatic instruments. “German concertina” now
usually refers to the Chemnitzer concertina or even the bandoneon (sometimes
I include a publication date—either precise or approximate—for all entries in the bibliography. Thus a
date of 1890, for example, indicates that the book was either published in 1890 or that 1890 was the year
in which the publication was received by the national depository—the British Museum (later the British
Library) or the United States Library of Congress. Dating publications that were not distributed to the
national depository is
Often, the most useful clue is the address of the
publisher as printed on the cover, since many of the publishing firms changed their names (e.g., from “&
Co.” to “&
Sons”), moved their premises (for some firms, several times in a few decades), sold their
music catalogues, or merged with other
In most cases, a date such as “c. 1890” indicates that
the publication appeared either in 1890 or one or two years earlier or later, but a few may be a bit further
from the mark. For some entries, I can suggest only a broad time period, as in c. 1890-1900. Finally, I
have sometimes resorted to providing a date only for a dated edition subsequent to the first.
Each entry is followed by one or more of the following sigla, these either telling if the publication is still
available in the retail market or, if it is not, providing a library location at which it may be found, or still
some other source of documentation.
||In-print or out-of-print
but still available in the retail market
||Center for the Study of Free-Reed Instruments
(The Graduate Center,
The City University of New York)
||Horniman Museum (London)
||United States Library of Congress
||Advertised in a music publication
or a dealer catalogue (price list)
||Board of Music Trade of the United States of America,
Complete Catalogue of Sheet Music and
Musical Works, 1870 (New York: Da Capo, 1973)
||Catalogue of Ewer &
Co.’s Universal Circulating
Music Library (London, 1860)
||Other secondary source
(including tutors that I acquired
along with old concertinas)
The sections for
concertina (including the postscript) contain seventy-four, one hundred and two, and nine
entries, respectively. Sixty-one of the English concertina entries originated in the United Kingdom, seven
in the United States, two in Ireland, and one each in Holland, Germany, Russia, and Sweden.
Forty-nine of the British
and three of the American publications for English concertina appeared in the nineteenth century. The
earliest entries for the English concertina, dating from 1844 or shortly thereafter, are
Instrucción para tocar la Concertina
in London despite the Spanish title, and nothing more than a translation of
Instructions, Followed by a Selection of Melodies and Harmonized Airs
George Case, Exercises for Wheatstone’s Patent Concertina
Ferdinand Pelzer, A Practical Guide to the Concertina
(E46); Giulio Regondi,
Rudimenti del Concertinista
and Joseph Warren, Warren’s Instructions for the Concertina
Of the one hundred and two tutors for the Anglo, sixty-nine are from the United Kingdom, twenty-seven from
the United States, two from Germany, and one each from Canada, Ireland, Italy, and Sweden. All but twelve of
the British publications and all but nine of the American publications appeared in the nineteenth
century. The 1846 tutor by Carlo
Minasi (A50) and
that from circa 1846 by Elias
Howe, Jr. (A32) are
the earliest British and American publications for Anglo concertina, respectively.
As for the duet concertina, all nine publications are from the United Kingdom, the earliest being
Joseph Warren’s 1855 tutor for the “double concertina”
The annotations (not included for every item) contain information about authors, publishers, and
contents. Choices from among the publications would no doubt have depended on the user’s
proficiency, learning style, and musical preferences (classical, folk, etc.). The instructional material
tends to be timeless (as witness at least one present-day player of the English concertina who warms
up each day with nothing but Regondi, Alsepti, Warren, and Case), except when it deals with such
obsolete systems as the 28-key German concertina or the technique of playing the English concertina
with four fingers of each hand (though the latter can still be a useful exercise, and at least two
concertinists—Douglas Rogers and Wim Wakker—have revived the technique). Many of the tunes
and ballads in some of the publications, popular music from a bygone era, have mercifully passed into
Most Anglo concertina tutors were written with both standard musical notation and tablature. The
tablature was used mainly to overcome musical illiteracy, not to indicate specific fingerings, since
many passages contain notes for which there are alternative fingerings. Instruction manuals for
English and duet concertina, on the other hand, have little, if any, tablature and have, therefore, been
suited mainly to those who can read music. Recently, however, tutors for the Anglo concertina have
moved away from tablature, and four of the five most recent Anglo concertina tutors are written in
standard musical notation with little, if any, accompanying tablature. These include Mick Bramich’s
1996 tutor, The Irish Concertina: A Tutor for the Anglo Concertina in the Irish
Style (A7); Frank
Edgley’s 2001 tutor, The Anglo Concertina: Handbook of Tunes and Methods for
Irish Traditional Music
Niall Vallely’s 2002 tutor, Concertina CD ROM
and the booklet
accompanying John Williams’s 1995 video, Learn to Play Irish Concertina
The exception is
Mick Bramich’s 2000 tutor, Absolute Beginners’ Concertina
is written in tablature only
and, unlike the others, has no audio or video component.
English concertina instruction has fared less well in the video and digital-audio age.
Until recently, the only English concertina tutors with accompanying audio were
Alistair Anderson’s 1974
tutor, Concertina Workshop
Richard Carlin’s 1977 tutor, English Concertina
Anderson’s tutor is currently marketed
without the companion LP recording, and Carlin’s tutor, which contained a floppy vinyl record, is
out-of-print. The first English concertina tutor with accompanying CD—Pauline de Snoo,
Concertina Course, Volume One
The first video or CD-ROM for English concertina instruction has yet to be produced.
After this article went to press, five additional instruction manuals were found:
Conquering the Concertina: A Comprehensive Guide to the English Concertina.
Gloucester: Sherborne House Publications, 2002.
De Snoo, Pauline.
Concertina Course, Volume One.
Schijndel (NL): De Snoo, 2002.
Contains a "Technical Appendix" by Dave Elliott and a CD; in English with Dutch translation
forthcoming; vol. 2 is also forthcoming.
The website is
The tutor can be ordered through
The Concise English Concertina: A Tutor.
Cork: Milestone Publications, 2002.
Munich: Voggenreiter Verlag, 1995 (book and CD).
Coleman, Albert W.
Coleman's New Instructions for the German Concertinas.
London: W. Coleman, 1854.
Postscript 2: After this article was published, the following new editions and
new tutors were found.
Edgley, Frank C.
The Anglo Concertina: Handbook of Tunes
and Methods for Irish Traditional Music.
2nd ed., revised
and expanded. Windsor, Ontario: F. Edgley, 2002 (CD
In addition to relatively minor revisions, this edition
contains some material on chords and fingerings, three
tunes, and six CD tracks that were not in the first
Howe, Elias, Jr.
New German Concertina School.
Boston: Elias Howe, 1846.
This is probably an alternative title for the tutor cited
Edgley, Frank C.
Irish Traditional Melodies: Irish Session
Windsor, Ontario: F. Edgley, 2002 (with
companion CD, Volume One).
This tune book contains almost all of the tunes in
and more than 60 additional tunes. It qualifies for inclusion as
a tutor, given the instructional nature of the companion
CD, which contains both slow and fast versions of the
first 44 reels and jigs in the book. Volume Two of the CD
Kleiner Konzertina Kursus. Neue Ausgabe.
Wiesbaden: Domkowsky &
Co., c. 1880.
Translated as Small Concertina Course,
It contains no standard musical notation;
the tablature appears to be a variant of the notation by Carl F. Zimmermann (see
Kirkpatrick (b. 1947), a long-time leading figure on the British folk music and Morris Dance scene, is a
professional player of the Anglo concertina, melodeon, and button accordion. His biography states: “And as
featured artiste, band member, or session player, his music can be heard on over 200 different commercial
recordings.” His on-line tutorial is a collection of three articles that were published in The Concertina Newsletter
(later Free Reed) in the early 1970s.
Since this article was posted online in 2002, additional instruction manuals have appeared:
Contemplating the Concertina: An Historically-Informed Tutor for the English
Amherst, MA: The Button Box, Inc., 2003.
In-depth coverage of playing
techniques, with exercises and musical excerpts (as well as some complete
pieces) for the English concertina, drawing on the author’s early study with Boris Matusewitch
and subsequent playing experience. The tutor also contains exercises (with extensive
commentary) from the tutors of
other master performer-teachers from the Victorian era, as well as extensive
historical background about the development of playing techniques. Of special
note is the section on the use of bellows, surely the most thorough discussion
of the topic to date.
De Snoo, Pauline.
Concertina Course, Volume One: Play-Along Supplement.
Schijndel (NL): De Snoo, 2003 (CD included).
The Concertina Course, Volume One
has been complemented by an additional book and play-along CD (which also can be used
For some tunes in the book, piano scores
also are included for use in at-home piano accompaniment. The CD contains two renditions of
each play-along tune: (1) a concertina-piano track and (2) a piano-only track for
Though primarily designed for the “Jackie” student model,
the tutor can be used with any model of English concertina.
Sound files for all tunes in the tutor are provided at
which also contains information
on the “Jackie” and other concertinas from The Concertina Connection.
The Concertina Without a Master: Containing the Elements of Music and
Complete Instruction for the English Concertina.
New York: C. H. Ditson &
See the revised annotation for
Carl Friedrich Zimmermann,
Zimmermann’s New and Complete Instructions for the Concertina:
In Numbers Instead of Notes, Without a Master
(Philadelphia: C. F. Zimmermann), 1869.
The revised annotation appears in this HTML version, but not in the PDF version of the
article (as originally published in The Free-Reed Journal,
Entry and Annotation Revision.
Edgley, Frank C.
Irish Traditional Melodies: Irish Session Tune Book.
Windsor, Ontario (CA): F. Edgley (with companion CDs, Volumes 1 and 2).
This tune book contains almost all of the tunes in
and more than 60 additional tunes.
It qualifies as a tutor, given the instructional nature of the companion CDs. The first CD (Volume 1)
contains both slow and fast versions of the first 44 reels and jigs in the book. The second CD (Volume 2)
contains both slow and fast versions of the other jigs, as well as medium-pace versions of the
remaining tunes in the book.
Similar to the English concertina course
in style and presentation, the tutor (available in Dutch or English) goes its own
direction to explain fingering, bellows directions, and other techniques for
the Anglo concertina. It is suitable for 20-key or 30-key Anglo concertina.
Sheard’s Anglo-German Concertina Tutor.
London: Charles Sheard &
Co., c. 1901-1920.
The dating is based on “196 Shaftesbury,” the post-1900 address of the Charles Sheard & Co.,
as shown on the cover.
20-Button C/G Anglo Concertina Tutor.
Surrey (UK): Alan Day, 2003. (CD or audio cassette with sheet music supplement)
(Contact Alan Day at
Focusing on English tunes, the recordings are designed for students who are adept
at learning by ear. Sheet music in standard musical notation for the tunes on the
cassette/CD, accompanied by some introductory comments, is also available from the
author on request.
Since this article was last updated in 2003, additional instruction manuals have appeared:
Song Accompaniment for English Concertina.
Cork: Milestone Publications, 2004.
A follow-up to The Concise English Concertina
going into further depth on song accompaniment. It contains
examples of songs in different styles and information on harmony,
chord substitution, etc.
The introduction states that “It’s a draft in the sense that it will
eventually be expanded and improved by the contributions or suggestions
of those who read it. And it is supplementary in the sense that it is
not intended as an exhaustive guide to the instrument.” It contains many
useful tips and intermediate-to-advanced techniques—not described elsewhere—
for playing in the Irish style.
Since this article was last updated in 2004, additional instruction manuals have appeared:
A Concise Method for the Study of the Concertina,
Comprising the Rudiments of Music, Progressive Scales, Exercises,
and Selections from the Most Approved Masters.
Place and publisher unknown; c. 1860.
Probably a modified version of Minasi’s Instructions for the Concertina
Hopwood and Crew’s English Concertina Tutor Without a Master.
London: Hopwood &
Crew, c. 1900.
Berbiguier, Benoit Tranquille.
Exercises for Acquiring Equality of Fingering and Firmness of Tone.
London: Wheatstone, c. 1900.
Berbiguier (1782–1838), a French-born flutist, was among the best-known
composers for the flute in the early eighteenth century. Some of his flute
exercises, like those of Louis-François-Phillippe Drouëtt
are highly amenable to cross-over use as exercises for the English concertina.
It is thought that the exercises for concertina were based on 18 Exercises or Etudes for Flute,
(Revised and Edited by Georges Barrère; New York: G. Schirmer, 1925), which were based on
exercises from Berbiguier’s tutors, Nouvelle Méthode pour la Flute
(Paris: Janet et Cottelle, c. 1818); and Methode Complète de Flûte
(Paris: Alphonse Ledec, 1818).
In particular, the exercises for concertina were not
an adaptation of
Exercises on Tempered or Altered Notes … Composed for the Flute
(London: Wheatstone, 1827).
These exercises, though published by Wheatstone during Berbiguier’s lifetime, are advanced
flute-specific exercises, inadaptable to the concertina. In 1848, Berbiguier compositions
for concertina (not including the Exercises
) were listed in
Music for the Concertina Published by Messrs. Wheatstone & Co.
included Duet in C (from Op.7) and Duet in F (from Op. 45) for flute and concertina
or two concertinas and Theme (Op. 49) for concertina and pianoforte. A few other
Berbiguier pieces, ostensibly for concertina, were later advertised by
Wheatstone and other publishers. At the time of Berbiguier’s death (20 January 1838),
English concertina playing was truly in its infancy. Berbiguier possibly never knew
that compositions and exercises for the concertina would be attributed to him.
Pietra, Guiseppe T. (pseud.)
The National Tutor for the English Concertina.
London, c. 1890.
The author’s real name was Joseph T. Stone
a prolific arranger of music for pianoforte.
Concertina Tutor for 10 and 20 Key Instruments.
London: Francis, Day & Hunter, c. 1880.
Faking It: The Booklet.
Prepared for the Annual General Meeting of the International Concertina Association, 23 October 2004.
Worrall, Dan M.
The Anglo Concertina Music of William Kimber.
London: English Folk Dance and Song Society, 2005.
Thorough explanation of how to play in the Kimber style, along with transcriptions of all Morris
and country dance tunes that Kimber recorded.
Anweisung das Accordion zu spielen.
Chemnitz, Saxony: Johann Gottlieb Höselbarth, c. 1840.
Though titled for das Accordion, the tutor is written for a single-row
concertina (main text) and a two-row concertina (Appendix titled
Anang. Zum zwei Reiichen Accordion). The tutor—possibly, the earliest tutor written
for German concertina—dates clear back to when, in Saxony, the German concertina
still was called an accordion or harmonika. According to Stephen Chambers
(who provided this entry), Maria Dunkel’s research and that of the
Musikinstrumneten-Museum in Berlin suggests that the author of the
tutor may have been Johann David Wünsch (1814-1895), a musician in
the Chemnitz orchestra and husband of Christiane Caroline Uhlig—daughter of
Carl Friedrich Uhlig (who invented the German concertina in 1834).
Instruction Book for the Improved German Concertina.
London: J. W. Moffatt; and Dublin: Joseph Scates, c. 1852–55.
Mitchison's New and Improved Tutor for the German Concertina.
Glasgow: Mitchison & Co, c. 1855.
Quite possibly a revised version of Mitchison’s Celebrated Concertina Tutor
New and Improved
in the title suggests an even earlier edition.
It appears that the Mitchison & Co. tutor catalogue was acquired
by George Cameron, or later by John S. Marr or John Cameron.
Marr’s Concertina Tutor, a New and Greatly Improved Instruction Book.
Glasgow: J. S. Marr & Sons, c. 1880.
John S. Marr (later J. S. Marr & Sons) succeeded the firm of George Cameron, following George
Cameron’s death in July 1863. Marr & Sons was affiliated with John Cameron, who became the
firm’s manager by the mid-1870s. In addition to Cameron and Cameron & Ferguson editions, marketing
of the Concertina Preceptor
a version entitled Marr’s Concertina Preceptor, Or Pocket Guide to the Art of Playing the Concertina,
Booth, Herbert H.
Instructions for the Salvation Army Concertina.
London: Salvation Army Book Stores, 1888.
annotation contained incomplete information about this tutor,
compiled by Herbert Booth, son of Salvation Army founder William Booth.
The full citation now can be provided (thanks to Stephen Chambers’s having
obtained a copy of the publication). As surmised in the A73 annotation,
this booklet is devoted exclusively to chording on the Anglo concertina.
The Salvation Army concertina refers to a Ab/Eb concertina with 26 keys,
the Salvation Army’s “standard issue” into the twentieth century.
Maccann, John Hill.
How to Play the Concertina.
London: Hopwood &
Crew, (by 1902).
A booklet recently discovered in the National Archives of Australia.
The text includes material from the how-to-play section of Maccann’s
The Concertinist’s Guide
as well as an interview with Professor Maccann.
Progressive Exercises in the Key of C.
London: Wheatstone & Co., c. 1850.
For the early Wheatstone “Double” duet concertina
Randall C. Merris
is an economist at the
International Monetary Fund and an amateur Anglo concertinist. He has been an
economist at the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago; has taught economics and
finance in the Kellogg Graduate School of Management, Northwestern University;
and has consulted with Asian governments on economic policy and financial
reform. He writes mainly on economics and occasionally on the concertina and