Happy New Year!

Happy (almost) New Year to all melodeon nerds! This post marks over 2 years of Music and Melodeons (a temporary name that I have never got around to changing) and the end to another calendar year.

The blog has been less active than 2012, for which I apologise (only 14 posts, including this one, compared to 38 in 2012). Flatteringly though, the traffic has been higher this year, with 15,004 page views at time of writing (as opposed to 12,774 in 2012), making an average of 41 page views per day. By far the most viewed post this year was the sixth part of the Inside and Out series on the stunning Shand Morino, followed closely by that on the Loomes Chromatic. In fact, my Shand Morino post is now the most viewed post ever on the site, just ahead of that of my Super Preciosa. The statistics betray my market segment – it appears that the most popular posts are the ones on melodeon mechanics and keyboard layouts. Noted!

I’ve had views from 96 different countries, dependants and other entities which WordPress deigns to designate as such. I am still waiting with bated breath for my first view from Liechtenstein though…

Professionally, this year has been fairly successful. I’ve played in 26 gigs, including 8 solo, 15 ceilidhs and three “miscellaneous”. Of my 15 ceilidhs, six were with the Cambridge University Ceilidh Band, two with the Red Rock Ceilidh Band, one with the Cunning Plan Ceilidh Band and one with my latest musical project, the Jazz Ceilidh Project – definitely my stand out musical experience of the year. The other five were scratch gigs with friends and musical accomplices. My New Experience of the year was leading a few adult workshops at Bromyard Folk Festival, which was enormous fun. Stay tuned for more announcements in that line soon…

Times change and that change can be very tough. Earlier this year I blogged about my struggles with the melodeon. It is probably the best bit of writing on the site (not that this is saying very much) and I was overwhelmed by the response. All of that post is still relevant – I am still struggling. On the one hand, the melodeon fascinates me – I know more than most about fingering systems for example and I’ve invented several. The mechanics of the instrument appeal to my Engineering side and the acoustics of free reeds are a source of continuing interest.

But ultimately, it is an instrument and instruments are designed to make music. So what am I doing blogging about it if I am falling out of love with playing it? A tough question and perhaps why this blog has been inactive for much of the year. I am, of course, still playing, still performing and still teaching. But the melodeon is not the therapy that it once was and I can’t break through the apathy of working life to play it, unless I feel that I have to. I am getting through it – feeling my playing starting to improve again is helping – but it is an eternal struggle.

It is worth sharing, this struggle, because I think that it is encouraging to all those just starting to pick up the instrument. Everybody struggles from time to time, regardless of level or ability. Since posting I have heard from many far more able players than myself who have gone through similar experiences. Nobody is alone.

I am still hopeful that things will pick up. I am now saving up for a significantly better “standard” Italian reeded box, which should help. And I am hoping to sort out my life outside melodeon playing, which has oscillated between happiness and despair over the last twelve months.

Thank you all for your support this year, musically and otherwise. You know who you are. Happy New Year.

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