Randy Stein - English Concertina
4 min readMay 16, 2021

I remember receiving the phone call from Boris’s son Eric informing me that his father suffered a heart attack and passed away. I was shocked, sad and frightened. I needed to walk. And so, I did. Leaving my Brooklyn apartment, I soon found myself a few miles across the Brooklyn Bridge sitting on a bench in Washington Square Park. I was in a daze. My revered teacher was gone.

Over the next month or so I tried practicing and playing but felt underwater and lost. I contacted Sergei Matueswitch, who shared an office studio with Boris, from where they taught and ran their musical business. Sergei informed me he also could teach me and pick up where his brother left off. Soon, I was back to an organized practice with an accomplished musician, teacher, and mentor.

I was fortunate having mentors and teachers over the years who gave me the tools and lessons that resonated in music and life. While the Matueswitch Brothers were teaching techniques and skills needed to play the EC, they were also imparting their expertise on how to listen, organize, let go, take hold, and move forward in music, in show business, in life. Our lessons were always peppered with their views of history, politics, philosophy, and personal reflections from lives previously lived and shared. I was unbelievably lucky and knew it.

As I mentioned, prior to the covid pandemic interrupting our lives, I retired from civilian life and decided to dedicate the rest of my time left in this world full time to my family and music. I now had the focus and time to practice and gig more. Teaching did not enter my thoughts until I was contacted by a close friend who said someone she knew who plays the EC and was looking for an instructor. Was this something I would be interested in?

Over the years I took on a random student short term or taught a workshop on playing and practicing the English Concertina. I discovered there is a trust, responsibility, and commitment on the part of both the teacher and the student for the lessons and relationship to be successful. I personally enjoyed the process of learning, practicing and studying my craft. Being on the other side requires a different set of organizational skills and professional patience. I needed to figure out if I had both.

Boris and Sergei’s “Learn the EC in 5 Weeks”

I reached out to several professional musicians I knew who did in person and now online teaching. Most willingly gave me the time as well as great experiential information and advice. A few I spoke with were bitter about the pandemic and the changes they needed to make for online teaching. I thought long and hard for a few days. I had all the original materials from Boris’s beginner “learn the EC in 5 lessons”. I had amassed close to half a decade of music, experience, personal and professional lessons learned from the good, the bad and the ugly. So why not. I decided to make the commitment and teach the EC again.

I agreed to take on the referred student and let it be known in my various professional and musical networks that I was offering online lessons to all levels for the EC. I had one caveat: Since we are each spending time and expense, we both would agree to commit to make the effort and come prepared. I had the expectation we would both practice and learn individually and from each other. I immediately received several emails of interest from beginners and intermediate to a couple of more advanced experienced players. For some it would not be a good fit: one person said they did not want to practice; another could not commit to a regular scheduled lesson; in one case, they did not own an EC but hoped to in the future.

Soon I was giving online lessons to several EC players from around the country. Initially I fell back on the materials and basics of what I learned from Boris and Sergei. I was finding this to be insufficient for some of the students. I needed to tailor my way of teaching to the perspective and learning needs of the person listening and learning from me. So, I adjusted expectations and worked on the positive aspects to the time and effort a student makes. I added new genres of music to enhance specific individual teaching and learning skills, different from what I had ever done before. For students who found it difficult to be inspired to practice scales and arpeggios, I found music from various traditional genres that had both. Now they willingly practiced and learned. For those who were audible learners, I arranged/transcribed and recorded music to enhance their practicing and learning. For the more advanced students I sought and studied additional violin etude studies and solo music for them to practice. In so doing, I learned new music, new technical skills, and new lessons for myself as well.

During one of my lessons with Sergei, he asked me to sight read a new piece of music. I do not remember what it was, but I do remember that it was difficult, and I slogged my way through it. When I finished playing he said not bad for a first reading and suggested I do it again, but this time, listen.

Good advise then. It is good advise now.



Randy Stein - English Concertina

Randy Stein is a classically trained musician and recording artist who plays and performs internationally on the English Concertina. Website: