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Concertina finger?

Phil Edwards 24 Apr 12 - 07:05 PM
Alan Day 25 Apr 12 - 04:35 AM
Tootler 25 Apr 12 - 04:53 AM
Phil Edwards 25 Apr 12 - 07:07 AM
GUEST,Alanww 25 Apr 12 - 07:12 AM
mikesamwild 25 Apr 12 - 07:13 AM
Bonnie Shaljean 25 Apr 12 - 07:48 AM
G-Force 25 Apr 12 - 08:41 AM
GUEST,leeneia 25 Apr 12 - 09:07 AM
The Sandman 25 Apr 12 - 09:50 AM
Phil Edwards 25 Apr 12 - 10:11 AM
The Sandman 25 Apr 12 - 11:21 AM
Guran 25 Apr 12 - 02:41 PM
The Sandman 25 Apr 12 - 07:07 PM
Tootler 26 Apr 12 - 10:19 AM
GUEST,999 26 Apr 12 - 10:26 AM
Phil Edwards 26 Apr 12 - 11:03 AM
GUEST,999 26 Apr 12 - 11:20 AM
Guran 26 Apr 12 - 12:01 PM
GUEST,999 26 Apr 12 - 12:06 PM
The Sandman 26 Apr 12 - 12:42 PM
Phil Edwards 26 Apr 12 - 01:59 PM
Guran 26 Apr 12 - 03:50 PM
Alan Day 26 Apr 12 - 03:51 PM
Guran 26 Apr 12 - 04:40 PM
The Sandman 26 Apr 12 - 05:27 PM
GUEST,Warren Fahey 26 Apr 12 - 07:49 PM
Tootler 27 Apr 12 - 06:47 PM
Guran 28 Apr 12 - 03:49 AM
The Sandman 28 Apr 12 - 02:00 PM
Tootler 28 Apr 12 - 07:37 PM
Guran 29 Apr 12 - 01:54 PM
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Subject: Concertina finger?
From: Phil Edwards
Date: 24 Apr 12 - 07:05 PM

English concertina players! How are your fingertips?

Playing two-finger chords for about an hour on an English concertina (practising and then recording this) left the tip of my right forefinger numb for 24 hours, and tender for another 24 hours after that. Is this normal? Will it pass with practice, or will I just get calloused fingers?


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Subject: RE: Concertina finger?
From: Alan Day
Date: 25 Apr 12 - 04:35 AM

I remember playing a concertina that had very small diameter buttons (approx .125mm)and my finger tips bruised up within a few minutes of playing,but for the usual size of concertina buttons it rather sounds as if you are pushing down too hard.The fingers should be held just above the buttons and a gentle push is all that is required.You do not have to wear your finger tips in if you are playing correctly.
Al


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Subject: RE: Concertina finger?
From: Tootler
Date: 25 Apr 12 - 04:53 AM

I never had that problem. I did get aching shoulders and some aching in the wrist through unfamiliar movement but that cleared up after a while.

Otherwise as Alan Day says. Some cheapo concertinas are a little stiff but I see from your blog you have a Lachenal so it shouldn't be. Even the cheapo Hohner I started with didn't give me that problem.


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Subject: RE: Concertina finger?
From: Phil Edwards
Date: 25 Apr 12 - 07:07 AM

The action certainly isn't stiff. I've had some trouble getting three keys to sound together when I want them to - which is probably down to finger positioning more than anything - and I was probably compensating by mashing the keys down hard. It may also be a weight-bearing problem - I've had difficulty striking a balance between hanging-off-thumbs (uncomfortable), propped-on-little-fingers (very uncomfortable) and sitting-on-knee (comfortable but no control), and I think I've been unconsciously compensating for that by bracing the concertina with the key-pressing fingers. I'll try again later & see how it feels if I make an effort to press the keys lightly.


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Subject: RE: Concertina finger?
From: GUEST,Alanww
Date: 25 Apr 12 - 07:12 AM

I play an English Edeophone - a top-of-the-range instrument. I don't get a problem with the tips of my fingers, even when I am playing two notes with one finger (mostly when I am accompanying my singing). I remember when I started learning and religiously practiced every day that my fingers ached but it did go away with practice.
Instead, my problem is with the little finger in my right hand. I usually rest the left end of the instrument on my left knee, thus working the bellows and taking the weight with my right hand.
As a result, the harsh metal finger rest digs into the soft tissue of my right little finger, leaving a mark in the flesh and causing my pinkie to get pins & needles! All together now: "aaarh, shame"! The solutions I am considering are to wear a rubber thimble or to stick some tape over the metal....
Keep playing.
"... for he is free to come and play...!"
Alan


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Subject: RE: Concertina finger?
From: mikesamwild
Date: 25 Apr 12 - 07:13 AM

The pads will toughen up but Alan's advice is good, keep the fingers low , it helps when playing faster anyway.. The 1,5 chords sounded nice and modal and I often miss the 3rds out anyway.


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Subject: RE: Concertina finger?
From: Bonnie Shaljean
Date: 25 Apr 12 - 07:48 AM

Be very careful about any numbness or arm pain - it could signal repetitive strain injury (R.S.I.), a.k.a. tendinitis* which is tendon-wear. And it won't go away unless you give it a rest and let things heal. It only gets more intense if ignored, and worst-case scenarios are truly horrific - prolonged abuse can eventually cripple permanently.

Trouble is, this injury (because that's what it is) never hurts/bothers people enough to get taken seriously, so they "work through the pain" and aggravate the condition. You should be aware of the implications and be prepared to back off playing for awhile if need be. You can't cure wear except by ceasing to do whatever's causing it. Google around for more info (there are also some good Mudcat threads on the subject). The suggestion above of changing your playing position also sounds like a good one, though I don't play 'tina so I can't comment.

If it keeps on being numb (or unnaturally cold, or you feel little shoots of pain up your arms) you really do have to take this on board. Good luck!



*That improbable spelling is the correct one, though there's also plenty under the logical but mis-spelled "tendonitis", so use both as search terms.


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Subject: RE: Concertina finger?
From: G-Force
Date: 25 Apr 12 - 08:41 AM

Phil - I know just what you mean!

I have nasty arthritic thumbs and have tried various ways of supporting my English, finding the least painful is to have wrist straps and use both little fingers. If you then support the concertina on both knees, but do place a silk scarf across them to protect the bellows, it all becomes a lot easier. I just tip up the concertina a little right and left, depending on the tune and it takes the strain off wrists and fingers.

Good luck.


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Subject: RE: Concertina finger?
From: GUEST,leeneia
Date: 25 Apr 12 - 09:07 AM

Numbness and tenderness do not sound good. Listen to Bonnie.

Also, playing for a solid hour does not sound good, either. Take breaka.

I used to take an exercise class with a woman who was an orthopedic nurse. As we danced, she would call out, "If it hurts, quit!" Good advice.


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Subject: RE: Concertina finger?
From: The Sandman
Date: 25 Apr 12 - 09:50 AM

Is this normal?
in my experience, no,I have been playing everyday since 1974.
however i generally play in 30 to 40 minute batches. are u playing the two finger chords with the same finger or two different fingers.
my advice, isdont practise the same thing for too long, I find that with the 5 string banjo i limit frailing to 15 minute batches, otherwise i have muscular problems, however up picking because it is similiar to guitar fingerpicking i can do endlessly.


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Subject: RE: Concertina finger?
From: Phil Edwards
Date: 25 Apr 12 - 10:11 AM

Probably shouldn't have used the word 'numb' - I've been working at a keyboard since 1983, so I'm well aware of the perils of RSI (and quite healthily terrified of it). This is very much a surface numbness/tenderness, as of the skin on the fingertip saying "please stop pressing me hard against a knobbly thing" - no joint pain, shooting pains or any of those unpleasant things.

For those who were asking about the chords, I was playing D/A with one finger & F# with the second finger, then moving up to C/G and E; on the left hand I was playing G/D and B, then down to A/E and C. My left forefinger is also complaining a bit, but my second fingers are fine - the culprit seems to be those D/As and G/Ds.


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Subject: RE: Concertina finger?
From: The Sandman
Date: 25 Apr 12 - 11:21 AM

i dont know the size of your hands, it is relevant,
try playing d a f# with three different fingers, it is a useful skill to acquire anyway, you can play more legato.


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Subject: RE: Concertina finger?
From: Guran
Date: 25 Apr 12 - 02:41 PM

I just dropped in here by accident after having being out for quite some time so I can't control myself from whipping my hobby horse once more:
The handles of concertinas - both the English type and the Anglo/Duet type are tremendously primitive and dysfunctional from common ergonomic points of view but it is quite easy to improve conditions a great deal.Of course there are several ("bad") playing habits which may be dealt with and at best avoided but as with any other handicraft or instrumental work the most important issue mostly is to fit the task ( = the instrument itself in this case) to man instead of trying to fit man to the task.
The common 5 mm ( or even less) concertina buttons are too lean for comfort and easliy cause pain, impressions or numbness from repeated or constant pressure. Press buttons in general should be 10-15mm diam for good comfort.That is the case with most telephones, calculators, computer keyboards, control panels etc. The concertina constructions mostly admit at least 6mm, Anglos often 10mm diam buttons. It is hard to see any reasons not to reform instruments in that direction.


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Subject: RE: Concertina finger?
From: The Sandman
Date: 25 Apr 12 - 07:07 PM

whipping my hobby horse once more."Do you mean riding your hobby horse?


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Subject: RE: Concertina finger?
From: Tootler
Date: 26 Apr 12 - 10:19 AM

The way Guran goes on, "Whipping" seems about right :-)


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Subject: RE: Concertina finger?
From: GUEST,999
Date: 26 Apr 12 - 10:26 AM

"I used to take an exercise class with a woman who was an orthopedic nurse. As we danced, she would call out, "If it hurts, quit!" Good advice."

Reminds me of that saying that made the rounds a few decades back, usually from macho types: No pain, no gain!

I heard a fellow reply to that. He said, "No pain, no gain? No brain."

Pain is the body's way of letting you know you're doing something wrong.


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Subject: RE: Concertina finger?
From: Phil Edwards
Date: 26 Apr 12 - 11:03 AM

I just don't want to find out that the thing I'm doing wrong is "trying to play the concertina"!

Another one for the EC players - how do you prefer your thumb straps? Mine are very loose (and don't appear to be adjustable, unfortunately); I think a snugger fit would help me stop doing the "bracing everything against everything else" juggling act I'm tending to do at the moment.


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Subject: RE: Concertina finger?
From: GUEST,999
Date: 26 Apr 12 - 11:20 AM

lol


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Subject: RE: Concertina finger?
From: Guran
Date: 26 Apr 12 - 12:01 PM

From: GUEST,999 - PM
Date: 26 Apr 12 - 10:26 AM
"Pain is the body's way of letting you know you're doing something wrong".

As I hinted before - in this case you may not be doing anything *wrong* at all to get the pain, you may be acting as well as you can ( or anyone else might do ) and suffer still. Simply because the tool you use is not fit for the job or fit for yourself. Speaking about numbness which may be a neurological or circulatory phenomenon, or both, it should not be forgotten that it may be a symtom of illness or nutritional deficiency and the individual vulnerability related to such factors.


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Subject: RE: Concertina finger?
From: GUEST,999
Date: 26 Apr 12 - 12:06 PM

You ever hear about the blonde gal after her car crash? A few weeks later she went to the doctor and said that she hurt all over her body. He asked her to point to where it hurt. Every place she touched she felt pain. Turns out she had a broken finger.


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Subject: RE: Concertina finger?
From: The Sandman
Date: 26 Apr 12 - 12:42 PM

i have been playing for37 years i have my straps very loose this enables me to move my hand up and down without any tension, however just because it suits me it does not mean it would be right for everyone


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Subject: RE: Concertina finger?
From: Phil Edwards
Date: 26 Apr 12 - 01:59 PM

Speaking about numbness which may be a neurological or circulatory phenomenon, or both, it should not be forgotten that it may be a symtom of illness or nutritional deficiency

I really am sorry I used that word now. Please stop worrying about my neural fibres, carpal tunnels etc; I was just talking about the temporary loss of sensation associated with having something poking hard into a fingertip for extended periods of time.

Dick - how do you support your concertina? You play standing up (I know, I've seen you do it) - have you got unusually strong little fingers?


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Subject: RE: Concertina finger?
From: Guran
Date: 26 Apr 12 - 03:50 PM

From: Phil Edwards - PM
Date: 26 Apr 12 - 11:03 AM
"Another one for the EC players - how do you prefer your thumb straps? Mine are very loose (and don't appear to be adjustable, unfortunately);"

With all concertinas you've got the conflict between a)need for stability to manage pumping and tonal control b) flexibility to manage fingering and to reach distant buttons. The major problems here with the EC are: 1)the thumb strap offers too little stability 2)the little finger is too weak to add support 3) gripping with the thumb AND the little finger results in static crampful load which obstructs movements, particularly of 3rd finger 4) gripping ( as C Wheatstone intended) 3rd and 4th finger may offer stability enough but veery poor access to the keyboard 5) using the trad wriststrap locks the hand in a dysfunctional position.
Some dilemma...

I use a broader (30-35mm) thumbstrap so that he distant joint is locked, it is also steadier and stuffed to be thicker so it becomes more comfortable when set tight with the thumb far into it. This increases stability so that all 4 fingers may be free. With a treble this mostly works ok (depending on the music demands). With larger instruments I always use an additional wrist suppport and wrist strap to achieve more stability while the hand can slide and rotate with the fixated thumb as a pivot. To reduce load on the thumb and wrist I also hang the instrument up in a shoulder strap.The important objects are relieving the thumb and the fingers from any duty related to carrying the weight of the instrument. Fingers of course should be entirely free for "fingering" of the buttons.


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Subject: RE: Concertina finger?
From: Alan Day
Date: 26 Apr 12 - 03:51 PM

I wonder Phil ,does your finger pressure on the buttons and general discomfort from playing,come from trying to play the instrument loudly?
Sometimes this is a combination. Try relaxing, playing softer, hence less pressure on the buttons.
I play the Anglo, but at one time did play the English for accompaniment of a singer,trying to hold the instrument with thumb and little finger without support was nearly impossible for me, as was trying to control a miniature.
Goran has made a major investigation into playing ergonomics and his strap arrangement is well worth consideration, as is bellows fanning (possibly not his wording) similar to Edel Fox style of bellows control.
I have now stuck on playing the Anglo supported on my left knee and using the right to push and pull the bellows. Some prefer the right knee for support, both knees using the fanning system, or possibly a neck strap . It basically comes down to what is the most comfortable for you
Al


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Subject: RE: Concertina finger?
From: Guran
Date: 26 Apr 12 - 04:40 PM

Just a short comment... Alan, you said:" I wonder Phil ,does your finger pressure on the buttons and general discomfort from playing,come from trying to play the instrument loudly?"

This experience illustrates very well the basic conflict I mentioned.Since holding the English stable enough is so difficult you will easily try to stabilize the whole system with the fingers - to be able to intonate, to get dynamics into phrasing, and most of all to play loudly - i e with extra need for stability when pumping.I have since many years been advocating for the "fanning" method of bellowsing and to make that easier I use an elastic strap across the bellows keeping the lower/opposed part of the bellows closed. The pumping efficiency is very much greater and tonal "attack" can be much greater as well. Some concertina players have adopted this method which is not as uncommon among accordion players.


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Subject: RE: Concertina finger?
From: The Sandman
Date: 26 Apr 12 - 05:27 PM

Dick - how do you support your concertina? You play standing up (I know, I've seen you do it) - have you got unusually strong little fingers?
with one finger, I dont know if they are strong[ but the fair sex havent complained].
I do sometimes play sitting down as well, however it is extremely rare that i play horizontally


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Subject: RE: Concertina finger?
From: GUEST,Warren Fahey
Date: 26 Apr 12 - 07:49 PM

This is interesting. yes I do sometimes get sore fingers pads but only if I have been playing for longer than an hour. I am also getting 'on a bit' and suspect I have a creeping stiffening of the joints. I always think the playing helps me maintain flexibility. I definitely have less finger stress if I play seated which is a pity because I like playing whilst standing.
The best advice in this forum has been to take it easy if you feel you are overdoing it. Pins and needles in the pads isn't the main concern, it is the little finger stiffness.
Have a look at how Alistair Anderson swings his tina and be afraid.... mind you, it looks quite small and light compared to my edeophone.


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Subject: RE: Concertina finger?
From: Tootler
Date: 27 Apr 12 - 06:47 PM

Another possibility for supporting a concertina, especially when standing up is a neck strap (similar to those used by Saxophonists). I've seen concertinas with rings fitted to the ends for clipping on a neck strap and someone I know straps dog collars (not the clerical type) round the ends to clip on a neck strap for playing standing up. I have rings on my anglo straps for that purpose, though it was only meant to be a temporary measure until I could get around to fitting something more permanent. Round tuits have got expensive, though :-)


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Subject: RE: Concertina finger?
From: Guran
Date: 28 Apr 12 - 03:49 AM

Neckstraps.Yes and NO. A neckstrap for this purpose is the traditional way but it is recommendable only under particular conditions. A shoulder strap (or even better two of them) is a much better solution. Hanging things on the neck causes unsuitable load on the part of the body which is most vulnerable for muscular strain. If holding the instrument with forearms horisontal the resulting force acting on the neck will be 1,4 times or more x the weight of the instrument - not purposeful!IF a neckstrap is used at all the instrument should be hanging low with the straps vertical to reduce the load (= the weight of the instrument).A shoulder straps thus is preferable.
The best way to attach the strap to the instrument is by means of an intermediate strap fastened to two endbolts at each side of the instrument and the shoulder- ( or neck-) strap in turn attached to the intermediate strap by clips ( like those used for braces/suspenders) at optional location either side. ( by this method the angle at which the instrument balances may be perfectly adjusted).


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Subject: RE: Concertina finger?
From: The Sandman
Date: 28 Apr 12 - 02:00 PM

Sounds like time to end it all.


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Subject: RE: Concertina finger?
From: Tootler
Date: 28 Apr 12 - 07:37 PM

Quite right, Dick.

You really shouldn't be playing concertina at all. You might strain something ;-)


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Subject: RE: Concertina finger?
From: Guran
Date: 29 Apr 12 - 01:54 PM

Tootler: "Another possibility for supporting a concertina, especially when standing up is a neck strap (similar to those used by Saxophonists)".

Even some saxophonists ( or at least their gadget suppliers) have understood that a neckstrap is not the best solution but shoulder straps are more comfortable:

http://www.windcorp.se/sv/article/867/sele_saxofon_neotech
http://www.windcorp.se/sv/article/5382/sele_saxofon_neotech_super
http://www.windcorp.se/sv/article/7188/rem_saxofon_bg_shoulder_strap


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