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Help: Disabled Musician

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DonMeixner 25 Oct 00 - 08:59 AM
wysiwyg 25 Oct 00 - 09:33 AM
Jeri 25 Oct 00 - 09:59 AM
DonMeixner 25 Oct 00 - 10:04 AM
DonMeixner 25 Oct 00 - 10:06 AM
Malcolm Douglas 25 Oct 00 - 10:10 AM
GUEST,Bill Foster 25 Oct 00 - 10:58 AM
Jeri 25 Oct 00 - 11:07 AM
wysiwyg 25 Oct 00 - 11:28 AM
Bert 25 Oct 00 - 11:29 AM
DonMeixner 25 Oct 00 - 01:34 PM
Bugsy 25 Oct 00 - 08:45 PM
catspaw49 25 Oct 00 - 10:59 PM
Metchosin 25 Oct 00 - 11:24 PM
Seamus Kennedy 26 Oct 00 - 12:36 AM
bseed(charleskratz) 26 Oct 00 - 02:29 AM
Ella who is Sooze 26 Oct 00 - 04:59 AM
DonMeixner 26 Oct 00 - 09:46 AM
Rick Fielding 26 Oct 00 - 11:20 AM
GUEST,Fran 12 Dec 08 - 02:27 PM
Acorn4 12 Dec 08 - 02:46 PM
Melissa 12 Dec 08 - 03:28 PM
VirginiaTam 12 Dec 08 - 03:42 PM
Tangledwood 12 Dec 08 - 05:16 PM
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Subject: Disabled Musician
From: DonMeixner
Date: 25 Oct 00 - 08:59 AM

Hello Cats,

I have had a client in the shop who has been limited in the use of his hands much the same as I. Bad brush with a saw blade and other trauma. So perhaps this question is as much for him as me. I am looking for a fretted instrument that will allow for more expression than a banjo or a tenor guitar but still have the narrow width of the finger board that both those instruments offer. We have already gone the Autoharp route and ruled it out as a primary instrument. We have discussed the lap dulcimer to a limited extent and that remains an option. I have seen a 10 string instrument that on first glance looked guitarish. It had 5 pair string courses. Could this have been a Citern? If so, how are they tuned and what is the weight of the strings? Greater or less than a guitar? Strength is less a concern than width and reach in both directions on the finger board due to permanantly curled fingers. I saw Tim O'Brien on TV once playing a guitar like instrument that had 4 paired courses of strings. It was arch topped and my first guess was an octave mandolin of some type. But the chords he was playing weren't what I recall as Mando' chords.

As always , any help is greatly appreciated.

Don Meixner


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Subject: RE: Help: Disabled Musician
From: wysiwyg
Date: 25 Oct 00 - 09:33 AM

Curious-- curled fingers means no slide or dobro? Adapt the slide to be attached to hand? The right hand can pick, or not?

A sweet little starter might be a Gourdalin-- strung and tuned like mandolin, but single courses, light action, sweet tone. Body is a gourd, somewhat like a bowl-back mandolin, much lighter weight. As I recall, about $125. Perhaps a pickup to add weight to the tone and grab the nuances the player can hear but that don't travel well to the ear of the hearer. Maybe go to mandolin when he has the strength, stretch, and dexterity recovered as much as possible?

What does he like to listen to, and would thus be motivated to emulate despite the challenges? What music will push him or pull him through the effort? And what instrument will let him go in that direction?

The rest of this may not apply in this case, but maybe can help with another's problem later on-- I have a variety of physical problems. And I know I get a lot more expression out of my autoharp now that it has the pickup. It has made me a more senstive player as I get a better sense of what is being heard-- adjusting the touch accordingly. I practice with the amp as loud as I can, it's like biofeedback, and then the technique and touch are recorded in my mind to play it that carefully when the volume goes back down after practice, or even sans amp. Next to add pickup is a small plucked psaltery, BTW, restrung with nice wound strings for a lower, bell-like tone, lovely. Two octaves, plays Carolan tunes fine, diatonic. $50 for the psaltery, plus $$ for strings and a padded gun case for toting it around.

Bless you, Don. It could be any of us.

~Susan


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Subject: RE: Help: Disabled Musician
From: Jeri
Date: 25 Oct 00 - 09:59 AM

Perhaps an octave mandolin or bazouki?


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Subject: RE: Help: Disabled Musician
From: DonMeixner
Date: 25 Oct 00 - 10:04 AM

Additional info: This individual is a good solid instrumentalist and performer, guitar and banjo. He wants to keep within that area of expression so he can get back to work on stage.

Don


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Subject: RE: Help: Disabled Musician
From: DonMeixner
Date: 25 Oct 00 - 10:06 AM

Thanks Praise and bless you too.

Bazouki??? Maybe Jeri. I'll research it.

Don


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Subject: RE: Help: Disabled Musician
From: Malcolm Douglas
Date: 25 Oct 00 - 10:10 AM

The instrument you describe does sound like a cittern.  The scale length could be a problem, but the cittern/mandolin family does include smaller instruments that perhaps might serve; it's worth having a look at these two sites for more information:

The Cittern Pages
Han's Irish Bouzouki Homepage

Open tunings are used quite a lot (perhaps why the chord-patterns you saw were unfamiliar), which of course makes it possible to play -for example- accompaniment using only a couple of fingers at a time.  String tension tends to be relatively high on these instruments, but I know people who play cittern guitar-style, much looser-strung than I would, and it sounds fine when they do it.  Good luck!

Malcolm


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Subject: RE: Help: Disabled Musician
From: GUEST,Bill Foster
Date: 25 Oct 00 - 10:58 AM

Tenor Guitar might be a possibility; four strings (DGBE) but a neck about the size of a plectrum banjo. I have used the tenor from time to time tuned to banjo tuning (DGBD) and used patterns from 5-string chording. Obviously it's not as assertive as a regular guitar, but is works well in accompanying vocals, and even in short solo breaks.

BF


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Subject: RE: Help: Disabled Musician
From: Jeri
Date: 25 Oct 00 - 11:07 AM

Don, the only link I missed to Trillium instruments is one to a 5-course octave mandolin. (I've got to get that site into the instrument links, if someone already hasn't done so.) There are sound samples at the mainTrillium page, and I'm guessing there are other samples around. I've heard people pick tunes on these instruments, but they're quite lovely when used to accompany a song with chords.

I'm not sure about this because I'm not a guitar player, but I don't think the string tension is much higher (if higher at all) than a guitar. A friend once suggested (I have a problem with one finger) using only one string on each course and possibly using nylon strings.

On adaptability of instruments, I believe you could drop the standard tuning and tune in an open chord. I've seen folks play guitars on their laps like dulcimers, or fret with the hand on top of the strings instead of around the neck. (of course these last two involve re-learning chords)

You sound like you're looking for a guitar with a smaller neck than normal and low string tension. I know there are 4-string guitars ("courting" guitars?) out there.

I know you said you're looking for a fretted instrument, but I thought I'd throw in hammered dulcimers. You don't need to do anything but hang onto the hammers, they sound beautiful (although maybe not the sound your friend is looking for) and they aren't difficult to learn how to play. (Yes, to play well, but to just get a good sound to accompany songs - easy.)


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Subject: RE: Help: Disabled Musician
From: wysiwyg
Date: 25 Oct 00 - 11:28 AM

Don, do you and your clients network through the disabled community as well, to see if there are practicing musicians among them who have explored adaptability also?

It's been communicated to me somehow or other that you know SO MUCH about what you are doing in this area of music and disability that the help you need is always pretty specific and limited. I have a hard time knowing how to help. I don't want to waste your time, or mine, going over ground already worked. But if there is a stone unturned I'd be glad to spend some time looking for it, see?

And some info in this vein might help other newer members who, like me, have only that part of the picture we see in whatever thread is up and running. Is there a set of links, or could they be made, Mudcat threads or otherwise, that would make the picture bigger?

~Susan


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Subject: RE: Help: Disabled Musician
From: Bert
Date: 25 Oct 00 - 11:29 AM

Could your ten string instrument have been a Puerto Rican Cuatro?

Here's what Lark in the Morning have to say about it...

The instrument is sort of violin-shaped, more rounded like a guitar but with points at the inner bouts like a fiddle. The bridge is a classic guitar type, but the instrument is steel strung and tuned from low to high B E A D G, with the B and E in octaves. It is played with a flatpick and sounds like a cross between a 12-string guitar and a mandolin.

I have one and it has a great sound for it's size.


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Subject: RE: Help: Disabled Musician
From: DonMeixner
Date: 25 Oct 00 - 01:34 PM

Hi Susan,

Well, thanks for the praise, so to speak, and yes, I know a bit about the musician coping with a disability. I generally ask about a specific thing. Instruments with a more rounded voice than a tenor guitar or banjo. In this case citerns and other guitar like instruments that may, by virtue of their design share some of the dynamics of a guitar. But they may also be easier to play by virtue of chord structure, tuning, size, or ergonomic design.

As always the Forum stalwarts come through with great ideas and options. No info is wasted. Even it its not specific to what I have asked, other may and probably do benefit there by. Thank you all so much.

Bert, the Quatro idea facinates because of the tuning. Notice that taken ingroups of threes and asigned the strings as chords rather than notes they would come out like this.

B E A E A D A D G

5 1 4 5 1 4 5 1 4

Thus creating some easy work in simple line fills for the keys of E A D.

Warn regards

Don


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Subject: RE: Help: Disabled Musician
From: Bugsy
Date: 25 Oct 00 - 08:45 PM

Try a Mandocello, maybe?

Cheers

Bugsy


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Subject: RE: Help: Disabled Musician
From: catspaw49
Date: 25 Oct 00 - 10:59 PM

Don, my friend, you always amaze me! You come in with these questions and I know we all appreciate being ask for help and hopefully someone has some good ideas as have come out here. But the truth is that were it me asking for this kind of thing, the FIRST AND MAIN PERSON I would come to is YOU!!! I guess that's one reason I like you as you ask for help on a problem that you are all too familiar with and have more knowledge of than any of us. Thanks.

That said, I like App Dulcimers, but considering what you have said about your friend, I wouldn't now think it to be a very exciting option for him. The Tenor sounds good. I might as well throw in a dumb one here, but when you say "expression" is important, although I don't know what type of music he likes, fretless banjo comes to mind. I know its not a great idea, but it was worth a toss in the ring.

Spaw


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Subject: RE: Help: Disabled Musician
From: Metchosin
Date: 25 Oct 00 - 11:24 PM

Don, we attended a Balaika Orchestra concert last Sunday and one of the instruments that was used was called a Domra, a beautiful sounding instrument and very expressive. Looked like a larger than average mandolin with four single coursed strings.


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Subject: RE: Help: Disabled Musician
From: Seamus Kennedy
Date: 26 Oct 00 - 12:36 AM

Don, I recommend a mandola. A mandocello generally has a wide neck and you need some hand strength to fret it. A mandola is larger than a mandolin, but shorter than a bouzouki or octave mandolin, with a sweeter, slightly deeper tone. I used to have a Gibson mandola, an A-model, which had a great sound and was not too hard to fret.I also had a Gibson mandocello which was a bugger for me to play- small hands. Saw Bill Delaney at Albany, hope to see you guys performing there next year. All the best. Seamus


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Subject: RE: Help: Disabled Musician
From: bseed(charleskratz)
Date: 26 Oct 00 - 02:29 AM

An instrument "that will allow for more expression than a banjo..."? Don, I find the banjo a highly expressive instrument. I know both bluegrass and Irish banjo are usually played more for for percussive drive than emotional expression, but there are a lot of other styles (have you heard Tony Ellis?). While I'm trying to master fast fiddle tunes, my favorite things to play on banjo are slow ballads, and I think the instrument is wonderfully suited to this kind of music, and fully capable of a wide range of expression, even with frets, what with slides and chokes and harmonics, hammer-ons and pull-offs (no, Spaw, not that kind of pulling off--that's dangerous with a banjo).

--seed


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Subject: RE: Help: Disabled Musician
From: Ella who is Sooze
Date: 26 Oct 00 - 04:59 AM

I know someone from sessions, who has a disabled hand, and he plays the fiddle.

He is excellent!

So, what about a fiddle?

Ella


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Subject: RE: Help: Disabled Musician
From: DonMeixner
Date: 26 Oct 00 - 09:46 AM

Thank you all, some great help here, The Domra bears looking into and so does the Mandola. Neither instrument is known to me. John is foremost a guitarist and would like to keep the guitar dynamics, bigger sound. His limits are similar to mine in that he can't easily span three frets or more than five strings measured on a guitar neck. The shorter scale length is a step in the right direction. He has good hand strength. Unlike me he has feeling in his finger tips still which is a help.

Spaw, thanks for the kind words, if you ever need my help call. But a long time ago I learned that it is so easy to be too close to problem that you miss the obvious when its right in front of you. Also there are so many instruments in the world music arena that I've never seen before.

I like the frettles idea, maybe a tiple.

Don


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Subject: RE: Help: Disabled Musician
From: Rick Fielding
Date: 26 Oct 00 - 11:20 AM

Hi Don, sorry I didn't see this sooner, but we've been hosting the lovely PJ Swan from SanFrancisco the last few days.

My friend, luthier Glen Reid designed an instrument a few years ago that might fit the bill. Size wise it's in between a Mandola and Mando-cello. The scale is similar to that of a tenor banjo, it can be tuned many ways, has a flat back, and has 8 strings in four courses. Mine is the proto type, and has seved me well for 8 years. I know that the 12th Fret in Toronto has one of them (check their website...they'll be glad to send you a picture) or you could get in touch with Glen directly. (705) 382-5864)

Or give me a call (416) 690-8697 and I can fill you in with a few more details.

Rick


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Subject: RE: Help: Disabled Musician
From: GUEST,Fran
Date: 12 Dec 08 - 02:27 PM

Hi everybody, I'm right now learning how to play the guitar and i'm really enjoying it. But I have mild cerebral palsy on my right side and it makes things lkie strumming and of course picking I cant even play that fast either. Sometimes i get soo frustrated that i just wanna give up but I really enjoying ...im just wondering if theirs anyone out their that has the same problem and what they do for it


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Subject: RE: Help: Disabled Musician
From: Acorn4
Date: 12 Dec 08 - 02:46 PM

I'd also vote for the mandola. A friend of ours had an industrial accident which makes guitar playing a non runner, but does a fine job - he used to play in a duo, one half playing the mandola in an open G and the other mandolin type tuning and it worked really well.

My other half plays one of these and it's a really nice instrument.

freshwater mandola

We call it Nelson (Nelson Mandola) - gerrit?


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Subject: RE: Help: Disabled Musician
From: Melissa
Date: 12 Dec 08 - 03:28 PM

GuestFran:
When you're learning to play, strumming is hard to catch..it is normal to have problems with that.
Playing faster/smoother comes with practice (Lots of hours--and plenty of frustration)and speed is not nearly as important as timing/consistency.

Be patient with yourself and have fun.
Give yourself a break when you need it and keep on pluckin..it's worth the effort.

You'll be able to find quite a bit of useful, encouraging information here by using the searchbox thingy.
If you join mudcat, you'll also be able to send/receive personal messages.

I look forward to seeing you around here.
Welcome to Mudcat!


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Subject: RE: Help: Disabled Musician
From: VirginiaTam
Date: 12 Dec 08 - 03:42 PM

Hi Fran

Welcome to the Mudcat. You will find very useful information and good advice here. I echo Melissa's post above. Practice, take the frustration in stride, and practice some more.

Find and learn songs that can be played slowly. Also don't be afraid to play around with your own timings when you become comfortable with chord changes.

Another instrument to consider is the Appalachain dulcimer. I have taken up this instrument since rheumatoid arthritis damaged my left wrist, preventing me fretting the guitar. I am trying mandolin for same reason.

Good luck and hope to see you around the threads.


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Subject: RE: Help: Disabled Musician
From: Tangledwood
Date: 12 Dec 08 - 05:16 PM

Welcome Fran. As everyone is saying, the frustration is normal. Scan this forum and other music forums and you will see posts voicing the same concern from dozens of beginners. Don't be too ambitious too quickly - even "twinkle twinkle little star" is satisfying the first time you get it error free. Practice, but make sure that you're still having fun with it, and in a few months time you'll be amazed at how far you've come. Don't let the practice become a chore - take a day off now and then and you'll probably get a pleasant surprise next time you pick the guitar up - it seems that the brain keeps working on learning even when we're not present.

Do you have a friend or group/club that you can play with? Many of us find that having that support is what keeps us going, and also an experienced person watching you may come up with useful ideas that we can't do here without seeing you in action.

Good luck and have fun!


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