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Tilting The 'tina Forward.


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#1 Rex

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Posted 23 September 2003 - 11:18 PM

I have been struggling with stretching out my little finger to reach certain buttons and also with my index and middle fingers moving freely on the G row. Recently I have been playing much faster and with more accuracy (relative to how I played a month ago, not relative to how a GOOD player might play!). I attributed this to practice finally paying off but then I noticed something else had happened. I never watch the 'tina or my hands when I play and I just noticed that I am now holding it different. I don't know when or how this started but now I find it difficult to play any other way. What I am doing is tilting the concertina away from me so that instead of resting on my lap on the flat "bottom" it is resting on the corners. My wrists and hands are straight out, but now the buttons are at a 45 degree angle with the buttons under my index fingers being farther away and the ones that my little finger would operate are closer to me. My fingers now seem to stay over the rows naturally and with no effort on my part. The straps are going across the backs of my hands at an angle of course, but this seems to cause no problems. Does anyone else play like this or am I an oddball? (Of course these are not mutually exclusive possibilities. :) ) Are there any disadvantages to playing like this? Should I unlearn this habit right now? My hands are smaller than average, if that makes any difference, but I have no problem playing a full size classical guitar with a wide neck so they are not too small to work a 'tina.

#2 RoyJanik

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Posted 24 September 2003 - 11:09 AM

Rex, this is how Noel Hill recommended we hold the concertina at his Irish Concertina School. His reasoning was that when you tilt the concertina forward, your wrists are no longer bent, and it's a more natural position. I didn't really notice a difference either way in terms of my playing, but this is now how I hold the concertina, too. You can see Noel holding it this way in pictures such as these:

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#3 JimLucas

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Posted 24 September 2003 - 12:52 PM

His reasoning was that when you tilt the concertina forward, your wrists are no longer bent,...


Bent which way? Mine aren't bent, regardless. As far as I can tell I instinctively adjust my arm and shoulder positions to insure that. Seems to me that would be necessary, anyway, unless you *always* sit exactly the same way at exactly the same height.

#4 RoyJanik

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Posted 24 September 2003 - 04:15 PM

You may be right. My point was mainly that tilting the concertina so that it rests on the corners wasn't a bad thing, and was in fact recommended by at least one instructor.

I sit in all sorts of crazy positions when I play. But it seems that if on average you're sitting reasonably straight, and one of the concertina's sides is flat on your leg, then your hands will be situated so that your thumb is pointing up, away from your arm, if that makes sense. If the concertina is tilted forward, your thumb is more in line with your arm. And after a few moments of extremely sillly experimentation, that to me is a position that requires less effort. But I'm sure you're right in that we'll always adjust into a comfortable position, regardless. Rex's tilting of the concertina was his adjustment, and your's is the shifting of the shoulders.

Edited by RoyJanik, 24 September 2003 - 04:16 PM.


#5 tomlaw90

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Posted 24 September 2003 - 05:14 PM

If the concertina is tilted forward, your thumb is more in line with your arm. And after a few moments of extremely sillly experimentation, that to me is a position that requires less effort.

Just becareful not to do too much ulnar deviation, or you'll end up with tendon troubles in the wrist over time (I speak from experience on this one as one who works on computers all day). :(

#6 Rex

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Posted 24 September 2003 - 10:12 PM

Thanks for the feedback, Roy. Since this works for me and since at least one expert recommends it I will continue down this path. That picture is a great visual aid. My thumb goes straight forward to the air button, not reaching upward toward it.

Edited by Rex, 24 September 2003 - 10:18 PM.


#7 JimLucas

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Posted 25 September 2003 - 12:14 AM

My thumb goes straight forward to the air button, not reaching upward toward it.


Which sounds to me as if it's more about the angle between your hand and the rows of buttons -- and thus the hand's orientation to the hand rest and strap -- than the orientation of the instrument to your leg. But for you the two orientations may not be independent.

#8 Rex

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Posted 25 September 2003 - 06:38 PM

Right. It's all about the relationship between my hands and the buttons. I just so happens that sitting the instrument on the corner produces this happy confluence for me. If my spine was a few inches shorter or my upper arms a few inches longer I would rest the instrument on the flat.

#9 goran rahm

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Posted 01 October 2003 - 10:48 PM

There is hardly any doubt that the observation Rex has made and the practise of a similar position Noel Hill is said to have recommended is founded on basically 'true' conditions which ought to guide the optimal playing method. (I can't really see it on that photo however...on which the position to me looks different)

Quite a few anglo players adapt (by despair or unconsciously?...) to a position in which the wrists are much ulnar deviated and on top of that the instrument 'tilted' forwards like Rex describes. The hand/keyboard relation due to the 'tilting' truly may become better...the deviation as said is potentially harmful and should be avoided.

In principle the whole construction/design ought to be modified in order to provide a better hand position. The 'handle/bar' ought to be re-oriented according to the angle of 'tilting' and to make things comfortable when resting the instrument on the thigh you consequently would like to have a flat end in that position instead of a corner (some German instruments are oriented that way since long but for other reasons). Eight sides instead of six would help in this respect also.
To achieve better access to the rows of buttons and a more suitable (comfortable and efficient) hand position the bar holding the straps ought to be transformed into a wider, higher and steadier support. An additional steadier strap would improve the situation further.
Due to the fairlly ideal layout and 'reachability' of the Anglo keyboard vs the fingering capacity the anglo admits a much more stable and even fixated hand position than other concertinas do which means that with some changes according to the above it should be possible to have 'perfect' playing conditions.

#10 Chris Murphy

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Posted 02 November 2003 - 02:01 PM

...the bar holding the straps ought to be transformed into a wider, higher and steadier support.

By "higher" do you mean extending farther from the end plate of the concertina?

I've experimented with building replacement handles which are higher (extending farther from the end plate) and sit farther back towards the side (corner) nearest the player. Both of these allow my long fingers a more comfortable arc to the buttons, where the pads of my fingers are farther from my palm, if that makes sense. My fingers are therefore straighter than in the old position.

I've done this on cheap Italian and Chinese boxes, where the strap is connected on both ends of the handle, unlike the system on real concertinas where the strap connects via a thumb screw at the top edge of the concertina. With the thumb-screw system, I don't know if you could easily move the handle position without creating problems, although I suppose some solution could be found.

I put a post up a while back asking for information on button spacing and handle position of various concertinas, specifically the difference between 20 and 30 keys, trying to deal with this same problem.

#11 goran rahm

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Posted 03 November 2003 - 01:40 PM

QUOTE (goran rahm @ Oct 1 2003, 11:48 PM)
...the bar holding the straps ought to be transformed into a wider, higher and steadier support.


Chris:By "higher" do you mean extending farther from the end plate of the concertina?

Goran: Yes, I use mostly about 10-15mm at the thumb side and 40-50mm at the little finger side of the palm.

Chris:I've experimented with building replacement handles which are higher (extending farther from the end plate) and sit farther back towards the side (corner) nearest the player. Both of these allow my long fingers a more comfortable arc to the buttons, where the pads of my fingers are farther from my palm, if that makes sense. My fingers are therefore straighter than in the old position.

Goran:If I understand you right this is fairly alike my own 'handle' despite I also use a thumbstrap from the English 'concept'....You may find some photo in the
"Ergonomic handle..." article in the "Orthopedic problems" section you find in the 'original concertina.net front page
Got any photos of your own?




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