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#1 Steve Griffiths

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Posted 26 August 2016 - 03:11 PM

I have been playing EC for the past 3 years (since I retired) - Lachenal 48 button. All was going well until I developed pains in the thumb joints. I don't know whether the concertina caused the problem, but it is now difficult to play for any length of time.
So, two questions:
1. Would wrist/hand straps on an EC help?
2. Should I take up the Anglo instead? (I've tried a duet but found it unsympathetic)

#2 Steve Wilson

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Posted 26 August 2016 - 05:34 PM

To answer the first question, wrist straps have definitely helped me. A few years ago after I started playing an hour or two every day I developed pain in my right thumb and wrist straps manage the problem. I still have some very slight pain pretty well all the time with the issue developing into a ganglion cyst but the wrist straps make a huge difference.  Otherwise there is a lot of pressure on the tendons when drawing the bellows.  I'm still playing an hour or two most days.

 

As for playing the anglo, well why not?  Simply to enjoy another system but not instead of the EC, you've already put three years into it!

 

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#3 Steve Griffiths

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Posted 26 August 2016 - 07:23 PM

That would be interesting, but I don't think funds will stretch to both. I have started playing D/G melodeon this year as well.

#4 Geoff Wooff

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Posted 27 August 2016 - 01:51 AM

Yes, wrist straps can take the load off your thumbs. I use them all the time with my larger instrument and sometimes on the normal treble 48, if I have to stand and play.

For normal 'sit down' playing of a Treble EC , and using the 'thumbs pushed all the way into the straps' position I can play for hours on end with little discomfort without the need for wrist straps, but like a sporting activity , I suspect playing the EC is easier when the musclular strength and flexibility has beeen built up in one's youth.

#5 Randy Stein

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Posted 27 August 2016 - 06:35 AM

It may also has to do with how you are holding your instrument. If you allow your EC to fall forward that puts a lot more strain on your thumbs to maintain balance. Try keeping your elbows in and using your thumb and pinky to balance. 

I also often put my hands in very warm water once or twice a day when I am playing a lot. 

 

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#6 John Adey

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Posted 27 August 2016 - 06:45 AM

A few years ago I had a similar problem with marked pain in the first two joints of my thumbs after playing for a short time. Fitting wrist straps cured the problem.

 

The straps allow the lateral stress of bellows movement, especially on the draw, to be borne by the back of your hand rather than the joints of your thumbs.



#7 Steve Griffiths

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Posted 27 August 2016 - 06:32 PM

Thanks, chaps. Some useful thoughts and advice. I will perhaps try a wrist-strapped instrument and if that doesn't resolve the issue it will be an Anglo. Always up for a new musical challenge anyway.

#8 John Wild

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Posted 28 August 2016 - 08:49 AM

I still have some very slight pain pretty well all the time with the issue developing into a ganglion cyst

 

I have a ganglion developing. My doctor's advice was to "whack it with a bible". So far I have not followed that advice!



#9 John Adey

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Posted 28 August 2016 - 09:58 AM

'I have a ganglion developing. My doctor's advice was to "whack it with a bible". So far I have not followed that advice!

 

All medical students used to be taught this way of treating a ganglion, but, rather than having a theological basis, the advice originates from the fact that, for many folks, the only available book of a suitable size to provide the necessary weight to burst the ganglion would be the family bible. Not very subtle, but it provided temporary relief.


Edited by John Adey, 28 August 2016 - 10:01 AM.


#10 Steve Wilson

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Posted 30 August 2016 - 05:08 AM

'I have a ganglion developing. My doctor's advice was to "whack it with a bible". So far I have not followed that advice!

 

All medical students used to be taught this way of treating a ganglion, but, rather than having a theological basis, the advice originates from the fact that, for many folks, the only available book of a suitable size to provide the necessary weight to burst the ganglion would be the family bible. Not very subtle, but it provided temporary relief.

 

I'm not sure ganglions "burst" but rather fade away if they go.  Two days ago a friend advised he massaged his cyst constantly (well almost I suppose) and it vanished!  I've been massaging a lot since.  I think it's working!!



#11 John Wild

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Posted 30 August 2016 - 07:42 AM

"I'm not sure ganglions "burst" but rather fade away if they go.  Two days ago a friend advised he massaged his cyst constantly (well almost I suppose) and it vanished!  I've been massaging a lot since.  I think it's working!!"

 

I'll try that, thank you. It does not interfere with playing (so far).



#12 Henrik Müller

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Posted 07 September 2016 - 05:59 AM

Hi, Steve -

Let me throw in my two cents here:

 

I have played EC since 1977, and with time - and more confidence in playing - I developed pains in my thumb joints. I am one of those players who holds the instrument with the outer tip of the thumb, since I otherwise have difficulties reaching low notes *). That doesn't make the situation better. So the more I attempted adding more dynamics to a tune, the more pain I had.

 

Fast forward to SSI 2003, I think, when I stumbled upon a Stagi Miniature and realised that, in spite of missing low notes and a general low-quality instrument (sorry, Stagi owners, nothing personal), I could play more freely and better than on my 1909 48B, ME Wheatstone.

 

As a result I ended up building an instrument, based on the  some of the physical properties of the Stagi, but with greater range. These properties were:

 

"Scaled-up" distance between buttons, more space horizontally

The buttons go all the way down, don't stop half-way.

 

Since the design of the new instrument was based on my fooling around with the Stagi, it also involved Anglo-like hand straps and hand rests - the latter being tilted a bit downwards, to facilitate a roughly 25° "fingering direction" as opposed to a classic "vertically up and down the rows". The thumb strap? Gone. The pinkie rest? Gone.

 

Right, I am coming to it... soon...

 

The instrument was ready in 2006 and I estimate that since then I have played approx. 3500 hours. Non-stop sessions (ITM) of 3-6 hours and not a pain in sight.

 

What I didn't know was the design, especially the wider button spacing and the "all-the-way-down buttons" allowed - or led to - a new type of fingering (more room to do "illegal moves").

 

Out of curiosity I've tried the wrist straps on my wife's Æola - great. Yes! - that would do it - apart from the "so many buttons, so little space"-feeling, the confidence from having control with the whole arm instead of the thumbs is the same.

 

So I would say: make, have one made, buy, borrow a set of wrist straps. Once they are on, focus on the feeling of having all the pull across the hands and the thumbs fully relaxed. Good luck!

 

/Henrik

 

*) Play "Farrell O'Gara" with the thumbs all the way in the straps. No fun.

 

 

 



#13 Geoff Wooff

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Posted 08 September 2016 - 09:58 PM

So, this all depends to a large extent on one's hand shape, length of fingers etc. For me, playing tunes like Farrell O'Gara with my thumbs jammed all the way into the straps does not cause any great discomfort... yes things can get a little crammped at the lower end of the keyboard and being able to 'lean back' into a pair of wrist straps is a help.

However, on a Baritone /Treble it is necessary to reach down a whole octave further, yes the thumb straps and button layout is shifted a little, but it is possible to play Jigs and Reels an octave below the normal 'fiddle' pitch with very little dificulty beyond the reversal of fingerings, again the wrist straps help with positioning when sliding the thumbs out a little from their somewhat looser straps. Pushing one's thumbs fully back into the straps to help reach the top end of the keyboard for tunes like 'The Mathematician'.

Of course a position where one can reach both ends of the keyboard at the same time is ideal for more complex arrangements , chords and melody combined etc.

Edited by Geoff Wooff, 09 September 2016 - 05:37 AM.


#14 BW77

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Posted 12 September 2016 - 02:20 AM

Of course a position where one can reach both ends of the keyboard at the same time is ideal for more complex arrangements , chords and melody combined etc.

 

I guess this might be achieved if the lower part of the endplate was raised (say 20-40 mm) as with some old style bandoneons and combined with a wrist strap being wider than the common ones ( say 50 mm ) -  unless you rotate the EC keyboard 90 degrees and manipulate it transversely instead ( as with the Anglo ) 



#15 Geoff Wooff

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Posted 13 September 2016 - 12:19 AM

Of course a position where one can reach both ends of the keyboard at the same time is ideal for more complex arrangements , chords and melody combined etc.

 
I guess this might be achieved if the lower part of the endplate was raised (say 20-40 mm) as with some old style bandoneons and combined with a wrist strap being wider than the common ones ( say 50 mm ) -  unless you rotate the EC keyboard 90 degrees and manipulate it transversely instead ( as with the Anglo )


Well, it is achieveable, if not always fully, on the standard EC by using four fingers, letting the two outer fingers cover the lower notes whilst the other two play further up the keyboard. Not quite 'stride Piano' but much can be done , with practice.
Rotating the instrument to change the angle of the keyboard can be helpfull and not straping the hands too tightly onto the ends so as to allow for flexibility of positioning... finding one's own comfort zone .

Edited by Geoff Wooff, 13 September 2016 - 12:29 AM.


#16 BW77

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Posted 13 September 2016 - 02:21 AM


Well, it is achieveable, if not always fully, on the standard EC by using four fingers, letting the two outer fingers cover the lower notes whilst the other two play further up the keyboard. Not quite 'stride Piano' but much can be done , with practice.
Rotating the instrument to change the angle of the keyboard can be helpfull and not straping the hands too tightly onto the ends so as to allow for flexibility of positioning... finding one's own comfort zone .

 

I wonder...I would rather say that 3 rows ( as with the common Anglo ), or maybe 4, is what may be regarded as fairly  comfortable. When we get to 6 rows or even more as with the common Englishes ( and large Duets) it is hardly manageable playing with a fixed hand position - you have to slide as you say with the thumb in its strap or rotate the hand with the thumb acting as a pivot. To me your method separating the job between outer fingers and the others seems to call for extreme dexterity or finger flexibility and you hardly reach the extremes with a 56 or 64 key instrument, do you? Even with a lot of practice...

 

The point with the bandoneon design in this respect is that the elevated hand works in a more physiological neutral position ( with the wrist neither extended nor flexed ) and the fingers may act in a more relaxed position too. The reachable keyboard zone becomes larger ( compare with keyboards of Bandoneons) and the palm of the hand may slide comfortably while retaining its contact with the instrument making management of the bellows more stable and thus offering better articulation as well since the hand will not wobble as much between the endplate and the wrist strap. Don't you experience that with your baritone-treble? With the common treble it is worse, players with average size hands hardly get any comfortable contact between the palm and the endplate at all and setting a wrist strap tight will lock the wrist in a very awkward hyperextended position.



#17 Geoff Wooff

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Posted 13 September 2016 - 07:58 AM

I did find that getting to the top rows of a large duet (right hand side) was a stretch too far for my hand size. On one occasion I moved the hand rails closer to the key board.

On a 56k key English I can manage to play the top and bottom notes simultaneously on each hand... not that such a situation arises often during a piece but perhaps as part of a finishing chord it is possible. A certain degree of flexibility, dexterity and relaxed holding do help as well as long years of familiarity and practice.

I am more inclined to keep multiple button playing ( harmonies and chords) closer to the melody line with the addition of truncated bass lines when space allows. You can find several example recordings I made during the 'Tune of the Month' forums of 2013 & 2014... starts in March 2013 "The Fiery Clockface, page 3 . Further recordings on Soundcloud under my name... nothing professional you understand.

Edited by Geoff Wooff, 13 September 2016 - 09:45 AM.


#18 BW77

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Posted 13 September 2016 - 11:29 AM

1.... I did find that getting to the top rows of a large duet (right hand side) was a stretch too far for my hand size. On one occasion I moved the hand rails closer to the key board.

2).... On a 56k key English I can manage to play the top and bottom notes simultaneously on each hand..

3) ...I am more inclined to keep multiple button playing ( harmonies and chords) closer to the melody line with the addition of truncated bass lines when space allows. You can find several example recordings I made during the 'Tune of the Month' forums of 2013 & 2014.

Re 1) Moving the hand rail surely gets you closer to the keyboard but the restriction of the action range is still same, isn't it? If the lower endplate had been elevated ( Bandoneon-wise) the hand might slide smoothly underneath the strap and flexibility would be improved, don't you think?

 

Re 2 ) But then you either have to hit the low buttons with the finger nails or rotate the instrument quite a bit?

 

Re 3) I checked your recording and it sounds to me as if you mainly make leaps between high and low notes and put in the low notes when they come in handy in the melody line, rather than play high and low notes simultaneously? No critics , I just wonder.... Polyphonic playing with the English and particularly accompaniment of a melody line really is a challenge and picking the "right" tunes for it makes things more achievable for sure. Waltzes for instance all by them-selves may offer pretty good conditions...many marches too I think






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