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Ann Sanders

Handrest

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This could well be a strange question! Whilst I know what it says on the tin, how is the handrest actually used or does that question tell me and others that I currently have a problem? I press the concertina(Anglo)  in with the heel of my hand and pull with the strap, leaving the handrest redundant. Should I be leaning some part of my hand on the handrest especially for pressing? One of the reasons I ask is that I sometimes make the mistake of pressing the instrument in with my thumb as opposed to the heel and of course sometimes on the button I’m playing which I know is a bad idea. My thumb is now starting to chafe on the joint where it is making contact with the edge of the strap. Painful. I hope this question makes sense! Thank you. 

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No Don, it’s not. It lies on top of it and unfortunately the joint lies right on the edge of the strap, the edge furthest away. I could see about getting a strap that is wider at that point. I have tried setting my hand differently and it doesn’t really work for me. 

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Ann

 

I had a similar problem a while ago.  I bought a plastic thumb splint from the local pharmacy which I kept in place on my thumb with a bit of electrical insulating tape (just wrapped around the splint, not actualy taped to my thumb).  I wore this when playing for a couple of weeks while my thumb healed.  After that I never needed it again - I had forgotten about it until I read your post.

https://photos.app.goo.gl/QgQQd9bvB6u8fax39

Look on Amazon for thumb splints and you will find an amazing number of them to choose amongst.

  • Thanks 1

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20 hours ago, Don Taylor said:

Ann

 

I had a similar problem a while ago.  I bought a plastic thumb splint from the local pharmacy which I kept in place on my thumb with a bit of electrical insulating tape (just wrapped around the splint, not actualy taped to my thumb).  I wore this when playing for a couple of weeks while my thumb healed.  After that I never needed it again - I had forgotten about it until I read your post.

https://photos.app.goo.gl/QgQQd9bvB6u8fax39

Look on Amazon for thumb splints and you will find an amazing number of them to choose amongst.

Thanks Don. I’m using corn plasters at the moment

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Ann, a few thoughts:

Quote

I press the concertina(Anglo)  in with the heel of my hand and pull with the strap.

This can create problems. In my opinion, the primary contact point for pressing should be where the thumb touches the hand rest. I think you want the pressure points for in and out contact to be on the same vertical plane. This allows you to keep the two sides of the instrument more or less parallel as you operate the bellows (or if not parallel, at least on the same attitude pushing and pulling). If you press with the heals of your hands, the bellows rocks back and forth on a vertical axis, as well as in and out. This cuts down on speed and control and is inefficient. Your wrists, muscles and tendons are working harder than they need to. Here is a clip of Michael O Raghallaigh. 

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7elrAvT-_mI

 

He doesn't keep the faces parallel, but the comfortable angle he favors does not change with direction. 

 

Quote

I sometimes make the mistake of pressing the instrument in with my thumb as opposed to the heel and of course sometimes on the button I’m playing which I know is a bad idea. 

I don't think this is a mistake or a bad idea, for reasons stated above; and I don't see any problem with allowing some of the inward pressure to be shared between the thumb and the button finger. This contributes to keeping the faces of the instrument parallel.

 

Quote

Should I be leaning some part of my hand on the hand rest especially for pressing?

In my own playing, I find that my palm comes in light contact with the hand rest on the push (I play with loose straps); but it doesn't really bear any inward pressure. That is all the thumb and the button finger. 

 

Quote

My thumb is now starting to chafe on the joint where it is making contact with the edge of the strap. Painful. 

If you break your wrists with every bellows direction change (which I assume you are doing now), your thumb will rub along the inside edge of the thumb contact point on the hand rest. If you are really keen, and you're playing a lot, that is bound to hurt. If you play with your wrists straight, your thumb will stay in one place on the rest bar. 

 

What I am saying here is just my opinion, of course. It is based on a lot of time spent watching good players, and on my own trial and error. Others might have different ideas. I hope it helps. If you have any questions, PM me. Good luck.  

Edited by Jim Burke

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I find that instead of pushing in with the heel of my hand against the instrument, I instead make some contact against the hand rest with the edge of my palm farthest from my thumb, and also some contact with my thumb against the instrument on the strap, and by arching my hand slightly I create just a little tension with the back of my hand against the hand rest.  This way there is very little slop in the movement of my hand relative to the concertina ends when changing from push to pull, as if the straps were tight.   But just a slight change in the shape of that arch allows my hand to move around as needed, because the straps are actually somewhat loose.   This completely fails if the straps are excessively loose of course.

 

So the end of the hand rest closest to the thumb is some distance away from my hand, most the time.  I am intrigued by shaped hand rests that Jake offers as an option at Wolverton Concertinas.   https://wolvertonconcertinas.com/concertina-ergonomics/  I have never tried one of these instruments, but would strongly consider one if in the market for another instrument in future.

 

These look made to fit that slightly arched shape under the palm, which I think if properly fitted would reduce the pressure I feel on the outer edge of my hand after a while, by spreading that contact over more of the palm.  It might also mean less pressure against the thumb, although I haven't thought about that often.  The joint of my thumb seems to fall directly on the strap rather than the edge, so the leather acts as a cushion for me, instead of an irritant.

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