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Playing to muscular exhaustion


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When the instrument is not loud or fast it is tempting to push and pull harder to be able keep up and to hear yourself.  Cheaper accordion reeded instruments and old Lachenals suffer from this in a session environment. Try playing at home for the same length of time and don’t push the speed or volume and see how wrung out you feel. A good instrument takes very little pressure to make a lot of noise. 

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On 5/2/2022 at 2:45 AM, JimR said:

This may not help, but I saw a video today of two young guys doing pushups. One guy did a bunch of pushups every day, the other guy did a bunch of pushups every other day, resting on the off days. At the end the guy who rested on off days was able to do more pushups. Perhaps you could design a similar regimen in your playing?

It might limit my repetoire too much if I limit my playing to "pull" days and "push" days, lol!

 

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On 5/3/2022 at 3:11 AM, Chris Ghent said:

When the instrument is not loud or fast it is tempting to push and pull harder to be able keep up and to hear yourself.  Cheaper accordion reeded instruments and old Lachenals suffer from this in a session environment. Try playing at home for the same length of time and don’t push the speed or volume and see how wrung out you feel. A good instrument takes very little pressure to make a lot of noise. 

It's a good instrument, but you may be onto something, as it's often a very loud session.

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On 4/28/2022 at 2:25 PM, DickT said:

When tying to play anglo I have had a tendency to use all my arm muscles to move the bellows. I have noticed that better players seem to use a lot of wrist rotation to do the reversals.

Ah! This is very interesting. Thank you!

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On 4/28/2022 at 6:39 PM, mathhag said:

So Noel Hill was clear that playing requires the whole upper body. At one of his workshops he rolled up his sleeve to demonstrate his arm development and to show how his muscles were working. I am pretty sure I remember this correctly. I would never want to misrepresent Noel.

I know I have worked on NOT  using my wrists. Right now I am suffering because the muscles I use to play in my upper arms are the same muscles I use to work cleaning up my garden. 
I would bet some light weight exercises might help 

 

I think you've hit the nail on the head, Susan. I think it's an endurance problem. I need to crosstrain for the concertina, lol.

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This is a great and very amusing discussion indeed!😁

But I don't think you need big weight lifting muscles to play concertina, or you could break it in half! What you need is suppleness, of the hands, and fingers, [this is a different kind of strength] - and to make sure you do not tense up, or you can become too consciously always aware of everything [what you should or should not do] ; instead it should be enjoyable, and become also as if your fingers have become part of your instrument, or it is an extension of yourself. Take it easy, and relax, and you will soon uncoil those 'spaghetti' arms [you said you suffer from!].

😁

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Posted (edited)

I played Anglo concertina for about 6.5 hours straight in a session this past Saturday and the biggest issue I had was that the tips of my fingers on my left hand were starting to get sore at about hour 6. 

Playing for long periods of time requires absolute attention to having proper ergonomics in the hold and motion of the instrument.  Any unnecessary tension will at a minimum negatively effect your playing, and at worst ultimately result in injury in the form of tendonitis, neck and shoulder problems, or other issues.

One suggestion that I think many players may benefit from, assuming you're a left side anchor player like myself, is to place a small 10" square of leather or suede ($5 at Michael's craft stores in the USA) on your left thigh on which to anchor the instrument.

This can reduce the amount of energy you need in your left arm to stabilize the instrument on the push allowing you to relax your left upper arm and shoulder more.

One other benefit is that you don't have to dig the corner or edge of the instrument into your leg as much, particularly if you are wearing pants that are made of a slippery fabric (or shorts!), the leather just keeps the corner or edge from slipping. 

I handed out a pile of these years ago at one of Noel's West Coast workshops, they were quite popular.  I always keep one in my concertina case.

Edited by eskin
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Yes, this is a good practical point ( using a pad of some kind to rest your instrument upon when playing).. I always, when sitting, quite habitually .. have a very soft square of material ( a cushion cover actually!). And this makes playing more comfortable, when resting concertina on leg etc.. and it stops the concertina bellows, or wood getting scuffed too!

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