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Using The Fourth (pinky) Finger On Duet Concertina


BruceB
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Hi everyone,

I recall some of the Hayden players discussing using the pinky finger so feel free to jump in. I've been playing some tunes from Richard Carlin's "English Concertina." A fair number of them are in the key of D or A. On the Crane this means that you're going to be playing a lot of the melody notes in the fourth column on the right hand. On Crane, all the accidentals outside the key of C are on the two outside columns, just like on the english concertina. I'm using my pinky to play all the buttons in this column. On a tune like The Liberty Hornpipe (key of D) this means that the pinky is doing a lot of work. I plan on just working through this until I'm as comfortable (or almost) using my pinky as the other fingers. It feels like it would be a bad idea to try and use the pinky less on Crane.

I'm wondering if any Crane players try to use the pinky less. An easy out would be to transpose stuff into the key of C, but I'm not interested in this. Do any of you use the third finger a lot instead of using the pinky? It seems like you have to use the pinky a lot or you'd be limited too much, but it would be interesting if others don't agree.

I remember at least one of you Hayden players said they actively try to use the pinky less. Doesn't seem like this could work well on the Crane.

 

bruce boysen

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Bruce,

 

For me the pinky is just another finger. It is the outside most, so naturally it will be on the outside two columns the most, just like the index finger will be on the inside two columns most of the time. However, there are times where you will need it in the center column or even more inward as you get to trickier tunes and/or chords. The inverse, or whatever, is true for the index. A great deal depends on what is going on with the other fingers or what is coming up or where you were just before. Whenever you play four note chords on the same side, you will find every finger you have to be useful!

 

Right Hand

 

in or indexside x x x x x out or pinkyside

in or indexside x x x x x out or pinkyside

in or indexside x x x x x out or pinkyside

in or indexside x x x x x out or pinkyside

in or indexside x x x x x out or pinkyside

 

Left Hand

 

out or pinkyside x x x x x in or indexside

out or pinkyside x x x x x in or indexside

out or pinkyside x x x x x in or indexside

out or pinkyside x x x x x in or indexside

out or pinkyside x x x x x in or indexside

 

Kurt

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Although I play Hayden, I use my pinkies just as much as any other finger - or perhaps a bit more accurately - I use my right pinky as much as I use the rest of my right fingers. To do otherwise would really compromise my ability to play. OTOH (literally), I should probably use my left pinky just as much but find that I tend to use my stronger fingers more often but *do* use my pinky a lot anyway - especially when playing counterpoint on that side. I think I would be a better player if I wasn't quite so lazy and used my pinky more on that side.

 

A couple of years ago at a duet workshop at NESI this usage of pinkies came up and I remember David Cornell (Maccann player) saying that he uses his pinky as much as his other fingers BUT that he would sometimes compromise on the left side as he found himself using his "stronger" fingers.

 

I have just a rudimentary playing knowledge of Crane and Maccann so don't know how much pinky underutilization would "cost" on those systems.

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I remember at least one of you Hayden players said they actively try to use the pinky less. Doesn't seem like this could work well on the Crane.

 

I can't address the Crane issue. But as an Anglo player, I've been evolving on the question of pinkies.

 

Initially, I went to great lengths to avoid using my left pinky because, well, the brain-finger connection appears particularly weak in my aged nervous system.

 

But I began to see the huge limitations this would impose, and so took a different tack: strengthening exercises and practice.

 

I try to start practice sessions with scales that really focus on the left hand, peripheral fingers. It makes a real difference in my playing.

 

At some dances, folks around here like to play a tune that is torture for Anglo players -- fast runs of left hand notes with a big emphasis on the pinky and its close neighbors. I find I can handle it if, in the hurried moments before the dance begins, I do a bunch of left-hand scales.

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Thank you Kurt, Rich & Jim.

 

A Hayden Duet Technique Question was the thread that I was thinking of when I asked about some Hayden players using their pinky less.

 

In it, David Barnert wrote.....

>>I find myself using my 1st finger a lot more than above and my 4th finger a lot less. It means sometimes having to play two consecutive notes with the same finger, and perhaps this is something that should be avoided, but I don't find it a problem.

I play most major scales with 1-2-3-1-2-3-3-1, sometimes ending with 4-2, depending on what happens next. I almost never use my 4th finger except for playing leading tones (raised 7) in minor keys or playing a raised 4th in a major key.

A couple of years ago, I tried relearning all the tunes I knew using a more politically correct fingering, but I found it very frustrating and abandoned it.

<<

 

Jim,

I was wondering about the anglo. How much the pinky is used must vary quite a bit among different players. On the english lots of people never use their pinkies and some players don't use their third finger, or just not on one hand! I guess it all works.

 

I'm going to spend a lot of effort getting my pinkies up to speed with the other fingers and purposely play in keys that force me to use them a lot. Thanks everyone.

bruce boysen

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I was wondering about the anglo. How much the pinky is used must vary quite a bit among different players. On the english lots of people never use their pinkies and some players don't use their third finger, or just not on one hand! I guess it all works.

 

I'm going to spend a lot of effort getting my pinkies up to speed with the other fingers and purposely play in keys that force me to use them a lot. Thanks everyone.

 

Part of my problem is that I am partial to tunes that roam across the keyboard. The tune I was referring to in my previous post was Highlanders Farwell; the A part is all notes at the very extremes of the left side of the anglo; the B part ranges to the upper registers. A true workout. The technique of using mostly the strongest fingers just doesn' work with such tunes.

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While I try to use my "clever" fingers as much as possible, I do make fairly heavy use of the left pinky.

 

With my layout, I can play F#-E-D (which occurs fairly often) all on the push in the lower octave by playing middle finger, pinky, ring finger.

 

I make less use of the right pinky than would be ideal, partly because I don't tend to go as far up on the right hand side, but mostly because about 20 years ago I smashed that finger fairly well. And while it healed fine for normal use, the joint is pulled out of true by tendon scarring, and so if it is extended fully out to the right, it tries to lock up rather than bend.

 

--Dave

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I (an anglo player) find I am enjoying a burst of being able to play more than one note at once at the moment, and this certainly involves giving the left pinky a workout. By the end of a run through the tunes I am currently working on the left pinky is glowing and well-exercised! The right pinky just gets the odd note to play, so far ...

Samantha

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As an anglo player the left little finger is invaluable for morris particularly for the forth button down on the push (D) or pull (F#). It also forms the anchor for lower end of most of my chords - all of which are 4th or 5th button down. I think it is just a question of using it and dexterity has improved (in my case).

 

BTW must we use the silly description p****y :angry: ! Perhaps it's a cultural patato/potato, tomato/tomaato thing but it REALLY winds me up.

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  • 3 weeks later...

Hi. We discussed this a bit in an anglo workshop at Witney this year. Personally, I use the little finger in the right hand extensively but much less in the left hand. If I am playing an unaccopmanied tune the left hand little finger comes into play but I find that I much prefer the third finger for low notes when playing chords or 'oompah' type figures. I have long fingers and getting the little finger to flex inwards accurately and in time is something I find quite hard.

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