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Chubby Little Fingers


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Hi Folks:

 

I'm closing in this month on a year of happy playing on my English concertina.

 

As I enter the world of chord and multi-note playing I am starting to notice a few difficulties when it comes to hitting the correct keys with precision.

 

My instructor believes, as I do, that the main problem aside from inexperience in performing these maneuvers, is that my fingers might be a bit on the chubby side or slighty larger than those of the average English concertinist.

 

I am becoming a bit self-conscience/fearful about this while playing as I have to both physically and mentally prepare to attack a chord with the hope that it will all come out correctly.

 

The only solutions to this problem that I have come up with so far are

1) Have my chord playing digits surgically slenderized

 

2) Have custom built an instrument that would open up the closed spacing of a standard keyboard design or find an instrument that might have been made with the keys a bit further apart, possibly for solving just this problem.

 

I have questioned my instructor about the key span on the larger English concertinas (baritone primarily, thinking that maybe I would have to resign myself to a life with a larger instrument) and wondered if the larger instruments might have more spacing between the buttons. He says that the larger instruments were made with the idea that a player of a small/normal concertina (in this case a treble or tenor sized instrument) could easily switch to a larger instrument and continue performing without much physical adjustment. After looking at photos of some of the larger instruments, this appears to be correct.

 

But seriously, has anyone else run into this problem and what were some solutions (if any) that might have been discovered.

 

Was simple hard practice, practice, practice, the answer??

I'm convinced that in the end this will be the solution.

 

I have tried with some success, as bizarre at it might sound (the idea, not the playing) to mentally slenderize my fingers in preparation to attacking a multi-note situation, and to some degree (a very small one) this has worked, since I think it at least helps me to better position my fingers which in turn helps me play more correct notes.

 

Also, and seriously, is anyone out there aware of the differences in the spacing between keys from various manufactuers or is there a spacing standard that all manufacturers have agreed upon and stuck to?

 

Has anyone heard of a custom instrument being built for solving just this problem?

 

Well, just another chapter in the unending saga of the faultlessly designed concertina and it's owner's incorrectly designed body.

 

I look forward to responses.

 

Thanks,

Perry Werner

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I'm afraid the keyboard measures are *very* much standardized and I have not heard of any custom built ones with larger spacing despite I have for 20 years been asking the same question as you Perry...:-)

In my view the English (and Duet) keyboards have 1) too little distance between buttons 2) too small buttons and I've brought this forward actively for 5 years only to meet very little agreement, something I believe is mainly a question of conservative acceptance and habituation (within limits...)

If you actually consider trying to get one with wider spacing keep in touch....!

 

Goran Rahm

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Hi Peter:

I'm using Wheatstone metal ended 48-key Aeola. Serial number off the top of my head is 36982, which I believe was made in the 1960's. Did Wheatstone ever vary the key spacing at different times in their history?

Why are you asking my make and model. What do you have in mind?

 

Best,

Perry

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Perry: But seriously, has anyone else run into this problem and what were some solutions (if any) that might have been discovered.

 

Was simple hard practice, practice, practice, the answer??

I'm convinced that in the end this will be the solution.

 

Yes, I think 'simple hard practice, practice, practice' is probably 90% of the solution. (I'm still working on it.)

 

I don't really have extremely large or broad fingers, they still trip over each other, anyway. Some days, more than others.

 

I find that by playing a set pattern of chord progressions, first trying to use three fingers for each and then two fingers only (dropping one note of each), I can get to where I can easily use the three fingers. Not that this is recommended for any real tune or practical playing, as far as I know.

 

I wrote a little 'song' or whatever for practicing this (and probably a few other things I wanted to work on, at the time). It's called 'Sacred Mountain' and can be found at

http://bellowbelle.com/PPoemsMidis/Other/S...MountainCC4.mid as a midi, and at

http://bellowbelle.com/PPoemsPics/Other/Sa...ountainWeb1.jpg as printable music notation.

 

Maybe it'll give some inspiration and ideas, don't know...and, of course, I am not any kind of pro, just one of the crazies in the neighborhood....

 

anyway, good luck.

 

(hmm...if that notation is really unreadable, let me know and maybe I can find a better file.)

 

Back again...After having a good cup of coffee this morning, I am able to see that there are a few minor mistakes in my notation of Sacred Mountain (nothing serious), so...oops..sorry, I'll fix that soon.

Edited by bellowbelle
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Thanks for the chord excersise.

I think that's a pretty good idea.

I was just a few weeks ago starting to add chords to my warm-ups.

Basically just throwing random chord names at myself and attempting to play them, but this will give me something a bit more concrete to work with.

Seems like a lot of finger cramming, but if I can get to the point where I can do this with some sort of facility, I think it will both physically and mentally give me a good start on dealing with the problem at hand :lol:

Got to do this slowly since I'm just starting to get used to where some of these chords lie under my fingers. Once again practice, practice, practice.

I'll let you know how it goes.

 

 

Perry

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My instructor believes, as I do, that the main problem aside from inexperience in performing these maneuvers, is that my fingers might be a bit on the chubby side or slighty larger than those of the average English concertinist.

Perry,

How about using one finger to depress two buttons next to each other? Your large fingers should be an advantage when doing this. I have somewhat thin fingers and have a hard time getting comfortable holding down two buttons with one finger, but no problems at all with playing block chords with three fingers. Make those big fingers work for you.

bruce boysen

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Back again...After having a good cup of coffee this morning, I am able to see that there are a few minor mistakes in my notation of Sacred Mountain (nothing serious), so...oops..sorry, I'll fix that soon.

:blink: Okay....

 

The mistake was simply that 'Measures 1 through 9' should really be 'Measures 1 through 8.' There's a division in the eighth measure that shouldn't be there, since it makes it too short. So, that's all.

 

Back again with this edit to say that I've added the tune w/explanation, etc. to the Tune-O-Tron here.

Edited by bellowbelle
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Hi Perry,

You will eventually find that the spacing of the keys on your "Aeola" is perfect for all situations and I can assure you that I have seen many men (in the 1930's)whose fingers were stubby and others whose fingers were very long & slim. They were all able to perform well with a variety of music styles. The ONLY route to becoming accustammed to the keyboard is patient practice. All musical instruments have good and bad operating situations . Good luck. JOHN NIXON.

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John:"You will eventually find that the spacing of the keys on your "Aeola" is perfect for all situations"....

 

Goran:Sorry having to say so John but this just is not correct. It ought to be selfevident that differences in constitution between individuals mean that the the 'standard' keyboard spacing can NOT be perfect neither for all players nor for all situations.

 

John:"... and I can assure you that I have seen many men (in the 1930's)whose fingers were stubby and others whose fingers were very long & slim. They were all able to perform well with a variety of music styles."

 

Goran:With practise and selection of music you most certainly may perform excellently by overcoming the problems. This does not exclude the good chances that a more suitable instrument (or spacing in this case...) would make the same performance standard easier to get to...... or even improved.

 

John:"The ONLY route to becoming accustammed to the keyboard is patient practice."

 

Goran: This can not be denied but of course the ambitious musician wants the best possible instrument. Skill can certainly hide some instrumental defects but optimal performance always demands a perfected instrument so why on earth compromise?

 

John:" All musical instruments have good and bad operating situations ."

 

Goran:Accepting things 'as they are' and not searching for ways of improvement like constructive/technical changes in my eyes is a negative approach..despite the hope that lots of practise will give results no doubt is an optimistic attitude.....

 

Goran Rahm

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Hi, Wendy.

 

While I could hear your MIDI fine, I could not view your JPG, just a blank page. When I tried copying and pasting it into another graphics program, I got this message:

 

>The image "http://bellowbelle.com/PPoemsPics/Other/SacredMountainWeb1.jpg"

>cannot be displayed, because it contains errors.

 

I don't think mislabeled measure numbers would account for this. :)

 

Any thoughts?

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:rolleyes: Hi Wendy,

 

I printed out your standard notation version of Sacred Mountain. Of course then I remembered that this thread was about English Concertinas. Ah well, after I master Alan Day's tape, maybe I can do this on the anglo. Or maybe I'll just whip out my piano accordion and try it. Yep, I think that's what I will do.

 

Thanks.

 

Helen

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Hi, Wendy.

 

 

Any thoughts?

Thoughts...hmm.. :rolleyes:

 

Well, I've since put 'Sacred Mountain' into the Tune-O-Tron, and that seems to be working okay. Same midi results, but a corrected copy, and comments are included.

 

The one at my website that you weren't able to see...? Hm, that should have worked (?), but, anyway, I've just deleted the old (that) and added the new, but WITHOUT the comments that the Tune-O-Tron one includes, which I think shed some light...anyway, the new (but less informative) site link is here.

 

Best bet is to see the Tune-O-Tron copies, I think.

 

Hey, I like your new 'sig,' BTW (at least I think it's fairly recently added as a sig)!

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:rolleyes: Hi Wendy,

 

I printed out your standard notation version of Sacred Mountain. Of course then I remembered that this thread was about English Concertinas. Ah well, after I master Alan Day's tape, maybe I can do this on the anglo. Or maybe I'll just whip out my piano accordion and try it. Yep, I think that's what I will do.

 

Thanks.

 

Helen

Hm, I don't know if I've played this on my piano accordion. I'll have to try it...tomorrow, that is.

 

See the post I just added in this thread, to Dave Barnert, for some more info, too...

 

As for Anglo, I'm totally lost, there -- someday maybe I'll want to play one, but, I don't know if this could even be played easily on one.

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;) Hi Wendy,

 

I haven't given your piece a go yet on the PA, but I think I'll give it a shot right now. Will let you know how it works out. You see, I've convinced myself that I can play anything on the PA and will eventually translate that ability to the anglo.

 

I think this thinking is called delusional, but it works for me.

 

It's got my PA teacher convinced! Well, so far. Well, I only had 2 lessons in 3 months when I was sick, so he hasn't a clue what I'm doing!!!

 

Helen :D :P :o ;) :lol:

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Hi Perry,

You will eventually find that the spacing of the keys on your "Aeola" is perfect for all situations and I can assure you that I have seen many men (in the 1930's)whose fingers were stubby and others whose fingers were very long & slim. They were all able to perform well with a variety of music styles. The ONLY route to becoming accustammed to the keyboard is patient practice. All musical instruments have good and bad operating situations . Good luck. JOHN NIXON.

I think the advice the advice John Nixon was giving was to forget about yourself (stubby fingers) and the instrument and get on with it. That is excellent advice. Imagine going to the maker of a violin (oboe, clarinet, piano . . . anything but a concertina) and asking the maker to make special version to take into account stubby (or long) fingers. You want to make sure the straps are right, etc. It is like the height on a piano bench, I suppose. But one should not lose sight of the fact at it is musicianship, not instruments that make the musician and the music. The only way to get there is to practice or otherwise spend lots of time with an instrument. The rest is trivial. If you have a decent piano and don’t play well, it isn’t the piano’s fault. If the concertina is an exception to this principle, as far as I know, it is the only one.

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Kurt:"I think the advice the advice John Nixon was giving was to forget about yourself (stubby fingers) and the instrument and get on with it. That is excellent advice."

 

Goran:I am repeating myself but this kind of reasoning is so fascinating that I can't stay out.... I simply find it amazingly strange...

Of course...IF you mean that tools/instruments can not or should not be changed ...for some matter of principle, nostalgia or whatever, you just have to do the best you can with it. BUT...the 'world' had never been static like that ...it changes....

 

Kurt:"Imagine going to the maker of a violin (oboe, clarinet, piano . . . anything but a concertina) and asking the maker to make special version to take into account stubby (or long) fingers."

 

Goran: Despite it would not be irrational at all, these said instruments belong to 'musical world' with *very* strong establishment even harder to change than the 'concertina community'...but it does happen...:-)

Another factor is that some of them are very much based on an 'acoustical concept' which may be reformed too but with great effort. Squeezeboxes however are almost purely 'mechanical devices' with very little acoustical correlation between the sound source and 'design'...meaning that you have immense possibilities to form them according to 'musicians personal wishes' ...if present.

 

Kurt:" But one should not lose sight of the fact at it is musicianship, not instruments that make the musician and the music. The only way to get there is to practice or otherwise spend lots of time with an instrument. The rest is trivial."

 

Goran: I say it again..of course there will be no music without talent and practise...this is not denied...what you Kurt, and John Nixon before, and many others are unconscious about or forget is that your instrument is a 'tool' no different from a hammer or knife of whatever....it may be good or bad...and only with the 'best' you make the 'best' music...you can never escape that, but you often wish to .....for very simple and understandable reasons....some rational, but quite a few emotional.... and not always easy to accept for oneself...

 

Kurt:" If you have a decent piano and don’t play well, it isn’t the piano’s fault. If the concertina is an exception to this principle, as far as I know, it is the only one. "

 

Goran:We were speaking about finger sizes here from the start and that definitely is a possible obstacle with the English and Duet keyboards firstly. You do meet the same problems with many other musical instruments. Since the instrument production really IS so static the result of course is that those individuals who are not fit for a certain instrument don't use it...they have no other choice unless someone supplies them with a 'proper' 'tool/instrument'.

You definitely meet the issue with pianos as well. Many anatomically gifted composers by accident were able to play tenths (or more..) while even octaves may be difficult for 'normal people'. One may adapt the performance according to ones capacity of course and sometimes it may work ok. It ought to be selfevident however that IF a standard measure is used in a rational way you should know what aim there is for the choice.

- Should it be suitable for a certain selected elite...or

- Should it be useful for as many 'common' users as possible..or

- Should it manageable also for children or disabled individuals

 

Next question is whether it could by simple means be possible to offer variation of measures and with concertinas this from a technical point of view actually would mean hardly any problems at all.

 

Goran Rahm

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