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C/g Anglo- Stress On Joints


Rick C.
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I like Larryo's take on "music as life". Is it the human dilemna to enjoy only temporary happiness while believing more always needs to be accomplished?

Is the belief in one's unlimited potential ultimately replaced with a reconcilliation to life's limitations?

 

Is there a pilosophy.net ?

 

I think Rick has answered his own question in his evaluation of the playing prowess of the general concertina population. If few measure up to your criterea then the last step is to sharpen the pencil of self-examination and see if you are a possible exeption. If you are not, then....

 

Or, as Larryo has suggested, do other considerations become important and fullfilling?

 

I find some comfort in the idea that many of life's endeavors often end with results quite different than initial expectations. It's an adventure.

 

As my local Camdodian restaurant owners say regarding their menu: "Never try; never know."

 

Welcome to the concertina adventure.

 

'nough talk. I'd better go practice and play.

 

Greg

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I like Larryo's take on "music as life". Is it the human dilemna to enjoy only temporary happiness while believing more always needs to be accomplished?

Is the belief in one's unlimited potential ultimately replaced with a reconcilliation to life's limitations?

 

Is there a pilosophy.net ?

From a Taoist perspective happiness lies not in events themselves, but in our perception of those events and in our expectations - see The Vinegar Tasters for a bit more on this.

 

...What bites about this is the deciding factor will be how much each of these hurt-- and also whether I think I'd still be able to be gettin' after it on that instrument 15-20 years from now. No way to tell the future of course, but I'd really like to avoid another situation such as I'm facing now...

...When I mentioned the possibility of piano accordion, he said, "Yeah, but that's not cool"...

...I can still play mandolin fairly well so I'm not out of Irish music altogether...

...I didn't spend 12 years and thousands of dollars chasing Irish box just to be back where I was 20 years ago, on mandolin...

FWIW it seems (IMHO) that there are several issues here...

 

You are understandably in a mindset of having lost something and wanting to find a way to reclaim it as best you can and as quickly as you can. You are looking for some indication that if you choose instrument A then in X years you'll be back playing where you were with no further issues. The problem with this is that you are probably never going to get back to a level you consider acceptable with this approach. Every hour of practice will be a reminder of what you've lost now you can't play box, meaning you'll come to associate the feeling of that loss with your practising, and you'll feel constant frustration at how hard it is to do something that you used to find so easy - which is not a route to happiness or virtuosity on any instrument. It's more productive to find an approach where you feel you're moving forward in a new direction rather than trying to get back to where you were before.

 

You have encountered a physical weakness. It's obviously not possible to predict the future, but I think it would be reasonable to guess that if you are encountering problems with your fingers playing an instrument on which you push buttons, it is quite likely that in moving to another instrument on which you push buttons might well lead to similar or more extensive problems over time, particularly if you start practising heavily to reattain your previous level. Possibly something to discuss with your doctor before you decide which path to take?

 

You want to participate in Irish music and have the ability to do so on Mandolin. In the short run, and quite possibly in the longer run until your playing on the new instrument is up to speed, it seems that whatever choice you make, the Mandolin will be the main instrument you'll be using to participate. You're lucky (though I understand it may not seem that way) in that many musicians only play the one instrument and in your situation would be denied any participation in the music they love.

 

I think that you need to examine your motivations. Do you want to play a particular instrument for the love of the instrument, for the sound, for the image (is it a cool/uncool instrument), for the social aspects of playing ITM, for camaraderie with fellow players of that instrument, for how traditional an instrument it is in ITM, for the feeling of playing high energy music, etc....? It's not a question of right or wrong, just identifying the most important things to you. For instance if you just love a particular instrument then maybe the journey is it's own reward. If however it's playing high energy ITM that you love, then maybe you'd be better off directing your energies to branching out in an area you know you can physically sustain and already perform at a high level with i.e. Mandolin - maybe branching out to relatives like Octave Mandolin, Mandola, Cittern etc...? Examining your motivations will hopefully help you to arrive at a pragmatic decision.

Edited by Woody
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Hello Rick

 

I have two very simple suggestions for you.

 

One. If the pain in your little finger is the sole reason you are considering changing instrument, then don't. Stick with C#/D, and spend six months learning to play all those tunes you have under your belt without using the little finger. Not only is it entirely possible to do without the little finger in virtually every, if not every, situation, but I'll bet that doing so will also make you a better player. I speak as someone who was advised to do this at an early stage of my learning the box, not for reasons of pain, but for reasons of technique. Nearly all the top C#/D players hardly ever use their pinky, and some not at all. An easier and safer option than taking up another instrument that is an unknown quantity.

 

Two. You're not that old. Do something about the arthritis. Greg J's suggestion is a good one. Coincidentally I have just finished editing the manuscript of a book on dealing with arthritis and other painful conditions, written by an American MD with a holistic approach. Attempting to boil down the most important message of his book into a couple of sentences: at the heart of arthritis (and many other painful conditions) is a chronic inflammatory process. You can (says the good doctor) control, arrest and even reverse the inflammation, joint damage and pain by paying careful attention to your diet and taking supplements (including glucosamine and chondroitin). The key dietary requirement is to bring your intake of Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids into balance. They are both vital, both involved in the inflammatory process, but they are antagonistic. In the typical modern western diet, there is far too much Omega-6 and far too little Omega-3. If I were you, I would try this approach. In many cases it seems that dramatic results have been obtained and I am told by a well-informed medical editor that mainstream medical thinking is moving closer and closer to this approach.

 

Best of luck

Steve (your ED 2005 classmate)

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Thanks fellows. Woody, I think you've been reading my mind! Steve, great to hear from you, I hope you're well up there in the cold, cold North! Larry, I hope things work out for you, hang in there.

 

All those things mentioned have gone through my mind (well actually, have been about all that's on my mind lately). From examining what's important and why, to playing with 3 fingers-- which I've found very frustrating, by the way, Steve, but I haven't given up on it. Honestly, the B/C tunes I still have are easier to make that change on, but probably only because I'm not trying to reprogram so many years of muscle memory. So that's being weighed against learning a new instrument totally from scratch, thus the concertina questions as well as possibly considering PA though the little finger is still used but is not having to combat bellows force at the same time.

 

One thing I did do a couple of weeks ago was to borrow my old Mengascini C#/D box back from a former student who bought it from me. I much prefer the sound of the Saltarelle (I'd had that box about a week when I took it to East Durham, Steve), but the little Mengascini (same box as James Keane's Borelli) is physically much easier to play. Took the box to the local session and had maybe 10 tunes on it the whole night, nothing too taxing. Had to ice that finger down when I got home, I've never had to do anything like that after playing music!

 

While I've never been much into holistic stuff, it certainly has my attention now. I'll have to deal with this whether I play music or not, and I started the glucosamine regimen about 3 weeks ago. Can't tell yet whether it helps.

 

Thanks again, and I won't try to address the good points Woody brought up right now-- I'd be typing half the day and few would want to wade through all that!

 

 

Rick

Edited by Rick C.
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Rick,

Be pateint with the glucosamine. I didn't notice anything significant until 5-6 weeks, then noticible relief.

 

Maintenance! Like old instruments its doing lots of little things to keep everything in working order. Older bodies, older instruments.

 

Good luck!

 

Greg

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After another trip to the doctor yesterday, I've been re-reading the posts here.

 

Larry, I don' t think I gave a decent response to you, but I certainly thought about it at the local session Monday night when my former student handed me her C#/D box (the one I played for a few years and sold to her). I made it through Gravel Walks, but it wasn't fun. The ortho surgeon called me out into the hall to look at the X-rays yesterday, and pointed out the white line at the last joint of the little finger, which had no dark in it as all the other joints did. No cartilage, bone-on-bone.

 

"See that, Rick? That's not from injury, that's mileage".

 

So while I haven't lost the use of that finger for normal stuff, in the context of playing button accordion, I have. Am I alone in sometimes wishing I could somehow make ITM not so important to me? Life would certainly be simpler. I've done that from time to time over the years, usually in the wake of a band breakup and all the Badness that comes with that. But after a couple of weeks of doing something else, I have to go right back to it even if it's only playing tunes in my room. (I actually pursued Old Time fiddle for a while, which is both much easier to do and MUCH easier to come by in Alabama-- just doesn't do the same thing for me--and Irish fiddle is beyond me.)

 

Steve, I have been working in relearning tunes already, and interestingly enough, the tunes that play in a straight line on D box and have the high B (Musical Priest, Tommy People's, etc.) seem to be fairly easy on which to make the subsitution. What's giving me fits are tunes that go all over the place such as Feral O'Gara, Dm tunes (I don't play that many, but I may just have to concede The Tempest to mandolin, that B part is a handful). The shifting around to put the ring finger in the position the little finger would have makes it tiring to play (at least for now), and on this particular Saltarelle (Irish Bouebe), the high reeds don't speak as easily as they might, which means I have to lean on it a bit when playing up there to even things out. That one thing may have been the largest contributing factor in the RSI. So it appears if I do continue with C#/D I'll need to find an easier-playing box. That can be a frustrating and expensive search! Which is another entirely different issue, it takes a while for a new box to break in, and you don't really know what you have for several months to a year. I'd hoped this one would be easier in the higher range (say, above high G) in time, but after 2 1/2 years, it's still not. I suppose it's possible to have the reeds replaced, but that's a pricey option.

 

So far the biggest drawback to that approach musically is the inability to cut the highest note in a passage because I top out with the ring finger and there's no place else to go. Scrambling to put the middle finger there and cutting with the ring finger is very awkward, and is a pretty disruptive substitution.

 

The only things I know for sure are that:

 

1. Life as I knew it on the box is over

 

2. I need to hit the ground running with something

 

The jury's still out on all this, and again I do appreciate the input from everybody. I hope to meet you all someday, I may be the guy in the corner playing spoons.

 

 

All the best,

 

Rick

Edited by Rick C.
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The only things I know for sure are that:

 

1. Life as I knew it on the box is over

 

2. I need to hit the ground running with something

 

Sounds like harmonica might be worth considering? Similar suck blow system to box, and nothing to strain the joints.

 

A well-known musician in NE England, Will Atkinson, was a box player for many years, gave it up for harmonica in (I think) his 50s or 60s. He played till the end of his life at age 95.

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The only things I know for sure are that:

 

1. Life as I knew it on the box is over

 

2. I need to hit the ground running with something

 

Sounds like harmonica might be worth considering? Similar suck blow system to box, and nothing to strain the joints.

 

A well-known musician in NE England, Will Atkinson, was a box player for many years, gave it up for harmonica in (I think) his 50s or 60s. He played till the end of his life at age 95.

 

 

Theo,

 

'Round here, if you bust out a harp you'd best be blowin' some Blues, or else have a pistol in your pocket if you're not!

 

Interesting idea though. I recall a man in Boston who'd been a box player and lost both hands in an industrial accident. Rather than give up on the music, he had a sort of carousel made with harmonicas in different keys attached. He'd attach his hooks in the eyelets of the harp carousel and go at it. Sort of an odd sight the first time, but there's no doubt the man could play ITM very well indeed on it! Seems the man's name was Conlon.

 

 

Rick

Edited by Rick C.
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Theo,

 

'Round here, if you bust out a harp you'd best be blowin' some Blues, or else have a pistol in your pocket if you're not!

 

Sounds like a grand opportunity to blow away some audience preconceptions!

 

Have a listen to Brendan Power, follow the link to "New Irish Harmonica" CD

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Whenever I'm thinking of jacking something in (whether its music or anything else) I think about Roland Kirk the sax player -- who, after a stroke, rigged up his sax so he could play with what limited mobility he had left. He had it rigged so that every joint on every finger of his good hand had a job to do. And went on to create some of his most memorable music.

 

And he was blind.

 

That, my friends, is loving music.

 

(Did I mention he used to play more than one instrument at once?)

 

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Well don't amputate your arms just yet, Rick, keep working at the three-finger stuff. I think you'll find that all those tunes you mentioned can be handled just fine with no pinky, even the Tempest. For me the key is shifting the hand constantly, shuffling the fingers between buttons, moving in small increments.

 

If you want an easier playing box, what about a Castagnari Dinn II, Dinn III or Tommy? They seem to play themselves, pratically. A well-used one if possible LOL.

 

You may have reached the end of box playing as you know it but I'm sure it's not the end of box playing. Look into the diet stuff - Mediterranean diet: eat lots of salmon, olives, green veg, drink a bit of red wine, and nix the coffee, beer, sugar, fried stuff, coke, red meat and fast food. Take the G&C tablets and multi-vitamins and stay away from those spoons. (You'll probably have to buy a new wardrobe.)

 

Steve

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Theo,

 

'Round here, if you bust out a harp you'd best be blowin' some Blues, or else have a pistol in your pocket if you're not!

 

Sounds like a grand opportunity to blow away some audience preconceptions!

 

Have a listen to Brendan Power, follow the link to "New Irish Harmonica" CD

 

Also have a look at Steve Shaw's Harmonica site.

 

Geoff

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  • 2 weeks later...
The only things I know for sure are that:

 

1. Life as I knew it on the box is over

 

2. I need to hit the ground running with something

 

The jury's still out on all this, and again I do appreciate the input from everybody. I hope to meet you all someday, I may be the guy in the corner playing spoons.

 

 

All the best,

 

Rick

 

Rick,

 

That's where I was 18 months ago. At 50 I found out that I have a neurological disorder called Charcot-Marie-Tooth syndrome, which causes progressive loss of nerve and muscle function at the extremities. Which, unfortunately, is where I keep my fingers.

 

I've played (Irish) flute for 25 years, and B/C box for about 14. I loved that box, worked my ass off, and was making great progress until a couple of years ago, when it seemed like I just couldn't play at speed for any length of time. The little muscles between the fingers - what Spock would use for the "Live long and prosper" sign - were in the process of packing it in. That was very difficult to come to terms with, as you can imagine.

 

After thinking about it for a while, and getting some advice from friends and people like Rich Morse and Frank Edgley, I figured getting a G/C Anglo would keep me in the game. And a year ago at Christmas I lucked into a used Edgley concertina.

 

14 months later, that seems to have been a good route to take. The concertina is enough like the box that a lot of skills are transferable, and I'd say that overall the concertina is physically much easier to play on a number of levels. I know this doesn't relate to anyone else's limitations, necessarily, but there's a reason there are lots of older Irish concertina players around. Having the notes more or less spread over the two hands, and a much lighter instrument makes the whole thing a lot less effort to get around on. Plus, even though the button layout is just as quirky as the accordion, it's more flexible in several ways. So the fingering and memorization strategies that got you through learning the box will still be a big help.

 

My big concern was that after spending a lot of time learning a new instrument, we either wouldn't get along or I'd hit some other physical barrier. So far, that hasn't been the case, apart from a few aches and pains. And, after a year of less-than-dedicated practice, I'm getting to the point where I can learn tunes fairly quickly and play most of the stuff I used to have on the box. I'm not up to session speed yet, but that goal is visible on the horizon. More importantly, I feel like I've got somewhere to go - that I'll be able to keep learning the concertina and enjoying playing for many years.

 

I just wanted to share some thoughts from someone who has gone through the transition from box to concertina without too much physical strain. And I never use my RH pinky.

 

Best of luck with your difficult decision!

 

Greg

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Many thanks Greg, and godspeed on getting your tunes back. It does sound as though your concerns mirror mine, and I do appreciate your input.

 

For the moment I'm concentrating on learning my D box tunes with 3 fingers (which is a real rollercoaster), and looking for a easy-to-handle box. One of my mandolin students just happens to have a Tedrow concertina and brought it with her to her lesson this past Sunday and showed me a couple of scales. So for now Anglo will remain on the back burner, but I'm not yet ruling it out.

 

 

All the best,

 

 

Rick

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