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Exerciser For The Concertina


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A fitness freak of my acquaintance recently showed me his latest exerciser. It reminded me of a toy we used to make for ourselves as children, middle of the last century: we would borrow a large button and some button thread from Mum's workbox, push the thread through one hole of the button and back out through the opposite hole, then tie the thread to a loop. Put your thumbs through the loop, with the button in the middle, and set the button in rotation by flicking the whole thing in a circle a few times to twist the thread. Then pull firmly and evenly, and the button rotates in the opposite direction. Before the thread closes on your thumbs, pull again, and the direction of rotation is reversed. You can keep his up indfinitely (until the thread breaks).


My friend's trainer was very similar, except that there was a metal flywheel weighing some 100 grammes or so instead of a button, the thread was 3 mm perlon cord, and there were metal rings to hook your thumbs into.

Stingy as I am, I got out my old Meccano set, put 2 large pulleys on a short shaft, and threaded some cord through the bolt holes. I even had a couple of metal rings for grips.


And I must say, the thing is absolutely ideal for the concertinist!


You have to continually alter the force applied, first to accelerate the flywheel, then to slow it down before accelerating it in the opposite direction. And when you relax the force, you still have to keep residual tension to prevent the cord going slack.

So it not only strengthens the muscles you need to work the bellows - with your hands in the position they're in while playing - it also trains fine adjustment of the force applied. And even promotes a sense of rhythm, because you have to time the reverse pull correctly, or the flywheel will stop. asnd you need even pressure, without jerking at the grips.


Unlike exercisers with elastic or weights, this one absorbs only as much energy as you're able to put into it. As you get stronger, the flywheel just spins faster, so it's suitable for big and small, men or women. You can work the thing in concertina-playing position, or over your head, or probably behind your back, if you're so inclined, and you notice that different arm and shoulder muscles are getting exercised in each position.


I noticed the effect on my biceps after a couple of days (five minutes or less at one go, whenever I had time) and very soon my dynamics on the concertina started to improve, too. And long practising is less tiring on the arms.


If I knew what it was called, I'd heartily recommend it. Those of you who still have Meccano sets (for the Germans: Märklin-Metall-Bausätze) can ask me for a parts list and instructions for building it.




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wouldn't playing a concertina be the best exercise :blink:





Look at it this way: making music is just as physical an activity as sport.


There are some sports that develop the capabilities needed, others require training methods outside the main activity.


As an oarsman in my young days, I did probably 95% of my training in a boat on the water. A boxer spends a lot less time sparring, and a lot more with roadwork, pungh-bag, punchball, skipping, etc.


Squeeze-boxing is more like boxing. You've got more control over the bellows if you're accustomed to working harder, and can work the concertina well within your limits. Sparring develops skill, not strength or stamina. Playing the concertina also develops skill, not strength or stamina.


Singing is also like boxing. My aged choir-master said that in his young days, a singing teacher would tell prospective pupils, "Work on the land for two years, and then come back to me." I started singing lessons after a season's (successful) competitive rowing. I had no trouble with breath control.


Try it.




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