Relevant to Irish Music

Relevant to Irish Music

This suggestion is aimed at fiddlers of Irish music who have had the misfortune to lose part of a left hand finger, in my case the most important one, half an inch off the left index finger, the all important pad, nail, you get the idea. Following up on a previous posting, I am happy to report that about a further million whacks with a steel ruler has actually formed a new pad that now makes playing virtually painless. If anyone has suffered such an injury, no need to give up, it can be 95% rectified, but it does take dedication and perseverance 🙂

Re: Relevant to Irish Music

First of congratulations on you persistence in overcoming this obstacle! Secondly, did you seriously have to continuously hit it with a steel ruler to get a pad to form?

Re: Relevant to Irish Music

Fair play to you I can’t imagine what that is like. Tony Iommi, Black Sabbath guitarist made himself 2 (?) prosthetic finger tips after a similar injury. He also tuned his instrument lower to reduce the string tension, thus developing his own style and sound.

Re: Relevant to Irish Music

I did slice a chunk off my left index finger years ago but it formed a kind of pad of scar tissue that actually helped a little in playing bass guitar and double bass, by making it less sensitive and less in need of toughening up if I didn’t play for a while. But it sounds like I lost a fair bit less than you, it came close to the bone but didn’t touch it, and only a bit of the nail was lost, which grew back.
Your treatment sounds extremely painful and prolonged, well done for getting through it and getting a good result.

Re: Relevant to Irish Music

John Carty cut off the tip of his left ring finger in a construction accident many years ago. It healed up nicely, and doesn’t appear much different than his other fingers. But he says that’s why his high A notes are flat… (as if)…

Re: Relevant to Irish Music

The first fiddler I ever heard was a welder by trade, a huge barrel of a man. His fingers were large, but he could make his way around the basic tunes for the local square dances. One day while working in his shop he cut thru the end portion of his left ring finger, which hung by the skin. He cut it off with tin snips and it healed. He then added a cork disc to a thimble and put this on. It was the correct length, but made a loud tap with every 3rd finger note played. His last prosthesis was a baby bottle nipple with something inside to keep it in shape. This worked fine and was silent.
Best wishes for happy playing,
vlnplyr

Re: Relevant to Irish Music

Another player to suffer digit loss was the uilleann piper Liam Walsh. He lost the index finger on his top hand & relearned by shifting his hand position up & making use of his pinky. You can slightly make it out in the picture used for this youtube clip

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WemXL6E-dg4

Re: Relevant to Irish Music

Willy Taylor from Northumberland managed with a missing finger.

Re: Relevant to Irish Music

I was in a flute class at the Willie Clancy week, I think 1986, and met Breton flute player Per Tallec. He was the best of the lot of us. This thread reminded me of him, and I’m delighted to see that he’s still playing, certainly as recently as 2016.
https://youtu.be/Stj5WlYlkYI

Posted by .

Re: Relevant to Irish Music

Hi MdM

Sorry to hear of your predicament again; I remember well, some of the tasteless comments from some years back.

I hope all’s going well with you and that you’re making progress.
There have been some wonderful suggestions for inspiration posted already.

I would add that Willy Taylor lost his left index completely in a turnip cutting accident. He simply used his second as the index and so on. You would never have known.
There was also a fiddle player from Tyrone who had an accident on his finger and lost the top. I recall his name was Jimmy Comac. I think he used a thimble or something like that as a prosthetic. He had a great influence on Cathal Hayden.

From different genres of music there are many who have encountered challenges and produced brilliant music.
I hope you can find inspiration and encouragement in your efforts to achieve your visions too.
All the best
Brian x

Re: Relevant to Irish Music

I smashed a finger badly with a hammer about 10 years ago to where some of its insides popped out. I washed it well and pulled it back with a bandage. Since then it has had neuropathy and is tingly and painful. Thankfully it’s my left pinkie which is virtually useless on flute and whistle.

However, trying to learn concertina was difficult since it’s needed for the F#/D key. I have no sense of where the finger is at any time since the loss of touch sense and the pain was too much to continue. I still play whistle like nothing happened.

Re: Relevant to Irish Music

I recall a classical guitarist I met some 40 years who had a prosthetic fingertip . I couldn’t tell which one when he played. I also seem to remember an Irish/ Old Time fiddler (maybe Ryan Thompson, the name rings a bell) who had to learn to play fiddle left handed because of some medical issue. Hopefully you’ll find a solution. Best of luck.

Re: Relevant to Irish Music

Yay! Congratulations on your perseverance!
Passion conquers all, right?
Happy fiddling!!!!!!

Re: Relevant to Irish Music

I can’t even begin to fathom re-learning the instrument….left handed. Ouch.

Re: Relevant to Irish Music

Kenny— thanks for posting that. No more complaining about my carpal tunnel syndrome.

Ross— Yes, it was Ryan Thompson, aka Captain Fiddle. Local NH boy.

Aaron Olwell is right-handed but lost the tips of some fingers on his left hand. He bows with his left hand and is a master as well of piano, flute, anglo concertina, and clarinet. Puts everything in perspective to learn of these wizards… and not forgetting Django.

Re: Relevant to Irish Music

All this hammers home to me how lucky I was when I skimmed the tip of my left middle finger on a table saw - it could have been much, much worse. As it was, it took off part of the cushion (missing the bone by a millimetre or so) and I was unable to use that fingertip at all for 9 months, then intermittently for another 6 months or so. I was forced to learn new fingering for the mandolin, then, after the first 9 months, switch back and forth between the new and the old fingering, to give the injured finger a rest. It was a great opportunity to i. strengthen my little finger and ii. develop more flexiibility of fingering.

That was all about 18 years ago. That finger rarely gives me any problems now - except, owing to its slightly flattened tip and partial numbness, I sometimes struggle with the intonation of 2nd-finger notes on the fiddle (which I took up a couple of years after the injury).

Re: Relevant to Irish Music

…or that’s my excuse, anyway.