Small hands and the concertina

Small hands and the concertina

I have just started learning the concertina with a vintage 20 button Anglo. I have very small hands, with short fingers, and the hand straps cut between my thumbs and index fingers. Any suggestions? I am researching thinner straps, or straps with a suede backing. I didn’t do any research about the size of the concertina before I bought it, but I really like the one I have and would just like to figure out how to play it comfortably. Thanks.

Re: Small hands and the concertina

I have had a McNeela Wren for a few months now. I had a similar problem to what you describe. After looking at how Caitlín Nic Gabhann (concertinalessons.com) holds her concertina, I adjusted my straps to be tighter, which seems counter-intuitive! However, with a firmer grip the weight of the concertina is now being managed by my full hand, not the space between thumb and second finger. As a bonus, I am playing more comfortably and with more control. The straps are not super tight on my hands, but when I got the concertina they were adjusted for much larger hands and much too loose for me! I also put felt dots on a couple of screws that were rubbing against my thumb. No issues now! I would recommend a few online lessons. Caitlin’s are very good, but I am sure there are others. Hers have a camera view of each side of the concertina as she teaches, which has helped me a lot with posture, technique, learning the button options, etc. You might find some small adjustments may be enough to make playing more comfortable.

Re: Small hands and the concertina

I should also have mentioned Caitlin addresses in her lessons how to hold the concertina on the thighs to balance the weight, so that there is less weight on your hands.

Re: Small hands and the concertina

I had a similar problem when trying to reach some buttons on the low and high ranges and found that wearing a fingerless glove filled in the hand size and softened the strap effect. Also wrist bands for athletes will work by wearing them over the knuckles.

Re: Small hands and the concertina

I’ve been playing Anglo now for about 15 years, style and technique based on Noel Hill’s workshops and his ergonomic approach to the instrument, anchored on the left side. I also have fairly small hands and play with somewhat loose straps, about 3/8" inch of space between the bar and my left hand and maybe 1/4" inch on the right. The primary contact points on my left hand are the thumb on the strap block and the pinky edge of my left palm. This allows a natural relaxed curve of my fingers through my arm and wrist to the buttons and avoids having to bend the fingers unnaturally backwards when playing. Left side is securely anchored on an instrument corner point on the inside curve of my left thigh, and I also put a piece of leather ($5.00 8" square from many craft stores, also makes a great popping strap for Uilleann pipes) under the instrument to further stabilize it so I don’t have to put any energy in my left hand or arm to stabilize the instrument.

Re: Small hands and the concertina

Hi
I had that problem too , specially the strap hurting between my tumb and index. I sent my concertina for repair to Colin Dipper at one stage (many moons ago) and also asked him for a solution to that - he sent me very simple straps (just soft leather , no frills or padding etc) with a clever cut out for this area which allows my hands to move a little closer to the buttons but more important the sensitive zone between tumb and index is not really in contact with the strap. I need to find a way to send you a photo and trace the strap cutout to paper for you. By messenger ?

Re: Small hands and the concertina

Thank you all, for your comments and suggestions! Carole