disability being no disability- any one handed fiddlers?

disability being no disability- any one handed fiddlers?

you’ll notice no capitals in this post. i fell over a few days ago and speared a piece of wood through the fleshy part of my left hand. after plastic surgery its now well plastered and wrapped. it will get better as long as i rest it. i just walk past those instruments. a couple of weeks till back into it.
i was lucky it didn’t rip any tendons or break any bones. very lucky.
each medical professional i talked to asked if i was right handed. when this was confirmed, i was told that was lucky also. but i need that left hand for fingering. they don’t think music.
got me to thinking about whether ther are any itm equivalents to django reinhart. i’m told there was an old time fiddler who played a good fiddle with no right hand. who is the outstanding one handed irish trad fiddler

Re: disability being no disability- any one handed fiddlers?

Sorry to hear about your accident. As you say, you are very lucky it wasn’t worse.

I had a student who lost two fingers on her left hand when she was a small child & yet she played Fiddle, Whistle, Mandolin & Bodhran with me.
She is still playing by the way & has just headed off to Uni to do a music related degree - a fact which I am delighted about & which makes me just a wee bit ‘proud’, the fact that I had even a small part in her musical progress.

Re: disability being no disability- any one handed fiddlers?

There was a fiddler who had most oh the fingers of his left hand cut off, and he continued to play, I don’t know how well…

Re: disability being no disability- any one handed fiddlers?

My sympathies to you as well. I broke most of the fingers in my left hand as well (bar brawls and music do not make good companions). It was a long, diffiicult time to heal. I likely started again too soon, but not being able to play made the desire even worse. I did know a guitarist who was missing a couple of fingers. He sounded fine, but wasn’t Irish trad.

For advice you don’t need, give yourself plenty of time to heal. The temptaton to play can be terrible, but why learn Django style if you won’t need it?

Re: disability being no disability- any one handed fiddlers?

You might be thinking of a Scotsman. J. Scott Skinner’s father played the fiddle left-handed after he lost some fingers in an accident.

http://www.abdn.ac.uk/scottskinner/biography.shtml

Sorry to hear about your injury, and best wishes for a speedy recovery. If you’re supposed to rest it, you should probably stick to bowing exercises on open strings for now--for example, you could practice your trebles (“scratch triplets”) and slurs across strings, until your left hand is ready to go again.

Re: disability being no disability- any one handed fiddlers?

my old time obsessed colleague mentioned an aa gray from the 1920s who he thinks had a bow holding hook made for his missing right hand.

Re: disability being no disability- any one handed fiddlers?

Neil - hope it all heals ok.

Reminds me of the time I put a piece of wood through my left index finger when I was working in Galloway. The local doctor wouldn’t cut it out, so I had to drive to A&E - about 45 miles, with my left hand held above my head to minimise the bleeding.

They said I’d be able to play the piano when it healed up, but I can’t.

Re: disability being no disability- any one handed fiddlers?

Didnt Barry Lyons fiddle player (Neils brother) of Sutton Co.Dublin have a nasty accident and had to switch to right hand fingering?

Re: disability being no disability- any one handed fiddlers?

He did indeed!

Re: disability being no disability- any one handed fiddlers?

There was (and presumably still is, although I haven’t seen or heard of him for 10 years or more), a good fiddler named François Gagnon in the Montreal area who played in a very similar manner to the man in that photo, except that he put the end of bow into a kind of little leather sling on the stump of his left wrist. He played a right-handed fiddle left-handed as it were. He compensated for the lack of wrist movement by moving the fiddle itself to smooth out bow changes and provide attack.

He was a very good Irish and Québécois style player, although for obvious reasons he didn’t have a big sound. Even more impressive was the fact that he managed to make fiddles with one hand, very nice ones too.

However I hope it won’t come to this for you and that you’ll regain the use of your fingers. I myself am what I call a “fiddle amputee”, suffering from focal dystonia in my right arm and hand. It sucks.

Re: disability being no disability- any one handed fiddlers?

I seen this guy in a session and, either he had an accident or was born with some hand abnormality.
He had about 3 half fingers on each hand and he played the tin whistle, and quite well.

Re: disability being no disability- any one handed fiddlers?

I recently read that Siobhan Peoples plays with the first two fingers. She still can use her fourth finger a little, but the 3rd finger doesn’t work at all.

Re: disability being no disability- any one handed fiddlers?

There’s a fiddler here in Texas who lost part a couple of fingers in an accident, he has a brace that holds the fiddle for him and he uses the remaining fingers to kind of dance across the fiddle. He was at a competition that I went to one time. Other then that I do know quite a few fiddlers who fiddle what we term as ‘southpaw’ fiddling. The guy that sounded the best at it had a fiddle made specifically for this style of playing so that the wood grain was in favor of restringing so that his E string was still closest to his bow.

Re: disability being no disability- any one handed fiddlers?

PaddyC that’s just like me and I manage ok

Re: disability being no disability- any one handed fiddlers?

There’s a box player up this way who is also a Hurler, [fact is he’s really a Hurler who plays the Box!] anyway he played in goal for Derry for years & has broken every finger at one stage or another. He says you just can’t play properly with ‘gloves’ on! See what I mean about being a Hurler first!

I had a friend who played Classical Guitar & anytime we went to the park for a game of footie, he always, always wore a glove on his left hand - just to protect his ‘nails’!

I thought Siobhan had recovered?
In any case she can play better with only two fingers than most of the rest of us can, struggling with four!

Some amazing stories there musicfan! It’s just heartwarming to hear how folk will adapt, to enable them to carry on doing a thing they love.

Reminds me of the guy I used to see in Ellon. He would take his dog a walk each day & this poor cratur had been hit by a car & had lost the use of it’s back legs, so rather than put it down he had made a wee two wheel bogey for it’s back end & it used to just scoot along on it’s front legs, ‘Happy as Larry’!

Sorry!
Bet you thought I was going to say that because the dog couldn’t walk any more, it took to playing the fiddle!
Paws for thought!
Naw, that would be just plain silly - & we’re all too sensible here!

Oh yes, how is Larry by the way? Anyone seen him recently? No doubt he’s still happy!

Re: disability being no disability- any one handed fiddlers?

There is a gentleman in the Boston area who has no hands but plays in sessions. When I first met him at an Irish festival, he said that he loved to play in sessions. I was intrigued, but felt it was impolite to ask him how he managed that.
When I later played with him in sessions, I found that he had a little “waterwheel” device that held about a half dozen diatonic harmonicas in different keys, which he held in the hooks that he used in place of hands, and which he could spin prettty quickly to bring up the appropriate one for each tune. And, God bless him, he was one heck of a good player, and an asset to the sessions.

Re: disability being no disability- any one handed fiddlers?

There is that one-handed Hawaiian steel guitarist bloke who has a “steel” for one of his artificial hands.

And a whistler I know is missing a bit of index finger, he just promotes the other fingers up a position.

Posted by .

Re: disability being no disability- any one handed fiddlers?

I taught a young boy whose left hand had been amputated at the wrist. He had such a desire to play we rigged a brace with a velcro fastening to hold a bow, re-strung the violin and went from there. He played all through school, even competing in the same contests as the rest of the kids. Boy, were they P.O.d when he would get higher ratings. Quite a kid.

Re: disability being no disability- any one handed fiddlers?

My junior year of highschool we were at State Festival through the National Federation of Music Clubs inTexas. I guess it was right before my trio was supposed to go on stage and perform since we had won our division. They called this little girl up and when she went to play they had to bring in a special stool for her. She doesn’t have any arms, so she plays the piano with her toes. She played so well, I was completely shocked. The whole audience was completely silent. She had won her division the last time I saw her at competition last year. Developing into quite an amazing pianist.

Re: disability being no disability- any one handed fiddlers?

Wow. I’m not complaining about anything ever again.

Re: disability being no disability- any one handed fiddlers?

My teacher told me about a fiddler she knew once, an old man who had a prosthetic bow hand. One time he was on stage playing some Texas style fiddling. He played fast, and faster, and faster and then----- his hand flew into the crowd. Scared the old ladies to death.

The moral of that story is…. don’t buy second hand prosthetic limbs. Heehee.

Re: disability being no disability- any one handed fiddlers?

Oh well then there is also the fiddler in the Austin area that is blind. He plays amazingly well, he also backs up his wife’s students on guitar. One time when he was on stage he broke a string on the guitar while backing this girl. The string broke during the first song and he had it changed and tuned by the second and jumped right back in. Somewhere around five years ago or so he had a stroke and it set him back on his playing but he’s playing really well again the last I heard. Yet another person who hasn’t let life circumstances get him down.

Re: disability being no disability- any one handed fiddlers?

Emily, good story. Let’s give her a hand!

Re: disability being no disability- any one handed fiddlers?

Is this the only in america department?
“The great North Georgia fiddler Lowe Stokes during the 1930’s was shot at a bootlegging joint, stabbed near the heart by a jealous boyfriend, and finally had his hand shot off at a Christmas party, but he continued to fiddle the remainder of his years.”
and
“The session of December 7, 1930 was Stokes last as a leader, and it was almost his last, period. On Christmas Day that year he was involved in a shooting incident near Cartersville, Georgia. He never cared to talk about it afterwards, but Bert Layne thought he intervened in a fight between one of his brothers and another man and was shot while trying to grab the latter’s gun. His right hand was so badly damaged that it had to be amputated. Layne, hearing the news, hurried to Cartersville and found Stokes ”sittin’ up in a barber chair getting a shave! I never saw a man wit such a nerve in all my life.“ Within a year he was playing again, using a prosthetic attachment devised for him by McMichen.”

Re: disability being no disability- any one handed fiddlers?

“shot at a bootlegging joint” - is that Geordie slang for a Knee or an Arm ’joint? 😀

Re: disability being no disability- any one handed fiddlers?

Roland Kirk, genius and sometime innovative flute and sax player had a stroke and lost the use of a hand. He redesigned his instruments so he could play them one handed.

Willie Taylor, lovely Northumbrian fiddle player lost the index finger on his left hand in a turnip cutting accident. You’d never had known.

Ali Anderson related a beautiful story about when he and The Border Shepherds were playing at Stoke-on -Trent and the other half of the concert was The Lindsay Quartet. One of the violinists offered Willie a go on his box, a Strad (unknown to Willie)

Willie’s comment when asked for his opinion after playing a while was
“I don’t think much much of the fiddle, but I like your bow!”

I do hope your injury heals up OK!

Brianx

Re: disability being no disability- any one handed fiddlers?

Initially: I wish you all the best on this.

One thing the above linked article doesn’t mention is that Mr. Skinner would tie a handkerchief around his left and work the bow into that. I can’t quite work out the geometry of that… Given current technology it’s got to be easier to contrive.
There was a guy interviewed me (via email) for a book a few years back. He switched hands due to some degeneration in his shoulder: You can read about it here.

http://home.tiac.net/~cfiddle/stringsarticle2001.html

Best Wishes.