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Shoulder injury

stickista

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I’m having to recover from a rotator cuff injury that seems to have occured from improper bandoneon technique.
I had begun my playing using a lot of arm power to open/close bellows, and (thankfully) hooked up with a great teacher (Charles Gorczynski) who advised me on the proper method of using gravity to let the Cabezales (bodies) fall outward over closed knees and inward through open knees to let the hands just go along for the ride.
But not before I apparently injured my left shoulder.

Is shoulder injury a common thing in accordion world?
 
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Dingo40

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Shoulder injury is common in the world in general: playing accordion is just another complication!😀
I commonly develop an episodic (left) shoulder ache (rheumatoid arthritis?).
What works for me is to keep my left elbow close in to my ribs and opening and closing the bellows at the top only ( in a V) whilst playing .
In this way, I can keep playing without exacerbating the situation.🙂
 

TomBR

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The other thing to beware of is tension. I hurt my shoulders (rotator cuff type problems) learning Anglo concertina. The muscle effort involved is tiny, what did the damage was unnoticed tension while learning.
Hope things are better for you now on.
Tom
 

jozz

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get well soon!

i've had something like that, it required me to actually pay attention to posture to prevent it
 

Brian K W Lightowler

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I would venture to say that shoulder problems for accordionists are not only common but if you play for long enough, inevitable!

The principle joint in the shoulder complex, the glenohumeral joint is relatively shallow like a spoon in a saucer and this allows movement in all directions. The mechanics to stop the arm from just falling out of its socket and the joint’s stability relies on the enveloping bands of ligaments, part of the so called rotator cuff. The strength of muscles around also has a stabilising role but pushing and pulling the joint whilst at the same time applying forces at close range with shoulder straps, tending to pull the humeral head out of its home position is inevitably testing the shoulder’s integrity.

Every musical instrument has its own un-natural postural peculiarity, stressing the interface and exposing the design weakness in the human frame. In the league of contortionists, accordionist arguably have an easy life; I don’t know how the fiddlers last the distance. In some areas, thinking of computer keyboards where there’s money to be made, industries have emerged promising to remedy repetitive strain. At least the musicians and most sportsmen is generally focussed on the creative, rising to the challenges with less obsession with the drawbacks.

Regarding posture, received wisdom of traditional accordion teaching would seem to promote tightly harnessing the instrument to the body with added back straps etc. The meritorious underlying principle is to reduce the uncertainty of locating keys in the right hand on a potentially moving target. Realistically with the ravages of age, the cost/benefit ratio of this advice of being trussed up warrants a rethink. In reply to the rigid posturists, I would point out that the accordion is a whole body thing. Moving and breathing with the accordion is part of phrasing and feeling the music. Likewise I venture to add that the ultimate weight remedy of approaching the instrument clamped to a floor stand could be sacrificing some of the vital creative contact with the accordion.

My advice is to find a configuration which allows unrestricted movement of the shoulders. Avoid situations in which the straps to pull forward on the outer part of the shoulder whilst also moving the upper arm. During long practice sessions when shoulders starts aching I find it liberating to hold the instrument with just LH strap to stop it falling on the floor. Inspired by classical guitarists who grip the instrument with legs and body. The exercise of playing accordion seated without RH shoulder strap makes one think about the balance of the accordion, particularly with heavy instruments, and helps to explore the relationship with the accordion.

To all my fellow shoulder degeneratives.... Stick with it!
Brian
 

debra

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I started playing the accordion in 1970 (at age 11) and never had any shoulder problems until some time around 2009. Around 2007 my wife and I wanted to try melody bass and we bought a Bugari 289/ARS/C5 (PA, 45/120, cassotto, 5 voice, convertor...) which came in between 14 and 15kg. My wife could not handle it and we made the decision to switch to CBA. Around 2009 I bought a Hohner (Morino) Artiste XS which is 5 voice, cassotto, 56 treble notes, 185 bass... and a whopping 18kg. For the first time I had found an accordion that my left shoulder could not handle. I had to stop playing the Morino within the first 6 months, and switched to a lighter accordion. Between us we have several accordions, and I can handle all of them but when I try the Morino again for too long my left shoulder starts acting up again.
So moral of the story is that you need to stay under the limit of what your shoulder can handle, and then with the right technique you can play for a long time without problems. But once you go over the limit you may end up with problems that never really fully go away.
 

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