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Topic: Cowling Institute of Finger Dexterity
Message: Posted by: tabman (Dec 9, 2004 02:10PM)
Many years ago I responded to a small ad in the Musician's Union newspaper for The Cowling Institute of Finger Dexterity. It was a series of isometric excercises designed to keep the hands of pianists, guitarists and violinists in shape. Mr. Pickles (I'm not kidding about this), the director, told me that ten minutes a day was physically the equivalent of two hours on instrument practice as far as the muscles of the hands and fingers were concerned.

In those days I lived on a tour bus and had precious little time to practice so I bought in and have been a devotee ever since.

I don't play much music anymore but the excercises have kept my hands in great shape and the benefits have transferred over to my card play.

I'm wondering, since there are so many musicians doing magic and magicians doing music, if anyone else bought in to this system???

I have long been grateful to this little correspondence course from Mr. Pickles and The Cowling Institute of Finger Dexterity.

The Institute was/is located in the U.K. Do any of my U.K. bretheren know if it still exists???

Always cut the cards!!

-=tabman
Message: Posted by: Mystician (Dec 21, 2004 02:39PM)
I feel that my being a musician should help translate somewhat into developing my skills as a magician, but I never really used isometric exercise as a musician. I've always believed that playing was the best exercise itself - of course, I wasn't stuck on a bus for hours everyday either.
Can you give an example of some of those exercises though? I'm open to new ideas.
Message: Posted by: tabman (Dec 24, 2004 12:20PM)
Of course instrument practice is superior but not always possible. If you're really interested I will take some pics of the basic positions over the next couple of days and post them. Let me know!!!

Happy holidays!!

-=tabman
Message: Posted by: Fanatic (Dec 25, 2004 08:07PM)
Tabman, I have been looking for something like this for a while. Please do post it if you can, or let me know where I can buy it. Thanks a million, Mike.
Message: Posted by: tabman (Dec 26, 2004 11:27AM)
Mike, I don't think the information is available for sale anymore. I've searched in vain for years of anyone else who might have bought into the Cowling System in the 1960s like I did. I have found nothing. The original lessions were in letters to me from Mr. Pickles and unfortunately they have been lost. However, I know the routine by heart, having done it daily for 40 years. I will shoot some pictures and post them with a brief description and let the Café know when it's done. Might take me a couple of days but I'm happy to share this info. It keeps my hands in shape and produces amazing results.

-=tabman
Message: Posted by: Fanatic (Dec 26, 2004 12:05PM)
Looking forward to it. Thanks.
Message: Posted by: tabman (Dec 27, 2004 11:46AM)
Ok, will do it. Need a bunch of pictures. I'll try to take the pictures with my digital camera this afternoon. I'll just do one hand and you can transpose the exercises to the right without any trouble.

Will post a link when I get it done. The weather here has warmed and I need to get cracking in my shop to take advantage of the sunshine since the cold weather put me behind by almost two weeks. The woodstove in my shop has rusted out on me and I got no heat save the sun.

Later...

-=tabman


*******

I shot some pics of the 13 hand positions and added a page to the http://tabmantables.com website. Go to the bottom of the homepage and click on the link that references the Institute of Finger Dexterity.

These exercises were passed on to me by Mr. Pickles of the Cowling Institute of Finger Dexterity.

-=tabman
Message: Posted by: Fanatic (Dec 28, 2004 08:53AM)
Tabman, thank you for posting that. I'm gonna give it a try for a few months and see how it affects my dexterity.

Man, your woodwork is incredible! I have seen your stuff before but never met you. One of your tables is definitely on my wish list. Good job on the website too. Very cool stuff.

Take care man, and thanks again.

Mike
Message: Posted by: tabman (Dec 28, 2004 01:23PM)
Be careful and start slow. Take it one move at a time and get it down. It takes about two months to get up to speed with them unless you're experienced with physical training. The hands are very complex.

-=tabman
Message: Posted by: weepinwil (Jan 15, 2005 02:55PM)
Thanks for the exercises. My hands are getting stiff and I am going to try these.

Also, looks like you do some great work.
Message: Posted by: tabman (Jan 19, 2005 11:28AM)
I do a short set of these every day, and my fingers stay quite nimble. Don't overdo them or your hands will become muscled up too much. Just light pressure in the isometrics.

About 25 years ago, I overdid them and my hands got so strong I could actually crush a Budweiser can lengthwise between my thumb and middle finger, but my dexterity suffered so keep that in mind as you do them. Also, Genii Magazine is running an article on these in the near future, so stay on the lookout for it too. And thanks for the kind words about my work.

All the best,

-=tabman
Message: Posted by: popec (Jan 29, 2005 03:48AM)
Cheers tabman! I was thinking about finger excercises the other day!
Message: Posted by: tabman (Jan 31, 2005 11:32AM)
If you start doing them, keep it up. Remember not to put too much isometric pressure. Look at your hand. Concentrate on the positions. You want dexterity not strength. Independent movement is what you're after.

After a few months move each rep up to 12 seconds, then 15. Do them once or twice daily. I do them every afternoon. My hands tell me when its time.

-=tabman
Message: Posted by: Stephen Thompson (Feb 3, 2005 05:58PM)
Interesting:

I would love to hear if anyone else out there expounds the virtues of this kind of thing.

Personally, I found that when you learn a new slight it makes it easier to learn the next and the next and so on. Your pathways between your fingers and your brain become reinforced and more developed. I would just worry that they might be wrongly reinforced as in the case of people who learn bad habits in sports and find it more difficult to unlearn than to learn from scratch.

S
Message: Posted by: tabman (Feb 4, 2005 10:43AM)
You know the old saying, "perfect practice makes perfect!!!"

-=tabman
Message: Posted by: Carron (Feb 6, 2005 02:14PM)
Also guys have a look here http://www.handhealth.com some of the movies demonstrate some pretty cool moves!

Tom
Message: Posted by: David Bilan (Feb 6, 2005 11:12PM)
Tabman,

I had open heart surgery in 2000 and while my heart is in better shape, I've lost some sharpness (both intellect and dexterity). It may have had something to do with being on the heart lung machine, or some other unknown factor. In any case, I don't know much about how to get back the old brain, but I'll give the exercises a try.

Thanks.
David
Message: Posted by: amerigo (Feb 7, 2005 10:01AM)
Tom , The handhealth site is pretty cool. A little excercise for the hands is just what I need. Thanks
Message: Posted by: tabman (Feb 7, 2005 03:08PM)
Hey David,
Sorry to hear about your troubles, but glad to hear you're on the road to recovery. You know, we're all loosing some of that sharpness and dexterity as we get older anyway. All the best wishes to you!
-=tabman
Message: Posted by: chuckmandt (May 19, 2010 01:24PM)
I have the entire original package I ordered in 1968. I was thinking about repackaging it and offer it for sale.
Message: Posted by: Mary Mowder (May 19, 2010 02:56PM)
Surprisingly hard and mildly uncomfortable. I'll be careful with this but it does seem that it would be useful and it is a challenge.

Thanks tabman.

- Mary Mowder
Message: Posted by: deebee (Sep 4, 2010 11:28AM)
I'm not into magic, but I found this site while searching the 'net for Cowling Institute. As a keyboard musician, I bought into the Cowling program back in the mid '70s, wanting to strengthen my fingers. It worked for me!

[quote]
On 2004-12-09 15:10, tabman wrote:
Many years ago I responded to a small ad in the Musician's Union newspaper for The Cowling Institute of Finger Dexterity. It was a series of isometric excercises designed to keep the hands of pianists, guitarists and violinists in shape. Mr. Pickles (I'm not kidding about this), the director, told me that ten minutes a day was physically the equivalent of two hours on instrument practice as far as the muscles of the hands and fingers were concerned.

In those days I lived on a tour bus and had precious little time to practice so I bought in and have been a devotee ever since.

I don't play much music anymore but the excercises have kept my hands in great shape and the benefits have transferred over to my card play.

I'm wondering, since there are so many musicians doing magic and magicians doing music, if anyone else bought in to this system???

I have long been grateful to this little correspondence course from Mr. Pickles and The Cowling Institute of Finger Dexterity.

The Institute was/is located in the U.K. Do any of my U.K. bretheren know if it still exists???

Always cut the cards!!

-=tabman
[/quote]
Message: Posted by: George_H (Jan 6, 2011 02:04PM)
Hello all: Just wanted to let you know that I've published THE COWLING SYSTEM of hand strengthening exercises, in its entirety in book form, it's available on CaféPress; Here's the link. http://www.cafepress.com/cowlingsystem.181435911 [copy and paste into your browser]

The remarkable results reported about the Cowling System ARE true.

You have to DO the exercises, of course, and do them CORRECTLY, exactly per the instructions. However, they are NOT at all time consuming and will result in an enhanced control and strength in the fingers and hands which has to be experienced to be believed.

You can contact me through the links on my profile for more info - Looking forward to hearing from you!
Message: Posted by: rainbowrangers (Jan 13, 2011 11:53AM)
Will be getting it
Message: Posted by: daffydoug (Jul 17, 2011 09:57PM)
I play guitar, and have used everything that exists, but I'm open to something new!
Message: Posted by: makscopes (Sep 3, 2011 12:00AM)
I am very surprised and impressed with how difficult these are! Also, to my astonishment, my left hand has more control and dexterity than my right hand - especially with my pinky finger! Thanks for posting this.