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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » Time after time » » Cowling Institute of Finger Dexterity (0 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

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tabman
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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
...Your professional woodworking and "tender" loving care in the products you make, make the wait worthwhile. Thanks for all you do...

http://Sefalaljia.com
Mystician
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Wallachia
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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.
Just hanging out with the rest of my fellow dregs.
http:// www . phrets . com
Visit http://www.bizarremagic.net
tabman
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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
...Your professional woodworking and "tender" loving care in the products you make, make the wait worthwhile. Thanks for all you do...

http://Sefalaljia.com
Fanatic
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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.
tabman
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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
...Your professional woodworking and "tender" loving care in the products you make, make the wait worthwhile. Thanks for all you do...

http://Sefalaljia.com
Fanatic
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Looking forward to it. Thanks.
tabman
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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
...Your professional woodworking and "tender" loving care in the products you make, make the wait worthwhile. Thanks for all you do...

http://Sefalaljia.com
Fanatic
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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
tabman
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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
...Your professional woodworking and "tender" loving care in the products you make, make the wait worthwhile. Thanks for all you do...

http://Sefalaljia.com
weepinwil
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Thanks for the exercises. My hands are getting stiff and I am going to try these.

Also, looks like you do some great work.
"Til Death us do part!" - Weepin Willie
tabman
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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
...Your professional woodworking and "tender" loving care in the products you make, make the wait worthwhile. Thanks for all you do...

http://Sefalaljia.com
popec
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Cheers tabman! I was thinking about finger excercises the other day!
tabman
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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
...Your professional woodworking and "tender" loving care in the products you make, make the wait worthwhile. Thanks for all you do...

http://Sefalaljia.com
Stephen Thompson
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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
tabman
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You know the old saying, "perfect practice makes perfect!!!"

-=tabman
...Your professional woodworking and "tender" loving care in the products you make, make the wait worthwhile. Thanks for all you do...

http://Sefalaljia.com
Carron
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Also guys have a look here http://www.handhealth.com some of the movies demonstrate some pretty cool moves!

Tom
David Bilan
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Clarksville, TN
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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
Yes, I am a magician. No I did not make my hare (hair) disappear... it just took early retirement.
amerigo
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Tom , The handhealth site is pretty cool. A little excercise for the hands is just what I need. Thanks
Magic is Everywhere
tabman
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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
...Your professional woodworking and "tender" loving care in the products you make, make the wait worthwhile. Thanks for all you do...

http://Sefalaljia.com
chuckmandt
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Chuck Mandt
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I have the entire original package I ordered in 1968. I was thinking about repackaging it and offer it for sale.
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