Musician’s Focal Dystonia

musicians focal dystoniaIf you’ve found this website, chances are that you’re a musician that has been experiencing some strange symptoms recently.

Perhaps your fingers are curling when you’re finger-picking on a guitar.

Maybe your embouchure has ‘forgotten’ how to play in a certain register on a brass instrument.

Could it be that you’re struggling to control the movement of your sticks when drumming?

Are your muscles just not responding as you want them to when trying to play your instrument?

Musician’s Focal Dystonia: a common condition

If this is the case, you’ve probably either received a diagnosis of Task-Specific Focal Dystonia from a neurologist, or, you’ve done some googling and found articles and videos online about other musicians with this mysterious condition – a disorder experienced by a large number of musicians around the world. It is estimated that approximately 1% of all professional musicians will experience focal dystonia at some point in their careers.

In 2005, after having experienced a complete loss of control in my embouchure when trumpet playing, I visited several specialists including dentists, physiotherapists and neurologists. I was told quite simply: “You have focal dystonia. There is no cure.”

Thankfully however, there has been an awakening among many musicians and even some members of the medical profession in recent years. It turns out that Musician’s Focal Dystonia is a condition which can be resolved!

I spent 5 years developing a method which helped me overcome Musician’s Focal Dystonia. I play more easily and freely now than before my episode with MFD.

The purpose of this website is to offer support, advice, and rehabilitation information to fellow musicians of all instruments currently suffering with MFD.

I hope the information in these pages is helpful to you.


Jon Gorrie
BMus PGdipRNCM MMus(distinction) MOrchStud FTCL

NOTE: Due to a full schedule for the foreseeable future, I am taking a break from offering coaching services to musicians with focal dystonia.

141 Responses to Musician’s Focal Dystonia

  1. James Etheridge October 8, 2013 at 9:39 pm #

    I am a horn player. There are days when I am warming up or practicing long notes when my lips and facial muscles seem to be undergoing some kind of spasm. There is so much disturbance, that the upper and lower teeth seem to scrape one another. I can’t explain why this happens and why I have better days. ~Everything seems to want to go in the opposite direction (away from the mouthpiece).

    • Jon Gorrie October 8, 2013 at 10:17 pm #

      Hi James,

      Thanks for your message. I’ll send you an email with some more info. In the meantime, please feel free to browse through the blog and online forum postings here.

      I’ll email you now.

      All the best,


  2. PETER CHONG November 5, 2013 at 9:31 pm #

    i have focal dystonia,fingers are stiff and bent backwards,how can you help me.thanks

    • Jon Gorrie November 5, 2013 at 9:36 pm #

      Hi Peter,

      Thanks for your message. I’ve just sent you an email with more information.

      All the best,


  3. brian November 6, 2013 at 12:38 am #

    I play ukulele and primarily fingerpick. My left hand is the problem, when I am stressed my ring finger seems to tremble as if it’s extremely fatigued.
    I was trained as a trumpet player, majored in music and sometimes had the same problem with the left side of my lower lip. It would sometimes twitch but didn’t seem to cause too much of a problem,
    Oddly enough, when I get a headache they are always on the left side.

    • Jon Gorrie November 6, 2013 at 9:19 am #

      Hi Brian,

      Thanks for your comment. I’ve just emailed you some coaching information.

      Kind regards,


  4. vedran November 6, 2013 at 8:18 pm #

    Hi Jon, I am a clarinetist and have problem with forth and fifth finger..soon as I put down my third finger those other two are in a kind of cramp posizion. Ive been told that I have FD. Do u know how to help?
    Thanks and BR

    • Jon Gorrie November 6, 2013 at 10:57 pm #

      Hi Vedran,

      Thanks for your message. I’ve just sent you an email with some information about coaching.

      All the best,


    • Sophie August 4, 2014 at 9:16 am #

      I have the same problem, I’m a clarinetist and my fourth and fifth fingers always lock stiff in one position. Do you know how to help?

      Sophie :)

  5. Dan St-Germain November 15, 2013 at 12:19 am #

    Hi Jon,

    I am so exited I have found your website. I am a guitar player. I have FD symptoms on my left hand (fretting hand) since 2009. I quit playing for a little over 2 years now, but recently picked up a guitar and decided it had to change.

    Thanks in advance for this blog, all my hopes are here now!

    Warm regards,


    • Jon Gorrie November 16, 2013 at 1:35 pm #

      Hi Dan,

      Thanks for your message! Hope you find something useful here. FD can be resolved – we are a growing group of recovered musicians! Feel free to drop me a line any time via the contact page on this site if you want to chat on skype.

      All the best,


  6. Him November 22, 2013 at 4:23 am #

    hello Jon. i am excited to see this website. i read your story and find it very encouraging. i am an oboe player and have FD in my right hand. the 4th and 5th fingers would crash into the middle finger and kind of curl up when i put down my index and/or middle finger. it has been like that since August. this just jeopardises my playing. what should i do? please give me some advice. i look forward to hearing from you. heaps of thanks!



    • Jon Gorrie November 22, 2013 at 11:53 am #

      Hi Him,

      Thanks for getting in touch. I’ve just sent you an email.

      Yes, 4th and 5th finger curling is a very common form of Musician’s Focal Dystonia, especially among oboe, clarinet, and guitar players. Fortunately, it is very possible to solve this with a change in physical setup (often the primary cause), as well as mental direction/intention, and mindset/emotional attachment.

      Looking forward to your reply via email.

      All the best,


  7. Bob Mahoney November 29, 2013 at 4:51 am #

    How great to see words of encouragement for those of us who have been told to “hang it up. Sorry, you’ve got FD.”
    Twenty years ago I suddenly “forgot” how to play a few of the easiest pitches on the horn. Quickly the extent of the affected pitches encompassed nearly the entire range. I was out of the orchestra and divorced from my friends and closest colleagues and that hurt.
    I don’t have the spasms or quivering of typical FD – it’s the brain saying “huh?” when the chops want instructions on how to play a simple note.
    Yours is the first site I’ve ever encountered that suggests this might be fixed. I’d love to … No, I need to learn more.
    Thanks a million in advance.

    • Jon Gorrie November 29, 2013 at 12:04 pm #

      Hi Bob,

      Thanks for your positive feedback! Yes, I was told the exact same thing, and there were many times when I actually believed it as well. However, it’s simply not true – it *is* possible to unlearn MFD and re-learn free and easy playing. It’s a process, in most cases it’s not easy, but it is possible!

      Feel free to look around the site – I hope there is something here of value for you.

      All the best!


      • spanish December 3, 2013 at 11:38 pm #

        Hello. Congratulation for his article. He forgives but I am Spanish and Englishman does not speak himself. I am a teacher of trumpet in Spain and have Fd with the same symptoms. Help please!. I am spending it very badly. Thank you.

        • Jon Gorrie December 3, 2013 at 11:44 pm #

          Hi there!
          I’ve emailed you some information about practitioners in Spain.
          All the best!

      • aldo May 9, 2014 at 5:47 pm #

        hola jon tengo distonia en la mano izquierda ,me afecta el dedoanular e indice helppp

        • Jon Gorrie May 9, 2014 at 5:50 pm #

          Hola! ¿Hablas Inglés? Si es así, te puedo ayudar. Si no es así, le sugiero ponerse en contacto con Joaquín Farias o Joaquín Fabra de España. ¡Mucha suerte!

  8. floyd February 8, 2014 at 10:36 am #

    Hi Jon

    I am a finger-picking intrumental guitarist who has FD in the ring finger of my fretting hand. I’ve contacted a few people regarding this on Skype and have received different treatment options. One said to let the fingers do whatever they wanted to but log a note with the brain that the fingers are doing the wrong thing, and the other said I need slow finger exercises to re-train the brain. My condition has become worse. Can you help?

    Much thanks

  9. kostas February 13, 2014 at 12:26 am #

    Hello!! I am a professional trumpet player I play in a symphony orchestra and I am experiencing some strange things happening in my embouchure. There are days that I feel really great but other that my muscles tremble and my range is really bad . Before 2 years after very intense practising for an audition my embouchure collapsed and I could not play higher than a middle c !! Also I could not maintain a steady single note. After some time away from the horn I came back but now I experiencing very similar symptoms. Is there any chance that I am developing FD?

    • Jon Gorrie February 13, 2014 at 1:05 am #

      Hi Kostas,

      Thanks for message, and for your comment on my Haydn youtube video! :) I’ve just sent you an email with a little info. Looking forward to your reply there.

      All the best!


  10. Bob February 19, 2014 at 2:37 am #

    Hi Jon,

    I’m a tuba player in a military band in the U.S. About 3 years ago I also started playing euphonium. While my euphonium playing has improved, my tuba playing has gotten worse, much worse, particularly in the lower register. Despite an increase in practicing, I’ve noticed a steep decline over the past year. Again, primarily in the lower register, where I can now barely play notes that used to be effortless.

    Any advice would be most welcome.

    Thank you,

    • Jon Gorrie February 19, 2014 at 12:55 pm #

      Hi Bob,

      This may or may not be Musician’s Focal Dystonia. It could simply be a ‘tightness’ experienced from too much euphonium playing. Are you still playing both instruments, or are you back solely on tuba?

      Kind regards,


  11. Parker February 28, 2014 at 5:43 pm #

    Aloha Jon,
    Found your link through FB. Been struggling with FHD for almost 1 1/2 years now. My right index finger is the problem. I have tried various meds and botox but nothing has worked for me. I play the guitar, ukulele and piano – not as often anymore.

    Would love to hear more about what helped you.



    • Jon Gorrie February 28, 2014 at 5:56 pm #

      Hi Parker!

      Thanks for writing. I’ll send you an email with some more info. In the meantime, please feel free to check out the free webinar about Musicians Focal Dystonia here on the site, or read the many blog articles and forum excerpts. I’ll email you now…

      All the best!


  12. Russell Bain March 10, 2014 at 8:58 pm #

    Hi Jon,

    I really appreciate you sharing your experience, and your process for overcoming embouchure dystonia. My embouchure collapse started about 7 years ago. One day, I just couldn’t find the right way to put the trombone on my mouth. I couldn’t get a buzz going, and when I finally did, my chops were exhausted. Several months later after trying to deal with the issue, I had lost all of my playing ability (range, flexibility, endurance and tone. The only thing that still worked was tonging). I had involuntary twitches in my lips, jaw, around one eye, and in my forehead. I also had a severe and constant lip tremor. It was some time after that that I tried to play again, but I had all of the same problems. I finally sought out medical advice, and through a series of referrals I was finally diagnosed with embouchure dystonia by a movement disorders specialist.

    I’ve started practicing again, but in a completely different way. I think my imagination is the key to getting this sorted out, so I work to imagine playing trombone as being the easiest thing that I do, until that becomes my expectation (I watch bone players that make it look effortless, I work to remember when it was effortless for me, and I play my air trombone). I also find that focusing on improvisation takes my attention away from the mechanics of playing, and I like to have some background noise as well when I play (dishwasher etc.). My sessions are very unstructured. I usually start by throwing the slide around while blowing out notes (without choosing any particular partial to start). I then go on to whatever was working in the last practice session, and if that doesn’t work, I try something else. It’s important for me at this stage not to become too emotionally invested, so I also limit my practice time to 1 hour a day. Anyway, I’ve seen enough progress that I think I must be heading in the right direction, but I’m sure I would benefit from your experience, and would really appreciate your help!

    Russ :)

    • Jon Gorrie March 10, 2014 at 9:18 pm #

      Hi Russ!

      Thanks for your message. I’ll send you an email straight away with a little more info.

      All the best!


      • Richard October 31, 2014 at 10:08 pm #

        Russ, your comments about improvisation as a distraction from focusing on your mechanics are just spot on. This is largely how I had managed to bring myself back from nothing to a pretty solid playing and teaching career (low brass) here in NW Indiana. Congratulations on you success, and thanks for the validation!


  13. DWIGHT V BIRD March 14, 2014 at 9:00 pm #

    I have been diagnosed with TSEFD (the E is for Embouchure) two years ago, but it actually started 11 years ago for me. I struggled thinking I just wasn’t practicing enough. I am/was an amature but still want to play. All my efforts have been futile. What should I be doing?

    • DWIGHT V BIRD March 14, 2014 at 9:02 pm #

      And… what should I not be doing?

      • Jon Gorrie March 14, 2014 at 11:11 pm #

        Hi Dwight,
        Great questions – particularly the second one! I’ll send an email reply now with more info for you.
        All the best,

  14. Gareth March 26, 2014 at 9:46 pm #

    Hi, I’m a guitar player and I’ve recently been diagnosed with FD in the right hand. I need to do a lot of writing for my job and my penmanship has suffered and I’m having a hard time playing guitar!

    I tried Botox as recommended by a neurologist but my hand is not getting full motor function and I would rather try to treat it naturally.

    I’m really hoping that this condition can be dealt with so I can go back to living without my hand being crippled! Any info would be awesome!


    • Jon Gorrie March 27, 2014 at 10:38 am #

      Hi Gareth,

      I’ve just sent you an email with some info. Kind regards,


  15. Leslie Gott April 4, 2014 at 6:15 pm #

    Hi Jon,

    I’m an amateur horn player and have been struggling with what I suspect is FD since December. The easiest notes to play on the horn are the ones I can’t play anymore. I can’t hold a long note, sometimes they speak, sometimes they don’t. I can hit them with loud, short blasts, but no control of any kind. It’s like my face can’t remember what it feels like to play those notes anymore, like I’ve had a stroke that only affects the middle range, from A below middle C to the E above (in F). I love playing in my band and brass quintet, but am so upset and frustrated by this that I’ve been thinking of quitting. Your story of recovery is so encouraging! I would love to learn what to do to get back my ability to play. Thanks!

    • Jon Gorrie April 5, 2014 at 1:27 pm #

      Hi Leslie,

      Thanks for your message! I’ve just sent you an email with more info. Hope that’s helpful!

      Kind regards,


  16. Anders Palmquist April 7, 2014 at 12:05 pm #

    Antescript: I switched to this musicianssite instead!
    Read your compelling story of playing hardships because I do have problems of my own. Roughly 1 1/2 ago my trumpet&cornetplaying suddenly (to me at least) started to detoriate. I tired quickly, not able to reach the high notes I used to, sometimes unable to play anything higher than C on staff. Felt like my upperlip did vibrate in the middle of it, fluttering sound quality. This may have coincided with my ability to practise several times a day, due to my workschedule reduced to once a week, I am now 71. I do play in the solocornetsection in a Brassband since early 60:ies, lead trumpet in (swing)Big band 68-2005 etc etc. E-flat cornet with success etc etc.
    Problems autumn 12, spring 13, but suddenly OK most of autumn 13 and again terrible since christmas. I have consulted a neurologist, like you, a specialist of Parkinson; he found a certain asymmetry between left/right hand sides but no definite signs of said disease, anyhow he will send me to fMRI or the like for scanning of the basal ganglia.
    My questions to you specifically: Have you experienced tremor in “beatleg when rhythm beating in uptempos? This flutter of upperlip (in the middle just the tiny tip of it)?? The other day in the BrassBand I was not able to produce almost any note, regardless off staffposition due to this flutter. The feeling that notes above high G on staff just seem impossible, as if I will have to add great force to produce them??
    Should add that in Lucinda Lewis´ opinion my problem is what she defines as “broken embouschyre”. Rehearsing according to her ideas seems to have had at least some benefits, (buzz stopping), although I have only followed that for 3 weeks.
    Ps: Your ideas with this site seem very very good – I think there is a lot of us out here!!
    Being a psychologist I do know that things like these carry a big emotional impact.

    • Jon Gorrie April 7, 2014 at 5:06 pm #

      Hi Anders,

      I’ve just sent you a reply with further information. Kind regards,


  17. Anders Palmquist April 8, 2014 at 12:02 pm #

    Dear Jon!

    Eagerly awaiting your info but unable to find it! Maybe some black hole in cyberspace engulfed it??
    Last evening I played in a brassquartett. Just fine, or even nice for 15 minutes, then rotten, then one single tune, very intricate&rather high just fine but then it all went to the dogs…This confounded fluttering, feeling mouthpiece bouncing all around on my exhausted lips!Jeez!

    • Jon Gorrie April 27, 2014 at 9:03 am #

      Hi Anders,
      I’ll send you another email. Check your inbox! :)
      All the best,

  18. Anders Palmquist April 15, 2014 at 7:55 pm #


    Specific question after having tried to reinvent myself/reading through the blog: This flutter of my liptip – any suggestions and ideas?? Of course I am aware of the possibility of a negative thought-loop – I have tried to relax but it (the flutter) just won´t go away but for short periods.
    The mental set is crucial I know from experience (and theory), not thinking you will hit that high Eb will make you spoil it. Maybe my mind has locked itself on the idea that this flutter depends on some physical process??
    Or is it that lack of formal trumpeteducation finally did show itself after all these years, being masked earlier by sheer youthful power so to speak??
    Where do I find your reply?? I am not that used to blogs etc..

    • Jon Gorrie April 27, 2014 at 9:03 am #

      Hi Anders,
      I’ll send you another email. Check your inbox! :)
      All the best,

  19. John April 26, 2014 at 11:22 am #

    Hi Jon,

    I was fairly recently diagnosed with FD in my left hand by a Neurologist in the past year. I guess I’m one of those fairly rare one? In that I’m jazz saxophonist? Don’t know whether my statement there is credible, just can’t seem to find many wind players/improvisers with this, or (hopefully) just haven’t been searching well enough.
    Iive experienced off and on -what seemed at the time – repetitive strain isuess for fifteen years prior to this new development, which is my left index finger curling/clutching and while third, ring and small finger flatten, lift and get weak. The index also pulls downward into my third finger, making controlled motion between the two extremely difficult. The clutching causes the hand to pull in and hit side keys, causing the hand to lose seal in the middle of a passage.
    The pain, I’ve wondered, has been a possible result (in part or in whole) from squeezing to subconsciously to overcompensate for the slowly but surely developing FD. I’ve tried really slowing down habitual areas in my musical ideas/technique that are effected by -or really divulge – the FD to consciously, and with a seemingly futile effort – to reduce the “squeeze” and “clutch”. Sometimes I can get the hand to respond a bit, but other times this just results with my entire hand feeling the need to entirely curl-in to space the fingers differently.
    Neurologist prescribed Artane and Clonosepam. The Artane does slightly reduce the clutching, and Clonosepam seems to help less…albeit a great pain reliever? It’s intended as an anti convulsive med. the Artane, more of a brain signal relaxer like a Parkinson’s drug.
    Sorry for the hideously long post…just wanted in inform you fully for any advice and expert perspective.



    • Jon Gorrie April 27, 2014 at 9:03 am #

      Hi John,

      I’ve just sent you some further info. All the best,!


  20. Rick Smith May 1, 2014 at 9:32 am #

    Hi there,

    After 7 years of searching and visiting various medical people i’ve finally been diagnosed with FD by Dr Vera Neumann through the BAPAM (British Assc. of Performing Arts and Medicine). I had been up until approx 8 years ago a semi pro drummer but had sarted to develop symptoms that began to affect my play – tension, lack of control/grip – until eventuallymy left arm seized from gripping too hard to prevent dropping the stick. It feltlike my arm was no longer mine and wouldn’t do what my brain was telling it. Bottom 3 fingers would spasm and release, wrist would pull out at a right angle, elbow then pulled sideways and shoulder lifted and tensed to compensate – horrible. It completely put me off so I stopped altogether for 3/4 years. After further years and attempts to get an answer I found through a drum teacher and a pro drummer, the BAPAM who diagnosed FD almost immediately. I am visiting a physio to help re-align my posture, shoulder,arm etc and working with different techniques to try andfind a way forward – I so want to play again. Any help advice would be most welcome – I’ll try anything!!

    • Jon Gorrie May 1, 2014 at 9:38 am #

      Hi Rick,

      Thanks for your message. I’ve just sent you an email with a little more info. All the best!


  21. mawusi May 11, 2014 at 8:28 am #

    Hi i am from ghana and i think i have focal dystonia.i play the piano and i have noticed my middle finger is not responding as it used to. It used to be my favourite finger. Here in Ghana our doctors are not familiar with this condition let alone its treatment. Can you help me

    • Jon Gorrie May 11, 2014 at 12:07 pm #

      Hi Mawusi,

      I’ve just emailed you some more information. All the best,


  22. Leigh May 12, 2014 at 8:23 pm #

    Hi Jon,
    I am a violist having issues with being able to control my left hand ring finger and having my fingers retract in when playing. I am waiting to see a neurologist, but I fear that I have focal dystonia. I would appreciate any information you have for dealing with this.
    Thanks so much!

    • Jon Gorrie May 13, 2014 at 8:18 pm #

      Hi Leigh,
      I’ve just sent you an email with some more info. All the best!

  23. Thomas May 15, 2014 at 1:09 pm #

    Dear Jon,

    I am (or was) a classical guitarist and had to give up concert career due to what has last year been diagnosed (university clinic Duesseldorf , musician’s clinic) but has been present for 20+years. The retraining process (practricing very slowly below tremor threshold tempo) has not produced any lasting success/improvement within almost a year. I am living and working in Myanmar (music director for international school and composer)

    Any advice other than giving up/botox/brain surgery/heavy drugs will be highly appreciated.

    Thank you and Kind Regards,

    • Jon Gorrie May 15, 2014 at 1:16 pm #

      Hi Thomas,
      I’ve just emailed you some more information. All the best!

  24. Mark May 16, 2014 at 1:57 pm #

    Dear Jon, I play the clarinet and recently I’ve developed a massive problem. As I cross over the ‘break’ my left hand thumb and forefinger go into a spasm, which makes playing virtually impossible. If you have any help to offer me I will be forever grateful.

    • Jon Gorrie May 18, 2014 at 2:53 pm #

      Hi Mark,

      Thanks for getting in touch. I’ll send you an email right away. All the best,


  25. Stanley May 24, 2014 at 8:00 pm #

    Dear Jon, I am a pianist, and I have suffered from FD for about one and a half year, I found that the middle finger of my right hand being lost of control, should I try to play without the dystonia movements, or just let my fingers do what they want? I will be forever grateful if you give me advice to help me.

    • Jon Gorrie May 25, 2014 at 8:32 am #

      Hi Stanley,

      I’ve emailed you some information. All the best,


  26. Gary P. May 31, 2014 at 3:57 am #

    21 years ago, I was entering my final year of grad school. I was playing at a level where I felt ready to go out and take the audition world by storm! Then one day I woke up and things suddenly and inexplicably felt, well, “foreign”. When I picked up my tuba, I could no longer “feel” where those notes were anymore. I brushed it off as one of those phases every brass player goes through from time to time. The slight quiver in the sound and that loss of security in my playing would be fleeting. It did fade away, but came back again from time to time; enough so that i began to lose the confidence I had always had in my playing.

    I graduated and went out into the world and managed to get my fare share of professional work, but the problems kept cropping up. Over the course of the next 18 years, the issues got worse and I not only had to work harder to mask the problems I could plainly hear in my playing, but every time I picked up my horn I had doubts about what would come out of the bell. I played for everyone under sun including Arnold Jacobs. I tried practicing harder; practicing much less; buzzing the mouthpiece exclusively. Nothing helped.

    About 5 or 6 years ago, it became impossible to hide what was happening any longer. My colleagues and conductors were starting to notice. I clung fast to my life as a tubist because all my life it had defined who I was. I COULDN’T let go of it! It was torture for me and there was no joy left in the music-making.

    About a year and a half ago I played an orchestra concert that featured the Berlioz Symphonie Fantastique. the tuba parts lay in the mid-upper register, always my very strongest and most secure range. It was easily the worst performance of my career and shortly thereafter, I decided it was time to end this painful journey. It was a painful and emotional time, but it was the best thing I could have done. Releasing myself from my self-made obligation to stick with this freed me up to heal. That freedom allowed me to explore another musical side of me that I never would have guessed existed: my voice. Thus began a new chapter.

    I learned an incredibly valuable lesson through my experience with focal dystonia. We are not defined by what we do in life, rather we are a person first. When your whole identity is wrapped up in what you do and then what you do vanishes, so does your identity. I identified myself as a tuba player and dystonia made it impossible to continue living that life. I know identify myself first as a person, second as a musician, and third as vocalist. What a difference that has made for me and the joy of making music is back in my life. Will I be appearing on the Met Opera stage any time soon (if ever)? No delusions of grandeur here…then again, you never can tell!

  27. Chris June 14, 2014 at 6:32 pm #

    Dear Jon,

    5 years ago, I diagnosed to have focal dystonia, it’s writer cramp. since it is not musician’s focal dystonia, i wonder if you can give me any advice ….

  28. anghel June 15, 2014 at 5:32 am #

    im a guitar player im from southamericam so i feel my fretting hand is a little stiff or hard at moving like if it was ever learned to playde guitar though im restarting learning again since the begining to play guitar coul d you give a a hand thanx
    sorry if my english is not good

  29. Cody Cantrell June 24, 2014 at 4:26 am #

    Hey I’ve been playing guitar for 11 years. 2 years ago i began to lose my ability to do even simple scales on the guitar. It was my life. It was everything to me. I played out alot. That has all changed now. Now i play at church and sometimes a coffee shop here there to sing because I love it so. However, there is always the frustration and sadness. I have picked up the drums and sometimes i get a botox injection that does the trick in varying degrees but never have I reiecved the ability to express my self the way I used to. Please send me something soon. I’m curious to read what this is about.

    • Jon Gorrie June 24, 2014 at 8:11 am #

      Hi Cody,

      I’ve just sent you some info. All the best,


  30. Allan Slutsky June 29, 2014 at 11:56 pm #

    Hi Jon,

    Similar to other guitarists on this blog, I also have a 4th finger problem on my right hand. It uncontrollably curls up into my palm and sometimes wants to attach itself to my middle finger. I still play finger style acceptably well with just the thumb index and middle fingers, but the 4th finger problem has limited what a can do a great deal.

    I had read somewhere that the great classical pianist and composer Robert Schumann developed hand problems as a result of some mechanical device he was using to increase strength, dexterity, and balance in his hands. Some people say this was a myth, but my focal distonia problem (which was diagnosed by several hand surgeons) came after reading how some guitarists try to “equalize and balance the right hand” by playing scales during which you alternately pluck the strings with the ring finger and pinky.

    I did this for a few weeks and the problem began. I stopped the exercise but the problem didn’t go away and remains to this day. Coincidence or not, I still struggle with it. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

    All the best,


    • Jon Gorrie June 30, 2014 at 1:21 pm #

      Hi Allan,
      I’ve just emailed you with more info. All the best!

  31. Tony July 5, 2014 at 7:48 am #


    I developed focal dystonia in my fretting hand on the guitar. Initially the Neurologist thought it was my third finger and I have Botox injection every 3 months. I switched to paying left handed guitar, but the dystonia was still there, now in my picking hand. It was very difficult holding the pick without it moving. I went to a hand therapist who treats dystonias. He initially thought it was my ring finger and middle finger fused together the first visit. The second visit, he still was trying to figure out which finger/muscle not working correctly. He did. My thumb was fused with my middle, ring and pinky. As soon as he held my thumb so I could not move it, all 4 fingers worked fine. He called the Neurolgist and told him where to inject the Botox in my hand. I will say very painful injections, but I now can move my fingers freely. The bad news is the injection is in the palm of my thumb to isolate the thumb from the fingers and now it is hard to hold the pick and not letting it move around. My hand feels normal now. I tried going back and playing right hand guitar, but my left hand does not have the same dexterity as my right hand on the fret board and it is going to take years of practice for my left hand to move fluid like my right hand on the neck. It is like starting over if I want to play right handed. I made up my mind. I am going to play left handed and no more Botox injections because it messes with my picking which never got highly developed due to the dystonia in the left hand.
    Now I am going to work with the therapist to train my hand to pick and over come the dystonia withought Botox. I think some sort of splint that allows me to pick and separate my thumb from my middle, ring and pinky will retrain my brain. It was an eye opener when the therapist found the muscle causing the trouble. Oh and using the mirror therapy worked for me as well. Again I do not want to spend 4 years to get my left hand to move as well and fluid as my right hand. So it is still left handed guitar playing with therapy to hold the pick.


    • Jon Gorrie July 9, 2014 at 6:04 am #

      Hi Tony,
      Thanks for your account. I’ll email you some more info. All the best,

  32. Lance July 9, 2014 at 4:33 am #

    I havent seen a Neuro about FS but I’ve been having weird things happening to me lately in my playing I took time off and its gotten worse any info would be great to help me get back to playing again thank you.

    • Jon Gorrie July 9, 2014 at 6:03 am #

      Hi Lance,
      I’ll email you with some info. All the best!

  33. Chris Beattie July 11, 2014 at 12:37 am #

    Hi Jon, I am a woodwind teacher, main instrument oboe, who is recovering from Guillain Barre Syndrome. One of my symptoms was a left side facial palsy. I am nearly 5 months into recovery and can manage tenor sax now. However, my beloved oboe is impossible because air leaks all the time. My neurologist can give no guarantee that it will return. I wondered if you might have any suggestions to help

    • Jon Gorrie July 11, 2014 at 7:47 am #

      Hi Chris,

      Thanks for your message. I’m afraid I’m not qualified to offer advice about recovering from Guillain Barre Syndrome.

      Kind regards,


  34. matt melito July 13, 2014 at 2:51 am #

    Hi Jon,

    My name is Matt. I was diagnosed with MFD by the Mayo clinic in 2008. I am a classical guitarist with FD in my right hand. Any information would be appreciated.

    Thank you,

    • Jon Gorrie July 13, 2014 at 8:03 pm #

      Hi Matt,

      I’ve just sent you an email with more info. All the best,


  35. miguel July 13, 2014 at 8:12 pm #

    Hello Jon,

    I developed focal distony in my right hand when I played guitar, and in my left hand playing violin. I have tried botox, whithout result. Do you know another therapy
    Thank you

    • Jon Gorrie July 13, 2014 at 8:22 pm #

      Hi Miguel,

      I’ve just sent you an email with more information. Kind regards,


  36. Jordan July 14, 2014 at 7:09 pm #

    Hello Jon,

    It is refreshing to see that other musicians are experiencing the same thing. I am a drummer and experience this pain in the muscle at the base of my thumb which makes it impossible to grip and play through. Any suggestions would be great!

    Thank you,


    • Jon Gorrie July 15, 2014 at 9:42 am #

      Hi Jordan,
      Pain is not commonly associated with MFD, although it does occur in some people. I’ll send you an email with more info.
      All the best,

  37. mel orriss July 22, 2014 at 8:49 am #

    Hi Jon,
    I have recently been having severe shoulder problems (diagnosed as frozen shoulder) which also results in my left hand little finger locking when I play (I’m a flautist). It also shakes on its own and twitches. Along with this (tho im not sure which came first) my lips tremble when I play and in the low register seem to have lost the memory of how to make the sound, after playing for 5 minutes they go numb and tingly and feel collapsed. This results in almost no sound coming out. The feeling of tingling goes up through my face sometimes too when I try to play causing my eyebrow to twitch. I told my GP about the lip problems when I went in about my shoulder, but she didn’t offer any advice. I have gigs in the diary and can’t make a sound. Im hoping you can help. Thanks!

    • Jon Gorrie July 22, 2014 at 8:21 pm #

      Hi Mel,
      Thanks for your message. I’ve just emailed you a reply. All the best,

  38. Sophie August 5, 2014 at 9:27 am #

    Hi John,
    I left another comment buried deep in this thread so I hope I’m not being too annoying by asking again. For about 6 months now I’ve been noticing my 4th and 5th fingers locking and cramping when I play my clarinet. My colleagues think that I have FD, should I go get it checked?

    • Jon Gorrie August 5, 2014 at 3:43 pm #

      Hi Sofie,

      Thanks for your messages. I’ll write to you with more info straight away. All the best,


  39. Theresa August 5, 2014 at 7:40 pm #

    Thanks for your FB page Jon! I am a flautist and have MFD in my left hand, fingers 4 and 5. I have had tremendous success wit Botox, but my insurance has now denied treatment and prescribed muscle relaxers instead! ( Unbelievable…) Anyway, I am always looking for help from musicians who have overcome MFD. Do you have any suggestions?

    • Jon Gorrie August 5, 2014 at 10:46 pm #

      Hi Theresa,

      I’ve just sent you some info about coaching. All the best!


  40. Paul August 6, 2014 at 4:47 pm #

    Hey Jon I am a guitarist with MFD in my fretting hand. Could you give me some advice on getting my fingers back on track?

    So glad I stumbled across this page. Thanks!


    • Jon Gorrie August 6, 2014 at 5:20 pm #

      Hi Paul,

      I’ll email you right away. All the best!


  41. Nick August 12, 2014 at 3:41 am #

    Hi Jon,

    I’m a bass player and a guitarist, and I’ve just been diagnosed with focal dystonia.
    Could you please give me some advice?



    • Jon Gorrie August 12, 2014 at 11:02 am #

      Hi Nick,

      I’ve just emailed you some info. All the best,


  42. Bahar August 29, 2014 at 6:10 am #

    Hi Jon,

    I’m a clarinet player. I’ve played clarinet for several years, but lately I feel sort of a spasm around the muscles of my lips, my lips themselves, and my jar while I’m playing which makes me stop playing whatever I’m playing in that moment, and takes a little while to recover from it. It doesn’t happen regularly, but when it happens, a terrible pain occurs. Could you please give me some advice regarding this situation?

    Thanks a lot!!


    • Jon Gorrie August 29, 2014 at 8:17 am #

      Hi Bahar,

      I have sent you some more information. Regards,


  43. Lou August 31, 2014 at 10:24 pm #

    Hey Jon,

    I’m a guitarist who has been suffering from focal dystonia of the left hand for 13 years. Diagnosed at Columbia Presbyterian in NYC I have tried everything from splinting to botox and even retraining using sensory tricks. Any tips or advice would be appreciated.


    • Jon Gorrie September 1, 2014 at 12:38 pm #

      Hi Lou,

      I’ve just emailed you some info. All the best,


  44. Shaula Tualaulelei September 4, 2014 at 8:54 am #

    Aloha i am writing in regards to finding more about musician’s dystonia for my husband. He is a bass player and his right hand is affected. It is mainly the thumb, pointer and middle finger. Any help will be greatly appreciated. Look forward to connecting with you. Thank you for this opportunity to connect with others affected by MFD…. ,

    • Jon Gorrie October 9, 2014 at 4:26 pm #

      Hi Shaula,

      I sent you an email in June with more information. Feel free to get back in touch!

      Kind regards,


  45. Andrey Cruz October 7, 2014 at 10:11 pm #

    Hi, Im trombone player and for 8 years I try to get cured for my dystonia. if you have some information please write me.

    • Jon Gorrie October 9, 2014 at 4:22 pm #

      Hi Andrey,

      I have just sent you an email with further information. Hear from you soon.

      Kind regards,


  46. Eric Bolvin October 13, 2014 at 6:53 am #

    Hi Jon; Thank you for the site. How would I know if I have FD? My chops lately just seem to “fall apart” when playing, especially when holding notes.



    • Jon Gorrie October 13, 2014 at 8:11 am #

      Hi Eric,

      What you’re describing could be FD – although without a proper diagnosis from a neurologist specializing in task-specific focal dystonia in musicians, it’s difficult to say exactly. I’ll send you an email with more info.

      All the best,


  47. luke+solman October 18, 2014 at 9:35 am #

    hi jon, im a trumpet player and i think i might have FD in my fingers. right middle and ring. they cramp up when i start to play fast. would love to receive some info. thanks ;)

    • Jon Gorrie October 18, 2014 at 2:45 pm #

      Hi Luke,

      Thanks for writing. I’ll email you now. All the best,


  48. Austin November 5, 2014 at 1:40 am #

    Hi Jon

    Thanks for putting up your YouTube video – sounds great.
    I am a profession horn player that has been dealing with mild FD for 7 years. It comes and goes, but really acts up under pressure. I’d love to get your method, and get back to playing care free.


    • Jon Gorrie November 5, 2014 at 10:15 am #

      Hi Austin,

      Thanks for your comment! I’ve just sent you an email with more info. All the best!


  49. Billy November 17, 2014 at 11:27 pm #

    Sooooo happy i discovered this website! But ive been depressed because of being diagnosed recently with MFD.Im like all the guitarist on here.My index finger on the right hand curls up now.It seemed to come on after starting up fingerstyle guitar after years of not playing and suddenly starting up again and practicing a particular exercise.

    • Jon Gorrie November 19, 2014 at 11:16 pm #

      Hi Billy,

      Thanks for your comment. Try this free webinar as a starting point. Kind regards,


  50. Sal Guglielmino November 21, 2014 at 5:03 pm #

    Mr. Gorrie: I am a drummer with focal dystonia in my right leg. It began in the early 70’s when I was practicing around 5 to 8 hours a day. It ruined my career and eventually, after going to many different doctors and spending ten years trying to straighten it out, I quit for over twenty years. I went back to playing again in my 60’s and tried researching my problem. A doctor diagnosed it and I’ve been undergoing a regimen of Botox treatments every three months with limited results. I have also been playing backwards on my drums, using my left foot on the bass pedal. The problem with my right leg persists, with spasms interrupting a relaxed motion necessary to play loose and controlled. Do you have any suggestions as to what else I might try to help my problem? I can stay playing left footed, but I can’t use my hi hat as effectively as I want. Thanks for any help you might offer.
    Sal Guglielmino

    • Jon Gorrie November 21, 2014 at 6:27 pm #

      Hi Sal,

      Thanks for your message. I haven’t worked with drummers with FD in the legs so I may not be the best person to ask for advice here. Have you tried the webinar, and read the rest of the info on this website? Perhaps that can give you a starting point?

      All the best,


  51. Mehrab November 22, 2014 at 5:18 pm #

    Thank you for your web site. I am a classical guitarist. I have a focal dystonia in my right thumb can not stay out of my hand. it fits within the hand. Can you help me? How long recovery will take? Can i ask you some more question?

    • Jon Gorrie November 22, 2014 at 5:25 pm #

      Hi Mehrab,

      Please study the rest of the info on this site :)

  52. Matt November 24, 2014 at 9:06 pm #


    Today after a 3 year search, 2 surgeries, and many tests I have finally been diagnosed with focal dystonia. I am a drummer and it all started when I was playing with a heavy stick, felt a sensation in my hand, and I haven’t been the same since. I constantly experience stiffness in my index and middle finger and my muscles are definitely co-contracting while I play as determined by a machine, ProForma Vision. Is there anything that can be done for my situation? Please let me know if you can help. Thank you!!!


    • Jon Gorrie November 26, 2014 at 12:29 pm #

      Hi Matt,

      I’ll email you more info. All the best!


  53. Mark November 25, 2014 at 3:44 pm #

    Hi, been reading your site with great interest and hope. I’m a bagpipe player and for several years I have been affected with, what I now know to be, dystonia. My little finger on my left hand (top hand on chanter) curls into the palm of my hand. Subsequently it wants to take my third finger with it, resulting in inability to get that finger to co operate on the note required. I’ve tried splinting the little finger to keep it straight but it still forces itself against that. Any help/suggestions would be greatly appreciated. Many thanks.

    • Jon Gorrie November 26, 2014 at 12:30 pm #

      Hi Mark,

      I’ll email you more info. All the best!


  54. Wayne November 26, 2014 at 3:59 am #

    Hi, I’m a guitarist was diagnosed with focal hand dystonia (right hand middle finger) by Nancy Byl about 10 years ago. I’ve made some progress, but it’s very very slow going… And often will regress.


    • Jon Gorrie November 26, 2014 at 12:30 pm #

      Hi Wayne,

      I’ll email you more info. All the best!


      • Emerson December 3, 2014 at 3:28 am #

        I have this focal dystonia. Can you help me?

        • Jon Gorrie December 3, 2014 at 11:43 am #

          Possibly, depending on many factors! I have sent you an email. All the best,


      • Wayne January 6, 2015 at 10:41 pm #

        Hi Jon,

        For some reason I didn’t received the info sent+ can’t find it anywhere in my email box.

        Could you please send it again.


  55. Tom White December 3, 2014 at 5:29 pm #

    I play banjo. I have focal Dystonia in right hand. Looking for help.

    • Jon Gorrie December 4, 2014 at 2:49 pm #

      Hi Tom.
      Check out the free webinar on this site. Then, feel free to email me. I email you my address now. All the best,

  56. Rich Addis December 5, 2014 at 2:46 pm #


    I’m a guitarist playing 2 to 3 Rock/Pop covers gigs a week for the last 7 years.

    6 months ago I started getting what I then referred to as ‘trigger-finger’ in my left (fretting) hand forefinger. It would happen once in every 5 gigs or so. It gradually got worse until it was happening every gig and I was constantly trying to control the cramps.

    I went to my doctor recently and was diagnosed with a possible repetitive strain injury. Was referred for physio and nerve conduction tests. The nerve specialist told me it was likely to be ‘Task Specific Dystonia’ and so I went back to my doctor to ask for a referral to a neurologist which I am now awaiting.

    I am dreading every single gig I have booked and am not enjoying playing as it’s so uncomfortable.

    What was the healing process that you encountered please? I’m concerned that I will never be able to play properly again.

    Thanks, Rich.

    • Jon Gorrie December 6, 2014 at 9:11 am #

      Hi Rich,

      I’ve emailed you some info. All the best,


  57. Dan Hartnett December 8, 2014 at 8:31 pm #

    Hi Jon,

    I was playing flamenco guitar for several years when my right hand began to degrade. My ring finger spasms (collapses) when playing arpeggios and tremolos. The trigger seems to be middle finger tension which causes my ring finger to spasm. Consequently can’t play. Some improvement with slowdown exercises but plateaued. Curiously if I play the right hand sequences on the sound board above the strings, I have no problem. I can also play on the strings touching so lightly that there is no sound. Again, no problem. Introduce light sound and problem is immediate. Any help would be appreciated.

    Thanks much

    • Jon Gorrie December 9, 2014 at 10:58 am #

      Hi Dan,

      I’ll send some info. All the best,


  58. Rafael Benato December 9, 2014 at 1:54 pm #

    hello, i´m an electric guitar player, and was diagnosed with focal dystonia ,2 weeks ago, my pinky finger don´t obey me, and i cannot control the strenght, it uses lots of strenght without i want it, could you please help me ???? how much it cost???? thanks a lot

    • Jon Gorrie December 9, 2014 at 2:07 pm #

      Hi Rafael,

      I just emailed you some more information. All the best,


  59. Luka December 18, 2014 at 8:25 pm #

    Hi Jon,

    i recently discovered your site about focal dystonia.I am (was) a saxophonist and I am now struggling for 10 years to regain my embouchure.I would be really grateful, if you could give me some kind of advice how to practice and slowly overcome MFD.


    • Jon Gorrie December 21, 2014 at 11:22 am #

      Hi Luka,

      I have sent you more info.

  60. ori December 20, 2014 at 3:34 pm #

    hi Jon,

    I wasn’t diagnosed (yet?), but in the last 2 years it feels my fingerstyle playing (im a jazz and fingerstyle guitarist) is really suffering and technique as degraged. I’ve also seen some videos of classical guitarists that was diagnosed and it looks very similar to what I experience. would appreciate the info mail.. :)

    • Jon Gorrie December 21, 2014 at 11:20 am #

      I recommend visiting a neurologist to get a proper diagnosis first. If you receive the diagnosis of task-specific focal dystonia, I may be able to help.

  61. Benny Goh December 21, 2014 at 6:32 am #

    After three weeks of playing trumpet in a musical, my lips don’t respond the same anymore. Is this focal dystonia?

    • Jon Gorrie December 21, 2014 at 11:19 am #

      This could be anything. See a neurologist to get a diagnosis if you suspect task-specific focal dystonia.

  62. Kev miggs December 23, 2014 at 9:34 pm #

    Hi I have just discovered your website and it has given me hope on reversing my FD IAM GUITARIST WITH FD IN MY LEFT FRETTING HAND please help!
    Thanks Kev miggs

    • Jon Gorrie December 24, 2014 at 12:42 pm #

      Hi Kev,

      I’ve emailed you some info. All the best,


  63. Craig Martin January 6, 2015 at 3:08 pm #

    Hey Jon,

    I am guitar player and have been suffering with what this on my strumming hand for years. It also has affected my chording hand but not as bad. Sometimes so much that I’ve turned down gigs because of it. A temporary fix for me for my strum hand is to use a thumb pick to get me through but does not sound the same and the music is starting to suffer and it’s heart breaking to me. PLEASE HELP ME. Thanx

    • Jon Gorrie January 6, 2015 at 10:35 pm #

      Hi Craig,

      Check out the free webinar here on this site and then get back in touch! All the best,


  64. Eugene quinn February 3, 2015 at 3:30 pm #

    Hi. Thank you for taking the time to read.
    I’ve been playing rhythmn guitar at a fast intensive pace backing irish music for 20 years. Over past year I’ve had a slow onset of wrist focal dystonia.. Only recently diagnosed by hand surgeon. All mri scans on wrist were clear.
    It freezes up and I can’t pick strings while holding a pick at all.
    I’ve adjusted trying to strum holding pick between thumb and middle finger. Very frustrating. I’m due to meet the hand therapist next week.. Any advice?

    • Jon Gorrie February 7, 2015 at 7:51 pm #

      Hi Eugene,

      Right now I am unable to accept any more coaching clients – my schedule is full for the foreseeable future. Please review all info on and feel free to contact me again at the beginning of Summer.

      Kind regards,


  65. Eugene quinn February 3, 2015 at 3:31 pm #

    I forgot to add that I’ve no problem with fingers curling at all and can pick no prob using fingers.. It’s more wrist related

  66. Fabio Cardani February 5, 2015 at 12:01 pm #

    Hi jon my name is fabio i m a Drummer from italy and i ve a focal hand dystonia in my left hand. I ve this disease since 4 years but i think that my problem is more radicated… I did a few lesson with j.fabra but i had not obvious improvments and i know that is emotional condition … Can you help me?

    • Jon Gorrie February 7, 2015 at 7:51 pm #

      Hi Fabio,

      Right now I am unable to accept any more coaching clients – my schedule is full for the foreseeable future. Please review all info on and feel free to contact me again at the beginning of Summer.

      Kind regards,


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