David Ciucevich – focal dystonia story

David Ciucevich

Hello! My name is David Ciucevich. I have been a professional musician for 35 years as a clarinetist, operatic tenor, musicologist, and educator (I also play saxophone, recorder, rhythm guitar and piano). I sailed through my early musical years including my undergraduate degree without any issues, feeling “the world was my oyster”. It was after a traumatic audition for graduate school in which the instructor attacked my playing and tried to psychologically “destroy” me that I noticed the first signs of what was later diagnosed as focal dystonia.

I had the classic dystonic symptoms (no pain, no physical injury, but an inability to consistently lift my left-hand middle finger without moving my index finger involuntarily only while playing clarinet). This was the late 1980s and there was precious little information available pre-Internet. I didn’t discuss it with anyone except my immediate family, feeling I was the only one with this strange problem that I would have to somehow, hopefully, figure out and solve on my own (and, I didn’t want to lose work because people might thing I was damaged).

The search for a solution or “cure” led me to research (and try) almost everything possible (including mediation, hypnosis, Alexander Technique, Feldenkrais, Rolfing, exercise, custom-made finger splints, etc.—everything except Botox, which has risky side-effects and only covers the problem rather than solving it).

When I found Jon Gorrie and his work with dystonia in 2013, I was able with his patient help to release years of guilt, shame, terror, and fear around focal dystonia. Jon’s approach, drawing on a variety of modalities emphasizing his novel three-pronged approach of “body mechanics”, “mental direction”, and the “emotions”, allowed me to release excess effort when playing, approach the instrument without fear, and replace negative emotions with positive, life-affirming ones. For the first time since my “pre-dystonia” days, I felt hope and the happy return of more consistent finger movement!

While each person’s dystonia manifests in unique ways for them (and the treatment process includes many steps – forward and backward!), I see and experience on a daily level the benefits of Jon’s work as I’m now finally free to focus 100% on my music without having to think about my fingers! 🙂

I am now actually thankful to focal dystonia for showing up in my life because the journey of working to understand it and resolve it has enriched the quality of my life in ways I never could have imagined!

I see that one of my life’s major goals is to share my focal dystonia story with other musicians and offer them the benefits of my lifetime’s worth of experience so they can resolve this issue for themselves.

I offer a free 30-minute consultation online to see if I can accept you as a client. I look forward to speaking with you and helping you find “your” solution to focal dystonia!:)

To get in touch, send me an or use the contact form here.

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