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Forum Member plays drums, and was one of the first musicians I coached with MFD. We did regular sessions over a period of 2 – 3 months. Forum Member and I keep in touch from time to time. The following is an extract from our email conversation today, published here with permission. Perhaps it is useful for those of you who are in the category of 90%+ recovered:
Been playing traditional grip in the right hand for about a year now. Totally fine no dystonia. But matched grip seems to be worse, I think. These things are hard to tell. Not totally convinced that I’ll be able to play again free of dystonia. Got any advice on that emotion?
A couple of things you wrote made me think that perhaps we can adjust your mindset a little bit in regards to playing with/without dystonia.
So firstly, you say “matched grip seems to be worse, I think. These things are hard to tell”.
My advice here: If you go looking for dystonia, you will find it. What I mean by this is that we can subconsciously create dystonic symptoms merely by asking ourselves “is it still there?”. This requires us to change mindset to prevent this sort of negative spiral question from occurring. You have some distraction techniques to use: the open feeling breathing and postural awareness being two of the most powerful. You know that if you are asking yourself a question about how it feels to play, or, if you start responding to actual physical feedback in the form of tension/symptoms with more tension/action, then by default your attention has slipped away from the constructive thought process/mindset, such as the exercise, or the musical line.
Another way to understand this: Kids can really spook themselves at night by asking themselves the question “is there a monster in my closet?” We know there isn’t a monster there. But, kids can work themselves up so much that the fear they experience from the thought of “what if there is a monster in my closet?” is so high that there might as well be a monster there. At your stage of recovery, the monster is dystonia, and the fear is just as real. A night light or other prop serves to quell the fear in kids. We don’t encourage kids to meet the fear head on, but rather we create a positive distraction. We need to do the same thing in our recovery from MFD. With awareness and efficiency in using the body, the symptoms will resolve. And it is *very* important to have this awareness and efficiency in body use both with the drums, and in every single other day-to-day activity. I highly recommend Alexander Technique to further develop your awareness and efficiency.
The second thing that caught my attention in your email was: “Not totally convinced that I will be able to play again free of dystonia”. Remember in Star Wars when Yoda raises the X-wing from the swamp? Luke says, “I can’t believe it”. And Yoda replies, “That is why you fail.”