The bulk of this blog is dedicated to providing free information and advice aimed at helping in the recovery of Musician’s Focal Dystonia. With that said, today’s post is an attempt to simply provide a little inspiration and hope to those of you who may have thought about giving up.
And believe me, I do know that feeling – when it seems like you’ve tried everything, and the dystonic symptoms just seem to keep on getting stronger. In fact, about 1½ years after I was first diagnosed with Task Specific Focal Dystonia of the embouchure, I actually did quit playing! However, after a 2 month hiatus, I began a long journey of rediscovery, back to free and easy playing, albeit with many dead-ends along the way.
Despite having recovered, my journey of rediscovery still continues to this day. Right now for example, I am in the process of preparing a recital programme. This will be the first trumpet recital I have given since being afflicted with, and recovering from Musician’s Focal Dystonia.
For most of us, recitals are a big deal. Besides programme planning, booking a venue, and accompanist(s), there are of course a lot of hours of technical and musical practise involved, as well as stamina issues to think about – particularly for brass and wind players and singers.
Before suffering from embouchure dystonia, my self-confidence with regards to trumpet playing was high – especially when playing in ensembles. I felt I had attained a certain mastery of the instrument, and enjoyed leading a brass section as principal trumpet in symphonic settings.
Of course when my embouchure dystonia symptoms were at their strongest, my self-confidence took a huge plunge. Even the simplest of jobs were met with anxiety and self-doubt.
Taking on professional work again during my recovery was a huge challenge – physically and mentally. Even though a certain amount of self-confidence started coming back during and after certain freelance jobs, I was still insecure as to whether my embouchure would keep working. And of course, focussing on this thought was not particulatly useful!
Luckily, I was able for the most part to maintain my focus on the posture, breathing, and mindset I talk about in my coaching. I introduce these concepts in the free webinar about Musician’s Focal Dystonia and breathing. Using these techniques, my trumpet playing confidence gradually started to return.
However for me, preparing and performing a recital programme is in some way a final recovery doorway, and a way of saying “I’ve made it – I’m back.” This is not to prove anything to anyone else, rather, a way of rebuilding my trumpet playing self-confidence to a healthy level.
Remember, when my embouchure dystonia was at its worst, I couldn’t even play a simple 1 octave C major scale.
Now, I intend to travel to the US next year and give workshops/lectures about Musician’s Focal Dystonia and playing without tension, and Performing in The Zone. In conjunction with this teaching work, I thought it important to give a trumpet recital, just to make sure I truly am practising what I preach! 🙂
Another motivation for this recital is to try to provide some hope and inspiration to fellow musicians currently suffering with Musician’s Focal Dystonia. It can be resolved!
What you are about to hear and see is part of a practise session, recorded on the 5th of December 2013 at St. Andrew’s Church in Gothenburg, Sweden. The temperature inside the church is a chilly 12C, and the recording equipment is an iPhone 4S.
Please note that these videos are not in any way intended to display definitive versions of these pieces. They are run-throughs – works in progress. I hope these videos can provide some inspiration and hope to other musicians with task-specific focal dystonia, and show that the condition can be resolved.
Viviani trumpet sonata #1 in C
Wallin – Elegi
P.M.Davies – Sonatina for solo trumpet
Haydn – Tpt cto, 1st mvt