A valuable tool in the recovery from, and indeed prevention of Musician’s Focal Dystonia is the use of role models.
Role models and recovery
The best musicians (and athletes) make stunning performances look easy.
Why? Because it is easy for them!
The obvious question then is, “What do these top musicians do in order to play effortlessly?” If you are asking this question, you are asking the wrong question. Instead, you should be asking:
What do these top musicians NOT do in order to play effortlessly?
The most efficient and natural players have learned to carry out only those physical and mental skills that are needed for a given task. There are no inefficiencies, no unnecessary movements, no doubts or second-guesses, there is no resistance. The handbrake is off.
When we learn a musical instrument, it is as much about learning what NOT to do with our bodies and minds, as it is what we should do. In other words, learning to play a musical instrument efficiently and easily is about building skills, at the same time as stripping away anything that is unnecessary.
Here are some of my favourite Youtube videos which I refered to often in my own recovery from Musician’s Focal Dystonia.
The first video is of Adam Rapa giving his student Natalie Dungey a lesson on playing double-high C on the trumpet. Until I saw this video, I always thought that trumpet playing was an intense physical activity, and only those with considerable physical strength were able to play in the extreme upper register. My old mindset was: trumpet playing is hard. My mindset changed dramatically after seeing this 10 year old girl play effortlessly well into the extreme high register on the trumpet. I suddenly realised, “Ahh, it’s not what you’ve got, it’s what you do with it that counts!” Watch the first video, you’ll see what I mean.
This second video is of a drummer that makes playing look so easy that you’d be forgiven for thinking that anyone can do what he’s doing.
I was referred to this third video recently which shows extremely relaxed banjo playing. Again, the musician is so efficient that it looks like he’s about to fall asleep!
This fourth video is of the bass player Michael Pipoquinha. He was 11 years old at the time of this recording. My guess is that his neuro-association to playing the bass is very simple: bass = fun 🙂
I discovered this final video by guitarist Kelly Rosenthal just recently. Pay close attention to two things:
1) She’s genuinely enjoying playing. Guitar = fun. And remember fun is incompatible with Musician’s Focal Dystonia!
2) Her movements are very efficient – there is nothing unnecessary going on in her playing setup.
If you have any videos to share of role-model that play easily, freely, and efficiently, please add youtube links in the comments section below.