I just spent two hours on Skype with Jon Gorrie. I can’t emphasize enough: get in touch with him. Do a Skype session. I think he might have just changed the way I play forever and in doing that, perhaps my life. Doctors can’t teach you this stuff, only a musician. The one thing I bet we all have in common is fear, and it’s stuck somewhere deep inside. For the first time in thirteen years, I believe I can beat FD and become a better player than I ever was. It doesn’t matter what instrument you play; he’s noticing some really interesting patterns with all musicians. I know how painful this trip is. Good luck to all of you.
Boo Walker, Professional banjo player, USA
My name is Shaun and I was diagnosed with Focal Dystonia and Essential Tremor in the right hand about 2 months ago, but have been experiencing symptoms since October of 2010. I am a drummer and have been studying music for 18 years. It’s my passion and my career. I was devastated and hopeless for a long time, then I stumbled on an article written by Jon Gorrie.
After I read the article I searched around on his website and found videos explaining the recovery process. I began to feel a bit better and decided to email Jon. I received an email right back and we set a date to have a video chat.
The first session we had was incredible. We talked about the frustration and anxiety associated with TSFD and Jon suggested some physical and mental exercises to help calm the mind and regain focus and control. We have now met three times and I can’t wait to talk with him again! After two extremely frustrating and emotional years, I finally feel hopeful! The exercise (both mental and physical) Jon has taught me have greatly improved my overall control. I now feel that the tools he has given me I can help me recover from TSFD. I truly believe that I can overcome this disorder! If you have not yet spoke with Jon Gorrie I would highly recommend it. He is a considerate and passionate man, and he was able to recover completely from TSFD. If you are hopeless, don’t be….talk to Jon.
Shaun, professional drummer, USA
Thanks Jon for all your help & kindness in reaching out to those of us with FD. Your web seminar really helped me look at things more clearly. I am greatly looking forward to your book.
Professional guitarist, USA
I’m a 58 year old drummer. I experienced the first symptoms of Task Specific Musician’s Focal Dystonia in 2007. Typically, the symptoms became progessively worse until by 2009, I was unable to play drums at all. In fact, I couldn’t hold anything in my right hand.
I became acquainted with Jon Gorrie a couple of years later when I was well into my retraining and studies with Joaquin Fabra in Spain. Though I had made significant progress with Joaquin, I found myself somewhat “stuck” and felt unsure of how to complete the job of resolution, though I knew of many who had successfully done so.
Jon offers an approach that balances the physical, emotional and intellectual facets of the disorder in an integrated way. His ideas were not in any way at odds with what I had learned from Fabra and working with both of them has made all the difference for me.
Jon communicates with crystal clarity, empathy and intuition. He knows because he has been there. I’m ninety percent symptom free and have been able to return to the profession that I love so passionately after a three year hiatus. I continue to apply the principles daily and continually discover healthy, creative and beautiful movement behind the drums.
Tom Cabrera, professional drummer, USA
It has been 6 days since my first Skype session with Jon Gorrie, and I am very pleased to report that I am already “sensing” an improvement in the movement in the right hand fingers “m” and “a” when playing Classical guitar and have also experienced much less spastic or dystonic movement when playing country, which is quite similar except that I am holding a plectrum and playing upstrokes and double stops with “m” and “a” fingers. The pointers Jon gave were very simple, but difficult at first to implement, due to habits formed over 30 years of playing. I must say, that I am very excited and hopeful that I can continue on an upward trajectory of improvement and rehabilitation.
So, I just had 20 minutes of relaxed banjo playing, very light and delicate, old fiddle tunes that I knew years ago, but could not play anymore. This session was 99% free of dystonia, thanks to the suggestions of Jon Gorrie to focus on breathing and posture instead of my fingers. It requires a fair amount of discipline, but it is possible. Not up to full speed by any means, but very promising. Thanks again Jon!
Banjo player, USA
Jon’s ideas about focal dystonia, its causes and how to relieve the symptoms from your playing are apparently valid because they work. He went beyond just looking at me as a musician with MFD and was able to figure out that my posture in my day job, working with computers all day, was not correct, and we worked on fixing that in addition to the breathing and posture exercises we did with my horn.
My recommendation to anyone suffering from any form of focal dystonia would be to hook up with and talk to Jon as a first step.
Jon, I cannot thank you enough for being there and being easily accessible. I don’t think many people are out there doing the type of rehab work you are doing and really I had no other options except to get with a neurologist and go down that path (of botox and DBS – Deep Brain Stimulation) procedures. My God, what else would I have ended up doing? Again, I cannot thank you enough!
French horn player, USA
Just wanted to let you know how much I appreciated our Skype yesterday. Your posture and breathing exercising techniques, mixed in with being in the ‘now’ was extremely beneficial and exactly what I was looking for. I am so glad I went with my gut and reached out to you 🙂 FYI, last night at our family party, I [did what you said] and my eyes opened right up and I felt normal.
Thank you Jon for sharing your expertise in FD. I will be forever grateful!
Michelle, (former) blepharospasm sufferer, USA
I had a few difficulties here and there in the first few weeks [following our Skype session], but your suggestions regarding minimizing the amount of physical pressure placed on the body through proper posturing and relaxation/breathing techniques helped me to keep the symptoms at bay and get through the initial broadcasting sessions.
Amazingly, for the past few months (I’ve been doing a dozen or so stations twice a week since early September), I haven’t felt the symptoms of the [oromandibular] dystonia at all!
Radio broadcaster, (former) oromandibular dystonia sufferer, USA
It has been about a month since our session. In a nutshell, I was ecstatic with my progress after the first week or so following the session. I wasn’t effortlessly knocking out tunes on the banjo, but I was experiencing a level of consistent control over my fingers that I hadn’t felt in a long time.
Then I went off the rails a bit. I convinced myself that I could reach the relaxed, effortless state of mind necessary to achieve control without spending as much time on the preliminary breathing and body awareness. However, the dystonic curling of my index finger crept back into the equation—not as pronounced as before, but definitely the distinct hand brake feeling.
So, I went back to the beginning, to my notes, and there it was in black and white: in the margin next to “erect looseness” and “open-feeling breathing,” it says, “Do not neglect or rush through these [exercises].” Ha!
Now I am back on track. All kinds of observations and “aha!” moments have resulted based on our session together.
It’s been interesting to see how various parts of our training session have snapped into place as I’ve progressed. Now the trick is to sustain the progress. And to be patient! Be happy with small victories and accept that this is going to take some time.
My apologies for the long-winded review. Guess what? It came out of me right after a successful playing session!
Recreational banjo player, USA
Dear Jon and fellow musicians! There (here) is hope!
I am a professional violinist and violist working mainly in the area between traditional nordic folk music and the chamber music scene. I have TSMFD in my left hand with symptoms as very tense fingers, especially third and fourth, sometimes curling and being ‘out of position’. I have experienced problems for more than eight years, been aware of the diagnosis about four years and been taken it really seriously since July with a sick leave, regular practising and contact with my violin teacher / doctor.
Now, I found Jon through googling Focal Dystonia and the description “removing the hand brake” was just right for me, this is what it is all about for me. With this rehabilitation I can more easy get use of all the good exercises I get from my violin teacher which is also very interested and skilled in this subject. So I kind of have the two mentors around me and now I’m really improving! It’s just three weeks since I met Jon for a day of good coaching. I highly recommend his treatment knowledge. Thank You!
Adrian Jones, professional violinist and violist, Sweden
Back home from an inspiring session in Budapest I feel the urge to say that I am really happy that I took the effort. When we worked on different issues like posture, breathing and mental direction and many more, you were always empathic and positive. You told me the things you would have liked to hear from somebody when you were in the situation yourself some years ago. The information was really valuable. I understand a bit more what is going on now and how to organize my way out of it.
The good thing about this approach is that it addresses the problem from different perspectives and takes care of the individual situation as well. I still have to do the careful retraining in the practice room by myself but I know where to walk and have got some more tools for the way. Thanks a lot for that. All the best for you.
Ulrich Thevißen, French horn player, Germany
I recommend Anna as an experienced and empathic coach for musicians with Focal Dystonia. She knows the condition very well, as she has suffered with MFD, and recoverd by herself.
She has a very careful and detailed approach to retraining, and tailor-made our sessions for me as an individual.
The information Anna has given me is very valuable, and I made significant progress after just a couple of sessions. I am now on my way to recovery and can continue my retraining alone.
Thank you very much, Anna!
Guyla Czeloth-Csetényi, Professional flutist, Hungary
I started working together with Anna on my MFD in the beginning of May 2016 after having suffered from symptoms for 2 years. Her friendly, positive attitude and professionalism made me confident right from the start that the retraining is going to be successful and that I will be able to play my instrument again symptom-free.
All of our sessions were spent in a playful and upbeat atmosphere and I could feel the positive benefits right after our first meeting. After diligently practicing the breathing and mental excersises I was already able to play simple rudiments on the drums without any symptoms.
After one month of coaching sessions we both agreed with Anna that I was ready to continue the retraining on my own. After 4 months I am glad to tell that I am 100% MFD free and I am able to fulfil my role as a drummer in my band again after a long time.
I can feel that thanks to the retraining I did not only regain my ability to play the drums, but developed such a high level of consciousness to my own playing that I became a much better drummer and musician than I ever was before.
Thank you Anna for everything!
Attila Pécz, Drummer, Hungary
Just wanted you to know that watching your old video has already changed my life. I know you say it can take a while, someone online said two years, to cure my problem, but I have seen miraculous results in two days! I had to take the time to thank you.
I am a guitarist with the typical 4th/5th finger curling issue. Had for over 20 years. Just accepted it and started playing with a pick. Last night, after watching your video I started fingerpicking. When my fingers were going to curl I relaxed and focused on relaxing my shoulders, adjusted posture, and worked on my breathing. IT WORKED! I played a classical piece this morning from memory.
While I was playing it I thought of the pleasure guitar has given me and all the positive reasons why I learned to play. I relaxed my shoulders. I allowed myself to breath. I did it. I am a little scared that it won’t last, but I will continue using your tips. I don’t think I need coaching, but thanks for your recommendation and for your motivation. I watched Anna’s video too. My grandmother was Hungarian, so it was fun to listen to her speak the language. I’m sure she would be great.
The following is a live performance featuring a previous client with focal dystonia of the embouchure. The client is playing principal horn in an American orchestra, and is available for comment, on request.
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