Tension and Musician’s Focal Dystonia: Some Thoughts

Tension and Musician’s Focal Dystonia:
Children vs adults

When children play, they do not judge. They just enjoy. But when we become adults, we believe that we cannot allow failures to happen. We become afraid of the possibility of failure, which then creates a tension response. When we feel this tension response, we then try to control tension. This only serves to increase the level of tension we experience, thereby compounding the problem further.

Contrary to this, when we are feeling pleasure through play, our bodies are working efficiently. That is to say that we are not forcing or fighting ourselves through any particular range of motion. We simply have fun. We simply allow movement to happen, without putting on the handbrake or getting in our way. In this state, controlling tension never enters the equation.

tension musicians focal dystonia

Tension and Musician’s Focal Dystonia:
A sports car analogy

The natural reaction to tension is to try to do something to remove tension. However, by trying harder, we actually add more tension into the system. Instead, we must allow movement to happen, rather than trying to force a result. We must stop doing that which is unnecessary – that which is creating tension – in order for tension to be resolved.

This can be related to the example of a high-powered sports car. The car has a very powerful engine capable of propelling it forwards at high speed. However, the car has an equally strong handbrake. Pull on the handbrake, at the same time as you put your foot on the accelerator and the car will not move forward. However, energy is consumed – the system is working inefficiently.

In this situation, would it be wiser to press your foot further down on the accelerator? Of course not. Instead, you simply release the hand brake, and the car is free to move forward unimpeded.

In terms of tension and MFD, we do not need to do more to solve the issue. Quite the opposite in fact – we must do less.

Have you noticed tension when playing?

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