Saturday, February 15, 2020

My Twin Sister Playing Trumpet at Church!

My beautiful and talented twin sister rehearsing for today's church service! I am sad that I am stuck at work missing her performance!!! I love hearing her play and seeing her do what she loves! It also warms my heart seeing my nephew Nathan being a goofy kid. Love my family so much!!! 🎺✨🎺✨ 🥰🥰🥰🥰🥰

Monday, February 10, 2020

At Orchestra Rehearsal 2020

The rest of the horn section! We just finished a sectional. During rehearsals my nephew Nathan, who I'm teaching horn, sits back stage directly behind us in the large concert hall. We took a goofy photo together during break. 📯

Wednesday, January 22, 2020

Tuesday, January 21, 2020

Symphony Orchestra 2020: Dvorak New World

Not my first time playing this symphony, but is my first time playing 4th horn on Dvorak Symphony No.9. It's even more fun playing those awesome low parts and my embouchure dystonia is manageable in this register. But the greatest blessing is playing it with family. Was planning on taking a photo of us all together on stage, but forgot! 📯🎶😊

Monday, January 20, 2020

Instrument Betrayal

When your friends or family catch you arguing with your instrument during practice.

Thursday, January 16, 2020

Barry Tuckwell - The Greatest Influence of my Life

My greatest influence of all time has passed away today. No one will ever replace this legend. No words can express how saddening this is. I know this sounds odd, but I'm more heart broken over his passing than my recent loss of everything. This man has been all I've ever strived to be as a musician and professional. My north star which led me to my life purpose and calling. Not a day I regret following the path of the horn. It's given me so much....even if I have embouchure dystonia/neurological disorder now. Would do it all over again. From the very first moment I heard him, I loved his sound and knew I wanted to pursue horn playing. Not just in style, but I value his wisdom, professionalism, deep love for horn, and dedication to passing on the overall knowledge and study of the horn; it's repertoire and history. A true scholar. I love love LOVE this man. May heaven make a special place for Barry Tuckwell and his horn. His sound will forever echo in our realm well past this day. 📯💔😢 One of my favorite videos of him.....there's a reason he mastered it better than all of us:

Wednesday, December 25, 2019

Focal Embouchure Dystonia: Christmas Carols!

Merry Christmas!!! Here are some Christmas carols! ⛄❄⛄❄⛄❄⛄ Recorded this 30 minutes before work, in a straight mute, and no warm-up! Proud of how I sound despite no time to release tension thru prep-work. I know it's not easy to love the sound when you have embouchure dystonia, but gotta love it more than anything no matter what comes out or doesn't! Only way to enjoy playing is taking pride in what you can matter how miniscule! Not focusing on what you can't do. 💕 Lots of love to the dystonian music community, and of course to my friends and family! 📯🎶🎉 #embouchuredystonia #musiciansdystonia #loveyoursound #beproud #playout

Saturday, December 21, 2019

Pride in Every Step

"Don't wait until you reach your goal to be proud of yourself. Be proud of every step you take." - Karen Salmansohn

Sunday, December 15, 2019

My Musical Family!

Grateful every Sunday I get to skype with my twin sister Alison and my nephew Nathan for his French horn lessons! Mario (Ally's husband) is usually around too or off teaching private lessons, fulfilling instrument repairs, or preparing for his week teaching at two different schools. Nathan is so lucky to have a talented mama on trumpet helping him practice. In addition, she does all his homeschooling and runs her own photography business (Sweet Dahlia Photography) with Mario too, and both parents are in orchestra and participate in church activities. One busy and highly creative family. Nathan is doing great on horn and just read through his first couple pieces of notated music! I'm so proud of him! I love family and happy we share this bond with music. I'm missing them all so much this holiday (including all my other siblings and relatives far away)! Wish we could play brass chorales or Christmas carols this time of year.📯🎶💕

Focal Dystonia Recovery: Deviate from the Norm

Focal Embouchure Dystonia Rehabilitation BE LIKE: "Without Deviation from the normal, progress is not possible." - Frank Zappa

Musicians Dystonia: Speak Out

We need more people who are willing to say, "I've been there, and I'm here. You can talk to me without judgement."

Tuesday, December 10, 2019

Focal Dystonia (Violin) Film About Kenny Wong by director Julian Stamboulieh

Congratulatoins Kenny Wong on Best Actor of the Alternative Film Festival - Winter 2019! Film: Dystonia by director Julian Stambouleigh.

Sunday, December 8, 2019

Sensory Tricks with Dystonia

 A list of some sensory tricks (i.e. includes motor tricks/forced tricks/reverse tricks/imagery tricks) among various dystonias.

 If you know anyone that has Focal Embouchure Dystonia or thinks they might, the list of Oromandibular Dystonia (jaw dystonia) and Cervical Dystonia (neck dystonia) sensory tricks may give them temporary relief or lessen the overall strength of the symptoms.

 It's also a tell-tail sign you have dystonia if a sensory trick works. However, not all cases report sensory tricks, and some musicians don't even realize it until the neurologist finds they have one during evaluation.

 I come across a lot of brass players with FD where the symptoms and/or tension spreads to their tongue, jaw, neck, shoulders, and upper back. Some of these listed are already common tricks among brass and wind players with ED.

The most that I have come across and been reported to me consistently is: placing something between the teeth, some type of modified guard or splint, icing the face before playing (this worked for me but not the safest), touching the face or neck, drastic change in body movement/posture, focusing on a specific object or visual, change in size or back pressure of mouthpiece, and tongue depressor.

 The key is if you can find a way to incorporate it into rehabilitation or help the sensation of the sensory trick bleed over, it may aid throughout the recovery process. A few examples of this are: "geste" - visualizing the sensory trick, imagery that tricks the brain into avoiding playing mode (ex. I had to visualize blowing on hot cocoa to stop my embouchure from automatically setting). Using a modified guard or splint while playing. Incorporating a tongue depressor throughout retraining to override the damaged brain pathway.

It's not about suppressing the dystonic symptoms or avoiding them. It's about lessening them to a degree so that you have a chance to rebuild a new pathway that the brain recognizes. It's like distracting the messed up signal temporarily so you have a chance to rewire things. Sensory tricks can come in handy if you literally can't get a sound out or things are severe. However, not everyone has a sensory trick.

An actual highly successful method of treatment among musician hand dystonia patients is splinting. And there is only one study that was conducted in Japan on modified dental splinting on three patients with embouchure dystonia with all three returning to performance. It would be great if there was more research in this area of Musician's Dystonia.

Monday, December 2, 2019

Vibro-Tactile Stimulation as Treatment for Spasmodic Dysphonia

A look at one of the many current treatments for Spasmodic Dysphonia (vocal/laryngeal dystonia). I'm currently trying to figure out if this is the same or different than using a TENS unit, because TENS has helped me.

Saturday, November 30, 2019

Wednesday, November 27, 2019

Dystonia Film about James Wong - Director Julian Stamboulieh, Producer Benjamin Warner

Check this out! Is someone making a film about musician's dystonia (hand dystonia)???? If!!! Can't believe it! What a huge first step in awareness (this has got to be the first film about it ever). <3

Would be cool if someone did one over Robert Schumann since he was the earliest known case of musicians dystonia in history thanks to his detailed journals/writing (Robert Schumann's Focal Dystonia by Dr. Altenmuller: I digress. Wish I could have seen the premiere. <3

Update: Found more information on it. Posted below.

Dystonia is a short film about a violinist named James Wong (played by Kenny Wong) who, while studying at McGill University, is diagnosed with Focal Hand Dystonia: a neurological movement disorder causing the muscles of a player’s hand to involuntarily contract.

Dystonia Film director Julian Stamboulieh and producer Benjamin Warner Interview:

Sunday, November 24, 2019

(Video) Timeline: My Embouchure Dystonia Rehabilitation Over The Years

Time Stamps of Tests
0:04 - December 2011 - A year before this first clip, I couldn't get a sound out
2:15 - January 2012 - Tonguing Mid-to-High Register, Slowing Things Down
6:39 - August 2013 - Transitioning between Low and Middle Range Gap
10:43 - August 2014 - Downward Movement and Large Interval Control
12:18 - March 2016
13:11 - August 2017 - Fluidity in Slurs, Paced Arpeggios, Held Notes
17:09 - April 2018 - Crossing Multiple Registers, Descended Landings.
19:44 - August 2018 - Melodic Passages and Descending Landings
21:52 - January 2019 - Crossing Multiple Registers, Descending Landings, Ascending Landings, Dynamic Control, and Tongue Control
23:28 - May 2019 - Upper Register; Ascending Landings and Grasp, Stability in Dynamic/Sound
24:42 - September 2019 - Holding Out Notes; Testing Length of Grasp

By FAR one of the most embarrassing videos of my face....lots of closeups, while having dystonia over the span of several years, while aging, while rolling out of bed, while gaining and losing weight, while going into my mid-30's, and crazy life stuff in general.

Wanted to post this for those who have Embouchure Dystonia. Keep up your efforts...I know it may seem like a long journey, but you can do it! <3 I'm new to editing videos even though I post videos on my blog all the time have patience, will get better over time with practice.

This is the first timeline video I've done of my playing....approx 30 minutes. Please understand, even though I'm comfortable with showing my playing because I feel it's important and for a good cause, it doesn't mean I'm not vulnerable.

There's a reason musicians don't show this disorder upfront and why it's rarely documented thoroughly as such. Auff! 📯💔 Feel free to share though! I hope to spread Musician Dystonia Awareness.

Thursday, November 21, 2019

Flautist Leslie Thompson: Determination to Continue Playing Music After Overcoming Car Accident

I love that they mention body mapping. Many music departments at universities are now offering courses or summer seminars in Alexander Technique, Feldenkrais, and Rolfing.

Happy to see a news article spreading awareness of musician injuries/disabilities, explaining how common injuries are, the importance of health education, and how adaptation is a key component in recovery (this also applies to dystonia).

Last, but not least, it's more than inspiring to see flautist Leslie Thompson share her journey of surviving a car accident and her determination to continue playing music.

She was fortunate to have Andree Martin as her professor during this time, who understands disabling setbacks all too well. Andree is not only trained as a body map clinician (Andovers Educator), but has recovered a great deal herself from focal hand dystonia and has a remarkable journey to share too.

Believe It's Possible