Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Top 9 Things You Should Not Say to Musician's with Dystonia

A lot of these statements are very flawed and I have sadly heard pretty much all of them at one point in time. Please. Just refrain from talking if these are your general assumptions of what dystonia is or if you can't think of anything better to say. Unsolicited advice is never desired from those who really don't understand the disorder or don't have it (even professionals) and just feel like saying whatever is on their mind.

1. "I'm sure there are some errors in your practice habits or way of playing that brought you to the condition you are in today. It must have been something you did wrong."

2. "It must be psychological. Stage freight, anxiety, or perfectionism."

3. "By the way, do you know this excerpt? Can you play it? Can you even play it with me?" or "I'm auditioning for this orchestra. How about you? Oh yeah, you have dystonia."

4. "I noticed you have a tremor in your low range. If you focused on improving your breathing, this would resolve a lot of your playing issues," or "If you focused on singing and hearing the melody (audiation) or on just the tone and nothing else, you can play it. If you can sing it, you can play it. If you can hear it, you can play it."

5. "Sometimes I think musicians with dystonia are just faking it. They want to avoid succeeding, so they develop a mental block. Musician's Dystonia is not a real thing. If you would just reach out to so-and-so (some professional musician who has never had dystonia)..."

6. "You should join an ensemble or enter this competition! Common, you can do it. It's not that bad."

7. "Expecting to overcome dystonia is not enough. You need to dream bigger. Maybe it's a confidence issue? You need to believe in yourself."

8. "Why not play something else like ___(enter name of least favorite instrument here)___. Why not try ___(enter name of least favorite music subject here)__."

9. "(Even though I've not taken the time to read your blog or witness how far you've recovered already or how you help others, let me give you some unsolicited advice). I can help you overcome your dystonia, even though I've never experienced it," or "I've overcome dystonia, I don't really care about your views, just my way of doing things, and I'm going to charge you $200.00 dollars a session, even though I can't guarantee you'll overcome it."

10. This is the best thing you can say to a musician with dystonia: "I may not understand what you're experiencing, but I support you and have faith in you. You're a strong person. Always remember what a great musician you still are...because that great musician is inside and has accomplished a lot. If there's anything I can do for you, let me know, I'll gladly listen."

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