Monday, August 28, 2017

I am Engaged!!

It's been a while since I've updated my blog! A lot has been happening so I'm mainly going to explain it all in photos!

First of all, I have posted a new video of my current horn playing on my facebook page Living with Embouchure Dystonia, and in the Focal Task Specific Embouchure Dystonia facebook group. You can see it here:  . I filmed this at one of the music schools I teach at. I am warming up before my students arrive for the day.

Next.....surprise! I got engaged!!! David proposed to me in early May. We'll be getting married here in sunny Colorado. It most likely will be a little bit of time before we can get married because we are in the process of starting David's woodworking/furniture refurbishing business. He named it after me, even though I won't have that last name very long. Check us out at :-)  

I got to see an awesome friend, mentor, and professional horn player - Thomas Jostlein and his family again this summer! Like I've said in previous posts, I don't get to experience being in the horn playing world anymore since I'm not in an orchestra, and can't really speak to other horn players because I'm never around them. I can't explain how refreshing it is to speak to a horn player that doesn't look at me like an injured or diseased/cursed person, but instead still supports my success and boosts my confidence by reminding me that I can do it!...I can play and keep improving, and that what I am doing is good! Here are a few pictures from all the times we've got to catch up over the years.


I also got to meet Julie Landsman this year who is another huge inspiration to me. She said that she actually just recently donated to Dr. Itlis's Embouchure Dystonia research. It was great to hear her play with that beautiful gorgeous tone. Moved me and gave me so much inspiration.

David and I have been working on so many creative and artistic projects! I love that we have found something that we can work on together. David started a wood furnishing refurbishing business called Berglof Premier Furnishings. Here's a couple photos below of not only his refinishing woodwork, but my drawings, and some of my wood stain art, and wood burning art (pyrography). I will post some of David's paintings in the future, as they are also very good! :-)

This news doesn't necessarily have to do with me. But I wanted to post a picture of my twin sister. She had the opportunity to meet up with her former trumpet section this last year. Here is a photo with her former trumpet section mates: Philip and Natalie Dungey from Seattle. I am so proud of her and miss her trumpet playing! Ally and her husband have a photography business called Sweet Dahlia Photography which you can check out here: . They are based in Washington state and her husband also manages a music store and lesson studio! :-)

Example of Ally and Mario's photography work! :-)

Finally, last but not least. I've started my private lesson teaching again, including several contracts with a handful of music schools around the metro area, so pretty much concentrating on doing it full-time this year and will see how it goes. I haven't completely given up teaching in public schools though...I also teach high brass at Douglas County High School/DC Downbeat band program a couple times a week!

In my spare time I'm helping Danny refurbish furniture and learning more wood working techniques such as pyrography, stain art, and golf leafing.

I am looking forward to all the creative and artistic work I'm doing! Please keep sending positive energy our way. I will do my best to keep my blog updated, but am pretty busy!....until next time....happy 2017-2018! May everyone be blessed! :-)

Monday, April 3, 2017

April: Important Embouchure Dystonia Research Articles, Information, and Videos

MRI Horn and Brass Repository Project (MBRP)
Dr. Peter Iltis is currently directing this research project in collaboration with the Max Planck Institute for Biophysical Chemistry (Gottingen, Germany) and the Institute for Music Physiology and Musician's Medicine (Hannover, Germany). The goal of the project is to research and find ways to restore function in musician's with Embouchure Dystonia, and also find ways to prevent FTSED in general. If you are interested in more information, please click on the link and scroll to the bottom of the page for Dr. Iltis information. Also if you would like to donate to this important research, there is a link on his webpage as well. Currently the International Horn Society executive committee encourages fellow musicians and horn players to support this research if can!

Here is a video of Dr. Iltis speaking in a new video posted on facebook about the research project. And here are further informative videos over his current research below:

American Academy of Neurology Podcast: Sensorimotor Overactivity as a Pathophysiological Trait of Embouchure Dystonia
An interview with Dr. Bernhard Haslinger about his paper published on sensorimotor overactivity in embouchure dystonia.

Activity and Topographic changes in the Somatosensory System in Embouchure Dystonia
I believe I've posted this before! But here is a more condensed overview of this research publication by Tobias Mantel MD, Christian Dresel MD, Eckart Altenmuller MD, Claus Zimmer MD, Jonas Noe MD, Bernhard Haslinger MD ( <-- Who was speaking in the previous podcast link above).

Allegro: Foundation is Created to Assist Musicians with Dystonia
This is an article from the year 2000 when Glen Estrin and Dr. Frucht founded the Musician's With Dystonia Foundation. It has Dr. Frucht's contact information, and talks about how they assist musicians with information on how to get health care coverage, and where to go when they need a diagnosis. "Dr. Steven Frucht of the Columbia Presbyterian Medical Center Movement Disorders Clinic may be reached at (212) 305-5277...for further information regarding Musicians with Dystonia Foundation, send e-mails to"

Clinical and Epidemiological Correlates of Task-Specific Dystonia in a Large Cohort of Brazilian Musicians
This is a general study on focal task-specific dystonia in musicians around Brazil. The study was conducted by Rita C. Moura, Patrcia Maria de Carvalho Aguiar, Graziela Bortz, and Henrique Ballalai Ferraz. 49 individuals were diagnosed with FD (mean age 26.4 years; 92% male). The instruments most associated with FD were acoustic guitar (36.7%) and brass instruments (30.6%). They concluded that Brazilian FD music players were mainly male, classical music professionals, around 30 years of age, with arms, hands, or oromandibular muscles affected. They end their study by stating that Musicians Focal Dystonia should receive more attention from musicians, teachers, and health professionals.

Worlds First Focal Hand Dystonia Patient in Japan Treated with Focused Ultra-Sound (FUS) Enabling Musician to Play Again
I was quite interested in this and contacted Nadia Scantlebury at SunnyBrook about a current focused ultra-sound study that was going on in Canada. Unfortunately they are only letting Canadian citizens participate. However, she did mention that there is a focused ultra-sound research study or trial going on at University of Virginia. Here is a list of all their current trials going on with focused ultra-sound! If interested, you can contact them directly.

From Embouchure Problems to Embouchure Dystonia? A Survey of Self-reported Embouchure Disorders in 585 Professional Orchestra Brass Players
This research was conducted by Anke Steinmetz, Andreas Stang, Malte Kornhuber, Marc Rollinghoff, Karl-Stefan Delank, and Eckart Altenmuller. "The final publication is available at

Music and Medicine: A Research Model
These are slide presentations by professor Karendra Devroop of the School of Music and Conservatory at North-West University that cover a variety of music performance-related injuries, disorders, research, knowledge, and statistics. I highly recommend reading it, as it covers a wide variety of very important information we can all benefit from as musicians. Raise awareness!

Review: Music, Motor Control, and the Brain. By Eckart Altenmuller, Mario Wiesendanger, and Jurg Kesselring. 
You have to have a Jstor account in order to read this! Easy to sign up, and easy to access this article, as it is a free read. I highly recommend a Jstor account anyways! many articles and quality information.

Carmine Caruso Method Adapted and Taught by Julie Landsman
Last, but definitely not least!!! These are some of my favorite videos to watch. I actually started using the freebuzzing/mouthpiece buzzing exercise video in rehabilitation, as it helps me a ton!!!

The Recovery
Freebuzzing and Mouthpiece Buzzing
The Six Notes
The Harmonic Series

Carmine Caruso Method: Introduction with Julie Landsman

Note Tasting




Dynamic Studies

Low Register


Thursday, March 30, 2017

(Video) Focal Embouchure Dystonia and Playing Other Instruments

When you have musician's dystonia, a lot of friends and colleagues try to encourage you to find another instrument. Let me tell you, that isn't easy, and for a number of reasons. First being...nothing can come close to the love you have for your primary instrument. For me, horn is the best, and everything else doesn't come close. Not that I haven't given other instruments a shot. I grew up learning multiple instruments. Guitar is my second love, and it also doesn't come close to horn.

I enjoy practicing on other instruments, and I have to because I'm a teacher! However, my embouchure dystonia still effects me on other instruments to a certain degree. Some instruments are easier to play (i.e. trumpet, flute), and other instruments harder (i.e. tuba, trombone, euphonium). But just because some of the instruments are easier to play, doesn't mean I have the chops to master the instrument even if I wanted to. 

I want to show you what my embouchure looks like when I play other instruments. I don't talk much in the videos; except on the trumpet and trombone one. I think it is good to show how my focal dystonia still effects my playing from instrument to instrument. I can still  play to a certain degree on each instrument, but only if I focus on less tension....which means a more relaxed embouchure formation, and not stabilized at all. I show this really well on the trumpet video and explain it in detail. 

Let me know what you think of my new blog layout (should I go back to the previous design?), and if these videos give any insight. I'm not sure if these videos can show much...but I still think it's important to post them and analyze them, as not many people post recordings of themselves playing other related-instruments while having focal embouchure dystonia! :-)