Focal Dystonia and Retraining the Hand

Ergonomics and Posture for Classical Guitarists, Aches and Pains, Injuries, etc...
Dofpic
Posts: 1194
Joined: Sun May 08, 2011 6:14 pm
Location: Whitefish, Montana

Re: Focal Dystonia and Retraining the Hand

Post by Dofpic » Thu Jun 29, 2017 12:35 pm

I tried to play piano and my right hand was not working and the same fingers that gave me issues happened with my piano playing. It has also affected my typing quite severely. I now use a stylus with my right hand and this has helped tremendously.

I am heading to Baltimore today for 3 days of lessons and will report back.
2011Fritz Ober(maple), 2015 Eric Sahlin, 2006 Greg Byers(fan)2009 Eric Monrad(maple)
2012 Martin Blackwell(for sale), 2003 Tacchi Simplcio satinwood 2017 E. Bottelli 52 Hauser, 2014 Joshua DeJonge Cedar( for sale) 2002 Jeff Elliott spruce.

User avatar
Michael.N.
Posts: 6557
Joined: Sun Mar 25, 2007 7:28 am
Location: UK

Re: Focal Dystonia and Retraining the Hand

Post by Michael.N. » Thu Jun 29, 2017 12:52 pm

Thanks for the reply Dofpic. I suspected that might be the case. I don't suffer from FD but I've had more than my fair share of shoulder/tension issues. What an awful condition FD is.
Historicalguitars.

guit-box
Posts: 1103
Joined: Mon Dec 05, 2011 4:57 am

Re: Focal Dystonia and Retraining the Hand

Post by guit-box » Sat Jul 01, 2017 3:28 am

Michael.N. wrote:
Thu Jun 29, 2017 11:49 am
Just a question in respect of FD. If you suffer from FD on one instrument (let's say guitar) what happens when you try to play another type of musical instrument? Does the condition automatically spill over?
Doctors refer to FD as being "task specific", so you don't necessarily have no use of your finger for other things like holding a pen or buttoning your shirt, etc. But I don't think that means it doesn't occur in other places. When mine was at its worst, I had trouble guitar playing, typing and mousing with the trouble fingers; but I could use them for other tasks like gripping anything or scratching, etc. So, I assume task specific means that you can use the fingers without dystonic movements for some other tasks but the dystonia may spill over into *some* similar tasks.
An eyewitness will often only see what he already believes to be true.

Dofpic
Posts: 1194
Joined: Sun May 08, 2011 6:14 pm
Location: Whitefish, Montana

Re: Focal Dystonia and Retraining the Hand

Post by Dofpic » Sat Jul 01, 2017 8:31 pm

For me it was typing, writing, piano. Also had tremors in my one finger.

Just came back from another intense 3 days or 2 hours a day of lessons with Serap Gray. interestingly while I have not worked on this my handwriting is better and the tremors are also better. I continue to use a stylus for typing. My IM alternation continues to improve in baby steps on both the same string and adjacent strings. She worked a lot on the "micro-release of tension in playing and more work on my hand position. Started the first 3 Giuliani RH exercises and breaking down into simple movements and the MR of tension. Also talks a lot about the sensation of putting my fingers on the string with no intension to play like a butterfly sitting on the strings as my hand wants to grip the strings and pull in.

We then looked at a Carcassi Rondo and discussed how to approach it from both fingering as well as where to release tension, phrasing etc. She said she does not suggest etudes that have a continual pattern at this point but prefers music with both arpeggios , scales, chords all in one are better as we can turn them into mini exercises yet have a great piece of music to play in the end which is what it is all about. Again not laboring long on certain patterns for long periods

More discussion on short practices, mixing things up etc. Also did burst of 3-5 notes with a focus on again the MR of tension afterwards. Said sprinters often rest 3 seconds for every 1 second of exercise when working their technique and since we are athletes of the small muscles we should do the same.

Very happy with the progress in under 4 weeks.
2011Fritz Ober(maple), 2015 Eric Sahlin, 2006 Greg Byers(fan)2009 Eric Monrad(maple)
2012 Martin Blackwell(for sale), 2003 Tacchi Simplcio satinwood 2017 E. Bottelli 52 Hauser, 2014 Joshua DeJonge Cedar( for sale) 2002 Jeff Elliott spruce.

User avatar
lagartija
Moderator
Moderator
Posts: 10174
Joined: Thu Apr 02, 2009 5:37 pm
Location: Western Massachusetts, USA

Re: Focal Dystonia and Retraining the Hand

Post by lagartija » Sat Jul 01, 2017 9:51 pm

I am so happy to hear you feel as if you are making progress! Best wishes for your continued progress and return to playing something musical with ease and without tension. :-D
When the sun shines, bask.
__/^^^^^o>
Classical Guitar forever!

guit-box
Posts: 1103
Joined: Mon Dec 05, 2011 4:57 am

Re: Focal Dystonia and Retraining the Hand

Post by guit-box » Sun Jul 02, 2017 4:59 pm

I've been having great success with thinking of the plant/pressure as simply straightening the finger. Of course the actual movement is for the MCP to flexion while the PIP simultaneously extends, but thinking of the plant/pressure simply as lengthening the finger or pushing the string instead of pulling is important. I think a guitarist with FD who is used to plucking by following through from the large knuckle joint (like many of us where incorrectly taught) would benefit from this change in movement.

We've been talking about it at this thread viewtopic.php?f=6&t=80875&start=1245

Then, the actual pluck (or release as some call it) is just the opposite movement. Not a follow through from the large knuckle, but the opposite, a release from the large knuckle and a follow through from the middle joint only.
An eyewitness will often only see what he already believes to be true.

Dofpic
Posts: 1194
Joined: Sun May 08, 2011 6:14 pm
Location: Whitefish, Montana

Re: Focal Dystonia and Retraining the Hand

Post by Dofpic » Thu Jul 13, 2017 6:50 pm

Heading back To Baltimore for two days of lessons. Very happy with the progress so far. My IM alternation in scales and on adjacent strings continues to improve and hand as a whole feels much better and more easy moving in block chords or playing P then IMA as a group. Long way to go as somethings feel very awkward such as arpeggios(have not really started there yet). But her practice regiment makes so much sense to me as a way to not over practice things etc. How the brain absorbs new skills etc. Also her use of metaphors in how to practice or what sensations to thoughts to have when playing a certain pattern is extremely helpful. Also watching her hand in person helps as well. I will report back afterwards.
2011Fritz Ober(maple), 2015 Eric Sahlin, 2006 Greg Byers(fan)2009 Eric Monrad(maple)
2012 Martin Blackwell(for sale), 2003 Tacchi Simplcio satinwood 2017 E. Bottelli 52 Hauser, 2014 Joshua DeJonge Cedar( for sale) 2002 Jeff Elliott spruce.

Philosopherguy
Posts: 888
Joined: Fri Mar 29, 2013 12:40 am
Location: Niagara, Ontario, Canada

Re: Focal Dystonia and Retraining the Hand

Post by Philosopherguy » Thu Jul 13, 2017 9:54 pm

Dofpic wrote:
Thu Jul 13, 2017 6:50 pm
Heading back To Baltimore for two days of lessons. Very happy with the progress so far. My IM alternation in scales and on adjacent strings continues to improve and hand as a whole feels much better and more easy moving in block chords or playing P then IMA as a group. Long way to go as somethings feel very awkward such as arpeggios(have not really started there yet). But her practice regiment makes so much sense to me as a way to not over practice things etc. How the brain absorbs new skills etc. Also her use of metaphors in how to practice or what sensations to thoughts to have when playing a certain pattern is extremely helpful. Also watching her hand in person helps as well. I will report back afterwards.
Congratulations on the progress! I'm glad to hear that you haven't given up. From your previous posts, I know it has been a long road. It must be nice to get your hands on those beautiful guitars again!

Martin
*************************************************************
2013 Ramirez 130 Anos - Spruce
2013 Ramirez 4NE - Cedar
1998 Dean Harrington - Spruce
1977 Kuniharu Nobe - Spruce
1971 Yamaha GC3 - Spruce

jacksilver
Posts: 1
Joined: Mon Jul 24, 2017 1:02 pm

Re: Focal Dystonia and Retraining the Hand

Post by jacksilver » Mon Jul 24, 2017 1:09 pm

I came to New York in 1990 for some sessions with Pat O'Brien. They were a revelation, and my particular focal dystonia--an involuntary extension of the m finger was completely cured. It took me almost a year of following Pat's exercises--very slowly, retraining my right hand movements completely, but it worked. In fact, Pat started referring people to me--I never charged them anything. Fortunately, I recorded the lessons and transcribed them. Because Pat was a very articulate guy, I've thought for a long time it might be valuable to have them published. I'd like to get in touch with Douglas Alton Smith, who wrote he was publishing articles o Pat's teachings.

User avatar
GeoffB
Chief moderator
Chief moderator
Posts: 32550
Joined: Sun Dec 09, 2007 3:37 pm
Location: UK

Re: Focal Dystonia and Retraining the Hand

Post by GeoffB » Mon Jul 24, 2017 6:21 pm

Hello Jack, welcome to the forum. Could I ask you to introduce yourself here?

Geoff
Classical Guitar Forum.

"Experience is something you don't get until just after you need it." - Steven Wright

Dofpic
Posts: 1194
Joined: Sun May 08, 2011 6:14 pm
Location: Whitefish, Montana

Re: Focal Dystonia and Retraining the Hand

Post by Dofpic » Thu Jul 27, 2017 2:59 pm

I have my first Skype session tomorrow. Serap is not big on that method for FD but I have 20 hours in person with her so she totally knows my abilities and issues now. We shall see. My last session with her 2 weeks ago in person went really well. I continue to improve at a steady pace. I practice 3 times a day for 12 minutes and a fourth time at night if I feel like it for 6 minutes. My IM alternation is very stable now at 80 to the quarter note playing 16th notes. both on adjacent strings or the same string. She is also excellent at using dynamics and musical phrases to help in that I may start with strong emphasis on the initial notes and playing pianissimo by the time get to the final 16th note. Arpeggios are coming along as well. She always has me say hello to the guitar each session with something that is totally secure which helps me relax for the rest of the practice session. She says that Pablo Casals the greatest cellist of his generation had a similar routine every practice session.

I still have movement disorders with certain patterns but she suggests certain exercises to correct them and usually after about three weeks it is. She has such an amazing ability to work on all aspects of this disorder including music interpretation and relaxation to help with this. It has not been a straight line but my gains continue to hold which is giving me confidence. She has me start every new pattern or exercise in its smallest elements with small speed bursts as little as two notes at a time and then add on one note once the initial burst is secure. Extremely happy with my progress so far after almost 8 weeks. She is in Baltimore and I can recommend her to others with the highest regard.
2011Fritz Ober(maple), 2015 Eric Sahlin, 2006 Greg Byers(fan)2009 Eric Monrad(maple)
2012 Martin Blackwell(for sale), 2003 Tacchi Simplcio satinwood 2017 E. Bottelli 52 Hauser, 2014 Joshua DeJonge Cedar( for sale) 2002 Jeff Elliott spruce.

guit-box
Posts: 1103
Joined: Mon Dec 05, 2011 4:57 am

Re: Focal Dystonia and Retraining the Hand

Post by guit-box » Thu Jul 27, 2017 6:43 pm

Dofpic wrote:
Thu Jul 27, 2017 2:59 pm
I have my first Skype session tomorrow. Serap is not big on that method for FD but I have 20 hours in person with her so she totally knows my abilities and issues now. We shall see. My last session with her 2 weeks ago in person went really well. I continue to improve at a steady pace. I practice 3 times a day for 12 minutes and a fourth time at night if I feel like it for 6 minutes. My IM alternation is very stable now at 80 to the quarter note playing 16th notes. both on adjacent strings or the same string. She is also excellent at using dynamics and musical phrases to help in that I may start with strong emphasis on the initial notes and playing pianissimo by the time get to the final 16th note. Arpeggios are coming along as well. She always has me say hello to the guitar each session with something that is totally secure which helps me relax for the rest of the practice session. She says that Pablo Casals the greatest cellist of his generation had a similar routine every practice session.

I still have movement disorders with certain patterns but she suggests certain exercises to correct them and usually after about three weeks it is. She has such an amazing ability to work on all aspects of this disorder including music interpretation and relaxation to help with this. It has not been a straight line but my gains continue to hold which is giving me confidence. She has me start every new pattern or exercise in its smallest elements with small speed bursts as little as two notes at a time and then add on one note once the initial burst is secure. Extremely happy with my progress so far after almost 8 weeks. She is in Baltimore and I can recommend her to others with the highest regard.
Well, I wish you all the best and I hope you can begin to play again. But "has me say hello to the guitar" sounds like quackery to me. Give us all the details about what exactly you're working and/or post a video of what you're doing and how it has progressed. So far, all I've read has been an advertisement for this focal dystonia "practitioner" , so I'm skeptical to say the least. How much is all of this costing you? Sorry if this sounds harsh, but I've heard too much nonsense about focal dystonia cures in my lifetime and they usually involve little details and lots of money spent, that's what this one is sounding like to me.
An eyewitness will often only see what he already believes to be true.

guit-box
Posts: 1103
Joined: Mon Dec 05, 2011 4:57 am

Re: Focal Dystonia and Retraining the Hand

Post by guit-box » Thu Jul 27, 2017 6:54 pm

jacksilver wrote:
Mon Jul 24, 2017 1:09 pm
I came to New York in 1990 for some sessions with Pat O'Brien. They were a revelation, and my particular focal dystonia--an involuntary extension of the m finger was completely cured. It took me almost a year of following Pat's exercises--very slowly, retraining my right hand movements completely, but it worked. In fact, Pat started referring people to me--I never charged them anything. Fortunately, I recorded the lessons and transcribed them. Because Pat was a very articulate guy, I've thought for a long time it might be valuable to have them published. I'd like to get in touch with Douglas Alton Smith, who wrote he was publishing articles o Pat's teachings.

I saw him too and followed his advice for months but with no success. Basically the O'Brien treatment involved always letting the tip joints passively collapse. I think there is something to that technique, many players do it for rest strokes and some do it for free strokes, but others don't do it, so it's questionable whether this is the solution for everyone. The middle finger DIP joint tends to collapse more because that finger is longer and it allows the finger to pass though the string easier if the tip joint collapses.

It's most likely that learning to play guitar again after focal dystonia really involves starting over and re-learning to play the guitar. Nobody wants to believe that, they'd like to think someone else will fix you, but you have to do it yourself. Very slow and correct movements for months and years. That's why understanding that the current and past pedagogy about playing exclusively from the MCP (main knuckle joint) is so dangerous. No one who actually plays well follows this technique, even if they teach it, they don't do it. -- just watch all the videos and you'll see it's true. One has to make sure they are practicing movements that work, not movements that follow some incorrect theory that doesn't work. Doing the later is probably the trigger that shut down my right hand, it took me 3 years to break that habit and I'm still working on it.
An eyewitness will often only see what he already believes to be true.

guit-box
Posts: 1103
Joined: Mon Dec 05, 2011 4:57 am

Re: Focal Dystonia and Retraining the Hand

Post by guit-box » Thu Jul 27, 2017 7:03 pm

These articles and videos would be helpful for any guitarist working on right hand technique, but I find them especially helpful for players who have dystonia and/or need to unlearn bad techniques. (such as focusing attention on plucking from the main knuckle joint)


http://philiphii.com/2011/07/walking-fingers-video/
http://philiphii.com/2010/10/walking-the-fingers/
An eyewitness will often only see what he already believes to be true.

Dofpic
Posts: 1194
Joined: Sun May 08, 2011 6:14 pm
Location: Whitefish, Montana

Re: Focal Dystonia and Retraining the Hand

Post by Dofpic » Thu Jul 27, 2017 10:14 pm

First of all she does not advertise she is a FD practitioner. She told me flat out she has only one student that was totally cured and it was someone at Peabody and they caught it early. There were no promises of any kind. Being a medical doctor as well as an occupational therapist plus a masters degree in guitar from Peabody where she studied with both Julian Grey and Manuel Barrueco are credentials are impossible to find in one person. Someone else on this forum suggested her to me after hearing a lecture on avoiding injuries for musicians. So you can criticize all you want but the results I am seeing I am extremely happy about. That is all that matters. I have a masters degree in classical guitar from the early 80's. I am only posting here so that someone who has this awful affliction might find her helpful to their recovery. I certainly have. A long way to go but in 8 weeks lots of progress at a cost no more than for regular guitar lessons from an excellent teacher with masters degree credentials.

No upfront cost no promises no hype just great help.
2011Fritz Ober(maple), 2015 Eric Sahlin, 2006 Greg Byers(fan)2009 Eric Monrad(maple)
2012 Martin Blackwell(for sale), 2003 Tacchi Simplcio satinwood 2017 E. Bottelli 52 Hauser, 2014 Joshua DeJonge Cedar( for sale) 2002 Jeff Elliott spruce.

Return to “Ergonomics and Posture for Classical Guitarists”