I had lessons with both of them in the mid-1990s and tried both of their ideas for months before abandoning them both. I'm still on the fence about distal flexion, certainly many players do rest strokes by letting the DIP collapse, but other don't do that, and it's less common in free strokes. I can play my guitar left handed and my distal joints will not collapse at all (probably because I trained them not to for pull offs) and I can perform excellent rest and free strokes with that hand with no collapsing. So, I'm suspicious of his teaching on this subject. Leisner is another case, I don't believe anyone can play the guitar by swinging the whole arm at the strings, that method is bogus and I've heard from no one who has learned to play again using Leisner's method. I would love to hear some names of O'brien's or Leisner's students who recovered from focal dystonia after following their advice. -- maybe they exist, but I'm not aware of anyone.renlute wrote: ↑Sat May 20, 2017 10:11 amWhile I do not purport to be an authority on focal dystonia myself, I am currently collecting and editing a series of articles by and about Patrick O'Brien, the late New York City guitar and lute teacher who cured himself of severe tendinitis in the early 1970s and spent much of his subsequent 40-year teaching career coaching guitarists and other musicians who had acquired FD, tendinitis, carpal tunnel syndrome and similar disorders. Several articles will constitute testimonies about successful FD therapies of his -- in the patients' own words. Pat believed the afflictions were usually acquired by faulty technique. He told me (in 2012) that he had observed distal flexion -- overuse of the tip joints of the right hand -- to be the cause of FD upwards of 80-90% of the time. He spoke from a perspective of observing hundreds of his student patients during four decades, and referred to the legendary pianist Glenn Gould, who inadvertently ended his career with FD by sitting lower and lower on the bench and thus engaging the DIP joints excessively. Pat's success rate was not perfect, but was apparently better than the low estimates I read about in neurological journals.
One of our testimonies is from a guitarist whose very complex case improved very substantially under Pat's guidance, but recovered still more years later with David Leisner. Leisner's therapeutic technique is remarkably distinct from Pat's, but once explained (though I admittedly understand it only vaguely), it seems to make sense. The mere fact that Leisner had become disabled but has recovered to the point that he plays as astonishingly well as he does now, indicates that he must have an understanding of the issues that has to be respected, even if it does not work for everyone. The method itself is not always the cause of failure in an individual case, whether it be O'Brien's or Leisner's, since there are other factors involved that are still being researched.
The series of articles I refer to will be published in the Journal of the Lute Society of America starting within the next couple months. The clinical studies won't be in the first memorial issue for Patrick, but in it, Pat lays out his most fundamental understanding of the anatomy of the hand and the reasons why distal flexion and a couple other fairly common technical mistakes can cause harm.
Douglas Alton Smith, Consulting Editor, JLSA