What is your story?
Putting it to the test
After I managed to shoo the symptoms away, I was so ready to share my findings and experience with the world. I was unsure, or skeptical at first, but I had owed the world on being able to go through what I've gone through, and the yearning to know if I can help anyone. After all, one of my biggest incentives for overcoming symptoms was to eventually be able to help others. I was hoping my ideas and technique would 'work' for other musicians and if it would be of help to anybody in need.
I knew the next step was to see if the process for the success that I experienced was replicable and reproducible among other musicians with slightly different symptoms and background.
It was not too difficult to have one musician after another contact me, once I started to put out some information in Japan.
I started helping pianists and some other instrumentalists with MFD in Tokyo.
I was surprised to find out within the first couple of years that....
#1) the varieties of the symptoms came in different shades and the works that each individual needed to be emphasised was greatly different from one individual to another, depending on their specific case, where they were at in their journey of recovery, conscious level in general and their personality and...
#2) the training worked marvellously for some and not as much for others. I have come to notice over time that the difference that I've experienced was mostly due to how much effort we put into effectively and deeply communicating with each other and setting timed expectations for each other. I have learned so much about communicating in terms of others through other folks with MFD and....
#3) this is controversial but.. not everybody that seemingly wanted to recover so badly, didn't really indeed wanted and needed to recover really really badly from the gut. Of course, this is quite natural as there always seems to be some level of psychological comfort in staying where we currently are no matter how much we tell ourselves and others that we need to change course..
I learned too that, there seemed to be more musicians afflicted with this condition than I anticipated. Musicians came from all walks of life, from the un-diagnosed amateur to the seasoned professional that had the symptoms for several decades.
But after a while, I was humbled to know that a 'pianist's problem' can be dealt through a pianistic approach. What was the most inspiring to see, was that many of the talented pianists who came to me were recovering at the rate that I myself couldn't have dreamed of back then. My students had greater advantages over me since they were avoiding many detours, setbacks and idle time.
All this was super exciting!
What this site is about
This website is my attempt to share experience, insights and findings, to reach out to anyone in the world who might find the information useful. I am not a medical specialist or a professional researcher of any kind. I am only a pianist and an educator. The findings and ideas that I present come from the ground of my intuition, my own experience and from coaching others, and even from my broader teaching experience, rather than in the form of scientific facts backed by research, though I must admit, I do like to stick my nose into those papers.
The idea that an individual might need the most for swift recovery is different from person to person, depending on the symptom, technical ability and understanding, musical background, emotional, physical and mental state and habits and day to day activities. There are many different approaches to deal with the problem and I encourage everyone to find the cocktail that's right for you and I will try to present as many aspects to recovery as I can.
There is no single way or single idea or single approach that would work. I have come across works of many wonderful and experienced practitioners and different approaches and they all make sense.
The site is intended for the well trained classical pianist to 'self train' with the ideas and specific exercises presented, but if you play any other instrument, many of the principles can be applied to your case as well. Please proceed with your own discresion as I hold no responsibility to your outcome, no matter how great or how bad it is. It is not meant to be an alternative to any treatment nor I offer or promise any magical 'cure'.
Everybody has their own focal dystonia story.
Mine goes like this.
The nightmare started so suddenly....
One day,as I was practicing a series of octaves for a performance, I noticed that my hand couldn't 'grab' those octaves like I usually did. After attempts on trying to regain the usual feeling by practicing even more for few days, my thumb eventually curled inside my palm with so much tension and from then on, no matter what I did, I could not play through a single measure. My whole hand would clench so tightly when I tried to do anything with my right hand such as writing, holding utensils, buttoning up and waving good bye.
Medication, meditation, injections, treatments, well-meant advices from colleages and teachers, eastern medicine, numerous therapies, counseling, throwing tantrums, trying to focus on the music I was creating and feeling bad for myself... all didn't help any bit!
Now, fast forward over a decade, today I have no symptom. Free from dystonia! So..what did I do, and how did I do it?
Simply put, I incrementally trained myself not to have focal dystonia symptoms.
By practicing self awareness and self observation, getting back into basics of piano playing, stumbling across findings after series of coincidences, testing theories, doing some cross diciplinary research, soul searching and experiencing many trials and errors and sticking to the technique that stood test of time, focal dystonia decided that it no longer needed to hang out with me and slowly faded away until it was completely gone.