If you have been diagnosed with focal embouchure dystonia and need information, advice, and tips, feel free to reach out.
A reminder that I do not diagnose embouchure problems, and cannot tell you what you have and will refuse to do so. I can try to connect you with a medical professional that diagnoses certain musician injuries, but I cannot and will not provide answers/diagnosis, as I am not qualified.
If you think you might have dystonia, but it's too early to tell: Please understand that Embouchure Dystonia is extremely hard to diagnose in onset/early stages due to the subtle symptoms that could easily be some other type of physical health issue or setback. Many are misdiagnosed with the disorder. If you are looking for information on various injuries and disorders brass musicians have in order to learn about general signs and symptoms for educational purposes, please check out "Broken Embouchures" book and website by Lucinda Lewis, or my blog which has several resources on the sidebar, including more under the "More Helpful Resources/Links of Interest" link on the sidebar.
There is not much we can do as far as prevention, except taking time away from playing in order to assess our own embouchure, being hyper aware of our body, documenting any changes within coming months, knowing signs/symptoms of common setbacks, and taking care of our health as best can, and foremost seeking out professional medical help if things do not improve.Please do not underestimate the importance of taking time off from playing to assess your situation more in-depth!
If you think there is a high chance you have musician's dystonia: Please seek out professional diagnosis from a neurologist like Dr. Steven Frucht who has diagnosed and researched several musicians with dystonia, and then seek out guidance rehabilitating from a musician who has dystonia (on your instrument is best) with experience overcoming/progressing significantly from it and who has helped others and hopefully doesn't charge massive amounts of money.
For those who have been diagnosed with embouchure dystonia: I can only share what strategies have helped me and you can take or leave whatever works. I do not charge anything ever.
There are too many non-dystonia musicians out there that are trying to help musicians with dystonia by using standard performance techniques by fixing mechanical issues/faulty technique, and breathing technique, which most trained teachers/musicians can provide.
Some mean well with good intentions, however there are more than a handful that use their reputation as a professional musician to coax people into receiving help from them because they want to prove something or publish their own made-up theory about what they think musician's dystonia is.
If they are unwilling to prove to you that they have dystonia and either try to throw you off, or refuse to answer you immediately when you ask them if they have dystonia, then run....as far away as you can. Please! Even though some might generally mean well and act as if they genuinely care about helping you, please do not underestimate the importance of seeking out help from someone who has/had embouchure dystonia and experience helping others recover.
List of Questions
Before meeting or talking, please prepare a list of questions. I only have 2 requirements:You must be willing to show me your playing so I can better help you, and there is a 4 page questionnaire that needs to be filled out.
The questionnaire documentwill take time to complete. Just click on the highlighted link. Although lengthy, it helps me understand your playing history, signs and symptoms in great detail. The questionnaire also includes what should be demonstrated in your playing video or over skype when we meet.
If can, please read a little bit of my Embouchure Dystonia Blog, as I have put years of work into sharing information and resources on it.
Schedule a Time
Please fill out the contact form on my contact page, or use my direct contact information listed at the bottom of every page. It shows my most available days.
If scheduling a meeting for the first time,please take into account that it usually takes 1-2 hours or more to discuss everything.
If you would like to continually stay in contact, that is okay too.
I only provide guidance via video chat or meeting in person because of the advantage of being able to see your symptoms up close. I cannot help anyone based on only written descriptions of symptoms in an e-mail.
I am only here to help to shed light on what I have learned through my own experience and what has helped me. So please do not assume I have all the answers or can cure you. I only aim to give you supportive knowledge, resources, and guidance that you can take or leave as you please.
Thank you to all who reach out. My door is always open and I hope to provide some hope!