Month: April 2020

On / by Walter Silva / in Distonia Focal del Guitarrista

How long is going to take me to recover from MFD?

This is a question that all of us who have suffered from musician’s focal dystonia or those who still suffer from it have asked ourselves at some point.

I found the answer in this parable:


Long ago, in T’ang China, there was an old monk going on a pilgrimage to Mount Wu-t’ai, the abode of Manjusri, the Bodhisattva of Wisdom. Aged and weak, he was treading the long dusty road alone, seeking alms along the way. After many long months, one morning he gazed upward and saw the majestic mountain in the distance. By the roadside, there was an old woman working the field. “Please tell me,” he asked, “how much longer I must proceed before reaching Mount Wu-t’ai?” The woman just looked at him, uttered a guttural sound and returned to her hoeing. He repeated the question a second and third time, but still there was no answer.

Thinking that the woman must be deaf, he decided to push on. After he had taken a few dozen steps, he heard the woman call out to him, “Two more days, it will take you two more days.” Somewhat annoyed, the monk responded, “I thought you were deaf. Why didn’t you answer my question earlier?” The woman replied, “You asked the question while you were standing put, Master. I had to see how fast your pace was, how determined your walk!”

Something similar happens with the way to recovery from MFD. The right help and guidance comes into our hands, only when we have the determination and perseverance to achieve it.

On / by Walter Silva / in Distonia Focal del Guitarrista

Being slaves to the sound makes us “deaf to the body”

If you were going deaf, how do you think this would affect the practice of your instrument?

The answer is pretty obvious, right?

Imprecision in tuning, absence of nuances and dynamics, tendency to play everything very hard, lack of timbral resources and all kinds of deficiencies derived from poor auditory discrimination.

What if I told you that there are musicians who suffer from a type of deafness that is not auditory, what would you say?

Unfortunately, musicians become slaves to sound and forget about that sixth sense called proprioception, which plays a fundamental role in executing the movements that are so precise that we carry out our hands on the instrument.

The internal sensations, that is, the information that reaches our brain from our muscles, tendons and ligaments and constitutes the kinesthetic sense, called proprioception.

This happens thanks to the innumerable sensors that we have in our muscles, tendons and ligaments.

When we are playing, our entire nervous system is involved.

Basically what happens is the following:

The frontal cortex is like the conductor of an orchestra and its orders are transmitted to the motor cortex; later they are coordinated by subcortical centers where the postures are adjusted, and finally they pass to the medulla where the peripheral motor neurons arise.

All these elementary actions are corrected thanks to a flow of visual, auditory and sensory information that allows for precise muscle tone adjustment.

Sensory pathways are linked to the regulation of motor function at all levels of the nervous system. The hand, in particular, has innumerable sensory receptors scattered on the skin, tendons and joints, which collect information from outside and inside the body.

The exoreceptors are the sensors of the skin, that is, those of touch and the proprioceptors are those that describe the position and movement of each segment of the hand in space and provide us with the necessary information to coordinate the movements we carry out and for the knowledge of the degree of muscle tension.

What happens then when we do not listen to what is happening inside our body properly?

Well, that we become “deaf proprioceptives”.

When internal perceptions are imprecise and beyond our awareness, the musical results are worse, and despite their lack of effectiveness, they give us a false sense of security, so we get used to them and feel uncomfortable when asked to modify them.

This responds to the habituation phenomenon.

This type of deafness consists of poor sensory processing, which leads us to use much more force and energy than is necessary to play our instrument.

This negatively affects both technical and musical results and, over time, can lead us to develop different types of injuries, including DFM.

The musician’s focal dystonia keeps us in a loop of repetition of the symptom, which responds to a constant feedback process, related to erroneous proprioception.