Saturday, April 14, 2018

Feedspot: Top 15 French Horn Blogs and Websites to Follow has selected this blog as part of it's Top 15 French Horn Blogs and Websites to Follow based on google reputation and search ranking, influence and popularity on social media, quality and consistency of posts, and then overlooked by the editorial team and expertly reviewed. You can check it out by clicking on the highlighted link above.

A huge thank you to the founder Anuj Agarwal for notifying me and giving me a badge!! It's an honor to know that my efforts to raise awareness for musicians with dystonia has not gone unnoticed.

As I look back to 2009 when I first started experiencing onset of focal embouchure dystonia, I remember looking for more information on the subject, and it appalled me that there were so few resources or documentation of it. It's as if it were never talked about or documented. Fast forward to today, I can't explain how relieved it makes me feel to see how much both focal embouchure dystonia and focal hand dystonia (musician's dystonia) is being talked about, researched, known about, and being brought up in lectures at conferences, taught about at universities, and just spoken about in general. I feel like in a short 10 years the topic of performance related injuries and disorders has come to the forefront, and I can't wait to see how many more answers and advancements we make in helping injured and/or disabled musicians find help, knowledge, resources, and recovery methods. I am truly honored to be a small part of the huge group of musicians, doctors, physicians, teachers, etc. who have brought light to this very important subject!

...and thank you to my blog readers. I appreciate all those who have reached out to me over the years. I know most of you do in order to ask questions, find answers, find help, share stories, share articles/research, but I can't explain how much you have helped me not feel so alone too throughout all this, and you've done more for me than you know!

Thursday, February 15, 2018


Just wanted to share my mantras in both Latin and English. These give me the greatest amount of inner strength no matter when or what I'm going through. I use them during meditation or when playing horn or in prayer. One of my biggest strengths is perseverance, and these mantras accurately reflect my mentality whenever encountering obstacles/life challenges. They resonate so well with me and I always keep them close to my heart. Happy Valentines day everyone, I hope these help your inner strength shine through as well. 

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Rehabilitation Video Journals Updated

Just stopping by to update my inventory of videos over rehabilitation (you can see the whole inventory here: There's a couple over the last few years I haven't added on here and needed to. Just wanted to start it off with a before vs after video first to show the progress over the years. :-)

Before I got dystonia 2006-2009: I don't have many recordings except for from 2006-2009... but tried to smash a few excerpts together to show a bit of my abilities.

During height of Dystonia and right before diagnosed with it: 2011/2012:....first video of playing in January of 2011, and there was a lot I was too embarrassed to put on camera. But I had been trying to recover my playing since June 2010. The 2-4 videos are of taking an inventory of my symptoms at the time in 2012.

After: Fast-forward to January 2017 ....this is a video of me warming up before teaching lessons. I'm testing the waters and checking to see how my embouchure felt. I recovered a great deal from 2011-2013.

I stopped rehabilitation practice from 2014-2015 due to graduate school, and 2015-2017 due to focusing on teaching. I didn't necessarily stop playing, I just didn't focus on recovery efforts as much or logging things.

Now in 2017 I started focusing on regaining the last percentage of my playing again and started taking some gigs! :-)


Currently onto 2018.....I recorded this yesterday 02/12/18. Doing some light-touch rehabilitation. Testing how long I can hold a note out for and how lightly I can do it for. Notice how there is less spasms or involuntary flexes in the chin muscles as there were in the past.

When I start to get louder, I'm basically doing that to stretch/tense my muscles really quickly in order to relieve tension, and then diminuendo into a lighter sound when possible. My camera died, but I will film the rest of my upper register today.

March 2017: Filmed my playing on other instruments; clarinet, trumpet, trombone. 

February 3rd, 2017: Playing, and speaking about my progress on larger interval jumps in rehabilitation.

July 2nd, 2016: Playing and speaking about collapsed vs puckered embouchure, tonguing vs air puffs and its affects during rehabilitation.

April 2nd, 2016: Playing and speaking about puckered vs collapsed embouchure formations in rehabilitation.

May 1st, 2014: Rehab log

January 13th, 2014: Rehab Log after acupuncture

February 17th, 2013: Rehab Log...might have already posted this under my videos.

Sunday, February 11, 2018

New Facebook Group and Forum for Musicians with Dystonia

Hi everyone! Just wanted to chime in and share 2 new groups/forums I created for musicians with dystonia on facebook! ....

  • Musicians with Focal Dystonia & Neurologist Sharing Knowledge and Resources
      ......This group is for Musicians with FD and Neurologists. The group is focused on scientific-based knowledge, resources, case-studies, and to share personal trial/error done through scientific method of documentation and observation. This is not an emotional group or a place to advertise; no tolerating emotional lashing out or soliciting of cures (or the source of FD) without proper documentation, publication, and that it can be successfully applied to all.

  • Musicians with Focal Dystonia Emotional Support Group
    ........This group is for Musicians with FD, and focuses on leaning on each other and connecting with others who share the same struggle of coping with this disorder. Here we share our progress, relapses, and personal journey.

    Hoping that these groups will provide additional support, connections, and resources! :-)

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Lack of Symmetry in Facial Muscles of Musicians with Embouchure Dystonia

Can you see how my embouchure muscles are affected in each photo by the dystonia? 

These are photos from 5-6 years ago before I started acupuncture and myofascial release therapy, back when my symptoms where a lot worse.

Photo #1: Air leak in lower lip on left side, corner dropping, lower lip will not seal or stay rolled in. Whereas the right side functions normally. Left side of face is not as responsive, and right overcompensates.

Photo #2 & 3: When talking/speaking, right side/upper lip arches when left side doesn't.
This is a great example of the lack of symmetry that embouchure dystonia can create in the facial muscle function, and how it carries over to other activities outside of horn playing sometimes (not always in movement tasks, but in looks as well).

It can be confusing at first because the right side of my face has tremors and does a lot of movement when playing, when actually it is the left side that is the issue....even though it looks calm, it is the side that is dysfunctional and non-responsive.

What has always captured my attention is that several musician's I have met or spoken to with embouchure dystonia have the same type of lack of symmetry I their face. My family members even noticed it back then. This is something I feel a lot of us share and is the most brought up subject in conversation when meeting.

My question is: Do you recognize similar lack of symmetry, even if in a slight way? Post your answer in the comment section below! I would love to know.