Injury, pressure, dystonia, other playing problems

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In episode 29 of the Horn Notes Podcast the topic centers around injury, including focal dystonia, mouthpiece pressure, and various playing problems, with some equipment tips. Joining me for the episode is Gabriel Kovach, principal horn of the Phoenix Symphony, and this episode is jam packed. Listen on iTunes, etc., or at the link below:

http://hornnotes.libsyn.com/horn-notes-29-injury-pressure-dystonia-problems-with-gabriel-kovach

Several of the topics covered are ones I have written little about, but not for lack of interest or knowledge.

Injury and playing problems are very personal topics, ones that people tend to avoid talking about. Gabe and I both speak of some personal experiences in the episode, and in my comments, especially at the end of the episode, I am thinking of several fairly recent conversations to guide what I am saying.

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One point I would highlight is that of the authority figure telling you something, but it actually being wrong. Gabe has a great story related to this in the episode. As teachers especially, we have a lot of power to give people complexes, to leave a negative mark mentally and physically. Of course there is a place for straight talk. But then again, be aware that some of that straight talk you hear is at best a version of some conventional wisdom. It may be up to some later teacher to walk you back off the cliff so to speak.

Going beyond the episode just a bit, I know in my own case there were times I tried hard to do things I found in books, but they did not really work.

Part of it is just variables of how people can play well. To give a concrete example, there are teachers that say mouthpiece pressure should be balanced between the lips, and others say it should focus on the lower lip with the upper more free to buzz. Which method is correct? I suspect both; it might make an interesting study, to be sure, but it would not surprise me if the results were inconclusive. You of course might play better one way or the other, and there is nothing wrong with experimenting, but realize that an authority figure telling you one way is correct and the other is incorrect may just be repeating a conventional wisdom passed to them by their teachers — advice that sounds right but is actually just one of several possible successful approaches.

I could say more but, in short, give the episode a listen, I think it to be one of the best episodes to date. There may be one more new episode in December, if not be watching for the podcast to start up again in early 2019.

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