The only movements worth doing are the one which liberate

Private sessions

Your fingers are not the enemy

The madder you become toward your hands and fingers, the worse the focal dystonia will become. It's easy to make the fingers the enemy, the source of all your frustration and becoming the center of the universe, as it seems all your life just depends on them moving correctly!

The problem with that large amount of negative energy flowing toward those small areas of your body, is like putting all the current of some high voltage power line into a light bulb.

The focal dystonic movement is just the apparent symptom from a much deeper problem, which requires healing the whole body and mind.

I recommend reading the books by Joaquin Farias "Intertwined" and "Limitless, how your movements can heal your brain".

I also recommend reading the book by Ruth Chiles "The focal dystonia cure"

Also read the webpage by Frontiers in Psychology on musician's focal dystonia.

Once you realize your hands are not the culprits, but simply letting you know something major is going on with your whole being, you can start treating them with the kindness they need. Actually, the nicer you treat your whole self, the faster the healing will progress.

As long as your body is the enemy, you stay in a state of high stress and fight or flight mode. The more you are stressed out, the more you use your big muscles, which become tight and the more difficult it becomes to use fine motor skills. Also all the hormones going crazy wrecks your nervous system which then create movement difficulties in your hands and fingers.

The bad breathing patterns from being in a state of fight or flight, stressed, scared, anxious can modify your electrolyte levels and cause muscular difficulties.

Myself, I also feel my level of Vit. D has a huge effect on my dystonia. You may want to talk to your doctor about having blood work done to see if you have proper blood levels of at least calcium, magnesium, phosphor, potassium, Vit. B and Vit. D.


You can't have relaxed fingers if you have a tight body.

Thus it becomes extremely important to work on the whole body instead of concentrating on the fingers.

The practice session needs to become something much more wholistic than just playing the instrument.

Starting with a walk outside, without phone calls, messages... just yourself, breathing, relaxing your limbs. Do not think about any problems, just observe the world around you, be in the moment, connect with the trees and animals.

If the noise is my head is too great, I may listen to music while I walk. I really enjoy the work of Alice Coltrane which helps bring my mind to a more quiet state.

Don't beat your hands into a pulp

Using a kitchen timer can be highly beneficial. Practice 15min at a time, then put the instrument down, relax your shoulders, stretch your hands, arms, body. Then shake your arms and hands...

Completely change what you are practicing every 15min, regardless if you are done or not. By varying you learn faster and avoid beating your hands into a pulp by playing the same movements over and over.

If you need to practice a small passage or motif, do it every time with a different articulation, starting it in a different place, forward and backward. What you have to absolutely avoid, is doing the same thing over and over. It will just re inflame the brain map for that finger and increase its size.

As your focal dystonia lessen, then a specific finger can be worked on more, like practicing a thrill.

Play extremely slow

Never go faster than the speed at which the movement is clean. Every time you have a dystonic movement, you reinforce it.

Play extremely slow, as slow as you can move. Move just a tiny bit, barely lift the finger off the key, feel the sensation in your finger to be on and off, while completely relaxed.

One huge aspect of focal dystonia, is a movement with the joints badly aligned. The muscles then have to do all kind of compensation, creating parasitic movements. A movement with proper alignement feels effortless.

If your dystonia is really bad, at first you may not even be able to hold the finger down, as it will shake. You may have to spend some time just touching the instrument, to re establish a relationship with it, and not consider it the enemy anymore.

Play on a wood stick

A method which can help, is practicing on a wood stick, As the hands/brain don't have any memory of the object, the fingers  move correctly. Then, you can reconnect with the sensation of a normal movement.

Also, working on a light touch computer keyboard, you can feel the different tensions in the fingers. Slowly typing and being aware of movements also can really help. The key is finding proper joint alignement which yields effortless clean movements, free of parasitic extra motions.

Blending the finger

The idea behind not working too long on one movement, one finger, one note too long, is to blend it back into all the others.

The more you focus on the one finger, the more it has your attention, which enlarge your brain map perception of it.

By playing lines slowly, which don't stop on the specific finger, you slowly blend it back into a musical passage. Your concentration then slowly begins to hear the whole line without always switching back to the specific bad finger movement. After a while, you end up playing the note, without realizing it. It can even be surprising at first, when you don't even remember thinking about it.

Once this process begins, the brain map slowly goes back to a normal size.

Love your hands

Back to page selection