Updated August 18, 2022
Possible solution to Musician's Dystonia
By Ryan Thomson
February 19, 2002
I just read your website regarding musician's dystonia. I too have it in my upper lip, I'm a flute player. It took 4 years to finally diagnose.
Thanks for writing!
I play flute also. I've been helping many musicians who have written to me with dystonia, by suggesting alternative ways to produce music. I have two different suggestions for your flute playing. First, after reading your note, I had a sudden inspiration, and got out my flute, and tried playing it upside down! Yes, I placed it between my upper lip and my nose, and tried using my LOWER lip, rather than my upper lip to direct the air. In a few minutes I had a clear tone. I then rotated the head joint 180 degrees, and now I could finger it. I played a tune. Unbelievable. It really worked! Granted, this was just a short test, but certainly a possibility for you to try.
The second technique you might try is to turn the flute around and try playing left handed rather than right handed. If your lip muscles are affected in an “asymmetrical" way, then using the muscles on the other side might thwart the dystonia. If this works, you'd have to get a "left handed" keyed flute body, although you could use your same head joint.
This article by written by Ryan Thomson
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