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In 1986 the first issue of an American quarterly journal called "Medical Problems of Performing Artists" was printed. In it was an article by the pianist Gary Graffman entitled "Doctor, Can You Lend Me an Ear?" It described a serious hand problem which had forced him to give up his very successful performing career at the end of the 1970's, and discussed the lack of understanding he had experienced from all the doctors he had visited.

The article resulted in a deluge of letters to the press from musicians who were thankful that someone had finally come out of the closet and admitted to having a problem. As Graffman said "... instrumentalists' hand problems - somewhat like social diseases - were unmentionable. Understandably so: If a performer is still performing, or hopes to get back on the road soon, he'd be crazy to advertise his disabilities. Nobody wants a wounded pianist. There is an oversupply of healthy ones. Admitting difficulties is like jumping, bleeding, into piranha-filled waters."

The medical community were at last alerted to the problem and there are now an increasing number of Performing Arts Clinics worldwide.



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Suggested Reading 

Elizabeth Andrews: "Healthy Practice for Musicians": Rhinegold Publishing Ltd: ISBN 0-946890-73-0
This is a book every musician - and teacher - should own. Elizabeth Andrews is an experienced viola/violinist (played in ensemble with Jaqueline du Pre) who has a BSc in chiropractic and psychology
Barbara Paull and Christine Harrison: "The Athletic Musician": Scarecrow Press, Inc: ISBN 0-8108-3356-5
Barbara Paull is a physiotherapist and Christine Harrison a freelance violinist and teacher who suffered from career-stopping shoulder pain. Together they have written a book which is very informative and readable and gives particularly good advice on how to take care of your shoulders and back
Ian Winspur and Christopher B Wynn Parry: "The Musician's Hand - A Clinical Guide": Martin Dunitz: ISBN 1-85317-492-0
This is an extremely useful book by two of the leading figures in musicians' health. It is aimed equally at musicians, surgeons and physiotherapists
Barry Green with W. Timothy Gallwey: "The Inner Game of Music": Pan: ISBN 0-330-30017-2
Very readable psychology for musicians
Peter Inglis: "Guitar Playing and how it works": Order it from the author’s website The Whole Guitarist
This highly recommended book is a much needed addition to guitar teaching literature, and deals with ergonomics (with reference to Alexander Technique and dance movement), sound production and a wide range of styles.
Pedro de Alcantara: "Indirect Procedures": Oxford: ISBN 0-19-816569-2
An extremely enlightened book, showing the application of Alexander Technique to musical performance. To quote Sir Colin Davis: "There is much wisdom here in this book, along with some great quotations, many photographs, and exhaustive analyses of the aims and applications of Alexander's discoveries." Visit Pedro de Alcantara's website
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©Copyright Richard Beauchamp May, 2000
This page revised 21/12/2012
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