Dr. JoDee Davis
Professor of Trombone
University of Missouri-Kansas City Conservatory
Thanks to the skill and compassion of Jan Kagarice of Musician’s Wellness of North America, I have successfully retrained from task specific focal dystonia in my trombone playing. Over the course of several years, I had lost the resonance in my sound and the ability to ‘find’ the pitch. My breathing was completely turned around and I had placed a great deal of emphasis on the lips through, among other things, buzzing the mouthpiece. The retraining process has given me a solid foundation of knowledge in how a sound is produced on a wind instrument (yes, this had been unclear to me despite a lifetime of study) and the tools with which to regain and maintain resonance, accurate pitch, and ease in playing. Jan’s approach, and the approach that she is teaching her assistants, is one of insight, science, compassion, and determination. The joy of playing has returned, and my teaching has been infused with renewed enthusiasm. My students will now be better teachers. If you are experiencing difficulties, do not give up. You can get through this.
As an amateur comeback trumpet player, I did not understand that it was focal dystonia that led me to put down the instrument 25 years ago. After deciding to try again, my struggles immediately returned. Unfortunately my problems worsened with “help” from physicians, physical therapists, speech therapists, and a psychologist. Thankfully, I eventually found my way to MWNA. MWNA gave definition to my challenges and validated what other players, instructors, and the medical community did not understand. I felt that my situation was heard and understood. Now I am given personalized prescriptions to help me progress. With the aid of assistant clinicians and a community of clients, MWNA has moved me closer to the music I so dearly miss.
I am a principal woodwind player in a full-time professional orchestra. I suffered from task-specific embouchure focal dystonia, diagnosed by a neurologist. For three years, I kept performing with great discomfort, and tried every treatment I could think of: physical therapy, massage, many powerful medications, seeing 10 different specialists, and more. I had begun to worry that my career was over, but then came to Jan and Devin. The retraining that I did with them was the only effective treatment that I found, and completely saved my career.
Their methods are carefully thought out. You might be surprised at what exercises you are given initially, and wonder "is this really what I should be doing?" But their approach is fully logical and scientific. Everyone's experience is different, and they customize their approach (and evolve their methods) for each client. In my personal experience, I "retrained" very quickly, but then needed continued support from them for a longer period of time to help me really learn to trust that I could play...I had built up so much anxiety over those three years of performing with dystonia issues! My biggest advice to working with them is to put your trust in their process and to focus on the moment, instead of wondering "when will it start to get better?" By trying to stay in the moment and to trust their work, you are giving your body and mind the best conditions it needs to heal.
I am back to playing full-time and could not be more grateful to Jan and Devin for saving my career. I have utmost confidence that they are going to continue to make a gigantic difference in the musical world.
Phil Smith - Former Principal Trumpet New York Philharmonic