I recently had major back surgery.That was five weeks ago, just starting totally over with the course again this week, but I notice that even in the Largo stage, I cannot play as my hands shake so much that I cannot hold a centered note, the Bb note in Largo singing C bounces between Ab and B in the same breath. This did not happen before. Any suggestions? I am off pain medicine. I thought I would have to stop the course for a few months until my hands stop shaking if they ever will…. No way I can play like this…. I cannot do even do the simplest exercises. Its very depressing.
Hi hanshab9, I really feel for you. I’m 68 and have been playing trumpet, after a fashion, since I was 42. All my life I’ve had an essential tremor which makes it hard for me to perform fine motor tasks. As a little kid I had trouble building card houses – and I certainly have trouble holding my trumpet steady and making a steady note. My father had this condition, and one of my sons does too, so I believe it is hereditary. At times I’ve tried using the beta blocker propanalol, which doctors have been quite willing to prescribe for me when I describe my problem. Generally if I have used this I have taken somewhere between 10 mg and 30 mg. Sometimes this has helped a bit, but I wouldn’t call it a magic bullet in my case. My hope – and I don’t know if it’s a realistic hope or not – is that if I can make playing as easy as possible for myself using Greg’s approach, this will at least minimise my shaking problem somewhat. I’m constantly trying to notice whether anything I do in playing increases or decreases my tremor, and it does seem to me that the tremor is somewhat less when I am doing what is easy (though it is still a problem). I can sympathise strongly when you say this is depressing. I have been wondering quite hard whether I should go out and buy myself a banjo as an alternative musical outlet. Yep, that worried! Sorry I can’t be more helpful, but I certainly feel for your predicament, and hope you are able to find some resolution, perhaps after your healing process is fully complete after surgery (if it isn’t already at some neurological level).
Might also be interesting to try to figure out what’s actually shaking. You’ve indicated you believe your hands are the problem – but when playing the trumpet, the hands are going to move around if some other part is actually shaking (for example, your neck). Is it both hands, or just one? If you hold the trumpet in your left hand, can you get a steadier effect? Ditto right hand? What happens if you support your left elbow (for example, on a table) while playing trumpet. Does that help? At times it has seemed to me that even my breath “shakes”.
Hey guys. I am totally unqualified to give any medical advice sadly. What I hope is that if the condition began after surgery is that as you recover, things will get back to normal. Lets face it, only 5 weeks is not very long after major surgery.
Have you experimented with holding other items i.e. a cup of water, does the same thing happen.
The reality is you are in recovery mode and it will take time for strength to return. Be calm with it even though it is miserably frustrating. Take this time to focus on the humming/singing aahooh etc reprogramming that you can do endlessly.
Is there a waver when you hum? Can you do the tissue and visualiser exercises?
I recommend speaking to a specialist about this so you are aware of what is happening therefore alleviating the unknown and therefore the depression.
Remain calm and patient with the recovery process.
You folks are really great. Thanks for your responses. I really appreciate all the advice. I am seeing a specialist on monday to discuss. I am relearning how to walk and cannot drive. I called the surgeon and he told me it will take 9 to 12 months before things get back to normal. I was trying to do just the simple exercises as i have to lie in bed most of the day. It is so incredibly boring and the pain is intense. I love the course and was making good progress until surgery. But now when i tried yesterday my embouchure could not be maintained for even one breath. Thanks to all and you Greg for a great course
I am sorry to hear about the struggles, and I pray that things get better soon. Talking with your physician on Monday seems like the best option. Some of what you describe could be muscle deconditioning from disuse during the recovery from the level of the abdominal core to the shoulder, arm, forearm, and hands. All of the above may be involved. Also, there are some medications given after surgery such as muscle relaxers that can interact with other medications leading to side effects of tremors. Ask that your medications be reviewed for side effects and interactions. Hoping for a speedy recovery!
I can imagine your situation and as Greg said, patience is key.
Trust your specialist and all the medical possiblities there are now.
I am/was in the same situation.
58 yr old an 4 months ago I didn’t know what rheumatism was.
As stroke by lightning within a few days every joint in my body was inflamed. Even one of the jaw joints an the little joints in the larnix!
For weeks I was sleeping in the living room, barely able to move from pain.
During that time I tried to play for an half an hour. That night I had a nightmare that someone tried to pull my arms of my body.
I was afraid to never play again.
On the other hand, it was the reason to start this course:
– I knew I use allways to much tension
– No pressure of rehersals or gigs due to illness
– Be prepared to play in a more relaxed way in case of rheumatic inflammations in the future
Fortunately I am in the hands of a good rheumatologist now and recovering thanks to Prednison and MTX😂💉
I started to do the excercises on a plastic trumpet (500 gr instead of the regular 2000 gr) second hand for around $70. Now I am to to my normal horn and had since months my first big band rehearsel again.
I have the feeling that I am mentally stronger now due to the disease.
With best regards from the Netherlands and wishing you all the best and health for the new year.
I ;thought I would give you a heads up. It has been seven weeks since the surgery and I am now relearning how to walk as there was substantial nerve damage in my back that controls th e legs. I am slowly making progress. I am trying to play again but the shaking is still there and all the narcotics I had to take to kill the pain did not help. My embouchure is completely gone and I ave trouble due to the shaking to control it. I am working on the Largo stage, it will be while before I progress. I am eager to move on but the body says no, go slow. Thats for all the kind words.