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flute player's dilemma with


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Possible solution to Musician's Dystonia

By Ryan Thomson

February 19, 2002

Dear Ryan,

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.

Sincerely, Mary

Dear Mary,

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 "unsymetrical" 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