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Injury Discrimination?

Discussion in 'Jazz Technique [DB]' started by Kam, Mar 21, 2006.

  1. Kam


    Feb 12, 2006
    Minneapolis, MN
    I think I have mentioned in other threads that I have recently recovered from a repetetive stress injury of the median nerve in my left hand/arm/shoulder. Luckily I caught it early, but I still took a significant amount of time off from playing/practicing, and it derailed my ability to audition for grad schools for the fall as well as set my senior recital back quite a bit.

    I recently attended a seminar by Janet Horvath, Assistant Principal Cellist in the MN Orchestra and author of Playing Less Hurt. She mentioned how slow the orchestral world of performance and education was to recognize the dangers and reality of musician's injuries. She even said that many professional orchestras today are in denial about the realities musicians face when it comes to repetetive stress.

    I put this in the Technique section because apparently one of the prevailing thoughts about musicians who get injured is that they have poor technique, and that is why they injure themselves. Does anyone have any accounts of discrimination due to injuries or performers getting a bad reputation because they have been injured? I would think this would be an issue that should be out in the open for professionals and students, just like sports injuries to professional athletes. Any opinions?
  2. anonymous0726

    anonymous0726 Guest

    Nov 4, 2001
    Anything about someone that is a known quantity will be attached to that player, and rightly so. If he has tendontitis, is undependable, doesn't know tunes, plays out of tune, can't handle stress, regularly goes overboard on garlic or underboard on hygiene. Whatever. As a band leader or member these things are important to both the music and the job.
  3. Kam


    Feb 12, 2006
    Minneapolis, MN
    That makes sense, and is understandable. However, the things you listed other than tendonitis are typically associated with inexperience, unprofessionalism, and/or negative personality traits. They are also what I would consider things that stick with people's reputations long after they've overcome them. RSI's can be overcome and eliminated, but does that stigma of being once injured carry through once one is healthy? Would that same stigma occur with a musician who broke their arm?

    I don't know if there is a right or wrong here, just trying to get some opinions..
  4. anonymous0726

    anonymous0726 Guest

    Nov 4, 2001
    There isn't right or wrong, just reality.

    If someone has tendinitis, I don't think it'll smear his reputation. If, however, he has tendinitis and cancels gigs a lot because he can't play, then you have a different situation. For this exact reason I was almost completely invisible in NYC for a couple of years as I went about mending my wrist. To this day, there are people that have heard that I battled tendinitis and still ask about it today -- and I've never cancelled a gig due to any injury.
  5. Anon2962


    Aug 4, 2004
    I think only a very lucky few who play any instrument for 4 or 5 hours a day over, say 30-40 years, would have never had some kind of performance-related injury. I certainly don't think that it is necessarily the fault of bad technique. I did have some problems with my left arm, which thanksfully never developed into tendonitis, but WAS due to a problem in my technique, which took a long time to 'unlearn'.

    From my experience, most do not discriminate against a player with a RSI, but rather just feel sorry for them. I can think of 2 players immediately who have been struggling with tendonitis for about 2 years, and haven't been able to play for more than 20 mins a day. And both are amazing players. Do people that know them think less of them as musicians or anything else? not at all.

    However, i know that one of the guys (who is only now beginning to recover) said that musicians act 'kinda weird' around him, not mentioning the injury or gigs. I suppose poeple can only guess what it's like not to be able to play when that is what you love to do, and so feel that it would be hurtful to mention it. I guess it's kind of like 'instrumentalist's cancer' this tendonitis - most thankfully recover, some never do.
  6. mje


    Aug 1, 2002
    Southeast Michigan
    A friend of mine- a brass player, not a bassist- had a serious medical problem that almost ended his career. The reactions from his colleages were interesting. Other brass players were very sympathetic and understanding. But many others in the orchestra simply refused to accept that he had an injury that prevented him from playing. One string player in particular was particularly vehement about this, and all but accused him to his face of faking injury.
  7. BGreaney

    BGreaney Guest

    Mar 7, 2005
    Brass players I know that have faced potential career ending injuries all suffered from focal dystonia. It's nerve damage that I guess is caused by repetitive stress. Anyway, that's what ended Warren Deck's (tuba, NY Phil) career. Here's a little blurb I found about it.


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