A common misconception about surgery of any kind is that it restores an injured body part to exactly how it felt before the injury. In the case of lip surgery to repair a torn orbicularis oris, we might imagine that it would make an injured trumpet player’s chops feel and behave the way they did before he got hurt in the first place. That seems to make sense and would be totally awesome, but sadly, that ain’t the way it works. [Read more…]
You know that feeling you get when you discover great new music? Whether it’s Steely Dan, the latest Dave Douglas record, or a brand new Chicago Symphony recording, we all know that feeling of “Yes, exactly! I completely get this. This is awesome.”
When you’re an injured musician, that’s what it’s like to stumble upon someone else’s account of their injury and recovery. That feeling of “Wow, that’s exactly how I feel!” reminds you that no matter how dark the road, you’re not the only one walking it. [Read more…]
When something’s seriously wrong with your playing, it’s hard to know where to begin. Big questions start to eat at you:
“Should I keep performing, or should I take time off?”
“If so, how much time?”
“What do I do about my playing commitments?”
The problem isn’t just that these are big questions, it’s that we often try to make these decisions with insufficient information, acting either with too much caution or not enough. What we need is a framework – a plan of attack for thinking through how to deal with an injury. Here are my thoughts on the matter, based in part on how I dealt with my own injury (and based in part on things I wish I’d done). [Read more…]
“Every cloud has a silver lining.”
“There’s a light at the end of every tunnel”
“It’s always darkest before the dawn.”
Blah, blah, blah.
Glib quotes like these are worse than useless to a musician who’s just experienced an injury. At first, it’s impossible to “stay positive” or “focus on the good.” All we can focus on is what we’ve lost, the thing we love the most: our ability to make music. And for any serious musician – a talented high school student, a dedicated amateur, or a full-on professional – that’s a huge loss. [Read more…]
With my recovery from my six-month-old lip surgery an apparent failure (judging by the the shooting pains I regularly experienced while playing) and an interesting new career as an academic advisor, I put the trumpet down for a while. Now, it would make for a much better story if I could say that, after much anguished soul-searching, I confidently left music behind and began a new phase of my life, but the truth is I just didn’t pick up a trumpet for a lot of days in a row. [Read more…]
Before I get into my long–term recovery, I thought I’d include a few more details on what it’s like living with a bunch of fresh stitches in your top lip, which is part of the mouth, which is a part of the human body that moves a lot. A lot.
My surgeon, Dr. McGrail, hadn’t put any restrictions on eating or talking for me, but nevertheless a couple of things became clear very quickly. [Read more…]