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Learning and Recovering
Picking up the violin again but dealing with recovery from surgery.
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StaceyC
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October 8, 2017 - 6:04 pm
Member Since: May 1, 2017
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As some of you may have read from a few other posts I've made, I used to play violin in school. Fast forward 20 years and I've decided to take it up again. I had gotten about 3-4 months in to practicing to practicing less and less the last few months due to increasing issues with my neck and right arm. To summarize briefly -- After years of problems with my neck and arm, I found out I had two levels of herniated discs in my neck. This was causing pain in my neck, right shoulder, and constant numbness from my index and thumb in right hand all the way up to just above my elbow for roughly 5 years. (I didn't know that the cause of it all was herniated discs until the beginning of September.) I went and saw a neurosurgeon that said I needed surgery asap. A week and a half later, I was in ICU recovering from ACDF surgery (Anterior Cervical Disctectomy and Fusion).

It's been two weeks since my surgery. I'm pain free but am trying to get back into practicing the violin. I readjusted my shoulder rest so that it raised up the violin more. With my neck being fused on two levels, I can't quit grip the violin as I did before. Thankfully we have shoulder rests!!!

Anyway.. Today was my second practice session since the surgery and I only did it about 30 minutes or so. I had to stop due to my neck and shoulders getting a bit tense.. I know it will take time to readjust. 

The downside is that everything I had been learning and practicing prior to this ordeal with my neck -- I've backtracked and I'm as rusty as I was a month or so ago. It's just a bit sad noticing that. I know I'm better than I was when I first picked up the violin after 20 years and I will soon be back up to the level I was at before the neck problem happened.. It's just a little discouraging.. 

Just curious to know if anyone else here has had similar situations such as this? If you did, how long did it take you to get back into "your groove" with the violin?

Thanks!!

You'll never know unless you try!

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Fiddlerman
Fort Lauderdale
October 9, 2017 - 11:42 am
Member Since: September 26, 2010
Forum Posts: 12740

Just for the heck of it, try practicing playing without actually holding the violin with your jaw, chin or similar. Just having it in the right place with balance, and let me know what you are able to do and what you are not able to do.

My experience is that the only thing that requires a semi soft grip is shifting down. In other words, going from a higher position to a lower one.

"The richest person is not the one who has the most,
but the one who needs the least."

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Charles
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October 13, 2017 - 2:31 pm
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Until just the last two weeks, I couldn't use a chinrest (my neck was too short for any of the standard kind), and I found it easier to work with without a shoulder rest, either. I can confirm what Pierre just said. I could not hold the violin with my jaw/chin at all, and shifting "down" (further towards the scroll) was the only thing that I had problems with.

My teacher is actually adamant that you should lift your head up from time to time, to prevent tension (or to recognize that you have it).  If you were having to bend your neck down to reach the chinrest before, that would have contributed to your neck pain.

Re getting back to "normal" in your playing... You've heard the old phrase about never forgetting how to ride a bicycle?  I had occasion to do that once - started riding one for the first time in over 20 years. What they fail to mention is that while you don't forget how to ride one, you do forget how to ride one well. It took me 2 or 3 weeks to be back at the skill level I had when I was a kid and rode one regularly.

Especially since you've already gone through the process of remembering "How did I do this?" once, I suspect you'll "relearn" it all very rapidly. The knowledge is still there, it's just that some of the links to it have decayed.  Rebuilding the links is MUCH faster than learning it from scratch.

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Demoiselle
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October 18, 2017 - 5:25 am
Member Since: June 26, 2016
Forum Posts: 310
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Pausing between the minutes I play is just as important as playing. I do feel how my hands and arms tire and that effects the sound a lot. If I play too long I learn how to play false notes because I can't even hit the right places with bow and fingers properly anymore.

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StaceyC
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November 4, 2017 - 5:43 pm
Member Since: May 1, 2017
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Thank you to everyone that replied. I had some other complications arise after I posted this.. Before my surgery, most of my right arm was numb. Because of this, obviously I couldn't feel a lot of my arm. Well, after the surgery and I began healing, I noticed that my elbow had a lot of pain in it.. Found out that I also have tennis elbow!! Crazy.. It's always something.. Anyway, so I've been dealing with that on top of the recovery from surgery. Fast forward a few weeks to now -- the neck stiffness/pain is now gone. I can play the violin comfortably without any issues at all. I did try as suggested though without holding the violin with the chin rest but instead let it sit in the right place with balance. I was able to do that fine.. So, thank you for that advice.

The tennis elbow is slowly getting better.. I'm slowly getting back to myself and I'm so glad to be able to play the violin again without pain. And yes, you all are definitely right -- it's not that I've forgotten how to do it.. I'm just not doing it well.. LOL 

I am so glad to have found this forum/website/group!! Thank you so much for listening!!!

You'll never know unless you try!

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Fiddlerman
Fort Lauderdale
November 8, 2017 - 1:46 pm
Member Since: September 26, 2010
Forum Posts: 12740

We're happy you found us. Glad to hear that you will be able to play without pain soon. When you feel that there is no pain, be especially careful not to overdo it. The moment that a person forgets to relax and proceed with caution is the moment that person can hurt themselves.

"The richest person is not the one who has the most,
but the one who needs the least."

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