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Alan's Latest Challenge

3 years ago by Anne Moore

What a shock to watch Alan's update this morning, recounting his struggle with injury. He is so honest about this, and it is hard to watch because he is obviously in real distress. I hope Alan knows that he is joining a long tradition of brilliantly creative people who  re-invent themselves over and over, always exceeding past glories. I am so gratefully that he is sharing this part of his journey so openly and honestly, adding courageous to his already lengthy resume....Bravo!!!!

3 years ago by Jovan

It is the worst feeling! I have dealt with it for many years. It will be intreresting to see how Alan's teaching changes after/during this experience and how he heals himself.

3 years ago by PLaine

I know too how does it feel to wake up one morning, feeling pain and fingers not working as they did before. In Alan’s case how much this is related his recent doctoral studies and work with Kemal? Did he start to play or practise somehow new way? I am asking this, because two times in my career I have managed to injure myself with new way of playing. Both times ”the new way” was better or even healthier way but I think I was pushing it too quickly. Your body is accustomed to your way of playing (good or bad) and new way will probably be stress. I am sure Alan is aware of this kind of dangers but it can still be a surprise. Especially if you haven’t have this kind of problems before. But of course if it’s clearly a neck or ”spinal” issue, then it may be not that much related to recent actions. Anyway problems like these can make us stronger. In my case they pushed me towards learning more deeply into human anatomics, ergonomics and even holistic well-being and I’d say that at least I am a lot better teacher now. On this journey Alan’s teaching has played a MAJOR role from which I am greatly thankful!

3 years ago by Alanfraserpiano

Thank you all for your kind words. PLaine hit the nail on the head; the injury came about as Kemal and I embarked on a new, exciting stage of piano exploration. Yes it was intense, and yes I pushed too far - but while I was playing, everything was working really great! What I didn't know was that my neck was not in a normal state that could adapt to this new activity - and the next day, shooting pains in my hand and arm.

Don't get me wrong: in no way do I blame Kemal for this. We were working normally, professionally. In fact, I am grateful that the intensity of the work led to the injury: had it not, I never would have had the MRI and I would still be in the dark as to "what is 'wrong' with me."

It should be said that Kemal has told me of other students of his who have developed tendinitis or other injuries - more evidence that one must be well-organized physically if one is to embark on a virtuosic exploration of the repertoire. 

On the mend

I am happy to let you know that the arm pain is already considerably less (as you see, i can type again for the first time in 2 months), and I am fast on a healing track discovering new things about my neck, shoulders, torso and hips - with the help of Feldenkrais, Tai Chi, and some very talented practitioner friends like Thomas Kampe in London and Mirka Mauck in Hamm, Germany.

My writings on this healing experience will form a part of Transforming the Pianistic self Image, my 5th book which has gradually been taking shape this past year.

Warm wishes to all, and a special thanks to JOVAN for this new version of the Forum!


2 years ago by Alanfraserpiano

Just an update on the healing and retraining process: the nerve is somewhat better - sometimes I play and don't even notice the problem - but it is still a long way from 100%. I have had amazing help from an amazingly wide range of people, and Tai Chi, Feldenkrais, and Chinese medicinal massage all continue to help things to improve. They say the nerve could take up to 2 years. 

Interestingly enough, in confronting my basic self-image of a "bad pianist" more deeply than ever before, the seeds are being sown for a completely different self-image. Even just a taste of this new "self" is tantalizingly delicious... still a long way to go to make it the point of departure. 

There is no limit to improvement.