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Laurie Trlak

A Year of Progress and Frustration

December 20, 2008 at 3:23 PM

Here it is the end of the year already, and I haven't posted in a while.

It's been a year of great progress for me. After my teacher moved away last December, I returned to a teacher I'd had before I went to Ball State, Moo Il Rhee. He is very good, both as a performer and a teacher, and he has brought me a long way toward improving my tone production, intonation, and interpretation.

Unfortunately, the tremors in my right hand have gotten worse. It's now my thumb, forefinger, and little finger, all important in the control of the bow. The greatest problems occur on up-bows,  probably because these are intention tremors which occur only when the muscle in question is in use. 

I get so frustrated, because just when I'm on the verge of a real breakthrough, this physical problem arises, preventing me from achieving all that I can achieve. Yes, I know I'm not the first person to be sidelined by a disability, and I won't be the last (unfortunately). But the frustration is very real.

My neurologist has started me on medication to try to control the tremors: gabapentin to start, and then aduvan if that doesn't do it. I'm hoping that one of these drugs will solve the problem. Another option, if drugs don't work, is surgery to implant an electrode in my brain to quiet the area (thalamus) that causes the tremors. I have not yet discussed this with my doctor, so I don't know the risks (beyond the obvious ones) versus the benefits.

I'm hoping and praying to get this under control by next Saturday, as I have a wedding to play. Obviously, it wouldn't do to have my bow skipping all over the place as I'm playing the "Bridal Chorus" and the Wedding March (both requested by the bride). 

The good news is that I played at church last Sunday. The choir sang "Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring," and I accompanied. It went very well, and I kept my hand under control for that. 

Say a prayer for me for next Saturday! 

Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, and may you all have a wonderful New Year!


From Karen Allendoerfer
Posted on December 21, 2008 at 1:31 PM

Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring is a great piece for this time of year.  Congrats! 

I hope you and your neurologist are able to find a medication regimen that helps.  Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to you too!


From Terez Mertes
Posted on December 21, 2008 at 11:54 PM

 Wishing you good control on Saturday, and a great 2009!


From sharelle taylor
Posted on December 22, 2008 at 3:41 AM

Strap a bunch of fishing sinkers to your arm, see if the muscles can tremor their way through that one ;) 

(only half kidding)   .... (thinks): you would have to totally relearn your bow arm in that time, maybe its not such a good idea.

I wish you well on Saturday.  May the demon of the "look ma - no hands" vibrato not find its way to you.  It finds its way to me whenever I perform, but thats a whole different reason.

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