Identity, Injury, and Rewriting a Musician's story with Janet Orenstein: Creative Strings Podcast Ep. 29

April 16, 2018, 12:10 PM · Imagine, as a musician, if you lost the ability to use your hands.

How would you recover? How would you find fulfillment, and what would replace the void in your self image?

If you’re like most musicians, your craft is a big part of your identity, and even self worth.

A debilitating injury would clearly be devastating for most of us. But what might you learn about yourself in the aftermath, and is it possible to somehow come out better for it?

Many of us have suffered some kind of injury. We’ve worried, even maybe had nightmares about, or certainly had close calls with serious injuries.

Juilliard-trained concert violinist Janet Orenstein was suddenly faced with an injury in 1996 that would forever limit her ability to use her hands to play the violin. Her story is simultaneously fascinating, heartbreaking, thought-provoking, and uplifting.

Janet Orenstein
Janet Orenstein.

On this episode of the Creative Strings Podcast she shares what she learned from the 20-year process of coming back from focal dystonia including:

I met Janet when I gave improvisation workshops at University of North Carolina School of the Arts. String players are invited to attend a wonderful summer program there this July 8-15 to study with Janet’s mentor, the incredible classical player and pedagogue Ida Bieler, and/or during the following week to study creative string playing with me. Learn more here.

Thanks so much to our sponsors Yamaha and Electric Violin Shop for supporting the Creative Strings Podcast. Their support makes it possible to invest in the production of each episode and bring you great stories like Janet’s.

As you know, it's time to plan for summer! Learn more about the upcoming Creative Strings Workshops in DallasTorontoColumbus, and Asheville.

You might also like:


April 17, 2018 at 02:43 PM · Thank you for this podcast! I am an adult returner studying with Janet in her home studio. She briefly mentioned her condition during class but not as detailed as your interview. She is an amazing teacher!

April 17, 2018 at 11:25 PM · I wish all to know I had overcome my dystonia many years ago and have helped many others with a nutritional program. Please check out my website and then call me at 410-486-2525.

This article has been archived and is no longer accepting comments.

Facebook Twitter YouTube Instagram Email is made possible by...

Shar Music
Shar Music: Check out our selection of Celtic music

Pirastro Strings
Pirastro Strings

JR Judd Violins
JR Judd Violins

Los Angeles Philharmonic
Los Angeles Philharmonic

Dimitri Musafia, Master Maker of Violin and Viola Cases
Dimitri Musafia, Master Maker of Violin and Viola Cases

Thomastik-Infeld's Dynamo Strings
Thomastik-Infeld's Dynamo Strings

National Symphony Orchestra
National Symphony Orchestra

Violins of Hope
Violins of Hope Summer Music Programs Directory
Find a Summer Music Program Shopping Guide Shopping Guide

ARIA International Summer Academy

Borromeo Music Festival

Metzler Violin Shop

Southwest Strings

Bobelock Cases

Johnson String Instrument/Carriage House Violins

Jargar Strings

Bay Fine Strings Violin Shop


Los Angeles Violin Shop


String Masters

Nazareth Gevorkian Violins

Laurie's Books

Discover the best of in these collections of editor Laurie Niles' exclusive interviews. Interviews Volume 1 Interviews Volume 1, with introduction by Hilary Hahn Interviews Volume 2 Interviews Volume 2, with introduction by Rachel Barton Pine