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Clayton Haslop

How to Restore a Rebellious Hand

December 3, 2009 at 5:17 PM

How to Restore a Rebellious Hand
As I mentioned, my weeklong sojourn in Seville was a tremendous experience.  In fact, in the coming weeks and months I believe the fruits coming from it will fully restore my playing capacities to their highest level.

Now, in case you’re confused, let me explain.

Some years ago I began noticing abhorrent movements in my left hand which seemed beyond my conscious control.

Yet through rigorous discipline, and by developing tremendously efficient practice techniques, control them I did.  And for many years, nobody but myself was aware of any dysfunction whatsoever, not even my closest colleagues.

Yet the issue of controlling my hand seemed to grow more and more challenging each year.  And, to add insult to injury, 18 months ago I took and serious tumble onto my left shoulder, seriously injuring it.

Now to make a long story short, I thought I’d reached the end of my line.  As of 10 days ago I basically believed there was no hope of restoring my left hand to anything near its former state; no matter how much time I could dedicate to practice.

Yet as it turned out, in Spain I quickly learned how wrong I could be.  In fact, much of what I developed to deal with the problem – and what have proved greatly effective to Violin Mastery adherents – were confirmed as RIGHT ON.  Largely I was given a dose of my own medicine.

You see, I myself made the mistake of giving what SHOULD have been a temporary dysfunction, a permanent diagnosis; Focal Dystonia.  And with this diagnosis I bought into the conventional theory that the condition was irreversible and permanent.

So in spite of the fact that I had developed many great strategies for conditioning a left hand for EXCELLENCE, my belief system was, in my own case, working at odds to them.

Now, thanks to my time with a great man named Dr. Joaquin Farias, I am realizing the tangible results of letting go of that silly notion.

Yes, me, the founder of Violin Mastery was given a good dose of his own medicine.

I’m really only surprised it took just a week and a transcontinental journey for it to happen – just kidding on that.

Now, there IS a little something more to it.

In the case of a LONG HISTORY of dysfunctional movement patterns there can be a need for inverting the patterns, for going in the extreme opposite direction.  This is something that never occurred to me in my years of experience with the ‘dis-ease’.

There is also, in some cases, a need for prolonged retraining at hyper-slow tempi until the conscious mind ‘unwinds’, and the dysfunctional patterns are broken.  You see, in my own case I had not gone far enough in the right direction; again, the product of a mistaken belief system.

Yet for the great MAJORITY of players, like yourself, the secrets of fluidity and velocity are PRECISELY what I have said they are, and what Milstein said they are.

Imagine that.

All the best,

Clayton Haslop

P.S. You know, recently a gal wrote in about how she applied something I wrote in a newsletter to her playing, and immediately received a special compliment from the conductor of her orchestra.  This, in turn, made her open up ‘Kreutzer for Violin Mastery’ and begin reapplying herself to the lessons found therein.  All I can say is, ‘Bravo, way to go.’

Posted on December 3, 2009 at 9:50 PM


a very interesting thread indeed....please expound on the specifics of the"abhorrent movements in left hand"



From Bonny Buckley
Posted on December 4, 2009 at 2:14 PM

Great post.  Slowing things down to retrain something is a good motto.  It's amazing what our bodies can be trained to do.  Thanks.

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