Girl born without left arm plays violin

April 24, 2017 at 01:49 PM · This is a really cool and heartwarming story. I wonder how advanced she can get. In general, what do you guys think?

Replies (21)

April 24, 2017 at 03:10 PM · Lock your wrist and fingers and see how advanced you can get... Heart warming though to see someone's determination pursuing her interest in spite of such a handicap, and she'll certainly get real pleasure and self esteem out of it, and for that alone it is well worth it, but without wrist and fingers action she'll always be severely limited in what she can accomplish in the end. No doubt that she can develop an extraordinary degree of arm control that would otherwise not be necessary, and should be able to reach quite a satisfactory level of playing eventually in spite of all odds against her if she is determined.

April 24, 2017 at 05:37 PM · Love this type of stories!

Having a handicap definetly puts her at a disadvantage. But that's what makes it so inspiring. I think it's possible that she can advance past what normal students do if she persists and she's really passionate about it.

In eveyday life people without any physical handicap still quit or do not put in enough time with what they're doing due to personal reasons. So of she doesn't get disheartened I think the possibility to be great is there.

We now live in a technologically advance world that is still continuously improving. People that had their legs cut off can now run, etc. There may come a time that they'll create something that would beat what a normal hand/arm can do. Just saying! :)

April 24, 2017 at 08:32 PM · I highly doubt technology will surpass the capabilities of the actual body, as someone who does a lot of reading in science.

There's a reason that we wait for organ donors instead of making our own. Sure, the artificial ones might work to a limited extent, but they llafk the finely chiselled detail of miniscule perfection towards the task at hand. Unless we have enough time to develop futuristic technology as seen in space movies, it is impossible to perfectly replicate the subtelty of human fingers.

Similarly, I fail to see how the rather bulky and relatively imprecise muscles in even a person's good arm can compensate for the various bowstrokes and nuances produced by the fingers, and we're not even going to consider show-offish bowings that are all finger actions, such as flying staccato. :)

April 24, 2017 at 09:45 PM · I just thought it was so cool that people took time to design a prosthetic especially for violin playing.

April 24, 2017 at 11:01 PM · A.O., one doesn't have to reproduce all the nuances of fingers. There are multiple ways to approach controlling a bow.

Have you contributed to the design, engineering, or testing of prosthetic devices? Maybe you should see what players like Adrian Anantawan have accomplished because of what technology has enabled them to do before you make such sweeping generalizations about the state of science.

Research into artificial organs is an ongoing affair. The latest advancements involve 3D-printing cells into framework structures that could potentially lead to whole-organ replacements. What you characterize as "impossible" is simply a problem based on understanding, space, or resources that folks interested in the scientific process want to solve.

April 25, 2017 at 12:07 AM · I wouldn't write off anything when it comes to science. Lol! What seems impossible a few years ago is now a reality today. So what's impossible to you now can be a reality in the future. Gene gave a perfect example of it in fact. :)

April 25, 2017 at 12:15 AM · Fluid motion prosthetics already exist to an extent. They're just expensive, whereas this was a very inexpensive few month project by a few engineering undergrad students. The goal wasn't to make her Perlman the goal was to let her play notes without anyone else's help. Synthetic organ printing is rapidly developing, and its already been proven in simpler species. A. O. if you were truly a man of science you would recognize that technological, scientifically bounded issues are most certainly not impossible to overcome. The only bound by the issue is our comprehension of science. After all, our body is just a bunch of scientific beauty. Theoretically there's no reason we couldn't approach a similar organic structure someday. Do you think farmers during the 1800's ever imagined John Bardeen would invent the transistor? Or that even Bardeen himself imagined these transistors would be reduced to 6nm in size alongside billions of others on a piece of silicon?

April 25, 2017 at 01:40 AM · @Gene: I know about Anantawan, but you cannot in full confidence say that his prosthetic allows him full bow control as a real arm would, since it stills seem somewhat of a clunker, and it is clear from watching himthat he puts extra effort for his bowing to sound as it does (unless he used a Russian hold perhaps, which he does not).

@Bailey: Funny, the "fluid motion" prosthetics are all still rather large, inflexible, and lack joint mobility and speed. I guess you coukd always be the next Toyota violin robot...

Scientific advance speeds up as scientific progress builds upon itself (but you already knew that?), but there is usually a limit set by either politics (the more common cause) or scientific impossibility as dictated by lack of resources to substitute for organic mechanisms.

For example, printing separate organs in NO way resembles making a completely intertwined section of a body.

The organ is simple in that it must be placed and not reject the host.

To actually put together all parts of something like a hand, at the microscopic level, nevermind the still impossible task of creating realistic nerves from scratch, though the other portions could be approximated/replicated today, makes it a MUCH more difficult thing to pull off.

Although science can usually approximate what we find naturally to some degree, we are not at a stage where you can lop off an arm and get a new one grafted on (yet)?.

It resembles the problem of strings, funnily enough. We have all this science on the table, but nothing close to sounding like pure gut (except Synoxas), and we have not ONE non-steel E!

Rant over... ;D

April 25, 2017 at 02:55 AM ·

April 25, 2017 at 04:17 AM · An improvement, but there is yet work to be done (surrounding "musculature and ligaments" need to use non-menchanical parts that mimic the fast twitch of the arm ligaments that move the fingers, and subtle finger pressure comtrol for vibrato). :)

April 25, 2017 at 06:14 PM · There is one virtuouso violinist mentioned above, Adrian Anantawan, who lacks a right hand and uses a prosthetic to hold his bow. He studied at Curtis. So, you can go quite far, indeed. Here is a youtube of his Toronto Symphony debut sone years ago. Eat your hearts out!

April 25, 2017 at 07:57 PM · > but you cannot in full confidence say

> that his prosthetic allows him full

> bow control as a real arm would

See, this is where you keep getting stuck. Your insistence that a real arm is the only way to achieve "full bow control" doesn't make any sense. What does that mean in context of a violinist? Could you even define what "full bow control" means in a practical sense? What can he *not* do as a violinist because of his device?

Repeatedly claiming that because "they haven't done it yet they won't ever do it" is totally illogical. If people adopted that attitude, then none of these programs would bother doing research to develop better prostheses for physically-challenged children so they could have better access to instrumental music.

April 25, 2017 at 08:10 PM · I didn't claim that it can't be done, it simply seems highly unlikely, unless we make a major breakthrough in medical engineering. :)

Can fancy strokes like stiff arm staccato be done with such a prosthetic?

I'm trying to think of a way, but they usually involve flexion of the whole arm, rapid finger twitches (maybe the tremolo method would work?)

April 27, 2017 at 03:42 AM · I don't see why we're debating over Anantawan's capabilities when he has clearly achieved levels far beyond most anyone on this forum. What he's doing is absolutely remarkable.

Yes A. O. I understand that quantum mechanics doesn't allow us to clone a human arm and just reattach it. That has nothing to do with the point that we already have neuroprosthetics responding to impulses at a remarkably high processing level with only a few years experience.

And anyways at 2 years of experience what pieces are you playing that you have needed stiff arm staccato for and have apparently mastered to be able to deeply understand its physics?

April 27, 2017 at 01:13 PM · Just a chef does not need to understand physics to cook food, a player does not need it to figure out where motions that lead to a bowstroke come from.

I don't use stiff-arm staccato in rep. yet, but can pull it off in small bursts ((needs practice) just for study purposes at this point. :)

I think this thread is done now, yes? Nobody else is responding. Next one. ;)

April 27, 2017 at 04:49 PM · > Can fancy strokes like stiff arm staccato

> be done with such a prosthetic?

A student engineering team that I mentored accomplished the same goal with a young violinist that they created a low-weight 3d-printed prosthetic for last year, enabling him to play a range of bow strokes.

It's not the prosthetic itself that produces the bow strokes, but rather the function of the complete system that enables the player to create those sounds, regardless of the makeup of the physical components. That is why it doesn't have to exactly duplicate a human hand in order to work.

> a player does not need it to figure out

> where motions that lead to a bowstroke come from.

Yes, players do (and teachers must). If you don't understand even the most basic physics of how the system works, you won't be able to determine what generates the motions for a specific bow stroke (and specific articulation)...then you don't have a basis for reproducing it accurately under a wide range of playing conditions.

April 27, 2017 at 09:11 PM · A. O. if you don't have an understanding of what specific muscles and functions are required for it, then how can you possibly definitively say it can not be replicated with prosthesis. I'm rather confused.

April 28, 2017 at 01:55 AM · No, you must now the muscles and what they do, BUT that does not necessarily mean you need to know the physics behind it (at least not in modern scientific sense of the word).

Like how the renowned players of old like aspohr would describe motions as cause leading to x effect.

April 28, 2017 at 03:36 AM · Just curious A.O., what is your teaching experience at the K-12 or university/conservatory level that has led you to this conclusion? What teachers have you studied with and what pedagogical resources have you researched and put into use?

Because honestly, in my 20+ years of preparing hundreds of students for recitals, auditions, and careers, many of the technical problems that get addressed are not only approached from a body perspective, but from an analysis of the physics behind things like tone production and biomechanical movement. In particular, my student team working on the prosthetic bow hand for a young student definitely made us of the interdisciplinary combination of skills.

If you're going to make sweeping proclamations about what folks need to know, perhaps it would be effective if you could back it up with actual evidence.

April 28, 2017 at 09:17 PM · If you don't understand which muscles are contributing to what part of a movement then in the literal sense you aren't consciously aware of the movement you are performing. Bud physics doesn't meagerly mean quantum mechanics and classical mechanics. It's a basic, all encompassing science.

I haven't even been playing for all that long, and my teacher is by no means a scientist, but we always study what parts of the body respond to certain motions and it has helped immensely to discover the nuances that one should be aware of. For example, the farther you bring your left elbow out, the greater the force your thumb exerts on the fingerboard

April 29, 2017 at 04:04 AM · @Bailey and Gene: Yes, that simple physics is what I was referring to (Thanks Bailey!). :)

I simply meant that we do not need to know the complicated form behind the movements, juet the physical aspect used by most teachers and laypersons- etc., the finger pushing affects the elbow joint blah blah blah, you get it. :D

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